This Week's Program: Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Here are today's guests:

* Marijo Moore, Author and former commentator on First Voices Indigenous Radio, speaks about her new book called "Confessions of a Madwoman": go to her web site * Leslye Abbey, social worker and independent filmmaker, she is screening a testimonial film called "Houma Nation vs. Hurricanes" this Sunday, December 11th at 11am, at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Queens. Learn more about how Katrina and Rita impacted the Houma nation. Phone 516-679-8216 for more information. * Charles Verdin, Chair of the Pointe-au-Chien tribe in the lower bayou of southern Louisiana. He speaks about the impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on his community, and the historical context of the tribe. Interview by John Hamilton, producer at Democracy Now!. * Stephen Martin, working with LakotaKidz. He speaks about how the rising cost of fuel will impact Native reservations in South Dakota this winter. Prices will be extremely high there, where the winters are deadly cold, reaching well below 0 degrees. His organization works to deliver services, but faces major logistical obstacles.

Show Headlines

Nevada Tribe Hit by Fire Still Waiting on BIA For Assistance

Members of the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Tribe of Nevada were hit by a fire three months ago and are still waiting for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to provide assistance. The fire destroyed 3,000 acres of reservation land on the Nevada-Oregon border. Reservation members have applied for monetary aid and supplies through the BIA social services, but the agency says first the Red Cross must investigate the applications. A BIA spokeswoman said, "It appears the federal government can do more. I do not know when the Red Cross will go out there." The tribe has been meeting with state officials and members of Congress, including democratic Senator Harry Reid. Members are also struggling to get firewood and the US service Forest Service has said it's against federal law for them to provide free wood. Also pending is the $1,700 bill for drinking water delivered the day of the fire. Tribal members were without water for a week.

Lummis Enlist Fire, an Old Ally, As They Battle Scourge of Drugs

The Lummi nation in Washington state reportedly set a boarded-up house on fire in a community effort to battle rampant drug abuse. The family owning the house agreed to the ceremony. The Seattle Times reports that illegal drugs were sold out of the house. The Lummi nation launched a major anti-drug campaign in 2002 after tragedies related to drug abuse skyrocketed. Tribal members report increasing drug-related prosecutions and establishing more youth treatment facilities and even banishing dealers from the rez. Members say they have returned to the teachings of their ancestors and the power of fire.

AIM Calls for Newspaper Columnist To Be Fired For Criticizing Deloria

The Colorado branch of the American Indian Movement is calling for Rocky Mountain News columnist Vincent Carroll to be fired after words on Vine Deloria Jr, who passed away November 13. The controversy center around the following passage Carroll wrote: But what the obituaries and tributes have for the most part danced around or ignored is the utterly wacky nature of some of his views. [In a 1996 book] Deloria rejected the Bering land bridge theory of prehistoric migration to the Western Hemisphere since he believed Indians existed here 'at the beginning' - probably as contemporaries of dinosaurs. And this bizarre claim only hints at his contempt for much science. Deloria insisted that we shouldn't sanitize America's past. Fair enough. But let's not sanitize his legacy, either."

This was AIM's response: Would you have disrespected Martin Luther King in the same way? No. Would you have disrespected any European-American leader in that manner? No. Recently, you rightfully gave the death of Rosa Parks prominent, multiple day coverage in your paper. Why not for Deloria? Is it because American Indians could not possibly have done anything important enough to merit such coverage? Is it because you and your staff are entirely unaware of Deloria and his contributions? If so, we hope that the racism inherent in such ignorance is obvious to you. A couple dozen AIM members signed the letter.

Supreme Court Nominee Alito Voted to Support Indian's Religious Freedom

Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito has a miniscule record when it comes to Indian issues, but there is one decision that looks favorable for Indians. A couple of years ago the US court of appeals for the third circuit heard the case of Dennis Blackhawk, a man brought up in a traditional Oglala Lakota home. Pennsylvania officials tried to force Blackhawk to obtain an exotic wildlife dealer permit to keep several black bears. Blackhawk sued, saying that violated his right to religious expression. Blackhawk conducted ceremonies with the bears, as advised by Lakota elders. The court sided with Blackhawk with Alito writing the majority opinion.

Supreme Court Rules State Can Tax Reservation Fuel, Blow Dealt to the Potawatomi Nation

The Supreme Court has ruled that states have the right to tax fuel sold on Indian reservations. A Prairie band Potawatomi attorney called it "an utter failure to give federal protection to tribal sovereignty" In a 7-2 vote, justices ruled that Kansas could tax distributors selling fuel at the Prairie Band Potawatomi tribe's gas station near Topeka. Tribal attorneys argued the Potawatomi tribe already taxes the fuel to pay for reservation roads traveled by tribal members and non-Indians alike. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony M. Kennedy agreed, saying the fuel is "effectively double-taxed." They also said that forcing the tax could result in the gas station going out of business. The ruling spells bad news for other tribes as well. Sixteen other states that impose a motor fuel tax and have Indian lands within their borders had urged the high court to hear the case. They argued that a restriction on their ability "to tax uniformly throughout the state will inhibit their ability" to fund highway construction and maintenance.

Tex Hall, former leader of the National Congress of American Indians and the current chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara nation blasted the ruling. He said: "The Supreme Court's ruling today puts Indian tribes into a situation that they were never supposed to be in under the United States Constitution - fighting political battles within the state legislatures to fend off or repeal state laws like Kansas'. If sovereignty means anything, it means that no tribe should have to go hat in hand to the non-Indians of the state they live in and ask for the right to exercise their inherent sovereign powers. Seven of the Justices sitting on the Court don't get this. I think Indian Country is getting fed up with this kind of nonsense, and we are going to have to step up our role in deciding whether or not Samuel Alito is confirmed to the Supreme Court."