ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The Honorable Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan chaired the quarterly meeting of the Council of Large Land Base Tribes April 24 at the Route 66 Casino near Albuquerque, N.M.
The meeting provided an important venue for tribal leaders of large land holdings to discuss issues affecting their tribes. The meeting was well attended by tribal leaders representing the Standing Rock Sioux, Rosebud Sioux, the Navajo Nation, the Hualapai Nation, Eastern Shoshone, Shoshone Arapaho, Oglala Sioux, Northern Arapaho, Chippewa Cree, Crow Nation, Red Lake and the Shoshone Bannock Tribe.
The council, established as an organization of sovereign Indian tribes and nations to advocate needs of tribal nations with a land base of more than 100,000 acres and a large population, elected its new officers and discussed issues effecting tribes across the country.
Officers, according to the organization’s bylaws, are rotated by region every two years.
The Council of Large Land Base Tribes conducted its quarterly meeting April 24 at the Route 66 Casino near Albuquerque, N.M. Navajo Council Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan (far left in white) poses with members of the council.
Ron His Horse is Thunder, tribal chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, is being considered for president; Lawrence T. Morgan, speaker of the 21st Navajo Nation Council, was re-elected vice chairman; Harvey T. Spoonhunter from Northern Arapaho was elected secretary and Ervin M. Keeswood Sr., Navajo Nation Council delegate, was elected treasurer. The officers will serve two-year terms beginning this year.
Three resolutions seeking support from the council were presented and approved. Many of the resolutions involved national issues, mainly because issues differ for large land base tribes versus smaller land base tribes.
Two resolutions were presented by the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council and were passed unanimously. One proposes the suspension of the Tribal Transportation Allocation Methodology as the formula for distributing Indian Reservation Roads Program Funding.
The second was presented in response to the Eagle Sting Operation conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and other federal law enforcement agencies.
The third resolution urged the Organization of American States to strengthen the draft of the American Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to endorse the Navajo Nation Policy Statements by the Navajo Human Rights Commission – an organization established by the Navajo Nation Council in 2008 to address human rights.
Leonard Gorman, executive director of the Navajo Human Rights Commission, along with Commissioner Duane Yazzie presented the resolution.
“The commission was established in response to problems in our 13 border towns,” Yazzie explained. “One such case occurred in Farmington in the summer of 2006 when one young man was shot to death by a white police officer. A week later a tribal member was beat up in another border town. In response to those kinds of situations, the Navajo Nation Council took it upon themselves to provide some meaningful response to those types of activities. Through the advocacy of Council Delegates Ervin Keeswood, Rex Lee Jim and Speaker Morgan, the commission was organized and formed.”
Today, the five member commission, seated in July 2008, was directed by the Navajo Council to visit border towns and address the extent of racism. Since its establishment, the commission has conducted 12 public hearings around the Navajo Nation and has five more remaining. The commission provides the public an opportunity to tell their story, many ranging from employment discrimination, to forced relocation and even to the issues involving the protection of sacred sites.
“We come to you respectfully asking for your blessings of this document, which was approved by our tribal council,” Yazzie said. “We are hoping that the large land base that you have, many tribal members that you represent, that you will see it your way to support our recommendations. Take this language to your own councils to see if we can all get behind this, it’s for the good of all of us, for the future generations.”