Reservation Seeks VA Outreach Program
By SARA KINCAID
A veterans' outreach program is in the works for the Turtle Mountain Reservation.
It would be a joint effort of the Veterans Administration Center in Fargo and the Indian Health Services. Organizers toured the Fargo facility Monday and discussed plans for the Turtle Mountain program in Belcourt.
The center aims to increase access for veterans on the reservation. The goal is to have staff from the Fargo VA center travel to Belcourt. According to the Fargo VA Medical Center, American Indians have the greatest per capita service rate of any Americans and statistically underutilize the Veterans Administration.
It also would meet the cultural needs of the veterans and tribal members by providing access to spiritual leaders and a sweat lodge. The Fargo VA Medical Center has the only VA-run sweat lodge.
It's a small, domed structure made of willow saplings anchored in the ground in a circle, Sen. Richard Marcellais, D-Belcourt, said by e-mail.
"The sweat lodge ceremony is for renewal of life," he wrote. "In the ceremony people seek help from the spirit world (spirits ancestors) and community with each other and their relatives (human and animal)."
Marcellais is a Vietnam War veteran and he worked for the Veterans Administration. He is involved in the planning of the outreach program in Belcourt. He toured the Fargo facility Monday.
He met with Rosalyn Cole, the associate director of the Fargo VAMedical Center, Robert P. McDivitt, medical center director; Paula Conrad, veterans service center manager and program directors and outreach coordinators involved in the organization of the outreach program.
(Reach reporter Sara Kincaid at 250-8251
Ex-Auditor Told To Be Lax On Oil Fees
~ WSDP: Note that Indian tribes are involved ~ Once again, here is the proof that your elected officials in D.C. are not interested in protecting the Legal Right's of the American Indian. Almost as if they are more interested in destroying the Sovereign Right's of the Tribes.
By Emund L. Andrews
WASHINGTON, March 28 — A former top auditor at the Interior Department accused senior officials on Wednesday of prohibiting him and other investigators from recovering hundreds of millions of dollars in underpayments from oil and gas companies that drill on federal land and in federal waters.
“There’s hundreds of millions of dollars, billions of dollars out there, and I don’t think we should be scared of the oil companies,” said Bobby L. Maxwell, a former senior auditor who, as a private citizen, sued the Kerr-McGee Corporation, claiming it intentionally cheated the government of royalties for oil and gas it produced in the Gulf of Mexico.
In February, a federal jury in Denver agreed with Mr. Maxwell and ruled that Kerr-McGee had underpaid the government by $7.5 million. Under a law intended to encourage whistle-blowers, the company could be liable for more than $30 million, and Mr. Maxwell would be entitled to keep as much as 30 percent of that.
“There were statements made: ‘Don’t bother the oil companies,’ ” Mr. Maxwell told the House Natural Resources Committee, which is investigating allegations of mismanagement in the royalty program run by the Minerals Management Service of the Interior Department.
“The M.M.S. is the proverbial ostrich that has its head in the sand, that sees nothing, knows nothing, but says that no royalties are due,” Mr. Maxwell continued.
Another former auditor, from New Mexico, Kevin Gambrell, told lawmakers that he had been repeatedly blocked from trying to recover payments for oil and gas production that were owed to Indian tribes.
A. David Lester, executive director of a group that represents Indian tribes with oil and gas reserves, said the Interior Department’s enforcement efforts amounted to an “honor system” for oil and gas producers that “unfailingly results in underpayment” to the tribes.
C. Stephen Allred, assistant Interior secretary for land and minerals management, defended the Bush administration’s enforcement efforts. “I am convinced, after my review, that the M.M.S. is collecting the royalties that are set forth in the legislation” that governs the government’s oil and gas leasing program, he said.
Last year, the Interior Department collected almost $12 billion in royalties and lease payments tied to oil and gas production, up from $9.3 billion in 2005, primarily because of high energy prices.
Mr. Allred acknowledged that revenue generated by enforcement efforts had plunged since 2001, but he said most of that decline came after about a dozen major oil companies made huge payments in earlier years to settle charges of cheating.
According to Interior Department data, enforcement revenue averaged well over $100 million a year during the 1990s, peaking at more than $331 million in 2000. In the six years since then, enforcement revenue has averaged about $46 million a year.
In December, the inspector general of the Interior Department scathingly criticized the department’s dwindling use of detailed audits and its growing reliance on softer “compliance reviews” that rely primarily on company statements rather than sales records.
The inspector general estimated that the Interior Department had reduced the number of auditors by 15 percent since 2000 and was completing about 22 percent fewer audits than it did six years earlier.
“It does appear that we’re getting ripped off, plain and simple,” said Representative Nick J. Rahall II, Democrat of West Virginia and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.
The Interior Department is under fire for other problems in the royalty program as well. It is struggling without much success to correct leasing mistakes that could allow oil companies to escape $10 billion in royalties over the next decade or so.
The Justice Department is investigating evidence of corruption in the fast-growing “royalty in kind” program, under which the government collects about $4 billion a year in royalties in the form of oil and gas rather than cash.
The investigation focuses on evidence that the program’s manager and several other employees had consulting deals with companies that were bidding to market the royalty oil and gas for the government or had romantic ties to company executives.
Mr. Maxwell told lawmakers that Interior officials had instructed him and other auditors not to audit companies that pay in-kind royalties. Interior officials contend that payments in the form of oil and gas are more straightforward than cash payments and require less auditing.
Interior officials have accused Mr. Maxwell and other rebellious enforcement officials of trying to profit by suing oil and gas producers as private citizens.
The Interior Department fired Mr. Maxwell in early 2005, one week after his lawsuit against Kerr-McGee became public. Three other current auditors also have filed suits against more than a dozen oil companies.
This E-mail was posted by:Larry KibbyElko Indian Colony, Nevada
Larry's Information and Directory Center
'Prez On The Rez' Coming To Californa
Kayln Free (firstname.lastname@example.org) has announced the Morongo Band of Mission Indians in Cabazon, California has been selected to host Prez on the Rez on August 23, 2007.
“No major presidential campaign event has ever come to Indian Country,” said Morongo Tribal Chairman Robert Martin. “This represents a historic opportunity for this country's First Americans to take a direct role in the future of America by holding a national level forum for presidential candidates. We couldn't be more proud to make history for Indian Country by hosting this extraordinary event.”
The announcement, and the official launch of Prez on the Rez, was held in conjunction with the winter executive meeting of the National Congress of American Indians in Washington, DC. In a speech at that meeting, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico became the first presidential candidate to commit to Prez on the Rez. Click here to read the story. Click here to see pictures from the event.
“The Morongo tribe has been a visionary leader with nationwide impact when it comes to supporting efforts to build political power in Indian Country, not just for their own tribe, but for Indians everywhere,” said Free. “American Indians are becoming a recognized and active force in the American political process. The Prez on the Rez forum represents an important next step in Indian Country's activism.”
Free said that the Morongo Band was chosen because of the caliber of the facilities and resources that the Morongo Tribe can offer; for its accessible location in southern California for both participants and national media; and California's decision to hold its primary in February, 2008. The regional media is already excited about this historic event, with stories running in the Riverside Press-Enterprise and the Palm Springs Desert Sun.
“By now you know how important Prez on the Rez is for our Indian Nations”, Free said. “Others are recognizing its significance as well. Governor Howard Dean, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has expressed his excitement to be attending Prez on the Rez.
Over the next few weeks, we will be following up with major announcements about our confirmed candidates, speakers, and other special guests.”
INDN Campaign Camp Set For August April 02, 2007
Do you want to run for political office? Do you want to work on a political campaign for an American Indian candidate? Do you want to increase the political power in Indian Country? If so, then you need to attend INDN Campaign Camp 2007!
INDN Campaign Camp 2007 will be held August 20- 25 on the Morongo Band of Mission Indians Reservation, in Cabazon, California. Campaign Camp is a weeklong training workshop for potential Indian candidates and campaign staffers. By giving American Indians the critical tools and hard skills they need to run a political campaign, the camp will be a key part of our efforts in 2008 to elect even more Indians to offices all across the nation.
The training will include sessions on fundraising, targeting, direct mail, message, field organizing, canvassing and phone banks, using a voter file, working with tribes, local and state parties, building a political resume and GOTV, to name just some of the topics covered.
Participants will be trained by the best and brightest campaign professionals in the country, and will hear speeches from political leaders and personalities throughout the week. Space is limited and scholarships are available, based on need and available resources.
INDN’s List held our first Campaign Camp in October 2005 on the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Reservation in Prior Lake, Minnesota. It was a huge success, with professional trainers from 21st Century Democrats, EMILY’s List, Wellstone Action and Democracy for America. DNC Chairman Gov. Howard Dean served as the event’s keynote speaker to the hundreds of participants. Three members of Congress, Stephanie Herseth (D-SD), Mike Honda (D-CA), and Jim Oberstar (D-MN) gave stirring speeches to the group, and Al Franken, author, radio personality and humorist also made a presentation to the group.
More important than the trainers and speakers were the participants themselves. 109 people hailed from 21 states and 50 Indian Nations. Fifty men and fifty- nine women participated in the training. That turnout was key to our success in the 2006 election cycle, and we expect this year’s camp to be even bigger. Political and tribal leaders, campaign consultants, and media personalities recognize this as one of the country’s premier training events and certainly the only political training of its kind in Indian Country, and they are eager to be a part of it. Gov. Howard Dean has already committed to returning to Campaign Camp, and more are on the way.
If you’re interested in joining the political process as a candidate or staff organizer, we’d love to have you at Campaign Camp.
Click here for the Campaign Camp Registration Form.
For further information, email email@example.com or call us at 918.583.6100 and we will help get you started.
Western Shoshone Nation Attends Historic Indigenous Gathering
Iximche, Guatemala - Arriving this morning in Guatemala City to attend the III Continental Indigenous Summit in Iximche, Western Shoshone National Council member Joe Kennedy established diplomatic precedent for the hemisphere by entering the Maya Territories on his Western Shoshone passport.
The continental summit of Nations and Pueblos of the Indigenous Peoples of the continent Abya Yala (the Americas) is now taking place at the sacred ceremonial precinct of Iximche, some 80 kilometers from Guatemala City. The event is being attended by indigenous delegations from Alaska to Argentina with over 2000 participants.
Arriving in Iximche, Mr. Kennedy stated, "I feel good, and I feel honored that the Guatemalan authorities welcomed me into the country recognizing me as a Western Shoshone national. The Indigenous Peoples here are facing the same kind of issues we are facing in the north, and face the same threat by the multi-national corporations such as mining and environmental contamination. These affect the traditional foundation of our nations which is the land, the air, the water and spirituality."
The III Continental Summit of Indigenous Nations and Pueblos of Abya Yala marks a new phase in the relationship between the nations of Indigenous Peoples and the government states of the Americas. One of the most telling examples of this fact is the presence of the minister of foreign relations for the Bolivian government, Mr. David Choquehuanca who on Monday addressed the inaugural session of the Summit Abya Yala in representation of President Evo Morales of Bolivia. President Morales himself is scheduled to arrive at the Summit Abya Yala on Friday to attend the official closure of the five day gathering.
One of the specific proposals being brought forward to the summit is the delivery to Mr. Morales of an Archive of Treaties between the government states of the continent and the nations of Indigenous Peoples of Abya Yala.
"These treaties must be honored. They are supposed to be the supreme law of the land." said Mr. Kennedy, referring in particular to the Ruby Valley Treaty of 1863 which is the foundation of several legal victories by the Western Shoshone Nation in the international arena.
The Western Shoshone won a victory on March 10, 2006 in a decision by the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) wherein the US government was urged to "freeze, desist, and stop actions being taken or threatened to be taken against the Western Shoshone peoples of the Western Shoshone Nation.
The Western Shoshone delegation at the III Continental Indigenous Summit Abya Yala, which includes Western Shoshone members Sandy Dann and Larson Bill is to present before the summit on the implications of the CERD decision in terms of other Nations of Indigenous Peoples of the continent Abya Yala (the Americas).
"The history of racial discrimination in terms of the relationship between our Indigenous Peoples and the government states has roots in the Doctrine of Discovery and the Papal Bull Inter Caetera of 1493," stated Mr. Kennedy. "It is time that the present governments step up to these historical injustices, and take action to stomp out all forms of racial discrimination."
The Doctrine of Discovery is one of the items on the agenda of the continental issues to be addressed in Iximche, at the III Continental Indigenous Summit Abya Yala.
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