Published October 24, 2018
DENVER — Thousands American Indians and Alaska Natives from Indian Country are gathered this week in Denver, Colorado for the National Congress of American Indians 75th Annual Convention & Marketplace. Convention delegates are afforded the opportunity to participate in concurrent breakout sessions and general assemblies to hear and learn about a wide-range of topics that impact the lives of American Indians and Alaska Natives.
Native News offers some brief snippets of the convention happenings
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Makes Short Speech, Then Leaves
Wearing a beaded bolo tie, U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke delivered an update at the Opening Session of the Generay Assembly on Monday afternoon. In his short speech he talked about increasing joint opioid reduction task forces; the reorganization of Interior Department that is underway, with exception of Indian Country, He said the Bureau of Indian Affairs that is under the Interior Department will not change until more consultations are held.
ICWA Under Attack
“Let’s be clear this court ruling ignores more than 200 years of Indian federal law,” said Sarah Kastelic, executive director, National Indian Child Welfare Association, referencing the recent decision by a federal district court judge in Texas earlier this month who ruled the 40 year-old law is unconstitional.
She said her organization is working with NCAI and NARF with a legal team to appeal the ruling, which will probably not occur until early in 2019. In the meantime, she said tribes should seek support from state governors and attorney generals.
An emotional, Kastelic asked Indian Country to stand with NICWA. With that she was met with a standing ovation.
March in Washington D.C. to Support Wampanoag Tribe
Stopping by the Federal Recognition Caucus, Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe announced there will be a march in Washington, D.C. on November 14, 2018, one day after Congress returns from its midterm election recess.
Last month, his tribe received a letter from the U.S. Department of the Interior – Indian Affairs. The letter issued a determination to the tribe saying it could not keep 321 acres of land taken into trust during the Obama administration. The determination now puts the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s planned $1 billion casino on hold indefinitely.
Cromwell says the determination is ushering in new era of termination of tribal nations by the federal government.
The march from the National Museum of the American Indian to the Capitol where a rally will be held to support Mashpee Wampanoag’s fight for sovereignty.
Crawford White Eagle
Prayer at opening at General Assembly
Crawford White Eagle (Northern Arapaho) exhorted delegates to come together in the spirit of unity as they deal with complex issues impacting Indian Country. White Eagle recently help to repatriate the remains of Arapaho students from the grounds of the former Carlisle Indian Industrial School.
Culture v. Tradition
“I tell our youth there is a difference between culture and being traditional. Culture changes. Tradition stays the same,” stated Chester Antone, tribal councilor, Tohono O’odham Nation, speaking during the Addiction Task Force about how culture helps heal those afflicted with addictions.
“We have a casino…we live in an area which is about 80 percent Mormon. Once in a while, we get a few of them out to gamble and we try to convert them,” commented in jest Nathan Small, chairman of Shoshone-Bannock Tribes during Large Land Base Tribal Nations Task Force, whose casino is in Fort Hall, Idaho.
Native News Online photographs by Levi Rickert