The Islamic Post
Teaser:

Delegates to the National Congress of American Indians Executive Council Session met in late March to network with each other, and to meet with legislators and policymakers. Leaders and activists from many of America’s 526 federally recognized Native American tribes discussed strategies for lobbying Congress and the Obama administration on a host of political, economic and social issues, including questions of sovereignty for American Indian nations and tribes.

Delegates to the National Congress of American Indians Executive Council Session met in late March to network with each other, and to meet with legislators and policymakers. Leaders and activists from many of America’s 526 federally recognized Native American tribes discussed strategies for lobbying Congress and the Obama administration on a host of political, economic and social issues, including questions of sovereignty for American Indian nations and tribes.
Janice Mabee of the Sauk-Suiattle tribe of Washington State said she came to press lawmakers to return the forest lands where her tribe once lived. The lands were taken away during the 1930s when their value for timber became known.
“And we really would like to have our land back,” she said. Mabee added her tribe would not log the land, which she says is not being used at this time. Her tribe wants to build homes for tribal members on it. “We only have 19 homes right now and we have 200 tribal members that are homeless. So we need homes for our families and our children to grow up in.”
Limited sovereignty
Indian tribes in the United States enjoy the legal status of autonomous nations, with their own rules of governance. Agreements between tribes and the US government are called treaties, just like pacts between the United States and other sovereign nations. Still, legal questions over land use and the limits of Indian sovereignty remain in dispute.
Many Indians, like Robert Holden – a Choctaw-Chickasaw Indian and the deputy director of the National Congress of American Indians – also claim that treaties guarantee them a right to health care even if non-Indians do not have that right.
Holden said that when his tribe moved to a reservation, giving up its ancestral homeland and the traditional herbal medicines available there, the government promised to provide for their health and well-being in exchange. But Holden said the government has never fully met those obligations.
Byron Dorgan, a US Senator from North Dakota, where many American Indians live, spoke at the meeting. As chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, he acknowledged the US government has obligations to America’s first peoples.
Being counted
That investment usually takes the form of federal funds designated for specific programs. The amount of funding is largely based on population figures and economic data gathered by a constitutionally-mandated census the federal government conducts every ten years. The 2010 Census is just getting under way. If fewer community members are counted, they risk getting less federal and state aid.
A full-day seminar on developing and operating non-profit organizations in Native communities was held March 24. Presented in partnership by the Washington State Bar Association’s Indian Law Section, Washington Attorneys Assisting Community Organizations, the Native American Unit of the Northwest Justice Project, and Foster Pepper PLLC, the seminar covered numerous topics to assist those interested in forming charitable and other non-profit organizations, including: incorporation and other state law issues, application for tax exempt status, compliance issues for public charities, fostering non-profits in Indian country, and cultural awareness in dispute resolution.

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