Taskforce Completes Successful Opioid Bust in Arizona

Over 9,000 Fentanyl pills and hundreds of pounds of other drugs seized

WASHINGTON – From May 15, 2018 through May 26, 2018, the Department of the Interior (DOI) Opioid Reduction Task Force conducted a Criminal Interdiction Operation in and around Tribal reservations in Arizona, seizing 9,050 Fentanyl pills, 48.2 pounds of methamphetamine, 1.2 pounds of heroin, 863 pounds of marijuana, one-half pound of cocaine, and $30,000 in cash. In total, the drug bust yielded a seizure of 913.5 pounds of illegal narcotics, with a street value of approximately $4,791,417.00, and led to 86 total arrests. The operation in Arizona is the second led by Interior’s Joint Task Force, which Secretary Zinke established to help achieve President Donald Trump’s mission to end the opioid epidemic.

“Our task force on opioids continues to distinguish itself as one of the finest operations in law enforcement today; I could not be more proud of these professionals,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “It’s heartbreaking to see the scale of the problem, and rather than further stigmatizing victims, we are cracking down on the dealers who are selling out our children, selling out our communities, and selling out our nation. I thank our partners in Indian Country, along with state and local law enforcement, for their dedication to this mission. These brave men and women are keeping the opioid dealers up at night, and with good reason; if you are trafficking these drugs, we will find you, arrest you, and bring you to justice.”

“A drug-free Indian Country is a healthy Indian Country. I commend the efforts of our BIA Division of Drug Enforcement agents, along with federal, tribal and state partners for successfully conducting this operation to eradicate drugs in tribal communities,” said John Tahsuda, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs. “Only together can we protect our loved ones from the harmful effects of these devastating substances.”

Significant Seizures:


33.2 pounds located in a vehicle tire with estimated street value of $1,754,212.00. (Tohono O’odham Reservation)


15 pounds located in a natural void of a Toyota Scion with a street value of $790,952.00. (Gila River Reservation)


1.2 pounds located in a natural void of a Toyota Scion with a street value of $55,501.00. (Gila River Reservation)


0.5 pounds located in a natural void of a Toyota Scion with a street value of $22,680.00. (Gila River Reservation)


863.588 pounds (four separate seizures) with an estimated street value of $1,802,072.00. (Tohono O’odham Reservation)


Approximately 9,050 pills with an estimated street value of $366,000.00. (Gila River Reservation)

Total Seizure: 

913.5 pounds of illegal narcotics and approximately 9,050 fentanyl pills with a total street value of approximately $4,791,417.00.

Secretary Zinke has worked with tribes to carry out President Trump’s directive to stop the opioid crisis, conducting dozens of tribal visits to see the affected communities, while listening and learning about how to fight the crisis. In starting new initiatives to fight the epidemic, such as the creation of the Joint Task Force, the Department of the Interior is committed to giving all resources required to fight drug abuse.

The DOI Task Force for the Interdiction Operation consisted of Special Agents from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Division of Drug Enforcement (DDE) and BIA K-9 uniformed officers, along with the Tohono O’odham Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI-Sells, Arizona), US Border Patrol (USBP), Pascua Yaqui Tribal Police Department, San Carlos Apache Tribal Police Department, Gila River Tribal Police Department, Native American Targeted Investigations of Violent Enterprises (NATIVE) Task Force, and the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS). The Criminal Interdiction Operation focused on highways known for being high drug trafficking routes into and through Indian Country. This collaboration focused efforts on conducting high visibility enforcement operations with specialized drug interdiction teams.

In First Raid, New Opioid Task Force Seizes $2.5 Million worth of Meth and $22,000 in Marijuana, Heroin and Other Narcotics

Secretary Zinke made the announcement at the opening of the “Prescribed to Death” traveling memorial remembering victims and survivors of the opioid crisis 

WASHINGTON – Today, just two weeks after U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced the Department was forming a new Joint Task Force (JTF) to combat the opioid crisis in Indian Country, the Secretary announced the JTF’s first raid seized 49 pounds of methamphetamine with a street value of $2.5 million and more than $20,000 worth of marijuana, plus smaller amounts of heroin, and other narcotics. The raid was led by Interior’s JTF with partnership from the Pueblo Tribes and New Mexico law enforcement officials. Secretary Zinke formed the JTF in response to President Donald J. Trump’s commitment to end the opioid crisis.

“I am incredibly proud of the law enforcement officers on this Joint Task Force. The work they did over the weekend in New Mexico, seizing the very drugs that are poisoning tribal communities, will save lives,” said Secretary Zinke. “They successfully stopped $2.5 million worth of methamphetamine from stealing our children’s futures. Their work is a perfect example of what we can do when we leverage the resources of the government to address this crisis in Indian Country. President Trump’s leadership in the fight against opioids and other drugs has been tremendous. Together, we are cracking down on the dealers who are selling out our kids.”

“I am very pleased to see that the new leadership in the BIA Office of Justice Services is exceeding expectations in carrying out the Secretary and President’s direction to combat opioids across Indian Country,” said Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Bryan Rice. “Deputy Bureau Director Charlie Addington is leading a results-driven effort to address this epidemic in our communities and surrounding areas.”

The JTF consisted of agents and officers from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and their K-9 unit, Office of Justice Services, Division of Drug Enforcement, BIA District-IV Indian Country – High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, New Mexico State Police (NMSP) and their K-9 unit, NMSP Investigation Bureau’s Regional Narcotic Task Force, and the Department of Homeland Security Task Force.

This operation ran from April 3 to April 7, 2018, and was conducted at the following Pueblos around Albuquerque, New Mexico: Laguna, Sandia, Cochiti, San Ildefonso, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Picuris, Santo Domingo, Pojoaque, Nambe, San Felipe, Tesuque, and Ohkay Owengah. The JTF conducted 304 traffic stops and 93 vehicle searches, issued 129 traffic citations, and arrested 11 subjects for drug possession.

Last month, Secretary Zinke championed President Trump’s commitment to end the opioid epidemic in a series of tribal community visits during the week of the President’s Opioid initiative. The Secretary personally visited several tribal communities around the country — Tohono O’odham, Gila River, Salt River, and AK-Chin in Arizona; Oneida in Wisconsin; Spokane, Colville, and Lummi Nations in Washington State — to listen and learn about how the opioid crisis is impacting tribes and to show the Department’s commitment to addressing the resonating effects of this addiction. Tribes welcomed these visits and the President’s commitment to eliminating the opioid epidemic with the greatest appreciation.

LEGISLATIVE ALERT: H.B. 2003 coal mining; TPT; repeal

On Tuesday, Mar. 6, H.B. 2003 coal mining; TPT; repeal was assigned to the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Rules Committee, respectively. Previously, the bill passed out of the House of Representatives last Thursday, Mar. 1, and was transmitted to the Senate on Monday, Mar. 5. H.B. 2003 is sponsored by Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Dist. 11; Casa Grande, Eloy, Marana, Maricopa, Oro Valley, Tucson. The bill is on the agenda and scheduled to be heard in the Senate Finance Committee next Wednesday, Mar. 14 at 9 a.m. MST.

This legislative alert seeks to inform LD-7 constituents of this bill and its potential impacts district-wide. The office of Sen. Peshlakai encourages district and state residents’ input and feedback through the legislature’s ‘Request To Speak’ system. 

Attached is the committee agenda, a House bill summary, and a fiscal note for your review. You may review the full bill and additional details online at www.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.

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:



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.

Dennehotso Man Sentenced to 13 Months for Assault on a Navajo Nation Police Officer

PHOENIX– Yesterday, Reed O’Brien Thomas, Jr., 27, from Dennehotso, Ariz., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow to 13 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Thomas had previously pleaded guilty to assaulting a federal officer.

The investigation revealed that on August 17, 2016, Navajo Nation police officers responded to a domestic dispute on the Navajo Indian Reservation. Thomas fought with the officers, and during the struggle, one of the officers sustained a broken finger. Thomas is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. The officers at the time were delegated authority to enforce federal law.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution was handled by Dimitra H. Sampson, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.


RELEASE NUMBER: 2017-070_Thomas

Third Pinon Brother Sentenced For Violent Assault on Juvenile

PHOENIX – Today, Roneldo James, 28, of Pinon, Ariz., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow to eight years of imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release. James had previously pleaded guilty to assault with a dangerous weapon. James committed the offense with his two brothers, Delfred Lee and Milfred James, who were previously sentenced to seven and six years of imprisonment, respectively, for their roles in the offense.

On Dec. 1, 2015, James and his brothers held a juvenile victim and others at gunpoint against their will in a Pinon, Ariz. residence on the Navajo Nation Indian Reservation. All parties involved are members of the Navajo Nation. All three brothers are affiliated with the Red Nation Warriors street gang.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander Samuels, District of Arizona, Phoenix.


RELEASE NUMBER: 2017-078_James

Kayenta Man Sentenced to More Than 27 Years for Kidnapping and Violent Assault

PHOENIX – This week, Eli Sloan, 45, of Kayenta, Ariz., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Douglas L. Rayes to 330 months of imprisonment, to be followed by a lifetime term of supervised release. Last year, Sloan was convicted of six offenses following a jury trial, including kidnapping, two counts of aggravated sexual abuse, assault with intent to commit aggravated sexual abuse, assault resulting in substantial bodily injury to an intimate partner, and assault by strangling an intimate partner.

On Oct. 4, 2015, Sloan kidnapped the victim and held her overnight in a rural area near Kayenta, Ariz. Eventually, he took her to a trailer, where he held her until the next day. Both Sloan and the victim are members of the Navajo Nation.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Navajo Nation Department of Public Safety. The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexander Samuels and Sharon Sexton, District of Arizona, Phoenix.


RELEASE NUMBER: 2017-085_Sloan

Secretary Zinke Advises Trump to Leave a Legacy of Broken Promises with Tribes

Native American communities in San Juan County, Utah, feel shut out of the process they have worked in good faith with now that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has issued an insensitive report recommending reducing Bears Ears National Monument. In his final report to President Trump, called the National Monuments “review,” he has silenced the voices of Native Americans in Utah and across the country by dismissing our deep ties to the Bears Ears landscape. Even though Americans emphatically support National Monuments, Secretary Zinke seems to unfairly discount the concerns of NGO’s without a basis for doing so. Astoundingly, he ignored the 2.6 million American voices, 98% of whom commented in favor of protecting national monuments.

If Secretary Zinke had met with “local stakeholders,” he would have learned that Navajo and Ute residents (who are the county majority) have been greatly impacted by uranium and oil and gas pollution since the 1930’s which is in part why we worked so hard to protect our traditional cultural uses and sacred sites. Even as he recommends exclusions, he does not comment on the future roles of the grazing, timber, fishing and mining industries. Furthermore, by eliminating protections for everything outside any new boundary, Secretary Zinke failed to explain how these important traditional cultural resources and uses can still be preserved.

In fact, five out of seven Utah Navajo Chapter Houses as well as Secretary Zinke’s adopted Tribe in Montana, the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, all passed resolutions defending Bears Ears this past month. Among Native American residents living adjacent to Bears Ears, 97% of these Chapter members voted in favor of leaving Bears Ears alone, and not a single Tribe in the entire United States has stepped forward to ask the Secretary to shrink or eliminate Bears Ears National Monument. We now understand why this report, which is an insult to Tribes, was held so tightly by this administration.

“Any and all recommendations by Secretary Zinke regarding Bears Ears National Monument are fundamentally flawed because the Secretary failed to take the time to meet with and listen to local Native Americans, despite numerous invitations. Tribal people, whose ancestors have dwelled in and around Bears Ears for millennia, are keepers of traditional knowledge. We have a vision for our future that includes both land protection and building a sustainable economy for our children and grandchildren. It is frustrating that the State of Utah and the U.S. Department of Interior refuse to include us in policy making.”   Willie Grayeyes, Board Chairman, Utah Diné Bikéyah