Indian Country headlines for Tuesday

Indian Country Today

Stories we're following on Nov. 17, 2020: Trump administration pushing to drill in Arctic refuge, former Nez Perce tribal police chief named coordinator for Washington response to missing and murdered, Oklahoma business files suit over taxes, and much more

Indian Country Today

Trump administration pushing to get drilling going in Arctic refuge

With just weeks to go, the Trump administration is working to get oil and gas leases signed for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge before the Biden administration takes over, the Washington Post reports. Tuesday the Department of Interior will issue a “call for nominations,” which allows developers to identify the areas they want to bid on in oil and gas lease sales.

It’s the next step in opening drilling in 1.6 million acres in the wilderness refuge, an area that holds an estimated 10.4 million barrels of recoverable oil, and is the birthing grounds for caribou herds numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

Chad Badgett, Alaska state director, Bureau of Land Management, in a statement said,“Receiving input from industry on which tracts to make available for leasing is vital in conducting a successful lease sale. This call for nominations brings us one step closer to holding a historic first Coastal Plain lease sale, satisfying the directive of Congress in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and advancing this administration’s policy of energy independence.”

Opening the refuge has supporters and opponents among Alaska Natives in the region. Two Iñupiat for-profit corporations formed under the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act say development will bring much-needed jobs to Arctic Slope communities. US and Canadian Gwitch’in Athabascan people say development will drive away caribou, their main food source and cultural mainstay.

MMIW coordinator named in Washington state

David Rodgers when serving as Nez Perce police chief.
Nez Perce Police Chief David RodgersDavid Rodgers when serving as Nez Perce police chief (Photo by Jackie McNeil)

A longtime Native American policing expert has been named coordinator of the U.S. Justice Department’s missing and murdered Indigenous persons program in Washington state.

David Rogers, Nez Perce, previously served as his tribe’s police chief and as a consultant involved in the training of tribal police around the country, The Associated Press reported.

Attorney General William Barr last year announced an initiative to better tackle the issue of violence against Native Americans, particularly women.

Rogers will coordinate the effort for Washington’s nearly 30 tribal communities, working with multiple agencies to develop protocols for responding to reports of missing or murdered Indigenous people.

Other coordinators are being hired to help run the Justice Department effort in Alaska, Arizona, Montana, Oklahoma, Michigan, Utah, Nevada, Minnesota, Oregon, New Mexico and Washington.

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Oklahoma business sues over dueling taxes

Muscogee (Creek) Nation seal
(Image: Muscogee (Creek) Nation)

A grocery store chain has filed a lawsuit in Tulsa federal court asking a judge to determine if one of its stores should be subject to Oklahoma state sales tax “on retail sales at Warehouse Market’s Okmulgee store, which is located on restricted Indian land,” according to the lawsuit.

The grocery store said it had to pay 6 percent tax on sales for October to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation as well as 10.083 percent sales tax to the Oklahoma Tax Commission or face fines or even closure, the Tulsa World reported.

The state tax commission cited U.S. Supreme Court rulings, in which it says the court has acknowledged certain economic activity may be taxed by both a state and a tribe.

The tribe said in a state court filing that the grocery store may be subject to both tribal, state and local sales taxes so long as tribal members are exempt from non-tribal sales taxes when the purchase occurs on land held in trust for a federally recognized Indian tribe.

Man sues Washington jail over lack of gluten-free food

prison

A Michigan Ojibwe man says he was malnourished to the point of unconsciousness during a three-week stay in a Washington state jail because staff failed to provide him gluten-free food to accommodate his celiac disease.

Gaven Picciano, Keweenaw, 26, filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against the Clark County Jail in Vancouver, Washington, as well as NaphCare Inc., the jail’s for-profit medical provider, last week, The Associated Press reported.

The lawsuit alleges Picciano repeatedly asked staff for gluten-free food and lost about 35 pounds.

He eventually was taken to a hospital where he was diagnosed with low blood pressure, dehydration, an electrolyte imbalance and an irregular heartbeat. Doctors treated him and sent him back with orders that he be given a gluten-free diet, but the jail failed to do so, the lawsuit alleges.

The Clark County prosecutor’s office declined to comment, according to the AP, while NaphCare did not immediately reply to an email seeking a response.

Critics not buying Ivanka’s support of Native heritage month

Over 2,000 mostly negative responses appeared following an Ivanka Trump tweet celebrating Native American Heritage Month.

Trump retweeted the U.S. Indian Affairs explanation of National Native American Heritage month and got an earful from critics of her father’s actions and policies affecting Native Americans.

Read the thread: https://twitter.com/IvankaTrump/status/1326963463202201602?s=20  

Watch:  Newscast guest Seneca-Cayuga Nation's first female chief 

Pictured: Sarah S. Channing was sworn in on Wednesday, September 30th as Chief of the Seneca–Cayuga Nation. Cynthia Donohue Bauer, Hoyit Bacon, Ryan Birdsong, Rebecca Depriest, and Lydia (Haught) Davis were also sworn into elected positions.
Pictured: Sarah S. Channing was sworn in on Wednesday, September 30th as Chief of the Seneca–Cayuga Nation. Cynthia Donohue Bauer, Hoyit Bacon, Ryan Birdsong, Rebecca Depriest, and Lydia (Haught) Davis were also sworn into elected positions (Photo: Seneca–Cayuga Nation)

Sarah Channing, Seneca-Cayuga Nation's first female chief, is on Monday’s Indian Country Today newscast talking about the future of her tribe. And reporter Kolby KickingWoman is back from NCAI's virtual national conference and has much to report.

"Yes, it's a very difficult time for Native tribes, but for women and especially in our tribe, the women are always behind the men. Always bringing forth all of their wisdom but we've never had a woman chief,” Channing said. “...we're hoping that more women and, and young girls look at me and say, 'Hey, I can do this.' And that to me is a great honor."

She said the tribe is having a difficult time -- its had a lot of illness and has lost some tribal members. “That part of it is the heartbreaking part. A lot of our elders have passed on and it's a difficult time for us. We're struggling, but as with everything we do, everybody is coming together. Our community is coming together and we're very proud of our people."

Kolby KickingWoman said one of the highlights of the National Congress of American Indians annual convention was a town hall with the organization's President Fawn Sharp, Quinault, and US Congressional Representatives Deb Haaland, Laguna and Jemez Pueblo, of New Mexico, and Sharice Davids, Ho-Chunk, of Kansas, both Democrats.

”Fawn laid out the policy goals for the organization moving forward, which included economic recovery for tribes stemming from COVID-19, racial and racial justice and equality, and combating climate change," KickingWoman said. "And as far as Deb and Sharice, they were really looking forward to this next session in Congress. Now that they kind of got a couple of years under their belt, as well as welcoming a new record number of Indigenous members of Congress and in the coming year."

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