2009 Native American News Archive
Native American news and events that occurred in Indian Country in 2009.
1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | Mailbag Questions Archive | Newsletter Archive
2009 Native American News Highlights
—The federal government announced that it intends to pay $3.4 billion to settle claims that it has mismanaged the revenue in American Indian trust funds, potentially ending one of the largest and most complicated class-action lawsuits ever brought against the United States.
The tentative agreementwould resolve a 13-year-old lawsuit over hundreds of thousands of land trust accounts that date to the 19th century. Specialists in federal tribal law described the lawsuit as one of the most important in the history of legal disputes involving the government’s treatment of American Indians.
—For two decades, researchers have been using a growing volume of genetic data to debate whether ancestors of Native Americans emigrated to the New World in one wave or successive waves, or from one ancestral Asian population or a number of different populations.
Now, after painstakingly comparing DNA samples from people in dozens of modern-day Native American and Eurasian groups, an international team of scientists thinks it can put the matter to rest: virtually without exception, the new evidence supports the single ancestral population theory.
—Acorns and oak trees were once a vital food source for California Indians, and the oak and its fruits still hold great cultural significance. The spread of Sudden Oak Death is of grave concern to California tribes.
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is seeking Alaska Native artists to compete in the 2009 American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month Poster Contest. The selected artist will receive $2,000 and their artwork will be reproduced into a poster for nationwide distribution.
Winning poster will kick off the 2009 American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month
The USDA National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will use the poster to kick-off the 2009 American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month in November. The poster provides an opportunity to share the history and culture of Alaska Natives and their contributions. The contest takes place in different regions around the country each year and we are pleased Alaska is hosting it this year.
Please extend this opportunity to your Tribal and shareholder artists. Only one piece of artwork will be selected for the 2009 American Indian Heritage Month poster. The theme for this year is Our Land, Our Animals, Our People: We Are One.
Details of the art contest include:
Only Alaska Native and American Indian artists are invited to submit their artwork.
Each artist must notify Molly Voeller at (907) 761-7749 or [email protected] by June 30, 2009, if they will be submitting artwork.
The artist can provide one original piece of artwork. If 2-dimensional, it should be 18 inches by 24 inches, and if 3-dimensional, it should be no less than 6 inches and no greater than 3 feet in size. All pieces must be ready for reproduction or professional photography.
A short story or description about the artwork must be included. Maximum length is 200 words.
Artwork should reflect the theme Our Land, Our Animals, Our People: We are One.
The artwork must be delivered to Molly Voeller, Alaska NRCS Public Affairs Specialist, USDA NRCS State Office, 800 W. Evergreen, Suite 100, Palmer, AK 99645, by July 1, 2009. Shipping damages are at the artist’s risk.
NRCS will purchase the artwork from the artist at the rate of $2,000.
NRCS and the selected artist will sign a contractual agreement to set forth the terms of procurement and rights of the two parties.
NRCS has the right to reproduce and distribute copies of the artwork at its discretion.
View Previous Winning Artwork
Posters of previous winning artwork are available to view at this website: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/NEWS/thisweek/2008/110508/indianposters.html
We hope Alaska Native artists take advantage of this opportunity to promote and share their heritage and showcase their talent. For questions, contact Molly Voeller at (907) 761-7749
Thousands of Native people from across the nation are in the capital this week to celebrate the Tuesday inauguration of the 44th president of the United States, a man who is bringing Indian Country with him to the Oval Office.
Eleven tribes will be participating in Tuesday’s inaugural parade. A powwow and American Indian Inaugural Ball will follow the swearing-in ceremony.
The indigenous peoples living in this land are still being denied three of their–endowed by the Creator–unalienable equality rights, or fundamental human rights. The right to absolute root ownership of their scared traditional/ancestral homelands, the right to be recognized and treated as full independent sovereign nations and the–freedom of religion–right to fully re-establish their traditional religions within their sacred ancestral homelands.
After sending Paul Gorski, a nationally and internationally renowned multicultural educator and social activist, the following article, an article that was posted in Indigenous Peoples Literature, for posting on his website’s Digest e-mail forum, he posted the article. And after reading the post, Amy Kasi, the Program Manager for the National MultiCultural Institute, contacted me and asked if I would allow her to post a quote of mine from the article as well as a link to my article in the National MultiCultural Institute’s upcoming October newsletter. I said “YES”, and it was recently post on the NMCI’s October newsletter. It is posted on the newsletter’s SPOTLIGHT display.
On the 4th of July, most of us, being in agreement with our nation’s founding fathers’ 1776 signing of the Declaration of Independence, celebrated Independence Day. The declaration addressed taxation without representation, tyranny, liberty, governance and the “unalienable rights” of all people – rights that were “endowed by the Creator”. It was about colonist leaders’ struggle to define those ideas for themselves and multitudes of early immigrants living amongst the homelands of [existing] independent indigenous sovereign nations.
These indigenous nations possessed full independent sovereign nation status – which England, the Pope and the early immigrants [including our founding fathers] refused to recognize. This was an injustice that violated the– “endowed by the Creator”–unalienable right of indigenous nations to be rightfully recognized and treaded as independent sovereign nations with absolute root ownership of their homelands.
A United Nations World Conference Against Racism document presents information about this topic: “Historians and academics agree that the colonization of the New World saw extreme expressions of racism – massacres, forced-march relocations, the ‘Indian wars’, death by starvation and disease. Today, such practices would be called ethnic cleansing and genocide.”
“In the fifteenth century, two Papal Bulls set the stage for European domination of the New World and Africa. Romanus Pontifex …declared war against all non-Christians throughout the world, and specifically sanctioned and promoted the conquest, colonization, and exploitation of non-Christian nations and their territories. Inter Caetera ….officially established Christian dominion over the New World. It called for the subjugation of the native inhabitants and their territories,….”
“The Papal Bulls have never been revoked, although indigenous representatives have asked the Vatican to consider doing so. These ‘doctrines of discovery’ provided the basis for both the ‘law of nations’ and subsequent international law. Thus, they allowed Christian nations to claim ‘unoccupied lands’ (terra nullius), or lands belonging to ‘heathens’ or ‘pagans’. In many parts of the world, these concepts later gave rise to the situation of many Native peoples in the today – dependent nations or wards of the State,…”
Our nation stole Native lands and denied Native peoples (tribes) their right to independent sovereign nation status. Why and how did these atrocities occur? The British government had afforded Native lands a measure of protection by the Royal Proclamation of 1763 which had attempted to restrict colonial expansion beyond the Appalachian Mountains, and had alienated many American colonists. Likewise, many Native people knew that the American Revolutionary war against Britain was an unjust war, waged (in part) to gain the unrestricted ability to steal more of their peoples’ homelands and subjugate more of their people.
The U.S. Declaration of Independence accused King George III of unleashing “merciless Indian Savages” against innocent American colonists. The image of the trespassing-thieving-subjugating-genocidal-religious sectarian and white supremacist American colonists being “innocent” as well as the image of the brave and righteous Native people who fought on the British side in the Revolution in order to protect their Native liberties and homelands as “merciless Indian Savages” fixed a delusional and self-serving memory and imagination of the Native people’s role in the Revolution and wrongly justified their subsequent extreme mistreatment.
American colonists mistakenly believed that the Native people who were fighting on Britain’s side were fighting for the continuation of British monarchy and tyranny. A nation conceived in liberty need feel no remorse about committing genocide against those who had fought against its birth.
The subjugation of this land’s red indigenous nations and peoples by European colonization was a terrible injustice. And the establishment of a foreign–predominately white raced–independent sovereign nation throughout this land was even worse.
Most of the founding fathers were Masons. At that time, no nation believed in the “concept of freedom of religion”, including this land’s indigenous nations. In fact, at that time, the only place such an insane concept was to be found was in Masonry. From that perspective, America was actually founded on a Masonic principle, so that the basis and principle of national unity could no longer be officially based on the people’s unified religious beliefs. This Masonic principle, which is a founding principle of America, is an unholy principle that–at the time of America’s birth–the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, the Protestant King of England and the indigenous peoples of this land were opposed to.
In the Declaration of Independence the founding fathers defined and declared their supposed “righteous justification” for committing treason – by renouncing their English King’s rule over them. And they also established an illegitimate sovereign nation on land they stole from independent indigenous sovereign nations. The founding fathers wrongly separated themselves from the Pope and their King and then established an unholy and illegitimate nation state, the United States of America.
Our founding fathers did not respect this land’s indigenous nations and peoples’ unalienable human rights. And did not respect them, because they were under the spell of Pope Alexander VI and the King of England’s 15th century evil propaganda, as put forth in the “Doctrine of Discovery“ . I define this doctrine as being an indigenous peoples’ independent nations denying and land stealing doctrine. This doctrine was religious sectarian, Eurocentric, White racist and caused genocide and ethnocide to be perpetrated against this land’s indigenous peoples.
In 1823, the Doctrine of Discovery was quietly adopted into U.S. law by the Supreme Court in the celebrated case, [Johnson v. M’Intosh]. In respect to this Supreme Court case, Steve Newcomb, an internationally renowned legal scholar, wrote: “Writing for the unanimous court, Chief Justice John Marshall observed that Christian European nations had assumed ‘ultimate dominion’ over the lands of America during the Age of Discovery, and that–upon ‘discovery’–the Indians had lost ‘their rights to complete sovereignty, as independent nations,’ and only retained a right of ‘occupancy’ in their lands. In other words, Indian nations were subject to the ultimate authority of the first nation of Christendom to claim possession of a given region of Indian lands.”
“According to Marshall, the United States–upon winning its independence in 1776–became a successor nation to the right of ‘discovery’ and acquired the power of ‘dominion’ from Great Britain. Of course, when Marshall first defined the principle of ‘discovery,’ he used language phrased in such a way that it drew attention away from its religious bias, stating that ‘discovery gave title to the government, by whose subject, or by whose authority, the discovery was made, against all other European governments.'”
“However, when discussing legal precedent to support the court’s findings, Marshall specifically cited the English charter issued to the explorer John Cabot, in order to document England’s ‘complete recognition’ of the Doctrine of Discovery. Then, paraphrasing the language of the charter, Marshall noted that Cabot was authorized to take possession of lands, ‘notwithstanding the occupancy of the natives, who were heathens, and, at the same time, admitting the prior title of any Christian people who may have made a previous discovery.'”
Ironically, the same year that the Johnson v. McIntosh decision was handed down, founding father James Madison wrote: “Religion is not in the purview of human government. Religion is essentially distinct from civil government, and exempt from its cognizance; a connection between them is injurious to both.”
Most of us were taught growing up that the United States Constitution is designed to keep church and state apart. However, contrary to what we were taught, with the Johnson decision, the Christian Doctrine of Discovery was not only written into U.S. law but also became the cornerstone of U.S. Indian policy. The U.S. government was bent on promoting the establishment of a particular religion [Christianity], to the extent that it denied the Native pagan peoples their fundamental human rights. And because of the present-day existence of Johnson v. M’Intosh (and subsequent laws based on it), the U.S. government still continues to show perference toward Christianity and disfavors as well as suppresses the full restoration of traditional Native religions. And does so, by not repealing Johnson v. M’Intosh and subsequently giving the Native peoples’ sacred homelands back to them.
Johnson v. M’Intosh is based on a Christian religious doctrine that is inconsistent with the Constitution’s–prohibiting Congress from preferring one religion over another–religious clause of the First Amendment. Johnson v. M’Intosh is therefore in violation of the U.S. Constitution . This U.S. law also violates three unalienable fundamental human rights of indigenous peoples living in this land. This is in violation of the Declaration of Independence as well as internationally recognized norms of human rights declarations.
According to the Declaration of Independence “all people are created equal” and their–endowed by the Creator–“unalienable rights” are suppose to be respected. However, indigenous people living in this land are not considered equal. Because of their ancestors’ religious status at the time of their “discovery” by European colonizers, today’s Native people are still being denied [by the United States] their unalienable equality rights to have absolute root ownership of their homelands, and be recognized and treated as independent sovereign nations.
When it was legal to own black African slaves in our nation’s southern states, many U.S. citizens living in the northern states, including the President of the United States [Abraham Lincoln], decided to wage war against the southern states in order to save the Union as well as set the enslaved Africans free. And by doing so, show due respect for their–“endowed by the Creator”–unalienable equality right to be free people. The enslaved Africans were being denied their fundamental human right to be free people, and our nation set them free.
However, the indigenous peoples living in this land our still being denied three of their–endowed by the Creator–unalienable equality rights, or fundamental human rights. The right to absolute root ownership of their scared traditional/ancestral homelands, the right to be recognized and treated as full independent sovereign nations and the–freedom of religion–right to fully re-establish their traditional religions within their sacred ancestral homelands.
If we were to consider the indigenous peoples living in this land as being equal we would have to give their homelands back to them as well as give them due respect by recognizing and treating their nations as independent sovereign nations. And by doing so, we would be acknowledging that our “nation” is an illegitimate nation state.
How can a foreign people of a different race, language, religion and culture invade another peoples’ homelands and establish a legitimate independent sovereign nation on their land? It’s impossible.
When the Declaration of Independence was signed what happened to the indigenous people living in this land? The decisions that the earliest European colonizers (15th century popes) and the founding fathers made are why, after 500-plus years, indigenous people are still standing here trying to influence us to recognize that their nations are independent sovereign nations and our nation is an illegitimate “nation” established on their land, their continent.
Kevin White, a writer for Indian Country Today, wrote, in his July 25, 2008 article, Toward Indigenous Independence: “In the 1898 Curtis Act and the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act, the U.S. abolished tribal governments first and then required elected forms of governance with constitutions modeled on the U.S. to be recognized in the latter act – this despite many objections of indigenous nations and forms of governance that have existed since long before contact with the West.”
“Even treaty making came to an abrupt and permanent end by an act of the U.S. Congress in 1871 without any thought to existing sovereign indigenous nations’ positions, questions or consultation. I wonder what would happen if England suddenly and arbitrarily decided the 1776 Declaration of Independence no longer applied the way the U.S. did in 1871 regarding treaty making?”
I call for England (queen) and the Vatican (pope) to disavow and rescind the claimed validity of the U.S. Declaration of Independence that was used by the United States’ founding fathers–in defiance of England’s governing authority over them–to establish an illegitimate nation. A “nation” that from its birth denied the New World’s indigenous nations and peoples their– “endowed by the Creator”–unalienable human rights to absolute root ownership of their homelands and independent sovereign nations status and rights.
Maine’s Episcopal diocese is the first in the continental United States to protest against the Doctrine of Discovery. “The diocese passed a resolution at their annual convention calling for Queen Elizabeth and the Archbishop of Canterbury to disavow and rescind the claimed validity of the doctrine of discovery against all peoples, specifically as it is set forth in the 1496 Royal Charter granted to John Cabot and his sons by King Henry VII, and all other doctrines that have been relied thereon for the dispossession of lands and the subjugation of non-Christian peoples….”
Our nation’s founding fathers declared to the King of England: ”In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A nation-state [Prince] whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of free people.”
In respect to the government of the United States, have not the indigenous nations and peoples of this land been doing the exact same thing and receiving similar, and even more harmful, repeated injury ever since the establishment of our nation to the present-day? Is not our nation like a tyrant, and unfit to rule over this land’s indigenous people? People who would like to be free from our nation’s tyranny?
If the U.S. Declaration of Independence and revolutionary war is what freed the colonists from the tyrannical rule of an English monarch, what would the different indigenous sovereign nations of this land have to declare and peacefully resist to be free of the tyranny of the United States?
Resistance precedent: Proposed Oglala Lakota Constitutional Declaration of Independence…..The title of Birgil Kills Straight and Steven Newcomb’s proposed constitution is, Toward an Oglala Lakota Constitution – Statement of Basic Principles. Birgil Kills Straight and Steven Newcomb are the co-founders and co-directors of Indigenous Law Institute. Here’s the introduction statement of their proposed Oglala Lakota Constitution: We, the People of the Oceti Sakowin, have existed rightfully free and independent since the beginning of time. As a sovereign Nation, we are, and forever shall be, rightfully free and independent. Accordingly, we the People of the Oglala Lakota Nation have the inherent right to establish any government for ourselves. This is but an exercise of our inherent power and vested right of self-determination.
Another precedent: The Hawaiian Kingdom Government, a 70 member group of native Hawaiians, recently demand sovereignty for the Pacific island. They locked themselves in the Inlani Palace, one of Honolulu’s most popular attractions, and demanded independence from the United States.
Another precedent: Echoing the methods of the 1776 American Declaration of Independence, a small Lakotah native delegation of outsiders arrived at the U.S. State Department and produced a list of grievances–including the disappearance of their culture and the theft of their natural resources–before announcing that the Lakotah formally and unilaterally withdraws from all agreements and treaties imposed by the United States. This was a group of Lakotah outsiders’ “Lakotah” declaration of independence from the United States.
Another precedent: On September 2, 2008, members of the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires) of the Dakota Oyate reclaimed their people’s sacred Minnesota Coldwater Spring site, where there is [a] Dakota creation story. The Dakota (including the Dakota, Lakota and Nakota) are claiming their inherent right to their sacred sites. Because the U.S. did not keep the meager terms of a 1805 treaty, a treaty that provided the Dakota special rights to their Coldwater Springs site, as well as to 155,000 acres around the site, members of the Dakota Oyate have questioned the legitimacy of the United States government and the State of Minnesota to occupy this land base and are know occupying their sacred Coldwater Springs site as well as claiming their people’s inherent right to absolute root ownership of this sacred Dakota site.
Canadian precedent: The MNN Mohawk Nation News Staff state in an article titled, Why Canada is not legally a state, that: “Before European ‘visitors’ floated over the ocean and stumbled onto our shores, we formed a federation according to our constitution Kaianerehkowa. The Rotinoshonni:onwe Confederacy is made up of Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora. The Rotinoshonni:onwe Confederacy never gave possession of any territory to any European people. So far Canadians do not understand or acknowledge that we never agreed to join their colonial regime or to give up our original law or nationality. The Rotinoshonini:onwe Confederacy has never been legally incorporated into Canada and remains independent.” The Haudenosaunee Six Nations are independent indigenous sovereign nations.
Note: This article, including reference links, can be viewed and read at: http://www.care2.com/c2c/share/detail/843590
By Thomas Dahlheimer