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Continuing ‘to sell Indigenous people down the river for the sake of energy special interests’

On the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote to John Ehrlichman that there was an opportunity to educate the country about global warming. "Clearly this is an opportunity to get the President usefully and positively involved with a large student movement," he wrote in documents recently released by the Nixon Library.

Over the next 50 years there has been debate, threats, and dire predictions about the future. But action? Not so much.

"This could increase the average temperature near the earth's surface by 7 degrees Fahrenheit," wrote Moynihan, then a counselor to President Richard Nixon. "This in turn could raise the level of the sea by 10 feet. Goodbye New York. Goodbye Washington, for that matter."

When President Barack Obama took office in 2009, there were more initiatives. This time a proposed “cap and trade” mechanism to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Nope.

Three years ago a coalition in Congress promoted the “Build Green,” a dramatic legislative agenda to exchange fossil fuels for clean energy. The plan was to spend $500 billion on sustainable energy projects and invest upwards of $300 billion dollars in infrastructure. Proponents promised nearly a million new jobs and a drop in carbon dioxide emissions of 21.5 million metric tons.

But the votes weren’t there, the jobs weren’t created. READ MORE. Mark Trahant, ICT

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Trial challenging new voter voting laws in Montana to begin

Montana tribal governments and Indigenous rights organizations will get a chance to prove allegations that new state voting laws disproportionately make it harder for Native people to vote when a trial for lawsuits they filed starts next week.

The Native American Rights Fund, one of the civil and Indigenous rights groups involved in the cases that will argue against the laws, said in a press release on Thursday that the trial is set to begin Monday at 8:30 a.m. Mountain time.

The trial will address a lawsuit, Western Native Voice et al v. Jacobsen et al, aiming to prevent two new state laws that four Montana tribal nations and two Indigenous voter participation organizations, Western Native Voice and Monta Native Vote have alleged would unfairly restrict the ability of Indigenous people in the state to vote from taking effect.

One of the measures, House Bill 176, ended election day vote registration, which the tribes and tribal voting groups said Native people disproportionately take advantage of. The other, House Bill 530, banned third-party ballot collection, which is the only way many Indigenous people who live in rural parts of reservations, lack reliable transportation or otherwise are unable to get drop off their own ballot, rely on. The Montana tribes and groups suing argue that the law is nearly identical to a similar measure that Montana courts in 2020 had deemed unconstitutional because it disproportionately harmed Indigenous communities’ ability to vote.

The two measures were among several voting administration changes passed during the state Legislature in 2021 that prompted lawsuits because they improperly restricted the ability to vote in the state.

The two lawsuits challenging house bills 176 and 530 were merged with two other lawsuits into one case, according to NARF.

Arguments challenging another law enacted after being passed by the Legislature in 2021, Senate Bill 169, will be heard during the trial. That law limited the ability of college students to use their school IDs to register to vote.

A judge has already found another new voting law, House Bill 506, which critics said made absentee voting more difficult for new voters, unconstitutional, NARF said in the release.

The trial can be streamed via Zoom. For those interested, the meeting ID is: 406 215 2097 and the password is: 2097.

The trial, which will be heard in Montana 13th Judicial District Court in Billings, is expected to go through August 26.

In addition to NARF, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Montana and Harvard Law School’s election law clinic will argue on behalf of the Montana tribes and Native voting rights organizations. — Chris Aadland, ICT

Interior to process applications for Alaska Native Vietnam vet allotments

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The Department of Interior is ready to start processing applications from eligible Alaska Vietnam-era veterans for land selections for Native allotments. Almost 27 million acres of Alaska land will be available for selections.

Under the Alaska Native Vietnam Era Veterans Land Allotment Program, eligible individuals can select an allotment of up to 160 acres from the available federal lands in Alaska.

“This announcement is a significant accomplishment in honoring our sacred obligation to America’s veterans,” said Secretary Deb Haaland, whose father served during the Vietnam War. “The Department is proud to move forward expeditiously so that Alaska Native Vietnam-era veterans are able to select the land allotments they are owed, with an expansive selection area.”

As ICT reported, Secretary Haaland and BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning announced the decision to open lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management during an April 2022 visit to Anchorage.

Afterward veteran Nelson Angapak, Sr., Yup’ik, said Haaland, who is Laguna Pueblo, understands Alaska Natives and where they’re coming from. “We are grateful that through her efforts and the efforts of the Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management, the land base for our veterans has expanded. They so deserve that opportunity. They so deserve that opportunity. I'm grateful for that,” Angapak said.

The bureau has received 203 applications so far. For more information, visit the Bureau of Land Management’s program page. — ICT

Washington tribe’s project will provide safety from deadly tsunami waves

There’s a new option to escape a tsunami for people on the southwest coast of Washington.

The Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe dedicated a 50-foot tall evacuation tower in Tokeland, Washington, on Friday, the Northwest News Network reported.

When the next magnitude 9.0 rip of the offshore Cascadia fault zone happens, people on the Pacific Northwest coast will have some 15 to 35 minutes to get to high ground to escape a possible tsunami.

Tokeland is on a long, flat peninsula with no high ground within walking or running distance for many there.

Shoalwater tribal council member Lynn Clark said at the dedication ceremony that the tower will save lives. Tribal leaders and the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it should be an example and inspiration for other vulnerable coastal communities. READ MORE. Associated Press

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Newscast: Mental health resources for Native vets - Indian Country Today

Copper mine fight threatening sacred Apache lands continues

Superior, Arizona Mayor Mila Besich comes from a family of miners, so she knows it takes a long time to open a mine. But even she is getting frustrated by the years of reviews and court challenges to the proposed Resolution Copper mine.

“The Resolution Copper project is a very important piece of our community’s economic development,” Besich said recently. “Mining has always been a part of our economy and our community.”

The nearby Magma copper mine closed in 1996 and Resolution moved in in 2004, promising to bring thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in salary back to the area by exploiting what has been called one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper deposits.

Critics say it will bring more than that.

They say the mine will leave behind a 1,000-foot deep crater almost 2 miles across, dump millions of tons of toxic mine waste, threaten area water supplies, destroy land that is sacred to the Apache and ruin habitat relied on by hundreds of species, some endangered. READ MORE. Cronkite News

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