Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tester ramps up efforts to preserve Native languages, will attend McGovern Day

Democratic US Senators are teaming up to ensure the longevity of American Indian languages:
Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana) is teaming up with Senators Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) to preserve Native languages and help strengthen Indian culture and education. Tester and his colleagues this week introduced the Native Language Immersion Student Achievement Act. The bill establishes a grant program to fund Native language educational programs throughout Indian Country in order to improve high school graduation rates, increase college enrollment and better prepare students for jobs. [Indian Country Today]
It was announced today that Sen. Tester will attend the McGovern Day event being hosted by the South Dakota Democratic Party.
“There is near unanimous agreement that our current housing finance system is not sustainable in the long term and reform is necessary to help strengthen and stabilize the economy,” Johnson said in a joint statement with Crapo. “This bipartisan effort will provide the market the certainty it needs.” Some committee members were enthusiastic. “Amen, brother,” Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said in an interview. “Let’s get it done — have a markup and kick it out of committee before Easter.” [Jon Prior and Kevin Cirilli, POLITICO]
Johnson is Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee: he and Sen. Mike Crapo (earth hater-ID) announced today that an agreement has been reached in how to bridge an impasse in home financing.
Just before Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana) took up the gavel of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in February, he introduced the Native Language Immersion Student Achievement Act, which would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to provide increased federal financial support to Native American language programs at American Indian-focused schools. If passed, the bill would establish a grant program to support schools using Native American languages as their primary language of instruction. The legislation would appropriate $5 million for fiscal year 2015, and “such sums as may be necessary for each of the succeeding 4 fiscal years.” As this policy discussion unfolds, tribal advocates are also noting ideas that they believe could strengthen Tester’s bill. [Rob Capriccioso, Indian Country Today]


Besieged by uranium mining proposals near sacred sites, a highly placed official of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has filed a scathing condemnation of actions allegedly taken against Indians by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff and its foreign corporate project proponents in the federal permit process. Powertech (USA), Inc. has been seeking a “new radioactive source materials facility” license, as well as other federal and state permits since 2009 for the Dewey-Burdock Project, which could become South Dakota’s first-ever in-situ leach uranium mining and yellow-cake processing endeavor. The operation proposed on 10,580 acres of Standing Rock Tribe’s ancestral treaty lands in the Black Hills, would have “adverse effects” where ground disturbance occurs on any of the more than 250 historic properties identified, the NRC staff acknowledges. The Oglala Sioux Tribe contends that finalizing the impact statement is illegal without including the cultural resources survey involving the tribes. [Talli Nauman, Native Sun News, posted at Indianz]

Washington state is considering legislation that would expand mid-level providers and the Washington State Dental Association is opposed saying that “midlevel providers will not make dental care more affordable, how dental residencies are a superior alternative, and how dentists in private practice are reimbursed 25 cents on the dollar for adult Medicaid patients.” Tribes are meeting later this week at NCAI (pdf) to talk about new steps to push the mid-level provider issue forward. It’s clear that dental health therapy works in Alaska — and the same idea could improve oral health across Indian country. Plus it meets the larger health care tests, improving quality and lowering costs. [Mark Trahant, A Law Backing Tribal Sovereignty Is Answer to Expanding Oral Health]


Over the next 90 days, during which, the federal government begins its final review process for approval of the pipeline, an alliance of Lakota, Dakota and Nakota tribes in South Dakota and Nebraska – known as the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires), analogous to the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe – have gone on a defensive campaign against TransCanada, the company responsible for the proposed pipeline. Project public relations coordinator Aldo Seoane highlighted consultation by the State Department as the impetus for the tribes' resistance to the Keystone XL project. “The tribes would continue to object to it because there's no way TransCanada can meet any or all of those terms. We're talking about the fact that the pipeline is the entire length of the state, it falls under the 1868 [Ft. Laramie] Treaty, so they have to consult with all of the bands and all of the bands have to agree that they can go through that land,” Seoane said. [Alfred Walking Bull, Tribes Begin Defense Against Keystone XL]

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