Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Answer to Question 10 - YES!!

Tester, senators told road funding system on Indian reservations 'broken'

By VINCE DEVLIN of the Missoulian missoulian.com Posted: Friday, October 15, 2010 9:15 pm


POLSON - Almost three-quarters of the roads on American Indian reservations are unpaved, yet too much of the federal money meant to rectify that goes to states and urban tribes that don't need it, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester was told repeatedly Friday.

Tester, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, took testimony on the issue at a field hearing at KwaTaqNuk Resort - the first time a U.S. senator has convened a committee hearing on the Flathead Indian Reservation.

The first of two panels to testify included some heavy hitters from Washington, D.C., including Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk, and Michael Black, the director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

But it was the second panel, of Montana and Wyoming tribal leaders critical of the current system, which was most interesting.

The Rocky Mountain region, with the largest land-based tribes and most miles of roadways, has actually lost money under the system, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Chairman E.T. "Bud" Moran charged.

His Flathead Reservation has seen federal money for roads decline, from $1.3 million in 2006, to $750,000 this year, Moran said.

"I don't understand how that's possible," Moran said, "and why the BIA hasn't stopped it."

The formula for divvying up the money, Moran added, has "been unethically manipulated by tribes and states that have learned how to do it."

The transportation director of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes of Wyoming, John Smith, told Tester it comes down to three initials - "VTM," or "vehicle miles traveled."

"When you've got a 1-acre reservation in Washington next to (Interstate) 5 with a turnoff right there, they're getting 28,000 cars a day, times 365," Smith said. "Your VMT escalates at a huge rate."

And vehicle miles traveled is a critical - and, several tribal leaders testified, unfair - part of how a limited amount of federal money for roads on reservations is allotted.

"For far too long, infrastructure most Americans take for granted has been overlooked on reservations," Moran said. From clean drinking water to cell phone service, he added, such things are "not possible without basic infrastructure" such as decent roads.

"The term ‘Indian Reservation Roads Program' is not the proper name," said CSKT Tribal Council member James Steele Jr., appearing as the chairman of the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council.

In some places in the U.S., Steele said, the BIA is allowing some tribes to count "interstate highways, roads that don't exist and proposed roads" in determining how big a share of the limited pie they'll get.

"The system is broken," Steele said.

It is a complicated system.

Roads on reservations are considered federal roads, because Indian reservations are considered federal lands, and the federal government is responsible for constructing and maintaining those roads. (like it or not this is the way the U.S set all this up - CN has already contributed millions for road work to the state of Oklahoma - I sure don't pay any gas taxes to the CN, so no idea where that gas tax money is going but it sure isn't into the roads in Oklahoma)

However, current law allows transportation funds to be used for non-federal roads that "access" reservations - even though those state and county roads have separate funding sources.

There's also the issue of "Question 10," which came up several times during Friday's hearing.

Question 10 is one of the questions in a document implementing the regulations of the Highway Bill that asks, "Should the federal government fully fund all tribal roads?"

The answer, it turns out, is extremely complicated, according to many who testified before Tester. (Feds make it complicated because they need to manipulate it)

"We've been writing letters for years," said Tim Rosette Sr. of the Chippewa-Cree Tribe of Montana's Rocky Boy's Reservation. "Nobody listens, nobody cares, until this year when assistant secretary Echo Hawk tried to grab the bull by the horns - but it's a big bull, and he needs help."

Echo Hawk told Tester a coordinating committee for the Indian Reservation Roads Program has been unable, for four years, to agree on a recommendation for the "Q-10" issue, and had asked the BIA and Federal Highway Administration to develop a clarification.

The two agencies have held 10 regional tribal consultation meetings on a new proposed interpretation on Q-10. When Tester asked the Indian leaders who testified what they had learned from those meetings, all essentially said that they learned what they already knew: the current system is, as Steele put it, "not fair."

"We need simpler solutions," Smith added, "that are not as ambiguous" and focus on reservation populations, their land base and road miles.

More than 100 people attended the hearing, including representatives from tribes in California and Arizona. Tester noted the turnout was more than the full committee has seen at a hearing in Washington, D.C., in "quite a while."

In a somewhat unusual step for a Senate hearing, Tester also took public comment after the witnesses appeared, and that's where Jay St. Goddard of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council suggested the next hearing should be held on his reservation.

"Maybe you should have it at Heart Butte, Montana, where all your cars will fall apart on BIA roads before you get there," he said.

Reporter Vince Devlin can be reached at 1-800-366-7186 or at vdevlin@missoulian.com.

Freedmen vs Cherokee Nation et.al

Cherokee Nation drops DOI and Salazar from Freedmen suit
Senior Reporter


TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation on Oct. 6 dropped the Department of Interior and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as defendants from its federal lawsuit against five Cherokee Freedmen.

The lawsuit was filed Feb. 2, 2009, in the Northern District of Oklahoma. It sought declaratory judgment regarding the citizenship of Cherokee Freedmen under an 1866 Treaty between the CN and federal government.

Salazar, the DOI and the five Freedmen in the case moved to transfer the case to the District Court for the District of Columbia where a similar case (Vann et al v. Salazar) has been since 2003.

On July 2, 2010, U.S. District Judge Terence C. Kern for the Northern District of Oklahoma said the case should be transferred to the District of Columbia court because the plaintiffs and defendants in both cases were substantially similar and “involve a single core” issue – whether the 1866 Treaty guarantees Cherokee Freedmen certain rights within the CN.

However, CN Attorney General Diane Hammons said Kern did not transfer the entire case to the D.C. circuit.

“Instead, he asked the judge in the D.C. case to decide whether or not the case should be heard in D.C. or if it should be heard in Oklahoma. That decision has not been made yet, and there is still a possibility that this case can be heard here in Oklahoma, where the Cherokee Nation is located and where the non-Indian Freedmen descendants, who are parties to the suit, also live,” she said. “For whatever reason, some people on the other side of the case would rather have this case take place in Washington, D.C., which adds costs and inconvenience to all parties.” (she is absolutely right - these are grounds for bringing the suit in Oklahoma)

Freedmen attorneys Alvin Dunn and Jon Velie said the CN filed the Oklahoma action “solely as a tactical maneuver” to avoid having the case heard in Washington. (this is nothing more than political reasoning - recall they have the Congressional Black Caucus in DC as a political partner in all this)

“The Cherokee Nation filed the Oklahoma action only after a protracted intervention in the D.C. action, first attempting to have the suit dismissed and then seeking to re-assert its sovereign immunity,” Dunn and Velie wrote in a court brief. “It was only in 2009, when the Cherokee Nation feared that this (D.C.) court might hear the claims brought by the Freedmen against (Principal) Chief (Chad) Smith, that the Cherokee Nation sought to circumvent that outcome by seeking to have those claims heard instead by a court of its own choosing – the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma.” (the Supreme Court has already told the DC judge how he needs to rule - he for some reason just hasn't done it yet - the claims against the Chief and the Councilors are just plain false - the Freedmen are just looking for some type of "hammer" to hold over the heads of the CN officials in order to *get their way* without any legal basis - congress thru legislation took away the Freedmen descendant rights almost a century ago - funny how no one seems to recall that)

On Aug. 31, 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss the federal defendants from the tribe’s 2009 lawsuit. The CN responded on Oct. 6 by requesting the court to dismiss the claims against the DOI and Salazar, who indicated they did not intend to waive their sovereign immunity to litigation for claims the tribe alleged.

“That lack of waiver, at this time, prevents the Cherokee Nation from litigating this action against the federal defendants for a declaratory judgment as to the rights of the Cherokee Nation and the United States under the Treaty of 1866, as amended,” the tribe’s request states.

Regarding the other Freedmen court cases, Vann v. Salazar is pending in the D.C. court, and there is a judgment pending in CN District Court in the case of Nash v. Cherokee Nation Registrar, which was filed in 2007. A hearing was held for that case in July 2009.

Nearly 390 Freedmen joined Nash in the suit claiming they were illegally removed from the Nation’s citizenship rolls through an amendment approved by Cherokee voters in March 2007. In the 2009 hearing, both sides asked the judge for a summary judgment, which is a decision made on the basis of statements and evidence presented for the record without a trial.
(Nope, no illegal moves here - the Freedmen are trying to force politically what the law has already taken from them and will not give them)

will-chavez@cherokee.org • (918) 207-3961

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


(I've never seen any drunken debaucery going on here???)

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa owned and operated by the Cherokee Nation is not a party to the lawsuit.

Lawsuit cites local casino

Improper use of Hard Rock logo is alleged

A logo hangs from the exterior of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Alleged "drunken debauchery" at the Las Vegas site may have sparked the Hard Rock logo-use lawsuit. Associated Press file

By ROBERT EVATT World Staff Writer
Published: 9/24/2010 2:22 AM
Last Modified: 9/24/2010 4:54 AM


The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa is being cited by Hard Rock Cafe International for alleged improper use of the Hard Rock logos - part of a lawsuit that complains about "drunken debauchery" at the Hard Rock location in Las Vegas.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in New York, alleges that defendants Morgans Hotel Group Co., Morgan Management, HR Holdings, HR Inc. and HR IP - named as sublicensors of the Hard Rock brands to Cherokee Nation Entertainment - are providing a hotel and casino experience "incompatible" with the brand's customer reputation.

Cherokee Nation Entertainment, which obtained the Hard Rock license in 2008 for its Catoosa resort, is not a defendant in the lawsuit, and it's unclear whether Orlando, Fla.-based HRCI will ask the court to bar the use of the Hard Rock brand at the casino.

The lawsuit says HRCI wants to bar the defendants "or any third parties in privity with them" from using the Hard Rock name.

The allegations over the Hard Rock brand in Catoosa were a relatively minor part of the lawsuit, as HRCI's chief focus was on misuse of the brand at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, which is operated by Morgans Hotel and Morgans Management. The Catoosa resort is operated by Cherokee Nation Entertainment.

David Stewart, CEO of Cherokee Nation Entertainment, said in a written statement that the tribe has worked hard to honor the Hard Rock brand.

"Hard Rock Casino Tulsa has always had a unique identity that combines
the Hard Rock image with the music and people that make Oklahoma great," he said. "We value the Hard Rock brand, which is why we agreed to put their name on our new $120 million facility. Our service offerings and gaming experience here are second to none.

"We carefully use the Hard Rock marks as agreed upon in our licensing agreement with HRHH IP LLC and Hard Rock Hotel Holdings LLC. We are not a named defendant in the complaint and it is up to the parties named in the complaint to resolve this dispute."

In a statement released to the Tulsa World, HRCI officials said the lawsuit is a proactive step to protect the integrity of the Hard Rock brand, which it said was damaged as a result of the defendants' unauthorized use of various Hard Rock trademarks.

Specifically, the suit said "the range of services, character of the establishment and the experience offered to customers (at Hard Rock Tulsa) is incompatible with consumer expectations for goods and services branded with the Hard Rock marks.

It also alleged that the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino sign used on the outside of the Catoosa resort "is not one of the trademarks whose use or sublicensing is authorized by the License Agreement in this manner."

Additionally, HRCI complained that the resort's Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill restaurant used the Hard Rock name in a way that puts Hard Rock subordinate to the name of the restaurant, and that the defendants did not obtain written commitments from the restaurant's proprietors regarding the use of the trademark.

The Catoosa location of Toby Keith's is operated by Norman-based Hal Smith Restaurant Group.

HRCI said in its lawsuit that it has no legal remedy for its complaints and did not make any specific requests for changes at the Tulsa facility.

In the portion of the suit concerning the Las Vegas hotel-casino, HRCI claims Morgans gave the casino a party image that damaged Hard Rock's reputation, specifically through the cable reality show "Rehab: Party at the Hard Rock Hotel" on truTV.

The lawsuit says the show portrays the Las Vegas hotel-casino as a place that "revels in drunken debauchery" and other actions that most people would find offensive, and portrays the staff as "unprofessional, incompetent and/or physically and emotionally abusive to hotel guests and other staff."

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Albuquerque, N.M., which was sublicensed by Morgans to the Pueblo of Isleta Indian Tribe, was also cited in the suit, with allegations that Morgans failed to ensure the logo was used consistently and that the services, character and experience was compatible with Hard Rock.

HRCI licenses the Hard Rock name to 169 venues in 52 countries, including 134 cafes and 14 hotels and casinos.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Robert Evatt 581-8447

Where IHS funding goes...

Alleged misconduct puts IHS officials in hot seat
Senate panel grills leaders on Aberdeen office's problems

LEDYARD KING • Argus Leader Washington Bureau • September 29, 2010


WASHINGTON - Senators lambasted Indian Health Service officials Tuesday after investigators found that some workers in the federal agency had criminal records, stole drugs and embezzled money - all while patients endured long lines for medical services or were turned away.

Government inspectors have opened almost 300 investigations into IHS during the past decade for alleged violations including fraud, theft and employee misconduct, according to the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

At the same time, IHS supervisors often put disciplined employees on paid administrative leave, allowing them to stay at home and collect their salary for months.

Tuesday's hearing by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee focused on IHS' Aberdeen office, which includes 48 medical facilities in South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska.

Committee Chairman Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said his staff found numerous examples of mismanagement that contributed to a reduction or elimination of inpatient services at some Indian health sites. From 2007 to this year, there were 385 days at the IHS hospital in Rapid City and 244 days at the hospital in Eagle Butte on the Cheyenne River reservation when patient services were either reduced or unavailable. And while the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, which straddles North and South Dakota, was experiencing a spate of suicides, the mental health counseling position went vacant for months.

"This is a mess, and a big problem and a big bureaucracy that doesn't want to change," Dorgan told IHS Director Yvette Roubideaux. "It wants to not deal with problems. It wants to ship them to the next reservation, the next service unit. That's got to stop. That's got to stop now."

Health care is a chronic problem for Native Americans, particularly those on large, rural reservations where treatment options are scarce. As a result, Indians generally have a lower life expectancy and higher rates of diabetes, tuberculosis, alcoholism and suicide than other ethnic groups, according to federal data.

A series of Argus Leader stories in December revealed widespread frustration with reservation health care in the state. The reports pointed to insufficient funding, rationed care, difficulty hiring health care providers, millions of dollars in lost or stolen IHS property, and federal rules that keep ineffective leaders on the job.

Besides being underfunded and suffering from poor management, tribal leaders and many lawmakers say IHS, which serves 1.9 million Native Americans and Alaskan Natives, has been corrupt.

Investigators' revelations added to the agency's troubled record. Looking at the Aberdeen office, they found:
· Two employees on the payroll despite earlier convictions - one for drug theft, the other for embezzlement - that should have made them ineligible for IHS employment.
· Lax monitoring of pharmaceutical drug storage that allowed a Sioux San Hospital pharmacy technician in Rapid City to steal large quantities of narcotics in 2008.
· IHS employees tampering with medical records to defraud the government in 2005.
Federal "investigations have resulted in numerous criminal convictions relating to employee misconduct," said Gerald Roy, Health and Human Services deputy inspector general for investigations.

In addition, Dorgan was unhappy that Aberdeen's deputy director has been on paid leave for a year while her conduct is being investigated. And he pointed to a jump in employee complaints about the way management is running the agency as a sign that much needs to be improved.

Roubideaux acknowledged "severe challenges" but said her agency is starting to turn a corner and that the increase in employee complaints is proof that workers are finally - reluctantly, in some cases - being challenged to improve.

Roubideaux, an enrolled Rosebud Sioux tribal member, was appointed as IHS director last year by President Obama. She said she's trying to instill a new culture in the beleaguered agency, making employees more accountable, firing bad managers and keeping better track of lost equipment, the subject of a recent congressional probe. With the help of the Aberdeen regional director Charlene Red Thunder, five middle managers were forced out because of poor performance, she told the committee.

Problems remain, such as a lack of money for transportation to hospitals and the uneven way money is distributed to local health care agencies, said Ron His Horse Is Thunder, the former Standing Rock chairman who now is the executive director of the Aberdeen Area Tribal Chairman's Health Board.

But he congratulated Red Thunder for working with tribes on medical needs.
South Dakota Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson, a member of the Indian Affairs Committee, said he often hears about problems with IHS, which was created to fulfill the government's obligation to provide health care for Native Americans.

"It is critical to focus on moving forward and seeking a positive solution to solve these problems," he said. "We must do all that we can to uphold our treaty and trust responsibilities to American Indians."

Contact Ledyard King at lking@gannett.com.

"Don't Get Sick After June: American Indian Healthcare"

Want to know more about Indian Country Today....


The real tragedy as well for Indian Health Care is: it was lumped in with the Obama Health Care Bill....that should never have happened...the bases for providing health care to Native America comes from a totally different source than any *public health care system* that has been passed; it is in a separate category all it's own and as such should have been passed separately.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Seek truth about Cherokee

Seek truth about Cherokee
Story Published: Oct 1, 2010
Story Updated: Oct 1, 2010


The Cherokee Nation does not question anyone’s claim of heritage or ancestry, but merely points out the significant difference between claiming heritage and having citizenship in a federally recognized Indian tribe.

Fraudulent groups and individuals passing themselves off as Native American have become big business over the past two decades, with more than 200 groups that claim to be some sort of Cherokee tribe. There are also hundreds of individuals who claim to be Cherokee or from the Cherokee Nation and offer services that range from teaching culture to spiritual advice.

However, there are only three federally recognized Cherokee tribes – the Cherokee Nation and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians both located in Oklahoma and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians located in North Carolina. The Cherokee Nation is alive and well in Tahlequah, Okla., as it has been for 170 years. Cherokee language and culture still thrive here, as well as in North Carolina with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. No group outside of North Carolina and Oklahoma has ever been recognized as a legitimate Cherokee sovereign.

Fake tribes and individuals with unverifiable ties to Native American citizenship often claim to be passing on Cherokee cultural knowledge and traditional arts. But the reality is these groups and individuals dilute true Indian culture and identity. Many of them pass along cultural information that is incorrect or that perpetuates harmful stereotypes.

When seeking authentic information about tribal culture, history, tradition, genealogy and government, we urge you to look carefully into claims made by groups that are not recognized by the federal government, especially those that claim to represent the Cherokee Nation.

The federal government is tasked with determining federal recognition of tribes and this is carried by the Department of Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs Branch of Acknowledgement & Research. Public Law 25, CFR Part 83, requires federally recognized tribes must meet specific requirements: American Indian entity since 1900, distinct community existing since historical times until present, maintained political influence or authority as autonomous entity, demonstrate governing documents including citizenship criteria, members descend from historical tribe(s) and not already be members of other tribes as well as no congressional legislation terminating or forbidding a federal relationship. Federal recognition is consistent.

For further information with regard to dispelling myths and exposing frauds, call the Cherokee Nation or the Bureau of Indian Affairs for a list of legitimate nations, tribes and bands. Visit the website at tribalrecognition.cherokee.org.–

Ginger Brown
Cherokee Nation
Government Relations Officer
Tahlequah, Okla.