Indian Country headlines for Wednesday

In this 2010 photo, Coquille Indian Tribe foresters Tim Vredenburg, middle, and Jason Robison, right, lead auditor Craig Howard through the Coquille Forest in Coos Bay, Oregon. (AP Photo/The World, Nate Traylor, File)

Indian Country Today

Stories we’re following on Oct. 21, 2020: Coquille Tribe to manage forests; Standing Rock Sioux, others make new move to stop DAPL; cyber attack closes Idaho casinos; and more

Northwest tribe receives authority to manage forest lands

The Coquille Indian Tribe in southwest Oregon has become the first tribe in the nation to receive federal approval to manage its trust forest lands and resources.

Through the Indian Trust Asset Management Plan, the tribe is set up to showcase Indigenous knowledge and practices that have been passed down since time immemorial, Coquille Chairman Brenda Meade said in a news release of the announcement.

"We're grateful for the opportunity to prove that we can manage a diverse, sustainable forest while generating revenue to meet our people’s needs,” Meade said. “We’re going to show people a better way to do things.”

Mark Johnston, the tribe’s executive director, added that the tribe prides itself on being bold and innovative.

“Being the first tribe to have an approved ITAMP is an honor and challenge that we take seriously, and we are well-prepared to carry the burden of going first,” he said.

The ability for tribes to exercise this authority was made possible by the 2016 Indian Trust Asset Reform Act, which created an avenue to expand tribal self-determination. The Coquille Indian Tribe began developing its plan in 2019 and submitted it to the federal government in June.

Tribes make new push to stop DAPL

In this Oct. 5, 2016, file photo, heavy equipment is seen at a site where sections of the Dakota Access pipeline were being buried near the town of St. Anthony in Morton County, N.D. The Texas-based developer of the Dakota Access oil pipeline says it has complied with terms of a 2017 agreement settling allegations it violated North Dakota rules during construction, though state regulators are seeking more information. Energy Transfer Partners was accused of removing too many trees and improperly handling a pipeline route change after discovering Native American artifacts. (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP, File)
In this Oct. 5, 2016, photo, heavy equipment is seen at a site where sections of the Dakota Access pipeline were being buried near St. Anthony, North Dakota. (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP, File)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Tribes opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline once again have asked a federal judge to stop the flow of oil while the legal battle over the line's future plays out. 

Standing Rock Sioux and others say potential harm to their water supply outweighs any economic impacts of shutting down the line, which has been moving North Dakota oil to Illinois for more than 3 years.

The Standing Rock Sioux and other tribes succeeded on their first attempt, only to have an appeals court overturn U.S. District Judge James Boasberg's shutdown order earlier this year. Now, they're asking the judge to clarify his earlier ruling to satisfy the appellate judges and then to again order the line to cease operations, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

"The Tribes are irreparably harmed by the ongoing operation of the pipeline, through the exposure to catastrophic risk, through the ongoing trauma of the government's refusal to comply with the law, and through undermining the Tribes' sovereign governmental role to protect their members and respond to potential disasters," attorneys Jan Hasselman and Nicole Ducheneaux wrote in a Friday filing.

Judge denies tribes' bid to halt Keystone pipeline work

Pictured: Keystone Pipeline in proximity to tribal lands.
(Photo: Indigenous Environmental Network)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge has denied a request by Montana tribes to halt construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada over worries about potential spills and damage to cultural sites.

Work started this spring on the pipeline, which would carry oil sands crude from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Nebraska. However, much of it is stalled after a separate ruling in July by the nation's top court.

The decision last week involves the Assiniboine and Gros Ventre tribes of the Fort Belknap Indian Community in Montana and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota.

The tribes say Trump's 2019 permit violated their rights under treaties from the mid-1800s.

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U.S. District Judge Brian Morris said in an Oct. 16 ruling that the tribes did not show they would suffer irreparable harm from the work that's been done so far.

He did not make a final ruling, and invited further arguments.

Work on much of the pipeline itself is on hold after a U.S. Supreme Court this summer upheld a lower court ruling that invalidated a permit needed for the pipeline to cross hundreds of rivers and other water bodies along its route.

That case was referred back to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for further consideration.

5 Alaska tribes protest groundwork for Tongass logging

Raft of logs being towed by a barge. (Photo by Ted McGrath, courtesy of Creative Commons)

Five tribal nations of southeast Alaska are objecting to a federal agency decision that leaves the U.S. Forest Service poised to open 9 million acres in the Tongass National Forest to logging.

The federal agency recently recommended lifting a 2001 rule that bans new road construction and commercial logging in the Tongass, the country’s largest national forest at nearly 17 million acres.

The five Tlingit and Haida tribes say they’re deeply disappointed with the agency’s choice.

Last week, they sent a strongly worded letter to the U.S. secretary of agriculture and chief of the Forest Service opting out of “cooperating agency status,” which had allowed them to enter the planning process at the earliest stage and contribute to environmental analyses.

“After two years of consultations, meetings, providing input and commenting on drafts, the release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement shows that our participation in this process has not actually led to the incorporation of any of our concerns in the final decision,” the letter said. “We refuse to endow legitimacy upon a process that has disregarded our input at every turn.”

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Cyber attack closes two Idaho tribal casinos

A major computer systems disruption closed the Clearwater River Casino & Lodge and the It’se Ye-Ye Casino earlier this month according to a statement from the casinos.

A team of experts determined the cause was an external cyber attack. The two casinos closed Oct. 8 and reopened Monday.

“Fortunately we were able to mitigate the severity of the impact of this malicious attack and while this is an unfortunate occurrence, we know it is a modern day reality for every business,” stated Nez Perce Tribal Enterprise Executive Officer Kermit Mankiller

The cyber attack encrypted any data that was on the network, making all information inaccessible. Each device was scanned and reset.

“The privacy and security of our guests is a top priority and thankfully we can confirm that there was not a data breach. We are confident that no personal information stored in our systems was shared or compromised,” continued Mankiller. “In addition, I guarantee our security protocols will be even stronger and more sophisticated going forward.

Watch: 'Going to fail': Using McGirt to disestablish tribal nations

Mary-Kathryn-Nagle

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the landmark McGirt v. Oklahoma case, it was seen as a victory for tribal sovereignty. However, not everyone is celebrating. Cherokee citizen and attorney Mary Kathryn Nagle explains the validity of concerns a conservative think tank has brought to the entire congressional delegation from Oklahoma.

Also on the newscast: Every fall for more than 50 years, Alaska Natives get together for the statewide Alaska Federation of Natives convention. National correspondent Joaqlin Estus shares how this year's virtual conference went and what caught her eye.

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