Indian Law Articles

Richardson Commits to "Prez on the Rez" and Other Candidates Considering

Democratic Presidential Candidate Bill Richardson, current governor of New Mexico, was the first to commit to participating in the first Indian country Democratic primary presidential debate, "Prez on the Rez," to be held on the Morongo Reservation in August. In addition, active discussions are underway with other Democratic primary candidates to attend, including former Senator John Edwards (D-NC) and current Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY), who all expressed interest in participating months ago.

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Morongo Confirms it Will Host Democratic Debate

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians has confirmed that it has been selected to host the first ever Indian country Democratic presidential candidate debate. The debate will be held at the Tribe's Morongo Casino Resort & Spa's Event Center in Cabazon on the Reservation on August 23, 2007. Tribal Chairman, Robert Martin, remarked, "No major presidential campaign event has ever come to Indian Country. 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." The format of the debate has not been completely set, but it is likely to include opening remarks from the candidates and questions from moderators and the audience.

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Senate Confirms Artman as ASIA

The Senate officially confirmed Carl Artman as the new Assistant Secretary Indian Affairs by a vote of 87-1. Only Senator David Vitter (R-LA), who is a strong critic of the BIA and off-reservation gaming, voted against Artman's confirmation, although 12 senators were not in attendance to vote.

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Interior Proposes Insulting Settlement of Trust Fund Litigation

This week, the United States proposed paying $7 billion to settle the Cobell trust litigation - less than the $8 billion being considered by the previous Congress. Under the terms of the government's proposal, the United States would pay $7 billion over ten years to individual Indians and tribes, without interest. In return, all tribal and individual trust mismanagement claims against the government would be dropped and the government would be relieved of any future liability. As with the Bush Administration's earlier comments on the settlement legislation before the Senate, this offer would return the United States to the abhorrent,embarrassing, and failed termination policy of the 1950s. The settlement would end the government's trust responsibility over the next 10 years.

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Democratic Presidential Candidates to Debate in Indian Country

The Indigenous Democratic Network is going to host a Democtraic Presidential Debate in Indian Country called Prez on the Rez. Representatives of the Network are still deciding on a location, but have narrowed it down between the Sandia Pueblo and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. The debate is scheduled for August 23, 2007.

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Governor Richardson Would Create Cabinet Secretary for Indian Affairs

In an interview with Indian Country Today, Democratic Presidential Candidate Bill Richardson, currently in his second term as governor of New Mexico, said, "If I'm elected president, I would propose to make the cabinet secretary of Indian Affairs the Secretary of Indian Affairs; I would make it cabinet level. I would try, because I believe within the Department of the Interior it does not get the attention it deserves. I would have a cabinet department for Native American affairs."  Governor Richardson went on to add that, as governor, "we have said that we recognize all tribes as equals, self-determination and government-to-government" and that, as president, "we would deal with each tribe as a sovereign entity, we would respect that." As governor, Richardson had two cabinet members who were Indian and elevated the state Indian affairs position to cabinet level.  Governor Richardson also broke with tradition and insisted on being sworn in by a Pueblo governor instead of the New Mexico Supreme Court Chief Justice.

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NIGC Officially Withdraws Class II Proposal

On February 15, the National Indian Gaming Commission ("NIGC") published notice that has officially withdrawn its controversial amendments to the agency's Class II regulations. The notice simply stated, "After receiving extensive comment, and after many consultations with tribal governments and tribal regulators, the Commission anticipates significant revisions to any proposed rule. As such, the Commission has decided to withdraw the current proposed rule and may publish a new proposed rule at a later date.

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Apology Resolution Introduced in House

Representative Jo Ann Davis (R-VA) re-introduced a joint resolution, H.J. Res. 3, to apologize to Indian peoples for their treatment by the United States. The bill is co-sponsored by six other congressmen. While Congresswoman Davis' resolution introduced in the 109th Congress received little attention, H.J. Res. 3 was sent to the House Resources Committee for consideration.

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