A difficult pie to slice

Chief of the Yupiit Nation in Akiak, Alaska Michael Williams, Sr. is on the show to talk about the legal battle on the CARES Act funding. Plus national correspondent Mary Annette Pember has the latest on the Enbridge pipeline.
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Michael Williams, Sr., who is Yupiit, joins the show to discuss a U.S. Supreme Court case heard back in January that was on who gets a share of $8 billion dollars in federal coronavirus relief called the CARES Act. The Lower courts were split on whether Alaska Native corporations, which own most Native land in the state under a 1971 settlement, should be in the mix.

Corporate social responsibility sounds pretty positive. But what does it mean? For some corporations, it might mean the company will consider its impact on the local communities, economy and environment. National correspondent Mary Annette Pember is on the show with more on her series about the Enbridge Line 3 project. Her latest story called, “Enbridge taps new approach for pipelines,” is on our website now. 

A slice of our Indigenous world

  • How 8.5 billion in federal funding could help devastated Native American communities. 
    Although vaccination efforts are in full swing, COVID-19 is still devastating Native Americans across Indian County.
  • The sale of the National Archives building in Seattle is being stopped by the Biden administration. 
  • Mohegan culture and history will be on the court for every game the Connecticut Sun play this year.

Find more details on these stories at the top of today's newscast.

Some quotes from today's show.

Michael Williams, Sr.:

"Well I think it all started when I was still in high school when that debate of settling land claims times because of the oil in the North. We started looking at what was going to be the best deal for Alaska Natives. And I think the sudden congressional delegation feelings were that the Indian tribes of the lower 48 are very poor and that we need to have a different settlement."

"And my being in Chemawa Indian School and studying the proposal by the oil companies and congressional delegation, we studied that and looking at the condition from Indian Country and reservations and et cetera. But we read the claims and we were concerned about three things. About the land, who is going to manage our land. And we did not agree as young people that the tribal government should be the ones managing our own lands."

"Number two, the hunting and fishing rights were extinguished. And and we did not agree with that because of our ongoing need to eat our fish and wildlife to live on, the subsistence way of life. We should always have that. And the third thing was we were very concerned because we are going to have children at some point and those kids that were born after December 18, 1971 did not have any shares because of that magical date of December 18, 1971."

Mary Annette Pember:

"They really began, I think in earnest, after they purchased a share of the Dakota Access pipeline. That was the the project that water protectors were protesting at Standing Rock, which was a global event. And I think they learned a great deal from that. Actually the Sisters of Charity had a small holding within the Dakota Access pipeline."

"They took a resolution to the shareholders meeting, asking for more engagement with Indigenous peoples on the ground. It didn't pass the resolution. However, it got like a 30% support. So Enbridge I think really took this opportunity to run with the tenants of corporate social responsibility and they actually created a whole document about their policies for Indigenous people."

"That will be really interesting. And that was really one of the things that I started wondering about. I had noticed that Enbridge was doing a lot of a heralding of their work with the Indigenous peoples on their website. They have many videos and little kind of pull out stories of Native people that work for them. Kate Finn at First Peoples Worldwide. She and her colleagues actually created a paper in response to Enbridges paper on the work that they're doing with Indigenous peoples."

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Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @TrahantReports Trahant is based in Phoenix. 

Patty Talahongva, Hopi, is executive producer of Indian Country Today. Follow her on Twitter: @WiteSpider

Mary Annette Pember, Red Cliff Ojibwe, is national correspondent for Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @mapember. Based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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