Feds Asked To Stop Ignoring Navajo Nation Extradition Laws - Future Olympians Can Train At The Dakotah! Figure Skating Club! - Native Storytelling
By Kathy Helms
WINDOW ROCK – The federal government is ignoring Navajo Nation extradition laws and procedures, and Chief Prosecutor Bernadine Martin wants it to stop.
“I have told the federal government, 'We are a sovereign nation. We have our people, we have our culture, our language and our laws, which we should follow. When I was sworn in on Sept. 2, my oath was to Navajo law, not the federal law. The oath of our law enforcement is to Navajo law.
“What we are trying to do is focus the attention back on the extradition procedures so defendants are treated fairly and are given notice and an opportunity for a hearing before they leave the Navajo Nation,” Martin told the Intergovernmental Relations Committee Monday.
The extradition law was passed by the Navajo Nation Council in 1978. In 1994, the solicitor of the Navajo Nation, who at the time was James W. Zion of Albuquerque, issued an opinion that outlined the procedures for extradition, but in recent times, no one has been following the procedure, she said.
Churchrock Delegate Ernest Yazzie Jr. is sponsoring legislation urging the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies to respect and comply with Navajo extradition laws and procedures. The legislation was on IGR's agenda, however, Yazzie was not present at the time it came up so it was not considered.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Kee Allen Begay said the legislation is important because “outside agencies need to know how we do business.” He asked that the agenda be amended so Martin could present her report. The request was approved 7-2.
In the first month after she was sworn in as chief prosecutor, Martin fought extradition against the federal government on a Navajo defendant in a homicide case. She said it was not intended to challenge federal jurisdiction, because it was clear the federal government had jurisdiction. “It was the way it was handled that I had issues with.”
What the federal government was doing was coming to the Nation and “badging out” Navajo defendants, she said.
“They would put defendants in our jail and not charge them with anything. They were just sitting in our jail; they don't know why. On their logs they put like 'federal custody,' yet they were never charged with a crime and they were held for days and days. In one incident, a defendant was held for 29 days without having been charged.
“But the case I want to focus on, which brought my attention to the issue again, was the Reehahlio Carroll case. He was accused of killing a nun,” she said.
Carroll was accused in the beating death of 64-year-old Sister Marguerite Bartz, who died sometime around midnight on Halloween at her home in Navajo, N.M., where she served at St. Berard's Mission Church.
He was arrested Nov. 4 on a reckless driving charge and charged in Window Rock tribal court for reckless driving. Because of the nature of the driving offense, he was considered a threat to the community, a motion was filed to deny bail, and Martin said they received a hearing notice for Nov. 5.
“At that time I had no information that he was a suspect in that murder which had occurred in the early hours of Nov. 1. The federal government never came and talked to me; never said, 'We have a suspect and we want him extradited.'
“Communications went on between law enforcement and the federal government – and I refused to turn him over. I said, 'You have to give me notice, we have to have the complaint and the affidavit so we can file an extradition petition, and we can submit the request to the president, who has the authority to sign orders of extradition.' They didn't give it to me.”
Martin said she intervened in the federal court case and told the judge what happened, “because what it effectively did was put one sovereign government – ours – against the federal government – another sovereign – which should never happen.”
“In 1967, the chairman of the Navajo Nation Council had made a statement into law ... It says every accused Navajo Indian is entitled to a hearing and no police can turn over a defendant without having had a hearing. That has been violated time after time after time over recent years, and we don't want to do that any longer.”
The Government Services Committee also passed a resolution on July 15, 2008, recognizing that the Office of the Chief Prosecutor is a lead criminal justice executive of the Navajo Nation for all purposes and responsibilities, Martin said.
“Extradition is a responsibility of the chief prosecutor, and I want to ensure that all defendants of Navajo descent are entitled to every right that the law gives them.”
She asked that the Navajo Nation approve the legislation “because we no longer need the federal government to speak for us.” The people have the Navajo Nation Council, the chief justice, and the president as agents to speak for them, she said. “We don't want the federal government coming here and making our decisions for us, especially in this area.”
IGR accepted the report 9-0.
Dakotah! Figure Skating Club Established
by Tessa Lehto
Prior Lake, MN – Dakotah! Ice Center is now home to the Dakotah! Figure SkatingClub. Established in mid-2009, the club currently has about 40 skaters and member parents. Community children, youth, and adults who train as figure skaters formed the club with DSF figure skating coach Trudy Oltmanns.
“Our program prides itself on instilling hard work and discipline into its participants. Most of the skaters train five to six days per week. We train all year round and compete all over the country. Our local skaters have travelled as far as Colorado Springs and Spokane, Washington, this year,” said Oltmanns.
Trudy Oltmanns is a skating coach at the Dakotah! Ice Center which opened in November 2008.
The Dakotah! Figure Skating Club is a non-profit organization. Community member Tina Van Cleve, president of the Figure Skating Club explained. “All of the money we bring in goes back to the club to support the skaters. Some of the things we will do with donations are buy extra ice for more practice, buy the skaters warm up suits, buy off-ice equipment, and hopefully build lockers for the skaters in the off-ice room downstairs. We also hope to sponsor skaters that have talent but can't afford the costs of figure skating since it is a very expensive sport.”
Trudy’s daughter Olivia, a member of the Dakotah! Figure Skating Club, is already a champion skater at the age of 12. For two years Olivia partnered with Tyler Broderick. The two of them won the National Intermediate Pair Champion title at the US Junior National Figure Skating Championships in 2008 and 2009. Olivia has a new partner, Josh, also a member of the club. Both Olivia and Joshua Santillan relocated to Minnesota to train at Dakotah!. Olivia and Josh placed second at sectionals in Wichita, Kansas, this year which earned them a spot at the U.S. Figure Skating Nationals in Spokane in late January 2010 where they placed sixth. Josh is also the 2009 Pacific Coast Sectional Champion.
Tina said, “It is a great sport for my kids and others to be involved in. It is great for the kids to have something to work for and to set goals for themselves. I believe that it is a great focus for them to keep them out of trouble as they enter their teen years.” She has been impressed with the positive changes in her own children since they started skating.
The Dakotah! Ice Center presented a holiday ice skating exhibition and fund raiser December 14, 2009, which was well attended by family and friends. Children in the Learn to Skate Program as well as figure skaters participated in the exhibition as well as some visiting skaters from other clubs. Skaters showcased the skills they learned while figure skaters demonstrated their competitive programs to an array of holiday music. Seventeen groups of Learn to Skate students and more than 20 figure skaters performed.
The club hopes to host a U.S. Figure Skating competitive event sometime in the near future. For photos and video of the event, go to http://www.dakotahsport.com/. Membership in the Dakotah! Figure Skating Club is $150 a year for a parent and child. Contact Trudy Oltmanns at Dakotah! Ice Center at (952) 496-6856 or email Tina Van Cleve at email@example.com for more information or to join.
Story Telling - The Native American Way
Submitted by Monica Davis
Native American customs are passed down from generation to generation, often through storytelling.
Stories about bravery, fortitude, generosity and wisdom help preserve tribal culture.
Thursday, Feb. 18, through Saturday, Feb. 20, South Dakota State University will host the American Indian History and Cultures Conference. Theme for the 18th annual conference is storytelling, an integral part of tribal culture.
Some of those stories will be told by people from the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota tribes. Susan Power, a Yanktonnai Dakota born in Chicago and now teaching at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn., will give her perspective in a keynote address, "Stories That Can Save the World." Her presentation begins at 7 p.m. Thursday in Volstorff West Room in The Union.
Power, a descendant of Chief Mato Nupa (Two Bears), won the PEN/Hemingway Award in 1995 for her first novel, "The Grass Dancer." Her most recent work, "Roofwalker," is a collection of fiction and nonfiction pieces that describe the forces of tradition and belief in the lives of contemporary Native Americans.
At 10 a.m. Friday in Volstorff West, Nellie Two Elk and John Little Bald Eagle from Todd County Schools will share traditional and contemporary Lakota stories. They won the 2009 Lakota Nation Invitational Storytelling Competition.
Events continue through Saturday,
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