Environmental justice researchers have long struggled with appropriate definitions of populations deemed environmentally vulnerable.
For example, early empirical research in the U. Results tended to suggest that racial and ethnic minority groups were even more consistently exposed to environmental ills than were low-income groups generally Bullard ; Crowder and Downey ; Pulido Zimmerman explains that Native Americans may be under- or over-represented in studies depending on the criteria used.
For example, without a consistent definition of who is and is not considered a Native American citizen, health statistics and policy prescriptions may be inherently flawed Zimmerman Clearly, misinterpretation of health statistics has the potential to affect public health policy. Native American populations are defined in a variety of ways including by blood quantum levels, tribal citizenship, reservation residency, and self-identification Zimmerman Furthermore, individuals can self-identify on U.
The National Indian Health Board has a number of public health initiatives working to inform tribes on best practices in obesity, violence, suicide, and substance abuse prevention. The author with her great-grandmother and grandmother on the Blackfeet reservation. Available editions United Kingdom. Clearly, misinterpretation of health statistics has the potential to affect public health policy. Dumpsite Remediation on the Swinomish Indian Reservation. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. Teaching American Indian students.
Census forms as Native American regardless of whether or not they are citizens of federally recognized tribes. Inconsistencies in classification of Native Americans influence understandings of their socioeconomic and health profiles, thus affecting policy and future research. Particularly given the critical policy relevance of EJ scholarship, issues of population definition are critical.
Tribal sovereignty, self-determination, and the federal trust responsibility owed by the US to the tribes, represent political and cultural distinctions that differentiate them from other groups seeking EJ restitution Walker, Bradley, and Humphrey , Unlike other groups seeking environmental justice in the U. Federal recognition is limited to those tribes who have established legal relationships with the U. Tribal governments have the right to exercise some degree of political independence and determine their nation's economic, political, and cultural trajectory.
Sovereignty enables or is supposed to enable Native American tribes to establish environmental regulations on their land Ranco ; Walker, Bradley, and Humphrey Environmental Protection Agency is required to enforce regulations created by tribes — even if they conflict with state regulations. For example, in exercising their sovereignty, the Pueblo of Isleta set their own water quality standards WQS that reflected their tribal citizens' needs and desires to keep drinking water clean for both everyday and ceremonial use Ranco However, the tribe's WQS were much more stringent than the state of New Mexico's, which was a source of contention considering that the Pueblo were downstream from water controlled by the state.
Despite the fact that New Mexico had proposed its own WQS for downstream discharge, its proposal did not adequately reflect the tribe's concerns and needs, and the EPA did not allow the state's standards to be put into place Ranco Despite the Pueblo's apparent victory, Ranco claims that the use of tribal sovereignty is limited and is not readily available to all tribes:. EPA does provide grants for the development of water monitoring programs on Indian reservations, this money is generally not enough to develop and implement WQS. Thus, while legally an option to all federally recognized tribes, establishing WQS has become a program pursued by mostly wealthier, larger tribes with a government bureaucracy capable of adopting and implementing the full array of the U.
Limitations on tribal sovereignty include, but are not limited to, a tribe's lack of economic power to oppose harmful regulations and development as well as whether or not a tribe is federally recognized as a sovereign nation Arquette et al. Self-determination represents Native Americans' ability to exercise sovereignty, to manage their own development—politically, economically, socially, and culturally Tsosie ; Importantly, tribal self-determination does not equate with a romanticized idea of Native American environmentalism —a tribe can choose to accept or reject an environmentally harmful activity Gover and Walker ; Tsosie Such decisions are clearly shaped by many factors including economic security, job opportunities, and the value placed on tribally-important natural resources.
For example, the Swinomish of Washington state sought environmental remediation of tribal land that was harmed through use as a petroleum dumpsite Zaferatos In an effort to heal the land, the tribe used self-determination to persuade the EPA to remediate: Conversely, in implementing their right to self-determination, tribes may approve environmentally harmful development Gover and Walker ; Smith and Frehner often due to the need for economic growth and employment opportunities Walker, Bradley, and Humphrey Today, many tribes remain in vulnerable economic positions, largely due to an ongoing colonial relationship with the U.
The trust doctrine -- embedded in tribal sovereignty -- is another aspect of Native Americans' political and cultural standing that distinguishes them from other groups seeking EJ restitution. In theory, the trust doctrine is a rule of conduct between tribal governments and the U. In accordance with the trust responsibility, the U. Standards set by the EPA that affect tribal lands, for example, must aim to limit environmental harm.
However, tribal sovereignty, self-determination and the trust relationship between the U. Additionally, many tribes lack the resources necessary to exercise sovereignty. In all, the sociopolitical structure of the U. Historical analyses are often engaged to explain the emergence and significance of environmental burdens on Native American populations and lands Clark ; Harris and Harper ; Hooks and Smith Such historical perspectives shed light on present-day environmental justice issues Hooks and Smith Indeed, some argue that without an historical perspective, today's conditions may actually be misinterpreted: For instance, in a Vermont Supreme Court case, the Abenaki, a New England Native American tribe, were ruled not to have title to land they had held for centuries.
Because of the complexity of the historical record containing proof that the Abenaki had indeed maintained legal residence and the rights to land ownership, the court chose not to heed historical accounts. Such disregard for historical analysis has serious implications regarding how we view not only Native American history, but also justice Lord and Shutkin Many case studies involve historical analyses of energy or military initiatives on Native lands as well as the historical processes of external, nontribal land management.
For instance, Native Hawaiians sought restitution for damage to the island of Kaho'olawe, degraded by over forty years of use as a target range for warplanes by the US military Blackford Through an assessment of military actions since the s as well as the political struggles of Native Hawaiians with the federal government, Blackford's historical study illuminated the process leading to present conditions as well as the EJ struggles of Native Hawaiians.
Other historical case studies reveal how economic vulnerability is often linked to natural resource extraction, which ultimately yields additional socioeconomic and environmental harm.
The Mescalero Apache tribe of New Mexico has undergone decades of exploitation since uranium deposits were discovered on their land in the s Leonard III At first, uranium extraction was imposed on tribes during the development of nuclear power associated with weapons creation during the Cold War, but mineral extraction has since become an economic necessity for many tribes—including the Mescalero Apache Leonard III When the tribe received a proposal to build a monitored retrievable nuclear waste storage facility on its land in the early s, the opportunity was welcomed.
The tribe's socioeconomic vulnerability was apparent: This case suggests Native American EJ can involve not only direct exploitation, but also indirect exploitation through consent influenced by severe economic marginalization. Even more troubling, many case studies showcase involuntary development such as military use of native lands through resource extraction or placements of hazardous waste Blackford ; Hooks and Smith ; Hoover et al. Indeed, energy, resource, and military development on tribal lands are perhaps three of the most extensively recorded and studied Native American EJ challenges e.
Burger, Powers, and Gochfeld ; Gowda and Easterling A participatory approach characterizes much Native American environmental justice research e. Participation ranges in terms of involvement throughout the process, including design of data collection instruments, risk assessments, presentation of findings, and development of educational materials to involvement in only one or two aspects of the research endeavor Arquette et al. The goal of much participatory research is to improve poorly conducted risk assessments and to create more appropriate assessments that more accurately reflect Native American environmental and health understandings.
Studying the Mohawk tribe at Akwesasne, Arquette and colleagues found that unique perspectives emerged through engaging the community. The authors used participatory research to establish a holistic risk assessment approach that captures socioenvironmental interactions and tribal definitions of health and well-being. Similarly, research on tribal health and hazards management has engaged tribal citizens through research training, shared decision-making, tribal assistance in approval of grant applications, project publications, presentation of progress reports, and developing community exposure profiles e.
Quigley and colleagues argue that. Participatory research may also increase researchers' understanding of how to more appropriately assess environmental inequalities and best craft response programs and policies. Indeed, participatory research has proven to be beneficial for tribal communities in creating more accurate rubrics concerning risk assessments, effectively distributing research findings to stakeholders, as well as empowering Native American communities to address environmental and social injustices Minkler et al.
For example, in Quigley and colleagues work on the Nuclear Risk Management for Native Communities NRMNC 6 project, they found positive outcomes of a participatory research effort that included reduction of unequal power relationships between researchers and community members.
Case studies document a variety of environmental inequalities with regard to Native Americans, including lead poisoning Bullard ; Malcoe et al. Climate change became an EJ issue because those experiencing the most harmful effects of a changing climate are typically those who have contributed the least emissions Trainor et al. Native groups' vulnerability to climate change manifests through issues of food security, traditional knowledge, climate adaptation, and tribal control of resources. The impacts of climate change on food security have already been felt Cochran et al. Many tribal citizens recognize changes e.
Additionally, tribal environmental concern can stem from government restrictions on hunting and harvesting of tribal natural resources McNeeley and some tribes are increasingly facing difficulties storing food Doyle, Redsteer, and Eggers ; Lal, Alavatapati, and Mercer For example, natural ice cellars traditionally used for storing perishables such as fish are less efficient, often causing food-related illnesses and less traditional food use throughout Native Alaskan communities Cochran et al.
In addition, climate change is altering water flows and, therefore, salmon runs that affect Pacific Northwest tribes that are dependent on the fish for physical, cultural, and spiritual sustenance Dittmer And broader ecosystem shifts have complex impacts: While sustenance issues pertaining to climate change are problematic for Native American communities throughout the U.
Furthermore, declining use of first foods is negatively affecting Native American health Cochran et al. For example, the quality and quantity of wild berry plants, a Wabanaki first food, are becoming inaccessible due to climate changes such as shifting seasonal patterns and increasing temperatures Lynn et al. Wild berries are used to enhance the Wabanaki's spiritual and physical health, often in ways that are not entirely scientifically known Lynn et al. Many tribes now supplement first foods with purchased foods, which have resulted in increases in obesity, diabetes and cancer linked to dietary shifts Alkon and Norgaard ; Lynn et al.
In addition to physical health impacts, loss of first foods negatively effects spiritual health through lessened ability to pass down traditional ecological knowledge TEK Doyle, Redsteer, and Eggers ; Voggesser et al. This relationship is central to tribal health Lynn et al. Tribal adaptation to climate change is increasingly being studied Cochran et al. Frequently, researchers argue that tribes should be able to make their own culturally appropriate decisions about adaptation strategies Cochran et al. Considering the oppressive history surrounding Native Americans, such tribal participation is critical in ensuring that decisions made about tribal climate adaptation originate from the affected groups themselves.
For instance, if relocation is the only viable option for climate adaptation, tribal participation in the decision-making process is a necessity Maldonado et al. Some researchers argue that TEK may be a valuable resource for climate adaptation Cochran et al. TEK can better inform policy, resource management and scientific research in order to reduce negative impacts of climate change on natural resources Lal, Alavatapati, and Mercer ; McBeath and Shepro Unfortunately, tribal climate change adaptation and access to traditional resources is often impeded through laws, regulations or policies that limit tribes' climate responses Krakoff ; Lynn et al.
Regulations that, for example, limit the times of year tribes can fish or hunt despite seasonal changes further exacerbates Native American struggles to fully practice and achieve self-determination and sovereignty Lynn et al. In order to overcome these barriers, Whyte argues that stakeholders are key:. Insofar as these leaders, scientists and professionals work with or for tribes, they are responsible to do what is in their power to address the coupled political obstructions and ecological challenges of adaptation. They are responsible because they do have some capacity to make changes in institutions and political orders, even if these changes must start at scales that are initially local or quite broad.
Through examination of a cross-disciplinary collection of recent studies, we identified unique dimensions of Native American EJ, including their distinctive cultural and political standings in an EJ context, highlighted strategies used within Native American studies of environmental justice, and provided an analysis of Native American climate justice literature. In so doing, this review offers a useful foundation from which subsequent research can expand. Research related to climate vulnerability is identified as a critically important gap that warrants further research into climate justice related issues concerning Native Americans and Indigenous groups internationally.
Another critical gap -- and as recognized within broader EJ scholarship -- is the critical positioning of contemporary environmental inequalities within historical processes. Recent research focused on urban environmental justice links present inequalities to past patterns of racial and ethnic disparities in power and privilege Taylor Such a perspective is essential in examination of the issues facing today's native peoples.
We argue that such cultural reflection is potentially one of the most significant contributions this collection of literature has provided to the broader field of environmental justice scholarship and one that requires further synthesis and consideration. Future considerations in Native American EJ research include increased use of qualitative or mixed methods approaches so as to understand rather than infer reasons behind decision-making processes within tribal governments that allow or do not allow harmful environmental activities on tribal land, for example.
Further, it would be beneficial for researchers to analyze the outcomes of participatory research in Native American EJ studies, and EJ studies generally, in order to determine the effectiveness of specific participatory methods in achieving positive outcomes for the affected group or groups. However, Native American EJ research must continue to examine and address justice issues concerning tribal climate adaptation and vulnerability—as Native American tribes are likely to increasingly face environmental, social, and political challenges associated with climate change.
This paper emerged from a summer graduate student research fellowship provided by the Department of Sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for sharing their expertise through thoughtful critique and comment. This work was supported through a summer graduate research fellowship provided through the Department of Sociology, University of Colorado Boulder.
The initial search produced over 75 articles although we ultimately included only included empirical studies, critical essays, and historical and legal analyses predominantly focused on Native American EJ and inequality. Different worldviews, histories, and unique outcomes from present-day forms of racism also elicit the need for different research and policy approaches O'Neill Forest Service USFS provides an excellent case study of the ways in which TEK can be incorporated into environmental science research and land management, specifically with regard to forest fire science and management http: National Center for Biotechnology Information , U.
Author manuscript; available in PMC Jan 1. Jamie Vickery and Lori M. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. The publisher's final edited version of this article is available at Soc Nat Resour.
See other articles in PMC that cite the published article. Abstract While the last two decades have seen important theoretical, empirical, and policy advancements in environmental justice generally, much remains to be done regarding Native Americans. Theory and Application Researchers have made substantial progress in understanding the social inequalities inherent within environmental vulnerability.
Meta-Analysis Article Selection We utilized a variety of search engines to create a wide-ranging article collection for this summary. Unique Dimensions of Native American EJ Since explorers and white settlers began to appear in North America in the late 15 th century, Native Americans have experienced a series of challenges against their reproductive, cultural, spiritual, political and environmental and, altogether, human rights.
Defining Tribal Populations Environmental justice researchers have long struggled with appropriate definitions of populations deemed environmentally vulnerable. Tribal Sovereignty Tribal sovereignty, self-determination, and the federal trust responsibility owed by the US to the tribes, represent political and cultural distinctions that differentiate them from other groups seeking EJ restitution Walker, Bradley, and Humphrey , Despite the Pueblo's apparent victory, Ranco claims that the use of tribal sovereignty is limited and is not readily available to all tribes: Strategies in Native American Environmental Justice Research Historical Analyses Historical analyses are often engaged to explain the emergence and significance of environmental burdens on Native American populations and lands Clark ; Harris and Harper ; Hooks and Smith Participatory Research A participatory approach characterizes much Native American environmental justice research e.
Quigley and colleagues argue that participatory research outcomes are far more preferable to the traditional environmental health approaches whereby a technical team determines a health research methodology, with minimal community accountability, and conducts a health study whose findings have little meaning or benefit, and often are more of a detriment, to the communities' health protection. Native American Climate Justice Case studies document a variety of environmental inequalities with regard to Native Americans, including lead poisoning Bullard ; Malcoe et al.
In order to overcome these barriers, Whyte argues that stakeholders are key: Conclusion and Future Considerations Through examination of a cross-disciplinary collection of recent studies, we identified unique dimensions of Native American EJ, including their distinctive cultural and political standings in an EJ context, highlighted strategies used within Native American studies of environmental justice, and provided an analysis of Native American climate justice literature.
Acknowledgments This paper emerged from a summer graduate student research fellowship provided by the Department of Sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder. Footnotes 1 Example searches included: Breaking the Food Chains: An investigation of Food Justice Activism. The Case of Kaho'olawe. The Journal of American History. Native Americans and Toxic Waste. American Journal of Economics and Sociology.
Contested Illnesses and the Environmental Health Movement. Columbia University Press; Race and Environmental Justice in the United States. Yale Journal of International Law. Overcoming Racism in Environmental Decision Making. Voices From the Grassroots. South End Press; Environmental Justice in the 21 st Century: Environmental Justice For All: Community perspectives on health and research needs. The Supreme Court ruled in the Lyng case of that the US Forest Service was free to cut roads and timber in the sacred high country of Siskyou Mountain, saying that the government could not compel religious observance or deliberately interdict a religion for its own sake, but was under no obligation to protect anyone's religious practices.
The Clinton administration was at work in on an Executive Order that would mandate stronger protections for sacred sites, but again there were no guarantees that the order would be interpreted as outweighing economic interests of business and government. The persecution of the Native American Church's use of peyote — a controlled hallucinogen whose sacramental use by Natives dates back at least 1, years — is another case of the inadequacy of the Act.
The Supreme Court ruled in Employment Division v. Smith that an employer was within his rights in firing two Native workers for their religious practice of using peyote, and that the decision of whether to bring criminal prosecution against Native American Church members would be left up to the states. This was a clear reversal of usual religious protection in the USA and touched off a rash of marginal prosecutions against other groups.
In Congress passed the Native American Languages Act , which articulated a policy of protecting indigenous languages, and in passed an act which authorized a grant programme for the purpose. Traditionalists also worry about the effects of businesses like mining, casinos and tobacco smuggling on Native values and culture.
Although the official policy of the United States is now to encourage Native Americans' self-determination, in reality the power of Native communities is severely limited. US policy towards Native self-determination allows not much more autonomy than is given to a municipality or, at best, one of the states in the Union. Tribal courts are often forbidden to deal with events on reservations involving non-tribal members, especially non-Natives making jurisdiction racial rather than political or territorial , and cannot mete out sentences of more than one year's imprisonment.
Native nations' ability to enforce their own land use and environmental regulations is not respected by the legal system. Their powers of taxation are also restricted. The BIA maintains ultimate control over Native American nations' constitutions, the composition of their governments, their power to make contracts, the disposition of their property and the funding and implementation of most programmes that affect them. It has authority to veto decisions made by the tribal councils.
The concept of distributing self-determination funds for tribes to use at their discretion has been floated but never fully adopted. Both the BIA and the Indian Health Service have volunteered to dismantle services in the name of self-government, without proposing exactly how tribes would replace them; only Native protest forced Congress to forbid programme termination or contracting out without tribes' consent. Budget cuts have also severely impaired Native Americans' pursuit of self-sufficiency.
The BIA has frequently been negligent and abused its function and authority, usually by contracting on Native Americans' behalf to lease land to resource companies, often at less than 2 per cent of the resources' real value. Political pressures make this rarer now — instead government simply pressures the tribal council to make the same decisions — but government has been reluctant to compensate for past admitted extortions of peoples like the Cheyenne and Navajo.
It is now seen as politically correct to employ large numbers of Native Americans within the BIA, and in recent years it has been headed by Natives; but, aside from the direct employment benefits, the results of such affirmative action are debatable. By the mids there was widespread disapproval of how the Department of Interior, as trustee, was managing tribal and Individual Indian Monies IIM accounts.
Norton in the US District Court in Washington DC to force the federal government to account for billions of dollars belonging to approximately , American Indians and their heirs, and held in trust since the late nineteenth century, and to bring about permanent reform of the system. The case has revealed that the United States government has no accurate records for hundreds of thousands of Indian beneficiaries, nor of billions of dollars owed to the class of beneficiaries covered by the lawsuit.
In December Judge Lamberth ruled that the secretaries of the Interior and Treasury had breached their trust obligations to the Indians. The court retained judicial oversight of the system for a minimum of five years to ensure that it is overhauled, and ordered the Department of Interior to provide an historical accounting of all trust funds. An appeal by the government, arguing that the court had overreached its authority, was unanimously rejected by a three-judge appeals court panel in February, The court has appointed both a special master to oversee the preservation and production of trust documents, and a federal monitor, to provide the court with assessments of the truthfulness of the government's representations to the court regarding execution of trust reform.
The second phase of the trial, accounting for the money, is yet to be scheduled. US government actions have had other negative repercussions, for example when the Reagan administration adopted a policy of discouraging Native-run businesses in favour of contracts between tribes and resource companies. It was also suggested that tribes voluntarily relinquish their legal jurisdiction in civil disputes to encourage companies to locate on reserves.
In , amendments to the Indian Self-Determination Act allowed pilot projects for tribes to revise government structures away from the IRA model. By , about half the reservations in the USA had somehow modified their systems to make them more compatible with traditional values, though conflicts over forms of government and economic direction at reserves still cause severe tensions.
Documenting BIA mismanagement, Inouye and his colleagues suggest that every tribe adopt a democratically approved constitution, on the basis of which new treaties would be negotiated to transfer full governmental power and moneys in toto for use at tribal governments' discretion. The sole caveat was that tribal governments — which have sometimes been caught in scandals — remain subject to federal corruption laws. While they have not yet been enacted, US policy has slowly drifted in this direction. Many Native American activists and scholars argue that social justice can only be achieved with full sovereignty — complete control of land, resources and law in Native jurisdictions — perhaps through Native nations negotiating agreements for Commonwealth-type status within the USA.
However, since the majority of Native Americans now live in cities, self-determination in Native territories may not by itself guarantee full equality for all the people affected by the legacy of colonization. The Dawes Act forced Native Americans to part with 64 per cent of the land that they retained at the end of the Native American wars of the s and today less than , sq km remain. Reservations often include the poorest agricultural land, with severe water shortages and limited economic potential. At least 25 per cent of these lands are currently occupied by non-Natives, and on some reserves as much as 90 per cent of the land is held by outsiders.
Meanwhile, the Native American population has increased nearly seven-fold over the last century and the land base is unable to sustain them. From to , the Indian Claims Commission adjudicated Native land claims, but could provide only monetary, not territorial compensation, and estimated land value based not on current market value but on its worth at the time of taking. Many nations, for example in New York state, were compensated at derisory levels for their lost land. Not until did the Supreme Court rule that Native Americans had the right to pursue land restoration.
Thousands of square kilometres and millions of dollars have since been transferred, though an Act of Congress is required for each such settlement. In some cases, often due to the sacred significance of a particular site, Native nations have refused to accept monetary settlements. Other pending claims include: The sheer number of disputes reveals the inadequacy of US government mechanisms. These conflicts have been sharpened by the recent realization that Native land is one of the few untapped sources of natural resources left in the United States.
Again, much of the richest land was stolen for example by oil companies in Texas and Arizona in years past, but large amounts remain. In , 25 Native American tribes in the north-west joined together to form the Council of Energy Resource Tribes, modelled on the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries OPEC , and some of these tribes have grown rich from mineral and oil profits.
However, a Supreme Court ruling that tribal councils could not limit land uses by non-Natives on reservation land has hampered attempts to control development. In , out of federally recognized tribes had some energy resources, amounting to 25 per cent of US mineral wealth. Nearly all the uranium in the USA is under Native land. Other valuable forest and mining land is directly adjacent to reservation land, sometimes on traditional hunting and fishing or ceremonial grounds, and its use tends to pollute water tables, rivers, lakes, air and other life sources of Native peoples.
For example, the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine peoples in Montana are threatened by the Zortman-Landusky goldmine expansion that could release over 1, million gallons of cyanide solution into the local watershed and also disrupt traditional religious and medical uses of the Little Rocky Mountains. Natives have had little success in disputing such corporate incursions, and have often not received the due financial benefits of their own holdings.
Water diversion, pollution and damming around Native lands, as well as pollution of groundwater, has been sanctioned by the courts. The separation of land and water rights is contrary to international standards, besides being socially, economically and environmentally destructive. In recent years there has been some limited success regarding water rights, including the Zuni Indian Tribe Water Settlement Agreement, confirmed by Congress in June , which recognized Zuni right to withdraw ground water, and the Shivwits Band of Paiute Indians Water Rights Settlement Act, which came into effect in September In addition, the rate of homicide was 61 per cent higher among Native Americans than among the general population, and the rate of suicide 62 per cent higher.
Approximately 12 per cent of Native American homes were still lacking safe indoor water supplies, compared to less than 1 per cent of homes in the general US population. On 18 May , Senator John McCain put forward the Proposed Indian Health Care Improvement Bill, which seeks to extend the existing Indian Health Care Act in order to improve the provision of community and home health care and long-term care, and to enhance children's health programmes.
The number of Native American languages speakers continues to decline, and a growing number of Native American children are monolingual English-speakers. The Native American communities also still face issues of cultural and religious freedoms, including the denial of access to religious sites, prohibitions on the use or possession of sacred objects, and restrictions on their ability to worship through ceremonial and traditional means.
Disputes over land rights also continue. The government's response is expected sometime in the course of The trend of federal budget cuts also continues, with the budget request for fiscal year shifting money from education, welfare, construction and economic development programs to trust reform efforts. The only exception was in law enforcement. In January the first female Native U.
Humetewa of the Hopi nation was previously a tribal liaison in the office she now heads and was responsible for opening communications with the 21 Indian tribes in Arizona with regard to the work of the Department of Justice About 90 percent of the violent crime cases from Indian communities in Arizona involve a tribal member and a tribal victim.
Also in Arizona, in a gesture of support and solidarity with indigenous people in the rest of the Americas and worldwide, the the Gila River Indian Community Council passed a Resolution ratifying the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Gila River Community leaders have indicated that by adopting the United Nations Declaration they are affirming their own inherent right to self-determination and also demonstrating solidarity with Pee-Posh, Salt River, Thono O'otham, Ak-Chin and other ethnically related indigenous groups located south of the US Border in Mexico.
In a move towards greater recognition, the US Congress in adopted the Native American One Dollar Coin Act, which requires ''the Secretary of the Treasury to mint and issue coins in commemoration of Native Americans and their important contributions to the development of the United States. In consultation with the National Museum of the American Indian and other Native groups, the mint decided to focus on Indian agricultural achievements and for the first year of its Native American one dollar coin program selected a design portraying a female American Indian figure planting seeds in a cornfield.
The obverse side of the Golden Dollar coin which will officially launch in , will feature Sacagawea, the Shoshone Indian guide who in assisted Lewis and Clark on their pioneering expedition west. The Peoples under Threat ranking highlights countries most at risk of genocide and mass killing.
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