Indian Country Headlines for Tuesday

Indian Country Today

A look at the headlines around Indian Country

It’s been an eventful week in Indigenous news. Here is what we’re still talking about this morning.

'Historic day' for Standing Rock as pipeline company told to shut down, remove oil

A federal judge has ordered the Dakota Access Pipeline to shut down and remove all oil within 30 days, a huge win for Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and the other plaintiffs.

In a 24-page order, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg wrote that he was "mindful of the disruption" that shutting down the pipeline would cause, but that it must be done within 30 days. The order comes after Boesberg said in April that a more extensive review was necessary than what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had already conducted and that he would consider whether the pipeline would have to be shuttered during the new assessment.

“Following multiple twists and turns in this long-running litigation, this Court recently found that Defendant U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had violated the National Environmental Policy Act when it granted an easement to Defendant-Intervenor Dakota Access, LLC to construct and operate a segment of that crude-oil pipeline running beneath the lake,” said the opinion from Boasberg.

Black Hills treaty defender faces felony charges

The leader of an Indigenous-led advocacy organization, who spent the holiday weekend in jail after defending his people’s unceded territory in the Black Hills, called the serious charges he’s facing “bullshit.”

Nick Tilsen, Oglala Lakota, president and CEO of NDN Collective, is charged with multiple offenses, including two felonies, related to the July 3 Mount Rushmore protest that ended with 20 treaty defenders - 19 adults and one juvenile — in jail, according to the Pennington County Sheriff's Office. One counter protester was also jailed, and additional arrests may happen as video is being reviewed along with additional interviews, according to the sheriff’s office.

“How could it be possible that these things are breaking the law when all I was doing was standing with my people on my own land that was rightfully ours in the first place?” Tilsen said. “We were greeted with aggression, we were greeted with racism, and we were greeted by excessive use by these police officers.”

He called the justice system a “construct of White supremacy.”

WATCH: America 'called out' to re-examine white supremacy at Mount Rushmore

This weekend as the president staged a fourth of July rally at Mount Rushmore, treaty defenders took a stand to remind Americans the Black Hills are sacred and the 1868 treaty still stands. About 100 treaty defenders blocked the road leading into Mount Rushmore. The standoff was organized by NDN Collective. This non profit group was founded to build the collective power of Indigenous peoples and help create a world built on justice and equity for all people and the planet.

Sarah Sunshine Manning is the communications director. She gives us an update on the standoff and what may happen next.

"I think the next things are that are going to happen is that we're going to continue to see this momentum. There's no more hiding anymore. Prior to the advent of the internet and Indigenous people being visible and media, our geographic isolation meant that a lot of people didn't know you existed. They couldn't hear our voices. They didn't hear our perspectives. And that time is long past. Our voices are loud. Our voices won't be silenced and they're just growing and growing. Our younger generations are becoming more and more articulate or becoming more aware of the laws of the colonizers were becoming articulate and are being well adjusted to this world that we're living in. We know how to fight and we don't stop."

Target pulls merchandise as leaders ask NFL to force name change

President Donald Trump tweeted his support for the Washington NFL franchise Monday, the same day more than 14 Native leaders and organizations penned a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell asking him to require the team to “immediately change” its name.

Meanwhile, major retail corporation Target joined Walmart and Nike in pulling merchandise of the Washington NFL franchise from their online shops. A Target representative confirmed to Barron’s, a financial and investment news organization, that merchandise was removed from its website as of Monday morning.

The letter from Native leaders asks the NFL commissioner to eliminate “any and all” Native imagery in the team’s logo, including Native terms, feathers and arrows, among a number of other “non-negotiable” requests.

Justices rule states can bind presidential electors' votes

Faith Spotted Eagle, Yankton, made history in the 2016 election when she received Electoral College votes for president.

Now the Supreme Court said Monday that states can require presidential electors to back their states' popular vote winner in the Electoral College.

The ruling, just under four months before the 2020 election, leaves in place laws in 32 states and the District of Columbia that bind electors to vote for the popular-vote winner, as electors almost always do anyway.

So-called faithless electors have not been critical to the outcome of a presidential election, but that could change in a race decided by just a few electoral votes. It takes 270 electoral votes to win the presidency.

A state may instruct "electors that they have no ground for reversing the vote of millions of its citizens," Justice Elena Kagan wrote in her majority opinion that walked through American political history and contained pop culture references to "Veep" and "Hamilton."

Washington NFL team’s Standing Rock moment

There’s a story you’ve probably seen on social media. Maybe you even shared it. It goes like this: The Washington NFL team will likely change its name because big money weighed in, FedEx, Nike, Walmart. So it wasn’t the moral argument. It wasn’t the litigation. And it wasn’t even the voices of tribal leaders, activists and others who have been working on this issue for decades.

That story is wrong.

Suzan Harjo, Hodulgee Muscogee and Cheyenne, and many others who have been leading the fight against the Washington NFL franchise set out a strategy decades ago that included pressuring investors and business partners of the team. Last week, 88 investors representing over $620 billion in assets sent letters to Nike, FedEx and Pepsi that urged those companies to terminate their business and public relationships with the Washington team.

The letter to Ramon Laguarta, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Inc., is an example.

“Many of us have raised this issue with Pepsi for years to little avail,” wrote the investors. “But in light of the Black Lives Matter movement that [has] focused the world’s attention on centuries of systemic racism, we are witnessing a fresh outpouring of opposition to the team name. Therefore, it is time for Pepsi to meet the magnitude of this moment, to make their opposition to the racist team name clear, and to take tangible and meaningful steps to exert pressure on the team to cease using it.”

COVID-19 update in Indian Country

The number of deaths related to COVID-19 has passed 500 in Indian Country.

ICYMI: Kumeyaay Nation in California blocks border wall construction

Citizens of the Kumeyaay Nation in Campo, California, stood in front of pre-construction blasting, reported the Los Angeles Times. Construction was supposed to start Monday, June 29 approximately 75 miles east of San Diego and was postponed. The tribe’s ancestral homelands straddle the U.S.-Mexico border. 

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