LEGISLATIVE ALERT: SB1238 AND SB1239

Sen. Peshlakai’s SB1239 tribal nations; veterans’ services; appropriation and SB1238 appropriation; Diné college has passed out of the Committee on Commerce and Public Safety (COMPS), and the Committee on Education, respectively. The bills are now scheduled to be heard in the Senate Committee on Appropriations next Tuesday, Feb. 20 in hearing room 109. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m., or upon the adjournment of the Senate Floor Session.

You are encouraged to voice your position on the bill by using the RTS system. If you have not registered with the Legislature’s RTS system, you are welcome to email the Appropriations Committee members at the following email addresses:

 

John Kavanagh                      Chairman                   jkavanagh@azleg.gov

Warren Petersen                   Vice-Chairman          wpetersen@azleg.gov

Sylvia Allen                            Member                     sallen@azleg.gov

Sonny Borrelli                        Member                     sborrelli@azleg.gov

Olivia Cajero Bedford           Member                     obedford@azleg.gov

Karen Fann                            Member                     kfann@azleg.gov

Steve Farley                           Member                     sfarley@azleg.gov

Katie Hobbs                           Member                     khobbs@azleg.gov

Martin Quezada                    Member                     mquezada@azleg.gov

Steve Smith                           Member                     stsmith@azleg.gov

 

Thank you.

DMC

DONOVAN M. CARR

Assistant to

Senator Jamescita Mae Peshlakai

Legislative District 7

 

ARIZONA STATE SENATE

1700 W. Washington St.

Phoenix, AZ 85007

(602) 926-5164

dcarr@azleg.gov

 

President’s proposed $2.4 Billion FY19 Indian Affairs Budget includes legislation to establish infrastructure fund to improve schools

Budget prioritizes tribal self-determination, economic development, infrastructure projects and law enforcement across Indian Country

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump today proposed a $2.4 billion Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget for Indian Affairs, which includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) led by the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs. The budget request includes proposed legislation to establish a Public Lands Infrastructure Fund that would take new revenue from federal energy leasing and development to provide up to $18 billion to help pay for repairs and improvements at Bureau of Indian Education funded schools, national wildlife refuges and national parks.

“President Trump is absolutely right to call for a robust infrastructure plan that rebuilds our national parks, refuges, and Indian schools, and I look forward to helping him deliver on that historic mission,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “Our Parks and Refuges are being loved to death, but the real heart break is the condition of the schools in Indian Country. We can and must do better for these young scholars. This is not a republican or democrat issue, this is an American issue, and the President and I are ready to work with absolutely anyone in Congress who is willing to get the work done.”

“As our Indian schools are in desperate need of repair, it is reassuring that the President’s budget calls for a real way to fix them through the proposed Public Lands Infrastructure Fund,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs John Tahsuda. “This budget prioritizes improving the infrastructure that will create a stronger foundation from which we deliver our programs to tribal communities. This will allow us to continue to restore trust with them and ensure that sovereignty regains its meaning.”

Indian Affairs plays an important role in carrying out the Federal government’s trust, treaty and other responsibilities to the nation’s 573 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, which have, in total, a service population of nearly two million American Indians and Alaska Natives in tribal communities nationwide. The FY 2019 Indian Affairs budget proposal supports continuing efforts to advance self-governance and self-determination, fosters stronger economies and self-sufficiency, and supports safe Indian communities through a wide range of activities. 

Budget Overview – The 2019 President’s budget for Indian Affairs is $2.4 billion in current appropriations.

Public Lands Infrastructure Fund – The BIE manages a school system of 169 elementary and secondary schools and 14 dormitories providing educational services to 47,000 individual students in 23 States. Although many of the schools are tribally controlled and operated by the Tribes, BIE is responsible for oversight and the maintenance of the school facilities. The estimated deferred maintenance backlog for BIE schools is $634 million, which does not include the cost of replacement for the schools in the worst condition.  The Administration proposes legislation in the FY 2019 budget to establish the Public Lands Infrastructure Fund to provide up to $18.0 billion to address needed repairs and improvements in the BIE schools, as well as the national parks and national wildlife refuges.

Construction – The FY 2019 budget prioritizes rehabilitation of dams, irrigation projects, and irrigation systems which deliver water to aid tribal economic development as well as protect lives, resources, and property. The Safety of Dams program is currently responsible for 138 high or significant-hazard dams located on 43 Indian reservations.  The irrigation rehabilitation program addresses critical deferred maintenance and construction work on BIA-owned and operated irrigation facilities, including 17 irrigation projects.  

The request also prioritizes construction related to regional and agency offices serving tribal programs and operations in Indian Country including the upgrade and repair of telecommunications infrastructure and facilities housing BIA and tribal employees providing services to Indian Communities.

In addition to support through the Public Lands Infrastructure Fund, the budget proposes funding for Education Construction focusing on facility improvement and repair at existing schools.  Available funding from prior years will continue work to complete school construction on the 2004 school replacement list and proceed with design and construction for schools on the 2016 school replacement list. 

Contract Support Costs – The FY 2019 budget maintains the Administration’s support for the principles of tribal self-determination and strengthening tribal communities across Indian Country.  The request fully supports the estimated need for Contract Support assuming BIA program funding at the FY 2019 request.  The FY 2019 budget continues to request funding for Contract Support Costs in a separate indefinite current account to ensure full funding for this priority.

Land and Water Claims Settlements – The FY 2019 budget prioritizes funding to meet Indian Settlement commitments and enables the Department to meet Federal responsibilities outlined in enacted settlements with Indian Tribes.  Settlements resolve tribal land and water rights claims and ensure Tribes have access to land and water to meet domestic, economic, and cultural needs.  Many of the infrastructure projects supported in these agreements improve the health and well-being of tribal members and preserve existing economies and, over the long-term, bring the potential for jobs and economic development.  The FY 2019 budget includes $45.6 million, including sufficient funding to complete payments for the Navajo Trust Fund and the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project, both of which have enforceability dates in 2019. 

Operation of Indian Programs – The FY 2019 budget requests $2.0 billion for the Operation of Indian Programs giving priority to base program funding serving tribal communities across Indian Country.  The budget reflects Department-wide efforts to identify administrative savings and identifies $8.3 million in administrative savings attained by consolidating and sharing administrative services such as procurement, information technology, human resources, and by shifting acquisition spending to less costly contracts.  The budget also includes $900,000 to support the Department’s migration to common regional boundaries to improve service and efficiency. The Department will hold a robust consultation process with tribal nations before actions are taken with respect to Indian Affairs regions.

Promote Tribal Self-Determination – The BIA Tribal Government activity supports assistance to Tribes and Alaska Native entities to strengthen and sustain tribal government systems and support tribal self-governance through the Public Law 93-638 contracting and compacting process.

The FY 2019 budget requests $291.5 million for programs that support Tribal Government activities.  Within this, the budget includes:

  • $157.8 million for self-governance compact activities for self-governance Tribes.
  • $72.6 million to support Consolidated Tribal Government programs which also promote Indian self-determination, giving approximately 275 Tribes the flexibility to combine and manage contracted programs and grants.
  • Funding to provide initial Federal support for six Virginia Tribes federally-recognized by a 2018 Act of Congress, including the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan, and the Nansemond. Each tribe in the request would receive $160,000 to begin establishing and carrying out the day-to-day responsibilities of a tribal government.
  • $28.3 million for Road Maintenance to support pavement and gravel maintenance, remedial work on improved earth roads, bridge maintenance, and snow and ice control. The BIA maintains nearly 29,000 miles of paved, gravel and earth surface roads; and more than 900 bridges.

 

Protect Indian Country – The BIA’s Office of Justice Services (OJS) funds law enforcement, corrections and court services to support safe tribal communities.  These programs safeguard life and property, enforce laws, maintain justice and order, and ensure detained American Indian offenders are held in safe, secure, and humane environments. The 2019 budget prioritizes funding for the primary law enforcement and corrections programs, and identifies savings to minimize impacts on these critical programs.

The FY 2019 budget requests $350.1 million for Public Safety and Justice activities:

  • $326.7 million supports 190 law enforcement programs and 96 corrections programs run both by Tribes and as direct services.
  • $2.5 million targeted to address the opioid crisis which has been particularly devastating in Indian Country.
  • $22.1 million for Tribal Courts.

Support Indian Communities – Sustaining families is critical to fostering thriving Indian communities.  The BIA Office of Indian Services supports a community-based approach to child welfare, family stability, and strengthening tribal communities as a whole.

The FY 2019 budget requests $115.4 million for Human Services programs:

  • $46.6 million for Social Services and Indian Child Welfare Act programs.
  • $65.8 million for Welfare Assistance.

Manage Trust Resources and Lands – The BIA Trust-Natural Resources Management activity supports the stewardship of trust lands in Indian Country.  Natural resource programs assist Tribes in the management, development, and protection of Indian trust land and natural resources on 56 million surface acres and 59 million acres of subsurface mineral estates.  These programs enable tribal trust landowners to optimize use and conservation of resources, providing benefits such as revenue, jobs, and the protection of cultural, spiritual, and traditional resources.

The FY 2019 budget requests $153.4 million for natural resource management programs which includes agriculture, forestry, water resources, and fish, wildlife and parks activities, including:

  • $48.9 million for BIA Forestry programs to support development, maintenance, and enhancement of forest resources in accordance with sustained yield principles included in forest management plans; and
  • $28.0 million for BIA’s Agriculture and Range program to continue support for multiple use and sustained yield management on over 46 million acres of Indian trust land dedicated to crop and livestock agriculture; and
  • $11.4 million for Fish, Wildlife and Parks and $8.6 million for Water Resources management activities.

Keep Fiduciary Trust Responsibilities – The Trust-Real Estate Services activity manages Indian trust-related information to optimize the efficacy of Indian trust assets.  The 2019 budget proposes $105.5 million for real estate services programs. The budget supports the processing of Indian trust-related documents such as land title and records and geospatial data to support land and water resources use, energy development, and protection and restoration of ecosystems and important lands.  The budget also funds probate services to determine ownership of Indian trust assets essential to economic development and accurate payments to beneficiaries.

Support Economic Opportunities – The FY 2019 budget requests $35.8 million for the Community and Economic Development activity, and features investments in Indian energy activities.  The FY 2019 budget supports the Administration’s priority for domestic energy dominance and economic development, including development on tribal lands.  Income from energy and minerals production is the largest source of revenue generated from natural resources on trust lands, with royalty income of $676.0 million in 2017 payable to tribal governments and individual mineral rights owners.  The FY 2019 budget continues the commitment to the Indian Energy Service Center which coordinates Indian energy development activities across Interior’s bureaus.

Foster Tribal Student Success – The FY 2019 budget prioritizes funding for core mission programs at BIE-funded elementary and secondary school operations and Post-Secondary tribal colleges and universities. The budget focuses on direct school operations including classroom instruction, student transportation, native language development programs, cultural awareness and enrichment, and school maintenance.  In some remotely located schools, funding also supports residential costs.

The FY 2019 budget requests $741.9 million for Bureau of Indian Education programs:

  • $625.9 million for Elementary and Secondary programs, including $74.0 million for Tribal Grant Support Costs for Tribes which choose to operate BIE-funded schools.  This level will support 100 percent of the estimated requirement.
  • $92.7 million for Post-Secondary programs.
  • $23.3 million for Education Management.

Tribal Priority Allocations – The 2019 budget proposes Tribal Priority Allocation funding of $578.7 million.

Indian Guaranteed Loan Program – In order to make Indian business financing more readily available, this program offers loan guarantees and insurance covering up to 90 percent of outstanding loan principal to Indian tribes, tribal members, or for profit and not-for-profit businesses at least 51 percent Indian owned.  The FY 2019 budget requests $6.7 million to guarantee or insure $108.6 million in loan principal to support Indian economic development.

Fixed Costs – Fixed costs of $9.7 million are fully funded.

The Assistant Secretary–Indian Affairs advises the Secretary of the Interior on Indian Affairs policy issues, communicates policy to and oversee the programs of the BIA and the BIE, provides leadership in consultations with tribes, and serves as the DOI official for intra- and inter- departmental coordination and liaison within the Executive Branch on Indian matters.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ mission includes developing and protecting Indian trust lands and natural and energy resources; supporting social welfare, public safety and justice in tribal communities; and promoting tribal self-determination and self-governance. 

The Bureau of Indian Education implements federal Indian education programs and funds 183 elementary and secondary day and boarding schools (of which two-thirds are tribally operated) located on 64 reservations in 23 states and peripheral dormitories serving over 47,000 individual students. The BIE also operates two post-secondary schools and administers grants for 29 tribally controlled colleges and universities and two tribal technical colleges.

Sen. Peshlakai’s SB1235 State Holiday; Native American Day

Sen. Peshlakai has introduced her SB1235 state holiday; Native American day. This bill proposes to designate July 15 as an official state holiday—Native American Day—to recognize and celebrate the Indigenous people, culture, and heritage of Arizona. The bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Committee on Government next Wednesday, Feb. 14 at 2 p.m., or upon adjournment of the Senate Floor Session.

Sen. Peshlakai would like the 22 Tribes of Arizona to show their support of this bill by providing testimony before the Government Committee and logging their position of support online. There are several ways you can do this—by registering with the Arizona Legislature’s ‘Request To Speak’ (RTS) system and either requesting to speak before the Committee, or logging your support of the bill. Any person can indicate their position to any bill at the Legislature, and can register to provide testimony to bills by using the RTS system. If you have not previously created a profile with the Legislature and wish to do so, you must first register at kiosks provided in the respective lobbies of either the House or the Senate here in Phoenix at the State Capitol. After creating a profile on the RTS system, you may log your positions on bills from any device online at www.azleg.gov.

 

Finalists Present Design Concepts, Share Their Vision for the National Native American Veterans Memorial

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian hosted the finalists, James Dinh, Daniel SaSuWeh Jones (Ponca) and Enoch Kelly Haney (Seminole), Harvey Pratt (Cheyenne/Arapaho), Stefanie Rocknak, and Leroy Transfield (M?ori: Ngai Tahu/Ngati Toa), who will advance to the second stage of the National Native American Veterans Memorial design competition.

The five finalists—chosen from a pool of 120 completed submissions—shared their vision for the memorial and presented their initial design concepts at “Meet Your Designers,” a public event held at the museum this afternoon. Each had 15 minutes to introduce themselves, explain why they entered the competition and describe their concept-designs. At the event Kevin Gover, director of the museum, spoke of the gravity of the responsibility to design a national memorial to Native American veterans. Native Americans have served in every American conflict since the Revolution and have served at a higher rate per capita than any other group throughout the 20th century. Gover, with an Advisory Committee consulted Native American veterans throughout the United States to learn what is important to them in a memorial. “Most important is their pride in what they have done and their commitment to the wellbeing of the United States,” said Gover. “To realize that these men and women served well a country that had not kept its commitments to their communities over its history. They are perfectly aware of it, and yet they chose to serve. And to me that reflects a very deep kind of patriotism. A belief in the promises of a country that had not kept its promises to them up to that time. I can think of no finer example of being Americans than the way these men and women chose to serve over those years.”  The event was webcast and is archived at http://nmai.si.edu/explore/multimedia/webcasts/

Links to view the finalist’s design are below:

  • James Dinh
  • Daniel SaSuWeh Jones (Ponca) and Enoch Kelly Haney (Seminole)
  • Harvey Pratt (Cheyenne/Arapaho)
  • Stefanie Rocknak
  • Leroy Transfield (M?ori: Ngai Tahu/Ngati Toa)The memorial is slated to open in 2020 on the grounds of the museum.
  • This project is made possible by the generous support of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Bank of America, Northrop Grumman, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker LLP, General Motors, Lee Ann and Marshall Hunt, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and the Sullivan Insurance Agency of Oklahoma.
  • The finalists will have until May 1 to evolve and refine their design concepts to a level that fully explains the spatial, material and symbolic attributes of the design and how it responds to the vision and design principles for the National Native American Veterans Memorial. The final design concepts for Stage II will be exhibited at both the Washington, D.C., and New York museums May 19 through June 3. The museum’s blue-ribbon jury of Native and non-Native artists, designers and scholars will judge the final design concepts and announce a winner July 4.

About the National Native American Veterans Memorial

The museum was commissioned by Congress to build a National Native American Veterans Memorial that gives “all Americans the opportunity to learn of the proud and courageous tradition of service by Native Americans in the Armed Forces of the United States.” Working with the National Congress of American Indians and other Native American organizations, the museum is in its third year of planning for the memorial. To help guide this process, the museum formed an advisory committee composed of tribal leaders and Native veterans from across the country who have assisted with outreach to Native American communities and veterans. From 2015 until the summer of 2017, the advisory committee and the museum conducted 35 community consultations to seek input and support for the memorial. These events brought together tribal leaders, Native veterans and community members from across the nation and resulted in a shared vision and set of design principles for the National Native American Veterans Memorial. For more information about the memorial, visit www.AmericanIndian.si.edu/NNAVM.

About the National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian is committed to advancing knowledge and understanding of the Native cultures of the Western Hemisphere—past, present and future—through partnership with Native people and others. Located on the National Mall at Fourth Street and Independence Avenue S.W., the museum is open each day from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). It is accessible from L’Enfant Plaza Metrorail station via the Maryland Avenue/Smithsonian Museums exit. Follow the museum via social media on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. To learn more about the museum’s mission, visit AmericanIndian.si.edu.

150 Years Later Navajo Nation Treaty With the U.S. Government Travels to Navajo Nation

Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian Will Show Treaty Before It Travels to Navajo Nation Museum

Signed on paper torn from an army ledger book, the Navajo Nation Treaty, signed June 1, 1868, reunited the Navajo with the land taken from them. From 1863 to 1866, the U.S. Army forced more than 10,000 Navajo from their homeland to Bosque Redondo, a camp in the New Mexico desert. The U.S. then sent Gen. William T. Sherman to make them agree to move to “Indian Territory” (Oklahoma), but the Navajo made an eloquent case to Sherman to allow them to return home instead. In 1868, the Navajo became the only Native Nation to use a treaty to avoid removal and return home. This treaty guaranteed a reservation in Dinétah, Navajo for “among the people.” Dinétah includes northwestern New Mexico, southwestern Colorado, southeastern Utah and northeastern Arizona.

As a part of the exhibition “Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations,” the National Museum of the American Indian is rotating treaties between the United States and Native Nations. On Feb. 20, the museum will install the Treaty between the United States Government and the Navajo Indians Signed at Fort Sumner, New Mexico Territory, June 1, 1868. All 20 pages of the original document, on loan from the National Archives and Records Administration, will be on view through early May.

In May, the treaty will move from the museum to the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, Ariz. There it will be on display by June 1, in time for the 150th anniversary of the signing of the treaty, through July 5. This is the first time this treaty will be on display in the tribal museum.

In addition to displaying the Navajo Nation treaty, the museum will also showcase a newly installed Navajo loom, on loan from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Its woven hanging blends Navajo designs with the American flag. It was likely intended as a diplomatic gift from Juanita (Asdzáá T?’ogi), the wife of Navajo leader Manuelito, to the U.S. Manuelito is best known for resisting the Americans until 1866, when he and around 50 people from his band finally surrendered and were taken to Bosque Redondo. His advocacy for Navajo sovereignty persisted beyond the removal and into the late 19th century.

Displaying original treaties in “Nation to Nation” is made possible by the National Archives, an exhibition partner. Several of the treaties required extensive conservation treatment by the National Archives’ conservator prior to loan. There are a total of over 370 ratified Indian treaties in the National Archives. For more information about these treaties, see https://www.archives.gov/research/native-americans/treaties. The next treaty to go on display at the National Museum of the American Indian will be the Treaty with the Delaware, 1778 in early May.

The treaty currently on display is the Treaty with the Potawatomi, 1809, also known as the second treaty of Fort Wayne. This treaty between the United States and the Miami, Delaware, Potawatomi and Eel River tribes spurred Shawnee chief Tecumseh’s movement to halt U.S. expansion in Indian Country and join the British against the U.S. in the War of 1812. This original document has been on display since Sept. 19, 2017.

The National Museum of the American Indian is committed to advancing knowledge and understanding of the Native cultures of the Western Hemisphere—past, present and future—through partnership with Native people and others. Located on the National Mall at Fourth Street and Independence Avenue S.W., the museum is open each day from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25).  The museum is on FacebookTwitter and Instagram, and at AmericanIndian.si.edu.

Native American Tribes Remain Opposed to H.R. 4532 at its Second Hearing

Washington, D.C. (January 30, 2018) – Leaders of the five Tribes defending Bears Ears National Monument are disturbed by Representative John Curtis’ (R, Utah) continued defense of his bill (H.R. 4532) to legislatively confirm the President’s unlawful action rescinding and replacing the monument.

H.R. 4532, the “Shash Jáa National Monument and Indian Creek National Monument Act,” is an attack on our sovereignty, it conflicts with the United States’ policy of tribal self-determination, and violates the Federal Government’s treaty, trust and government-to-government relationship with our federally recognized tribes. The bill would also all but eliminate our tribal voice by creating a management council that is dominated by the same state and local interests who have repeatedly called for the elimination of Bears Ears National Monument.

At the request of Democratic Committee members, H.R. 4532 today was the subject of an unusual continuation of January 9th’s hearing in the Subcommittee on Federal Lands of the House Committee on Natural Resources. The request to continue the hearing today was made when only one tribal representative was allowed by the majority to testify at the bill’s first hearing. Today, official representatives of the Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and the Pueblo of Zuni all delivered testimony.  The full testimonies of the five tribes from today’s hearing may be downloaded here.

“This is not a bill designed to help protect the lands for the tribes,” said Navajo Nation Council Delegate Davis Filfred. “It is a bill that provides near-exclusive control of these federal lands in the state and local counties’ hands, and gives only lip service to tribal interests.”

“Chairman Bishop and Congressman Curtis, as well as other supporters of H.R. 4532, continually make misleading and false claims that they are supporting ‘local tribe’ or empowering the voices of ‘local tribes,’” said Tony Small, Vice Chairman of the Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee. “The ‘local tribes’ Chairman Bishop and Congressman Curtis are referring to are individual tribal members cherry picked by the Congressmen for their support of H.R. 4532, and this bill is an attempt disrupt and undermine tribal governments by negotiating with individual tribal members.”

Clark Tenakhongva, Vice-Chairman of the Hopi Tribe said: “The Hopi Tribe objects to being excluded from authority under H.R. 4532. We reject any assertion that the Hopi Tribe does not belong at Bears Ears. Our clans have long, close, and spiritual connections to these sacred lands and they must be protected. We appreciate the support of numerous other tribes, Members of Congress, and the public to protect Bears Ears National Monument. We oppose H.R. 4532 and support bills that would realize our tribes’ vision for Bears Ears – Representative Gallego’s Bears Ears National Monument Expansion Act and Senator Udall’s ANTIQUITIES Act of 2018.”

Carleton Bowekaty, Pueblo of Zuni Councilman said: “In contrast to the Obama Proclamation’s respect for the tribes’ historic and strong connections to Bears Ears, and the balance it provides to ensure that other interested parties have a voice in management issues, H.R. 4532 contains what we view as a radical provision giving local politicians effective control of management and use decisions.”

“Representative Curtis’ bill retains the same failing as the Trump proclamation: it does not protect the landscape in a way that is meaningful and lasting, and it fragments and disconnects the Bears Ears cultural landscape,” said Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye. “For the bill to claim that it creates ‘the first tribally managed national monument,’ is an affront to tribal sovereignty and an insult to the intelligence of anyone who has actually read the bill.”

Bears Ears has been home to Hopi, Navajo, Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni people since time immemorial. Bears Ears National Monument was designated in 2016 to protect countless archeological, cultural, and natural resources. Without appropriate protection, American citizens and the world would lose the opportunity to enjoy one of the most remote and wondrous landscapes found anywhere. The monument is also a celebration of tribal voices, cultures, and sacred sites, all containing timeless volumes of tribal knowledge that our tribes intend to foster and share to promote well-being in our tribal communities, southeastern Utah, and the United States.

Tribes Respond To Trump’s Evisceration Of Bears Ears National Monument

Elected officials from the Navajo Nation, Ute Indian Tribe, and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe hosted a press conference to respond to President Trump’s elimination of 85% of Bears Ears National Monument. This action is an attack on Native American people, culture, history, and tribal sovereignty and may result in opening up 2 million acres to mining interests.The Tribes have already filed suit today to challenge the President’s assault on our public lands. Utah Diné Bikéyah along with other organizations is also prepared to back the Tribes. Tribal Commission input was reduced on 94% of the land, while protection was removed from 85% of the land. This is an unprecedented executive action to undermine Bears Ears National Monument.

Speakers included: Jonathan Nez, Vice President, Navajo Nation, Harold Cuthair, Chairman, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Shaun Chapoose, Council Member, Ute Indian Tribe, Davis Filfred, Council Delegate, Navajo Nation, and Ethel B. Branch, Attorney General, Navajo Nation.

Full Facebook livestream can be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/protectbearsears/videos/1480156805435408/

Shaun Chapoose, Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee Member stated, “If it’s a fight they want, it’s a fight they are going to get. They declared war on us today. When it’s all said and done, just remember this didn’t have to happen. You (the Utah Delegation) could have honored our request to protect our heritage.”

Willie Grayeyes, Chairman of Utah Diné Bikéyah said, “Bears Ears National Monument was created to safeguard the history of five Native American Tribes and to protect their ongoing cultural uses of the land. This is a landscape that has been mined, looted and desecrated for 150 years and today, President Trump opened 85% of the land back up to these abuses. The current administration is playing politics with our native heritage, without even having the courage to look us in the eye. We have no other choice but to seek legal remedies against this illegal action, to listen to our people, and to restore hope in a future that is inclusive of Native American rights and interests on the land.”

Ethel Branch, Attorney General of the Navajo Nation stated, “What we saw today is a tremendous affront to tribal sovereignty and it is a tremendous overreach of executive authority. We intend to hold the president accountable for his actions in federal court.”

Photos available for royalty-free media use are available:

Places cut from leaked Bears Ears boundaries: https://goo.gl/L8t5HT

People can support the legal defense of Bears Ears National Monument by donating to:

http://utahdinebikeyah.org/defend-bears-ears/

 

Interior Executes Water Rights Settlement Agreement with Pechanga Band of Luiseño Mission Indians

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Mark Macarro, Chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Mission Indians today signed the Pechanga Water Rights Settlement Agreement (Agreement), formally executing a Congressionally authorized pact that protects the Pechanga Band’s access to groundwater in the region and provides the tribe with more than $30 million in federal funding to pay for water storage projects.

The Agreement quantifies the water rights claims for the Pechanga Band in Southern California’s Temecula Valley, which had been pending in an adjudication dating back to the 1950s; resolves potential liability for both the United States and other parties; and establishes a cooperative and efficient water management regime involving Pechanga and local agencies.

“The Federal Government has a critical responsibility to uphold our trust responsibilities, especially Tribal water rights,” Secretary Zinke said. “This is why we are continuing to work on Indian Water Settlements with Tribes, States, and all water users to ensure there is certainty for all and an opportunity for economic development in local communities. As a former State Senator and Congressman who helped usher the Blackfeet compact through to fruition, I understand all too well the hard work and enormous struggle that goes into making these important water rights settlements possible. I congratulate all of you for your perseverance, dedication, and commitment to making this settlements happen.”

“The Pechanga Band has tirelessly pursued the quantification of its water rights and, through negotiations, engaged its neighbors in a multiyear process of building mutual trust and understanding,” said Pechanga Chairman Macarro. “Generations of tribal leaders have fought from the courts to Capitol Hill to protect this vital resource for future generations. This settlement agreement benefits all of the parties by securing adequate water supplies for the Pechanga Band and its members and encouraging cooperative water resources management among all of the parties.”

Zinke commended the congressional sponsors of the Settlement Act legislation, saying they “fought to bring these settlements across the finish line.” The agreement – introduced by Rep. Ken Calvert, (R-Corona) – settles competing claims involving the Rancho California Water District and the Eastern Municipal Water District, which both draw from the large aquifer in the region that stretches 750 square miles from Southwest Riverside County to north San Diego County .

“For the tribe, local community, and the many federal employees who have contributed to these settlements, seeing these agreements signed is the culmination of years of dedication and hard work. I think we all recognize that this is just the start of the journey towards settlement finality,” Zinke said.

“The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, as well as all of the parties to this settlement, deserve to have some certainty on the future of their water supply,” Rep. Calvert said. “I’m grateful we have been able to enact the settlement and ensure all of the stakeholders in the Santa Margarita River Watershed can better shape their future.”

Interior is in the initial stages of implementing the Settlement Act, which was enacted as part of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (P.L. 114-322) in 2016. The Departments of Justice and Interior have an established protocol for processing settlement agreements for execution.

The Act and Agreement establishes the Pechanga Settlement Fund and authorizes the appropriation of about $3 million to be deposited into the fund to construct a storage pond. The legislation also authorizes the appropriation of about $26 million, with about $4 million in construction overrun costs, to build interim and permanent capacity for water storage, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Also attending today’s event were Pechanga Council Members, including Catalina R. Chacon; Robert Munoa; Russell Murphy; Marc Luker; Raymond Basquez Jr. and Michael Vasquez. Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhard and Associate Deputy Secretary Jim Cason also joined the ceremony.

Water resources and management of scare water supplies are central concerns in the Western states. Additionally, in many parts of the West, water resources are now either fully appropriated or over-appropriated. These situations underscore the need for cooperative management of water supplies, and highlight the important role that Indian water rights settlements can play in the West.