Archive for the ‘Tribal issues’ Category

by jhwygirl

For nearly 20 years, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been authorized and reauthorized – twice – by Congress and signed by three different U.S. presidents into law. The latest reauthorization, though, has met some bumps. Guess where: House Republicans.

In late April, the Senate passed a reauthorization of the VAWA that included protections for LGBTQ and Native American survivors of violence – on a bipartisan vote. That reauthorization was not without it’s Tea Party attacks, though: Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Kay Bailey-Hutchinson (Texas) joined together for an amendment that modified or eliminated protections for female immigrants, Native women and those in same-sex relationships. It also would have eliminated the ability of tribal courts to prosecute perpetrators of domestic violence. It failed.

Iowa has a fast-growing Native American population. Texas, given that it borders Mexico, has an extremely large immigrant population. Native American women violent crime at a rate three and a half times greater than the national average, while Grassley charged that tribal courts were “unconstitutional.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) also offered an amendment – wishing to increase mandatory minimum sentences. Advocates for the VAWA, though, didn’t support that amendment due to the believe that it would result in survivors of violence becoming more reluctant to report incidents. This, too, failed. No big government hypocrisy there/snark.

Certainly you can see how Kay, Chuck & John were looking out for their constituencies.

Well, the House Tea Party crowd – including Montana’s own Denny “don’t let the door hit ya’ where the good Lord split ya” Rehberg passed its own version of the VAWA, pulling back in the Senate Tea Party amendments – on a largely party-line vote.

Denny never did look out for Montanans. ‘Nuf said about that.

TOMORROW, Save Wiyabi, the Salish-Kootenai College’s chapter of the Native Youth Leadership Alliance, and Montana’s very fabulous Western Native Voice are sponsoring an action day in Pablo to raise awareness on the importance of the VAWA, and its importance to the Native American community.

The action begins at 11, with everyone meeting at 11 a.m. at the bridge on campus. Lauren Chief Elk, founder of the Wiyabi Project, is one of the speakers, and information will be available for those looking for more information.

The VAWA is important. It’s disturbing that, after so many years of bipartisan support, that this act protecting women has become a political football. That Tea Party Republicans (like Denny Rehberg) thought to remove protections for Native Americans, immigrants and lgbtq is even more repulsive.

Lauren Chief Elk wrote an excellent piece detailing the importance of the VAWA, especially to the Native American communities. It includes numerous informative links along with case law on the VAWA – I highly recommend it, especially for any legislator here in Montana that might want to attempt protections for women here at the state level.

My headline, you can see, was poached from her piece. What else do you call it when Tea Party Republicans refuse to reauthorize an act that has successfully reduced violence towards women for nearly 2 decades?

Finally, I will note – the Senate version of the VAWA reduced program funding by 17%.

A thir

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by Pete Talbot

“I shouldn’t say this …” Conrad Burns said. It was the only accurate statement he made all day.

He then went on to insult Indians, Wall Street occupiers and the President.

He was talking to a small tea party crowd in Billings, an event organized by Americans for Prosperity and underwritten by the billionaire Koch brothers.

I’ve been waiting for another Montana blogger to write about this (Montana Cowgirl, Pogie?) but haven’t seen a thing. Maybe Conrad’s speech was so obtuse it didn’t deserve notice. I, however, think it might because it mirrors the far-right’s rhetoric of ignorance, intolerance and racism.

Ignorance: “Burns was there to ‘expose the Obama administration’s $40 billion energy tax grab that will destroy jobs, decrease government revenues at a time of exploding national debt and make America less competitive.'”

In reality, the idea is to eliminate taxpayer-financed oil subsidies and tax breaks, and reinvest the $40 billion into social programs, green energy and job creation, according to Forcechange.com. C’mon Conrad, continued subsidies for oil companies with record-breaking profits are going to reduce the deficit, destroy jobs and make America less competitive? Well, it might give the oil companies slightly less money to employ corporate mouthpieces such as yourself.

Intolerance: On the Wall Street/Missoula/Helena/etc. occupiers, Burns said: “I feel sorry for these kids. They’re kind of spoiled. They’re down there having a hissy fit. They don’t know who they’re mad at.”

Oh, they know who they’re mad at, these spoiled kids, it’s the likes of you: politicians who push economic inequality, and advance the financial institutions responsible for a recession that’s crippling middle-class Montanans and devastating the poor.

Racism: “We got a guy in the White House (who) believes all of us should be dependent on the government,” Burns said. “I shouldn’t say this, but he wants this whole country to become like an Indian reservation.”

Conrad is on the record as a bigot: Arabs, African-Americans and now, Native Americans. Those damn Indians … and after all that the government has done for them. (R.I.P. Elouise Cobell. Please ignore Burns’ spiteful comments.)

So Conrad is still out there. He’s working for GAGE, a Leo Giacometto/Son-of-Rehberg Washington, D.C., lobbying firm, and spewing far-right rhetoric.

In these troubled times, do we really need the former Senator sowing seeds of hate, divisiveness and malice. I think not.

by jhwygirl

All of that being reported in the local press. Property owner adjacent to the river have been evacuated….and ditch owners all along the Yellowstone are doing what they can to keep the toxic mess out of their systems.

The NYTimes just got the story up in the last two hoursdo make sure to hit that link and see the devastation.

Exxon? YOU SUCK.

Below are some pictures from the owner of the Blue Creek Farms ranch who is now faced with dealing with this absolutely devastating spill of crude. I hope to be able to speak with him tomorrow.

Montana Department of Environmental Equality has a 24 hour hotline where spills are to be reported. I hope some industrious reporters are out there finding out what role the state and the feds are taking in dealing with this. Let’s hope Exxon isn’t out there on their own on this holiday weekend.

Good Goddess.

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal is reporting the early estimate is that 1000 barrels have spilled into the Yellowstone River.

Tim Thennis, a spokesman for the Montana Disaster and Emergency Services division, provided that initial estimate. He added that although no cause of the spill has been determined, it’s possible that heavy flooding affecting that part of the U.S. could have played a part. Thennis said that flooding is also interfering with the clean-up effort, meaning the oil could reach the Missouri River, of which the Yellowstone is a tributary, making the task even more difficult for emergency responders. Montana emergency officials have notified officials in North Dakota that the oil could be heading their way, Tennis said.

“There’s no way to capture [the oil] right now,” Thennis told Dow Jones Newswires. “The further it spreads the more difficult it becomes.”

Pictures in the Billings Gazette turn my stomach. Wildlife, farm fields – all coated in oil. 150 miles of river and counting. North Dakota has been warned.

By JC

Nast

I don’t know why. For whatever reason, tonight I found myself revisiting the same old rubbish from the Tea Party and Rush Limbaugh about “The Great Thanksgiving Day Hoax” (via Mises) about how the original Pilgrim Thanksgiving is all about how socialism failed. I’m not going to dredge up a bunch of links and clips–they’re all over the place this week and are easy to find, and all point to the same story refabricating the meaning of the Pilgrims early days. You all can argue about the meaning of Thanksgiving in the comments if you choose. I’m not going there. Instead, I went searching for some counter-point and to try and learn something.

So, I’m just going to offer up this great political cartoon (which sums up my feelings nicely) from Thomas Nast (a “radical republican”) published in 1869 in Harper’s Weekly. The uber-right can go off on their ideologizing of the meaning of Thanksgiving. But Nash ties into the sentiment about how Thanksgiving is all about us being a melting pot of peoples, ideas, and customs. His was a progressive vision that has become lost in the right’s quest for white nationalism and purist economic ideology. Don’t forget to click on the comic to see the enlarged version, and some commentary from the NY Times and HarpWeek.

by Pete Talbot

Five middle school suicides in the past year. Twenty attempted suicides. In a town of less than a thousand. In a school of fewer than 160.

This is criminal negligence.

It happened in Poplar, Montana, and the story is in today’s paper. The gist of the piece was about a principal who singled out kids at a student assembly for getting Fs. If true, well, that’s pretty sad.

But that’s not really the story. Kids as young as ten are taking their own lives out of desperation. It’s an unbroken cycle of poverty and hopelessness; while the rest of us turn a blind eye.

Here’s the best link I could find at the Great Falls Tribune but the suicides are buried in the story. The online Lee Newspapers have no mention of the suicides. (It was reported in the print edition of the Missoulian.) That’s unconscionable. It should have been the lead story on every newscast and in every newspaper across the state … and it should have happened months ago.

Where else should the blame lie? Our state and national governments, for sure. Our disparate education system. Society as a whole. The list goes on.

Can you imagine the outcry if this had happened at Washington Middle School in Missoula? No expense would be spared. Every expert in the region, every anti-suicide program that’s ever been conceived, would be employed to prevent this from happening.

But it happened in Poplar on the Fort Peck Reservation where, apparently, kids aren’t quite as valuable.

We should all be ashamed and make sure this doesn’t happen again on this reservation or any other school, anywhere.

By JC

Well, as long as it is PSA Tuesday, I’ll throw in my favorite event of the week! I hope you all can turn out wednesday night for the premiere screening of Facing the Storm: Story of the American Bison.

I’ll have to admit that this PSA comes with a bit of personal investment. I have seen the rough cuts for this documentary, and it is a kick ass, definitive production! There are also many friends of mine in the video, and the production team includes many Missoulians, with the documentary being produced right here in Missoula by our own High Plains Films. I also may have a little bit of my own time invested in both the production and issue, too… So hop on down to the Wilma and check it out!

Big Sky Film Series SPECIAL SCREENING

Montana Premiere of FACING THE STORM: STORY OF THE AMERICAN BISON. New documentary feature highlights the abundance and breadth of local Montana talent

Where: Wilma Theater, 131 S. Higgins Avenue, Missoula, Montana
When: Wednesday October 6, 2010 @ 7 pm Tickets: $8

High Plains Films presents the Montana premiere of FACING THE STORM: STORY OF THE AMERICAN BISON, an ITVS/Montana PBS co-production. The film also had local support from Humanities Montana. The screening is a fund-raising event for Missoula’s Big Sky Film Institute (parent organization for High Plains Films & the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival). The feature documentary is the result of the collaboration of diverse Montana talent. Review copies are available on request.

Full Press Release below the fold. Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

The latest meme from our bloviating Governor Brian Schweitzer is that the Canadian tar sands – slated for expansion – are (get this) “conflict free”:

“I would say this is conflict-free oil and I don’t want to send one more son or daughter from Montana to defend an oil supply from one of these dictators and become dependent on that energy supply,” he said in an interview with the Canadian Press from his office in Helena.

Really?

There are Canadiansordinary citizens, doctors and Fort Chipewyan tribal members – that would disagree with you.

Does the fact that they don’t have bombs and guns make it conflict free? Because I don’t agree with that. I know I’m not the only one.

Hypocrisy and ignorance barely begins to describe the irony behind Schweitzer’s comments to the Canadian press this past week. Governor Schweitzer is a guy who doesn’t want to see the Flathead mined, yet approved a coal mine next to a Class 1 air shed (tromping on Crow tribal rights) and an alluvial floodplain right in Montana’s Tongue River valley.

Governor Schweitzer is a guy – born in Montana – who doesn’t seem to know his history, or even the higher cancer rates we saw right here in the upper Clark Fork basin because of the rape and pillage by the Anaconda Copper Mining Company (think Atlas Shrugs by Ayn Rand) that polluted everything near it from Butte to Missoula and beyond.

Schweitzer’s comments were made all the more pornographic given they occurred 30 years from when corporate irresponsibility suffocated Anaconda Montana.

Maybe The Brian should read Anaconda native Patrick Duganz’s words?

If they aren’t enough to expose him to the conflict of corporate irresponsibility, perhaps he should try and learn the lessons so many others haven’t forgotten of the dirty filth that mining has layed upon our lands.

Schweitzer sure is oblivious to this stuff isn’t he – and consider he’s got 130 million or so dollars of Natural Resource Damage Protection Program funds to spend to try and buy back lands to mitigate that environmental disaster thrust upon our state 100 years ago.

Maybe he forgot where that money came from?

Schweitzer is spouting off his newest talking point of “conflict free” as pressure mounts, nationwide, to stop the transport of the Korean-built Kearl modules up and over the Montana-Idaho border, adjacent to the Clearwater and Lochsa River, adjacent to Lolo Creek…through Missoula and next to the Blackfoot A-River-Runs-Through-It River, then up and over another mountain pass and on to the tar sands in Alberta.

Movie director and producer James Cameron? This Montanan thanks you.

Our Governor feigns to respect tribal peoples – yet the Nez Pierce, over who’s native lands these modules will travel – have objected to the modules.

Scientific journals are confirming high levels of carcinogens, mutagens, and teratogens such as mercury, arsenic, lead, and cadmium being thrust upon the native peoples of Canada. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America has published a paper explaining the pornography of the situation.

Discover Magazine has a pedestrian-friendly article on the issue.

Governor Schweitzer? You call yourself a scientist, don’t you? If cancer was reigning down in your watershed, would you call that “conflict free”?

Did Montana call that conflict free when it happened here?

by jhwygirl

Last month Director had told the Legislature’s Revenue and Transportation Interim Committee that their review of Exxon/Imperial Oil’s environmental analysis (yep, the applicant submitted the ea) would be completed by August 15th….while later he backtracked and said that he didn’t expect to have it by the end of August.

Well, here we are, middle-of-September, and the bad news continues to pile on. Forest Supervisors of both the Lolo and the Clearwater National Forests oppose the plans to move the rigs up and over Lolo Pass…and Oregon’s U.S. Representative Pete Fazio is >calling for an investigation into Exxon/Imperial Oil’s plans to ship giant equipment through Idaho and western Montana to an energy project in Canada.

Apparently the Helena National Forest is OK with the plans to move the Korean-built bohemaths up and over Roger’s Pass – yep, no potential there for major disruption…

Not only does the bad news continue to pile on, but Lynch had promised the EA “by early September.”

One does have to ponder the Lolo National Forest Supervisor’s current position – given that they had to rescind their decision to bury powerlines (the request the result of Exxon/Imperial Oil’s transport plans) given that they failed to consult with the tribes – Lolo Pass the site of the ancient native Nez Pierce tribe’s Nimi’ipuu trail.

Wonder because while they are taking comment on the proposal to bury the powerlines through September 24th and the scoping period is exactly (and only) 30 days. Rather odd considering both the controversy surrounding the project and the fact that the scoping is the result of them having overlooked even scoping the thing in the first place, don’t you think?

You can read the notice here and check the map out on the specifics here.

Let’s note, too, that the scoping notice does not mention the application is the result of Exxon/Imperial Oil’s need to have the lines buried so they can move their oil modules. It does, in fact, state the purpose of the initiation of the request by Missoula Electrical Cooperative is to “improve long-term service to local residences and businesses.”

Really?

Still, too, one has to ponder if MEC should really be the applicant? Isn’t Exxon/Imperial Oil paying for this burial? Or is it the customers of MEC? It does lay open the question, doesn’t it? Given that the stated purpose on the scoping notice is to improve long-term service to its customers?

Shame on the Lolo for misrepresenting that line burial project. Check out that map…there’s quite a bit of that line burial that is immediately adjact to Lolo Creek, endangered bull trout habitat.

Are lines being buried on the Clearwater National Forest? What permits are needed from both of these forests? Why doesn’t the fact that these transport plans affect at least 3 National Forests this thing isn’t being analyzed under a full NEPA environmental impact statement?

Why doesn’t the fact that this entire transport plan crosses multiple state jurisdictions and multiple countries warrant a full NEPA EIS by the Feds? Is our security that lax? Is the concern that little?

Hopefully the hypocrisy of the Lolo’s public notice for the burial of these powerlines won’t go un-noticed.

The public and our County Commissioners and City Council should provide comment asking the Lolo National Forest to ensure that it re-notice the application to note the full purpose of the project…and analyze the full effect of the connected actions of this proposal – the effects both here and in Canada on the Athabasca tribal peoples.

by jhwygirl

So very rare such a huge concession from Uncle Sam – and today, Blackfeet tribal member and lead plaintiff Eloise Cobell won her 13-year battle to collect damages from the U.S. government for mismanagement of the lands that were to be held in trust for the tribes.

Big enough that the New York Times still has it frontpaged.

The government doesn’t very often offer a settlement of $3.4 billion. It’s a combination cash payment to the 500,000 litigants, an educational scholarship fund and a fund for purchase and consolidation of land holdings to improve the quality of lands the tribes hold.

The NYT article (above) and this NPR article both include interviews with Cobell. NewWest includes some nice background, plus a statement from Sec. of Interior Ken Salazar. Bozeman’s Daily Chronicle has a local reaction out of MSU.

Quite amazing.

by jhwygirl

This comes to me via a reader from Bozeman. I’ve edited it slightly for posting.

The Billings Gazette reports on the Otter Creek coal tracts and the decision to be made Monday by the State Land Board. Letters sent via email are needed NOW to stop the giveaway of state resources to out-of-state corporate coal. Slow down. Coal is not clean, coal power is not clean, and coal mining is not clean. If coal development happens, it should not happen in rushed manner without benefit to Montana.

This is NOT about jobs. With six big strip mines and a new underground mine, Montana is already the 5th largest coal producer in the country, and that has translated into only 1008 jobs total, according the the coal companies’ own Montana Coal Council.

The important thing is write an email NOW and send it to the members of the Montana State Land Board:

Gov. Brian Schweitzer — (406) 444-3111, governor@mt.gov

Superintendent of Public Instruction, Denise Juneau — In-State Toll-Free 1-888-231-9393, Local (406) 444-3095 OPISupt@mt.gov

Attorney General Steve Bullock – (406) 444-2026 contact doj@mt.gov

State Auditor Monica Lindeen – (406) 444-2040 mlindeen@mt.gov

Secretary of State Linda McCulloch – (406) 444-2034 sos.mt.gov

OR you could cut and past these into your email: governor@mt.gov; OPISupt@mt.gov; doj@mt.gov; mlindeen@mt.gov; sos@mt.gov Be sure to put “Otter Creek” in the subject line.

~~~~~
Monday’s Land Board hearing begins at 9 a.m., so as you can see action is needed now.

Many have blogged on Otter Creek. For a great start, Button Valley has done a number of pieces. Remember the Tongue River Valley and Maybe We Shouldn’t Otter are two that contain a number of links to other sources, including one to 4&20 hero and Indy columnist extraordinaire George Ochenski.

The Northern Cheyenne, who darn near border the area and who will be affected directly by any development, have – officially – barely endorsed the plan. As you can see from their comment provided to the Land Board earlier this year, they are suspicious that the promises made to them for jobs won’t be followed through. Seeing the facts on jobs from the Montana Coal Council, they should be suspicious.

Despite the official response of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, meetings held this summer showed even less support amongst the tribes, and native American news source Reznet has that perspective.

Coal isn’t clean. Montana is not the Saudi Arabia of coal as the Governor and Arch Coal and Great Northern would want us to believe. Many organizations have been working hard to drive this message home to the Land Board, including Northern Plains Resource Council and the the Montana Environmental Information Center, two very fine organizations that have fought the good fight, taking up against the state in a number of environmental cases and winning. Economists here in the state (and elsewhere) have said the Otter Creek tracts are overvalued.

Arch Coal will now use pressure to get final approval of its leases at the Land Board on Monday. They have no access – they have no railroad. Two significant impediments to that access are the heir to the Mars candy fortune – who has said “NO” to the railroad moving through his property – and FWP, whose board recently denied a request from Great Northern for its railroad through some of its land. Condemnations and eminent domain requests are messy and lengthy. Why should the state lease its land now when not only is access lacking, but once (and if) major impediments are removed, the value of that coal (if there really is value) and the leases themselves will increase immensely?

Please take the time as you read this to send and email and ask the Land Board to say “NO” to Otter Creek until all effects and affects of both the mine and the railroad can be assessed.

Below is the news alert from the Sierra Club. Continue Reading »

by Pete Talbot

This will make Rob Natelson happy. In February, over at Electric City Weblog, Prof. Natelson said there was just too much native news in Montana’s newspapers (as opposed to right-wing, white-guy news).

Ms. Rave is leaving the Lee Enterprises newspaper chain (papers in Missoula, Billings, Helena, Butte and Hamilton) to write a book about Blackfeet activist Elouise Cobell. With the dire straights that newspapers are in these days, she probably won’t be replaced anytime soon.

I stumbled across this story at the Reznet website, a project at the University of Montana school of journalism. I imagine we’ll hear more in our state’s newspaper columns over the next few days.

Rave brought a unique perspective to Lee’s newspapers — one that was sorely needed, especially in Indian Country. Her contributions will be missed but I look forward to her book.

(Update: I don’t know how I missed her column on the editorial page of today’s Missoulian.  It’s a good read.  Hat tip to JC.)


by Rebecca Schmitz

Ken Salazar has his opinion.

Salazar, a Democrat who helped deliver Colorado’s nine electoral votes for Obama, suggested four Western governors: Montana’s Brian Schweitzer or Wyoming’s Dave Freudenthal as interior secretary, New Mexico’s Bill Richardson as secretary of state and Arizona’s Janet Napolitano as attorney general.

What’s yours? Should Brian be part of an Obama Administration? If not, who should repair the damage caused by succeed Gale Norton and Dirk Kempthorne as Secretary of the Interior?

by jhwygirl

Boy, the events keep coming! One week before our primary, I hope we can keep up with them all!

Hillary Clinton’s campaign has announced visits to Pablo and Billings for Tuesday, May 27th. First, Clinton will speak at the Salish Kootenai College in Pablo. Doors open at 1:30 p.m., and the Senator is expected to speak sometime around 3:30 p.m. The event is entitled “Solutions for America”, and the town hall-style meeting will be held in front of Darcy McNickle Library, at the intersection of Division Street and U.S. Highway 93 North.

Later, in Billings, Clinton will speak in The Magic City at the Heritage Building in Metra Park. Doors open at 6 p.m.




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