Indian Country in the News: Aug. 19 - 26, 2011
This week's news highlights include a Supreme Court ruling from the nation's second-largest tribe to expel its slave descendants, a look at the complications and controversies of federal recognition; accusations in Bolivia following a protest over indigenous rights and the environment, the Seneca tribe's plans to overhaul its economy and continued protests across the U.S. and Canada against plans for a major oil pipeline:
- Reuters: Second-largest U.S. Indian tribe expels slave descendants - "The nation's second-largest Indian tribe formally booted from membership thousands of descendants of black slaves who were brought to Oklahoma more than 170 years ago by Native American owners.The Cherokee nation voted after the Civil War to admit the slave descendants to the tribe. But on Monday, the Cherokee nation Supreme Court ruled that a 2007 tribal decision to kick the so-called "Freedmen" out of the tribe was proper. The controversy stems from a footnote in the brutal history of U.S. treatment of Native Americans. When many Indians were forced to move to what later became Oklahoma from the eastern U.S. in 1838, some who had owned plantations in the South brought along their slaves."
- CSMonitor: What makes a native American tribe? - "The profiles of some federally recognized American Indian tribes have grown in recent decades as they parlayed their sovereign status to create profitable ventures such as gambling enterprises. But there are many other tribes that – never having had a reservation or simply falling through the cracks of Indian policy – are unrecognized by the United States. Scholars estimate that more than 250,000 of the 5 million who identify themselves as American Indians belong to about 300 unrecognized tribes, making them almost invisible to federal Indian law."
- Bolivia’s President Accuses USAID of Inciting Indigenous March against Highway - "Bolivian President Evo Morales is accusing the United States of inciting a march by indigenous protesters against a Brazilian-financed highway his government is intent on building through an Amazon nature preserve. Morales says his government isn’t ruling out expelling the U.S. Agency for International Development."
- NPR: Seneca Nation's New Chief Seeks To 'Change Course' - "Earlier this month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he's "actively" considering legalizing gambling in the state to raise revenue. That would create competition for casinos owned by New York's native nations. Casino and tobacco sales have turned the Seneca nation, south of Buffalo, from an impoverished territory to the fifth-largest employer in the region. But the nation's new president, Robert Odawi Porter, wants the Senecas to go beyond smoke shops and slot machines. Porter, a Harvard-educated lawyer and academic, wants to recast one of the darkest moments of the Seneca people into an economic boon."
- U.S. First Nations oppose Keystone - "The National Congress of American Indians has joined Canadian First Nations in opposition of the much debated Keystone XL pipeline project. In a statement released late last week, the NCAI said TransCanada's proposed pipeline expansion could severely impact Native American communities and "poses grave dangers if it is constructed." The statement released by NCAI, described as the nation's oldest, largest, and most representative American Indian and Alaska native advocacy organization, reaffirms the position of its members and expresses solidarity with Canadian First Nations concerned about the project."