Saturday, May 28, 2011

Big Tobacco stoking tribal sovereignty tensions; Tony Dean in Tester bill?

A federal raid of a cigarette manufacturer on the Yakama Indian Reservation has resulted in a lawsuit intended to test provisions of the Tribal Law and Order Act. Here is Turtle Talk's read; note Nebraska news in their sidebar. From Indian Country Today:
One Indian law expert compared the federal government’s apparent lack of trust toward the Yakama Nation to its lack of trust in raiding bin Laden’s house without consultation with the Pakistani government. The lawsuit states that early in the morning of February 16, the federal defendants, “acting through scores of federal agents, armed with assault rifles, and with local police officers from Virginia and Mississippi and the County of Yakama in tow, invaded the Yakama Nation Reservation Trust lands – without having provided any prior notice to the sovereign on whose land they were intruding.” Alex Skibine, professor of Indian law and constitutional law at the University of Utah, said the Yakama case deals with “very thorny issues” surrounding interpretations of the law, but it could set an important precedence for Indian country in general with regard to the interpretation of the Tribal Law and Order Act. The tribe has a “credible” treaty violation claim that is unique to the tribe, but it is the tribe’s TLOA claims that will affect all of Indian country, Skibine said.
Nebraska's Winnebago and Ponca tribes are being targeted by Philip Morris and other industrial tobacco conglomerates calling in campaign markers to its Republican Attorney General. Again, Indian Country Today's Gale Courey Toensing describes the effects of the new law:
Lance Morgan, the chief executive officer of Ho-Chunk Inc., the Ho-Chunk Winnebago Tribe’s economic arm, says the proposed legislation is “a deliberate attempt to wipe out tribal tobacco competition in Nebraska because the legislation specifically singles out Indian tribes.” Nebraska’s Chief Deputy Attorney General David D. Cookson, who solicited input from Big Tobacco on the proposed legislation, contends that the bill does not target Indian tribes, but in a phone interview, he said, “No, I would not agree with that at all. I think what it is—is—Well, I think—Then again, that’s not part of our bill, so I really can’t speak to it.” Philip Morris even marked up an exemption for itself and other big tobacco companies from “additional obligations” that would apply to all companies.

Tribes' representation in Congress is pathetic, especially in the red states actively tearing down rights using taxpayer money against disadvantaged reservations. If tribes are equal to states why don't tribal presidents have the power to call out the National Guard?

Senator Jon Tester says he is still listening to input on his Forest Jobs and Recreation Act according to the Helena Independent Record:

The U.S. Committee on Energy and Natural Resources heard testimony Wednesday mainly in support of Sen. Jon Tester’s revived Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, a few hours after a telephone conference call involving Rep. Denny Rehberg and others opposed to the bill. Tester, a Democrat, is up for re-election in 2012, and Rehberg, a Republican who is challenging Tester, is accusing the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act of being crafted behind closed doors by special interest groups. Tester, as well as both Democrats and Republicans who helped create the act, vehemently deny that allegation, and say Rehberg is making the bill a political issue instead. “We are troubled that Sen. Tester and his collaborators refuse to accept the fact that this bill contains a number of irresponsible and unnecessarily risky provisions, which not only could cause negative impacts to Forest Service budgets in our region, but also threatens America’s national forest legacy by establishing a new precedent where D.C. politicians simply mandate resource extraction levels on our public lands,” said Matthew Koehler, executive director of the WildWest Institute. “That’s a road we needn’t travel down.”
How about adding the proposed Tony Dean to wilderness protection?

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