Indian & Indigenous Developments


Steve Sachs

Environmental Developments

As if the findings (see below) were not dire enough, January's report on the oceans shows once again careful science, not wanting to reach conclusions until all the data is in over time, is behind in predicting the increasingly rapid rate of Global warming. Kendra Pierre-Louis, " Ocean Warming Is Accelerating Faster Than Thought, New Research Finds," The New York Times, January 10, 2019,, reported, " Scientists say the world’s oceans are warming far more quickly than previously thought, a finding with dire implications for climate change because almost all the excess heat absorbed by the planet ends up stored in their waters.
      A new analysis, published Thursday in the journal Science, found that the oceans are heating up 40 percent faster on average than a United Nations panel estimated five years ago. The researchers also concluded that ocean temperatures have broken records for several straight years."
     When all the data are in , 2018 will be found to be the warmest year for the oceans on record, and the clear trend is for 2019 to be even warmer. While the oceans continue absorbing of increasing heat slows the dangerous warming on land, it increases the transformation of life in the ocean, harming and killing many species, including coral - which supports much other sea life - while causing species to move and helping some species. For human beings, the loss of species is catastrophic, the movement creates chaos in fishing industries trying to catch up, but often unable to (while some people make at least temporary gains), and many of the increasing species are detrimental to human interests.
      "But the surging water temperatures are already killing off marine ecosystems, raising sea levels and making hurricanes more destructive.
      As the oceans continue to heat up, those effects will become more catastrophic, scientists say".

Jake Johnson, "'Single Most Important Stat on the Planet': Alarm as Atmospheric CO2 Soars to 'Legit Scary' Record High: 'We should no longer measure our wealth and success in the graph that shows economic growth, but in the curve that shows the emissions of greenhouse gases,'" Common Dreams , June 05, 2019,, " In another alarming signal that the international community is failing to take the kind of ambitious action necessary to avert global climate catastrophe, NOAA released new data Tuesday showing that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels—which environmentalist Bill McKibben described as the "single most important stat on the planet"—reached a "record high" in the month of May.

"The measurement is the highest seasonal peak recorded in 61 years of observations on top of Hawaii's largest volcano and the seventh consecutive year of steep global increases in concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2)," NOAA said in a statement on Tuesday. "The 2019 peak value was 3.5 PPM higher than the 411.2 PPM peak in May 2018 and marks the second-highest annual jump on record."
According to NOAA's measurements—which were taken at the Mauna Loa Atmospheric Baseline Observatory in Hawaii— carbon dioxide levels peaked at an average of 414.7 PPM in May.
     As The Guardian reported, 'Scientists have warned for more than a decade that concentrations of more than 450 PPM risk triggering extreme weather events and temperature rises as high as 2°C, beyond which the effects of global heating are likely to become catastrophic and irreversible.'
     Reacting to NOAA's new measurements, McKibben tweeted, 'This is legit scary.'

In a report last October, United Nations scientists warned that global carbon emissions must be cut in half by 2030 in order to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis.
     As Common Dreams reported last month when levels at Maun Loa briefly hit 415 PPM, the occurrence was described as otherworldly for humanity and something not experienced by the planet in over three million years.
     Climate scientist Peter Gleick noted that the "last time humans experienced levels this high was... never. Human[s] didn't exist."
     NOAA's new data for the month of May as a whole comes amid a global wave of youth-led marches and civil disobedience demanding immediate climate action from political leaders.
     In her forward to campaigner Daniel Hunter's newly published Climate Resistance Handbook, Greta Thunberg—the 16-year-old Swedish activist who helped inspire the worldwide surge in youth climate mobilizations— argued that the success or failure of the global climate movement will be determined by one measure: 'the emission curve.'
     'People always tell me and the other millions of school strikers that we should be proud of ourselves for what we have accomplished,' Thunberg wrote. 'But the only thing that we need to look at is the emission curve. And I'm sorry, but it's still rising. That curve is the only thing we should look at.'

(Image Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)(Image Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
      'Every time we make a decision we should ask ourselves; how will this decision affect that curve?' Thunberg added.
      'We should no longer measure our wealth and success in the graph that shows economic growth, but in the curve that shows the emissions of greenhouse gases.'
      'We should no longer only ask: 'Have we got enough money to go through with this?' but also: 'Have we got enough of the carbon budget to spare to go through with this?' Thunberg wrote. "That should and must become the center of our new currency.'
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Brad Plumer, "Humans Are Speeding Extinction and Altering the Natural World at an ‘Unprecedented’ Pace," The New York Times, May 6, 2019,, reported, " Humans are transforming Earth’s natural landscapes so dramatically that as many as one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, posing a dire threat to ecosystems that people all over the world depend on for their survival, a sweeping new United Nations assessment has concluded.
     The 1,500-page report, compiled by hundreds of international experts and based on thousands of scientific studies, is the most exhaustive look yet at the decline in biodiversity across the globe and the dangers that creates for human civilization. A summary of its findings, which was approved by representatives from the United States and 131 other countries, was released Monday in Paris. The full report is set to be published this year."
     Tremendous loss has already taken place as a result of over use of resources, destruction of forests and other lands, pollution and climate change. The loss to date is world wide and increasing, with an average loss in abundance of native animal likfe and plants over the hundred years of at least 20%. Expansion of logging, mining, drilling, fishing, poaching and farming are major causes.
     Espcially with increasing global warming induced climate change, loss of biodiversity is expected to accelerate through 2050, especially in tropical areas, unless nations drastically increase their conservation efforts.
     The report clearly shows that the degradation of the envoronment and loss of species has grave concequences for humans, as it is creating food scarcity and greatly diminishing increasingly scarce supplies of clean water, along with causing resuctions of other important resources. In economic terms, the significant cost of investing in conservation and adequate reducution of production of greenhouse gasses is far less than the cost of the damage from not acting suffiently. It is currently estimated that, just in the Americas, nature provides $24 trillion in non-monitized benefits a year, which would increasingly be lost, while additional trillions of dollars worth of damage would occur - as human beings increasingly suffer harm and death.
     One example of the damage is that while agricultural production has risen world wide, land has been degraded - made less producive - on 23 percent of the world's agricultural land.

 The report found that, "Unless nations step up their efforts to protect what natural habitats are left, they could witness the disappearance of 40 percent of amphibian species, one-third of marine mammals and one-third of reef-forming corals. More than 500,000 land species, the report said, do not have enough natural habitat left to ensure their long-term survival."

Jessica Corbett, "Climate Crisis Could Expose Half a Billion More People to Tropical Mosquito-Borne Diseases by 2050: 'Climate change is going to kill a lot of people. Mosquito-borne diseases are going to be a big way that happens," Common Dreams, March 29, 2019,, reported, " Rising global temperatures could put half a billion more people at risk for tropical mosquito-borne diseases like chikungunya, dengue, yellow fever, and Zika by 2050, according to a new study.
     While a growing body of recent research warns the human-caused climate crisis will cause general worldwide ' environmental breakdown
,' a study published Thursday in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases focuses specifically on a related public health threat: how a hotter world will enable disease-carrying mosquitoes to reach more people.
     The study's lead author Sadie Ryan of the University of Florida—joined by researchers from Georgetown University, Stanford University, and Virginia Tech—examined how projected temperature rise for 2050 and 2080 could impact the global distribution of the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) and the tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus).
      The team estimates that currently, about six billion people are exposed for a month or more annually to climates suitable for those mosquitoes to transmit diseases. As temperatures climb, colder regions such as parts of Canada and Northern Europe will become more hospitable to mosquitoes, at the human population's expense.
     'Plain and simple, climate change is going to kill a lot of people,' coauthor Colin Carlson of Georgetown told Nexus Media News. 'Mosquito-borne diseases are going to be a big way that happens, especially as they spread from the tropics to temperate countries.'

Lead author Ryan emphasized that public health experts should be preparing now for the outbreaks predicted to occur in new places over the next few decades. As the study explains:
     Aedes-borne virus expansion into regions that lack previous exposure is particularly concerning, given the potential for explosive outbreaks when arboviruses are first introduced into naïve populations, like chikungunya and Zika in the Americas. The emergence of a Zika pandemic in the Old World, the establishment of chikungunya in Europe beyond small outbreaks, or introduction of dengue anywhere a particular serotype has not recently been found, is a critical concern for global health preparedness.
      'These diseases, which we think of as strictly tropical, have been showing up already in areas with suitable climates,' Ryan noted, "because humans are very good at moving both bugs and their pathogens around the globe."
     For example, she told Nexus, 'We've seen dengue showing up in Hawaii and Florida, then we saw Zika arrive in Florida and really grab public attention.'
     While the study echoes warnings from past papers, Carlson pointed out the limitations of their research—especially given the rapid rate at which the planet is already warming.
      'We've only managed to capture the uncertain futures for two mosquitoes that spread a handful of diseases?—?and there's at least a dozen vectors we need this information on,' he said. 'It's very worrisome to think how much these diseases might increase, but it's even more concerning that we don't have a sense of that future. We have several decades of work to do in the next couple years if we want to be ready.'

Though their findings suggest a bleak future, Carlson was also optimistic about the potential for broader public health reforms.
      'Facing something as massive as climate change gives us a chance to rethink the world's health disparities, and work towards a future where fewer people die of preventable diseases like these,' he concluded. 'Facing climate change and tackling the burden of neglected tropical diseases go hand-in-hand.'
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Kendra Pierre-Louis And Nadja Popovich, " How Dengue, a Deadly Mosquito-Borne Disease, Could Spread in a Warming World," The New York Times, June 10, 2019,, has maps showing how dengue, once not found in the U.S., has already been brought in by climate change and is likely to spread by 2080 if current climate trends continue.

Eoin Higgins, "'Existential' Risk of Climate Crisis Could Lead to Civilizational Collapse by 2050, Warns Report: 'The world is currently completely unprepared to envisage, and even less deal with, the consequences of catastrophic climate change,'" Common Dreams , June 04, 2019,, reported, "Even by the standards of the dire predictions given in climate studies, this one's extreme: civilization itself could be past the point of no return by 2050.
     That's the conclusion from Australian climate think tank Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, which released a report ( pdf at: May 30 claiming that unless humanity takes drastic and immediate action to stop the climate crisis, a combination of food production instability, water shortages, and extreme weather could result in a complete societal breakdown worldwide.
     'We must act collectively,' retired Australian Admiral Chris Barrie writes in the foreword to the new study. 'We need strong, determined leadership in government, in business and in our communities to ensure a sustainable future for humankind.'
     Though the paper acknowledges that total civilizational collapse by 2050 is an example of a worst-case scenario, it stresses that 'the world is currently completely unprepared to envisage, and even less deal with, the consequences of catastrophic climate change.'
     David Spratt, Breakthrough's research director and a co-author of the group's paper, told Vice's tech vertical Motherboard that "much knowledge produced for policymakers is too conservative," but that his new paper, by showing the extreme end of what could happen in just the next three decades, aims to make the stakes clear.
      'Because the risks are now existential, a new approach to climate and security risk assessment is required using scenario analysis,' said Spratt.
     The paper called on national security forces in Australia and across the world to step up to the challenge presented by the crisis.
      'To reduce this risk and protect human civilization, a massive global mobilization of resources is needed in the coming decade to build a zero-emissions industrial system and set in train the restoration of a safe climate,' the report reads. ' This would be akin in scale to the World War II emergency mobilization.'
     On Tuesday, the idea of emergency mobilization akin to a world war was echoed by Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz in an opinion piece for The Guardian.
     Stiglitz called on world governments to recognize the level of threat that the climate crisis presents and to act accordingly:
     Yes, we can afford it, with the right fiscal policies and collective will. But more importantly, we must afford it. Climate change is our World War III. Our lives and civilization as we know it is at stake, just as they were in World War II.

Spratt agreed that a sense of collective urgency must be seen as the crucial element for world governments.
      'A short window of opportunity exists for an emergency, global mobilization of resources, in which the logistical and planning experiences of the national security sector could play a valuable role,' Spratt said.
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Eoin Higgins, "'We Are Literally Sawing Off the Branch We All Live On': Amazon Deforestation Increasing Under Bolsonaro: 'People who destroy forests feel safe and those who protect forests feel threatened," Common Dreams , June 05, 2019,, reported, " Satellite images reviewed by the Brazilian government show massive deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, a grim reminder of the devastation wrought by the country's new president, Jair Bolsonaro.
      According to Reuters, 285 square miles of forest was cleared in May, the highest one month total in a decade. The information comes from Brazilian space research institute INPE's DETER alert system,

'If this upward curve continues, we could have a bad year for the Amazon forest,' said INPE satellite monitoring head Claudio Almeida.
     The Amazon deforestation is just part of a global problem, said youth activist Greta Thunberg.
      'Disastrous deforestation like this must come to an end,' Thunberg said. 'And not just in the Amazon... We are literally sawing off the branch we all live on.'
      Green advocates blame the Bolsonaro government's attack on regulations on deforestation and general anti-environmental policies for the jump in clear-cutting.
     The Bolsonaro administration in January announced its plans to open the Amazon for resource exploitation—a move that came before the new presidency was even a month old. At the time, Bolsonaro's chief of strategic affairs Maynard Santa Rosa referred to the Amazon as an "unproductive, desertlike" area that would benefit from development
     In April, as Common Dreams reported, indigenous activists in Brazil sounded the alarm over the Bolsonaro government's attack on the rainforest and made a non-violent demonstration at the country's capital city of Brasilia.

'The white man is our finishing off our planet and we want to defend it,' Alessandra Munduruku, a representative of the Munduruku tribe from the northern state of Pará, said during that protest.
     Bolsonaro appears committed to that project.
      'With Bolsonaro, people who destroy forests feel safe and those who protect forests feel threatened,' Marcio Astrini, public policy coordinator for Greenpeace Brazil, told Reuters.
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Andrea Carmen, Executive Director, International Indian Treaty Council, "Cop 24 In Katowice Concludes With Historic Victory And Some Disappointments For Indigenous Peoples In The International Fight To Halt Climate Change," Cultural Survival, December 27, 2018,, reported, "‘I fear for my future. I fear for my community.' These words were spoken by Ryan Schaefer, a 17-year-old from the Dene Nation in Canada during the first meeting of the Indigenous Peoples Caucus at COP 24. He shared the reality of diminishing traditional food and water sources and disturbing weather changes that are affecting his Peoples. 'Indigenous youth of the world stand before you today to affirm that we share his fears for our future,' stated the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change Opening Plenary Statement at COP 24, December 1, 2018, presented by Ruth Kaviok, National Inuit Youth Council of Canada.
     It was close to midnight December 15, 2018, when the President’s gavel came down for a final time, concluding two weeks of intense debate at the 24th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 24) in Katowice Poland.
     Indigenous Peoples from around the world, including Tribal Nations and organizations whose traditional lands are within the current political boundaries of United States participated. Except for a few Indigenous representatives that were credentialed by States, most were designated as 'observers” in this UN process, which is led and controlled by the 'State Parties,' the 195 countries that signed on to the Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015 at COP 21. Despite this power imbalance within the UNFCCC (and, by and large, the entire UN system), the over 100 Indigenous delegates representing all regions of the world stood united to insist on formal participation in this process that impacts us so directly and to ensure that our rights and traditional knowledge are respected in national and global efforts to combat climate change.
     In Katowice the Indigenous Peoples Caucus at the UNFCCC, known as the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC), met in a weekend preparatory meeting, and met at least once a day during the COP to discuss strategies and reaffirm our collective positions in the face of new developments and State proposals.
      Indigenous Peoples began the session by calling on States to meet their commitments to reduce emissions and reverse their fatal addiction to fossil fuel energy development which is the primary source of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. The IIFPCC opening statement referenced the recent UN study which reported that emissions increased in the last year with a projected 3 degree rise at the current rate, which will mean 2 to 3 times higher in the Arctic. The statement admonished the States for their lack of real action: 'Having committed to the Paris Agreement but ignoring the actions it demands is a failure of all States.'
      The most significant and positive victory for Indigenous Peoples at COP 24 was the formal establishment of the Facilitative Working Group (FWG) to develop a workplan for the 'Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform.' The Platform is intended to strengthen and exchange traditional knowledge for mitigating and adapting to Climate Change, based on operative paragraph 135 of the Paris Agreement. Difficult issues under debate over the past three years and up until the final negotiating session in Katowice included equal participation between States and Indigenous Peoples in the FWG, protection of Indigenous Peoples rights and traditional knowledge in this process, the definition and identity of 'local communities' and the concerns of some States that their 'territorial integrity' might somehow be impacted in these discussions regarding traditional knowledge and climate change.
      Throughout the negotiations, Indigenous Peoples, accompanied by key States allies, held firm on the core issues of rights protection and equal participation. The final resolution adopted unanimously by the COP 24 Plenary December 8th reflected this unwavering commitment, emphasizing, 'in its entirety, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the context of the implementation of the functions of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform involving Indigenous Peoples.' It also established the FWG with an equal number of Indigenous and State representatives, seven each. Additional places will be held open for the future participation of 'Local Communities' when they are better defined and decide to become engaged.
     In an historic advance for Indigenous Peoples’ right to participate in decision making as affirmed in Article 18 of the UN Declaration, this is the first time that an UN body will provide for direct and equal participation, contrasting with how Indigenous Peoples’ participation has been organized in other UN bodies
. For example, final selection of the 8 Indigenous Peoples experts on the UN Permanent Forum is done by the President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Likewise, the members of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) can be nominated by Indigenous Peoples but are selected by the President of the UN Human Rights Council.
     After the adoption, many State representatives made statements recognizing the historic advance this decision represented. For example, Majid Shafiepour, Vice President of the COP and Co-facilitator of the COP’s SBSTA (Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice) from Iran welcomed the adoption and recognized the hard work it took to reach an agreement between the State Parties and Indigenous Peoples.
     'You have set an example of partnership through this process, working together in intense negotiations, overcoming many challenges and difficulties over the last three years to find common ground and successful conclusion at this COP,' Shafiepour said.
     The FWG will begin its work in 2019. Priorities will include development of a work plan and structure for the Platform, adoption of rights safeguards to protect Traditional Knowledge and practices, and development of a budget to ensure support for the participation of Indigenous traditional knowledge holders and practitioners if they so choose. At least one activity for the Platform itself is planned for 2019. Possible discussion themes proposed by Indigenous Peoples include Oceans, Land and Water, Food Sovereignty and Forests reflecting key eco- and knowledge systems impacted by Climate Change.
     Despite the mood of celebration for Indigenous Peoples at COP 24 after the adoption of the Platform decision, there were some serious disappointments as well. Another key priority for Indigenous Peoples was the inclusion of Human Rights and Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the 'Paris Rule Book” which had to be adopted at COP 24 to determine the framework and guidelines for implementing the Paris Agreement. Unlike negotiating sessions that were held throughout the first week for States and Indigenous Peoples to engage on the Platform decision text, Indigenous Peoples had very little opportunity to participate directly on the development of the Rule Book.
     Strategy meetings and side discussions were held with Human Rights organizations, the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, and States during the sessions to discuss how to pressure States to include strong human and Indigenous rights language. But the Rule Book was finally adopted by consensus with seven references using the terms 'Indigenous' or 'Indigenous Peoples' (including a footnote recognizing the adoption of the new Platform) but making no specific references to Human Rights or the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
      Disappointingly, several references to human rights in the President’s draft going into the COP were removed in the negotiations that took place among the States during the COP. The final adopted text called on States to develop and report on their 'Voluntary National Contributions' to reduce climate change with the input of Indigenous Peoples 'as appropriate,' far weaker than assurance of full and effective participation as called for by Indigenous Peoples.  
     Frank Ettawageshik from Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians in Michigan represented the National Congress of America Indians (NCAI) at COP 24. He expressed the mixed reactions of Indigenous Peoples regarding the outcomes.
     'We are gratified that an important milestone was reached in the formation of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform and we express our appreciation to Indigenous Peoples and States from all the regions who worked so hard for this achievement,' Ettawageshik said.
     'It is especially important that Indigenous Peoples from each region, using their own procedures, will select their representative on the Facilitative Work Group which will draw up the work plan for the Platform. But we are extremely disappointed that the commitment in the Paris Agreement Preamble that in all climate actions, the rights of Indigenous Peoples and human rights generally are to be respected and promoted, got lost in the adoption of the Paris Rulebook in Katowice. The references to rights were consciously removed. This shows that we still have a lot of work to do at the UNPFCC to explain the importance of a rights-based approach for addressing climate change. We will continue to raise these issues at COP 25 in Chile, and beyond.'
     Indigenous Peoples, especially those from the US, took note that the United States government delegation was highly engaged in the discussions and decision-making at COP 24, despite the US President’s declaration in 2017 that the US intends to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.
      Although the US was supportive during the Platform negotiations, they were one of only four States that took the floor during the final Plenary of the first week to oppose acknowledging the dire warning of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 'Global Warming of 1.5º C' report and its call for immediate, decisive action by States to reduce their Greenhouse gas emissions.
     The IPCC was invited by the Paris decision to issue a report on the effects of a 1.5º Centigrade increase in global temperatures over pre-industrial levels. The IPCC released its report in October 2018 confirming the critical need to maintain the strongest commitment to the Paris Agreement’s aims of limiting global warming to well below 2ºC and pursuing efforts towards 1.5º C. The report detailed the devastating effects even a after the adoption increase would have on ecosystems, health, food security and the livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples around the world.
      Most States agreed that the COP should adopt language 'Welcoming' the report as a basis for global climate action. However, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Kuwait, during the final Plenary of the first week, stated their firm opposition to that language, preferring to merely 'take note” of the report. The language finally agreed upon was 'expresses its appreciation and gratitude' to the IPCC for providing the report. Many States took the floor to express their outrage at the US and the other States that refused to acknowledge the urgency of taking dramatic action to bring the rate of global warming under control. Indigenous Peoples also restated their firm support for a 1.5º C maximum goal in their closing statement to the Plenary.
     In the Indigenous Peoples Caucus closing Plenary Statement, Michael Charles, a youth delegate from the Dine’ Nation in the US, began by introducing himself traditionally in the Dine’ language. 'We are deeply disappointed to see the language of human rights missing from the outcome of the Rulebook text,' Charles said, addressing both the advances and shortfalls of COP 24. 'We believe that a rights-based approach is necessary to guide an implementation that protects us. This text is incomplete without human rights, and specifically Indigenous rights. We do appreciate the commitment of the parties, the SBSTA chair, and the UNFCCC Secretariat to the operationalization of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform. We will now embark on a process to breathe life into the Platform using our resilience, knowledge, and rights with equal representation between states and Indigenous Peoples.'”

Julia Conley, "Greenland's Rapid Ice Melt Persists Even in Winter, Study Finds : 'Greenland is a bit like a sleeping giant that is awakening. Who knows how it will respond to a couple of more degrees of warming? '" Common Dreams , December 26, 2018,, reported, " In the latest troubling study regarding how the climate crisis is affecting the world's iciest regions, a new report by the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) found that the second-largest ice sheet in the world is currently melting even in winter.
     The study follows a report released earlier this month showing that Greenland's ice melt rate is currently faster than it's been in about 7,000 years. The island's 650,000 cubic miles of ice is melting 50 percent faster than it did in pre-industrial times.
     'Greenland is a bit like a sleeping giant that is awakening,' Edward Hanna, a climate scientist at the University of Lincoln, told Inside Climate News this week. ]Who knows how it will respond to a couple of more degrees of warming? It could lose a lot of mass very quickly.'
      The ice sheet's persistent melting even in winter has come about because huge waves below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, created by unusually strong winter winds, are pushing warm water up to Greenland—creating an environment that's hostile for the country's icy ecosystem, explains SAMS.
     These 'coastally trapped internal waves' are 'pushing warm water into the fjord and towards the glacier, causing melting hundreds of meters below the ocean surface,' Dr. Neil Fraser, an ocean physicist who led the study, told the BBC.

Greenland's huge ice sheet also makes it a huge contributor to rising sea levels, SAMS noted, accounting for more than 20 percent of the annual increase in sea levels.
      Accelerating, year-round run-off that persists even in the coldest months of the year is 'the greatest contributor to sea level rise,' Sarah Das, a researcher at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, told Inside Climate News.
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John Schwartz, "Greenland’s Melting Ice Nears a ‘Tipping Point,’ Scientists Say," The New York Times, Jan. 21, 2019,, reported, " Greenland’s enormous ice sheet is melting at such an accelerated rate that it may have reached a 'tipping point' and could become a major factor in sea-level rise around the world within two decades, scientists said in a study published on Monday.
     The Arctic is warming at twice the average rate of the rest of the planet, and the new research adds to the evidence that the ice loss in Greenland, which lies mainly above the Arctic Circle, is speeding up as the warming increases. The authors found that ice loss in 2012, more than 400 billion tons per year, was nearly four times the rate in 2003. After a lull in 2013-14, losses have resumed."

Some 80 countries, in late May, said that in advance of the September international climate meeting, that they wished to increase their Paris Climate Accord pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (Somini Sengupta, "Countries May Ramp Up Climate Pledges," The New York Times, May 29, 2019).

Under pressure from shareholders, major companies world-wide are disclosing their projections for the impact of climate change on their finances. Analysis of their disclosures reveals that many of them expect global warming induced climate change to significantly reduce their profitability within five years (Brad Plumer, "Companies Expect to Feel Climate Change's Bite in 5 Years," The New York Times, June 5, 2019).

"The Climate Issue: Putting a Price on the End of the World," The New York Times Magazine, April 14, 2019 , discusses many of the current and pending costs of climate change, with references to particular places.

As warming climates melt glaciers, in many places this means that soon a drastic reduction of available water is coming to places that have relied upon it for many centuries.
     This is particularly the case in Central Asia, where within two decades good agricultural life may come to an end, with farm land turned into parched desert
(Henry Fountain, "Glaciers Are Retreating. So Is a Reservoir for Asia," The New York Times, January 20, 2019).

Jon Queally, "Researchers Warn Arctic Has Entered 'Unprecedented State' That Threatens Global Climate Stability: 'Never have so many Arctic indicators been brought together in a single paper,' And the findings spell trouble for the entire planet," Common Dreams, April 8, 2019,, reported, "A new research paper by American and European climate scientists focused on Arctic warming published Monday reveals that the 'smoking gun' when it comes to changes in the world's northern polar region is rapidly warming air temperatures that are having—and will continue to have—massive and negative impacts across the globe.
     The new paper—titled ' Key Indicators of Arctic Climate Change: 1971–2017 '—is the work of scientists at the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland in Copenhagen (GUES).
      'The Arctic system is trending away from its 20th century state and into an unprecedented state, with implications not only within but beyond the Arctic,' said Jason Box of the GUES, lead author of the study. " Because the Arctic atmosphere is warming faster than the rest of the world, weather patterns across Europe, North America, and Asia are becoming more persistent, leading to extreme weather conditions. Another example is the disruption of the ocean circulation that can further destabilize climate: for example, cooling across northwestern Europe and strengthening of storms.'
     John Walsh, chief scientist at AUF's research center, was the one who called arctic air temperatures the 'smoking gun' discovered during the research—a finding the team did not necessarily anticipate.
      'I didn't expect the tie-in with temperature to be as strong as it was,' Walsh said. 'All the variables are connected with temperature. All components of the Arctic system are involved in this change.'
     The study, published Monday as the flagship piece in a special issue on Arctic climate change indicators published by the journal Environmental Research Letters, is the first of its kind to combine observations of physical climate indicators—such as snow cover, rainfall, and seasonal measurements of sea ice extent—with biological impacts, such as a mismatch in the timing of flowers blooming and pollinators working. According to Walsh, 'Never have so many Arctic indicators been brought together in a single paper.'
     This three-and-a-half minute video put together by the research team, explains its methodology and findings in detail:
     The new study comes as temperature records in the polar regions continue to break record after record. Last week, climatologists said Alaska experienced the highest March temperatures ever recorded.
     Statewide temperatures averaged 27°F degrees last month, a full 4 degrees higher than the record set in 1965. Brian Brettschneider, a climatologist with the International Arctic Research Center at University of Alaska Fairbanks, told the Anchorage Daily News, "We're not just eking past records. This is obliterating records."
     Also last month, as Common Dreams reported, the UN Environment Programme (ENUP) warned in a far-reaching report that winter temperatures in the Arctic are already 'locked in' in such a way that significant sea level increases are now inevitable this century.
      Rising temperatures, along with ocean acidification, pollution, and thawing permafrost threaten the Arctic and the more than four million people who inhabit it, including 10 percent who are Indigenous. But, as UNEP acting executive director Joyce Msuya noted at the time, ' What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic.'
     That warning was echoed by the researchers behind the new study out Monday. Their hope, they said, is that the findings about air temperatures and the delicate interconnections between the climate and other natural systems in the Artic will 'provide a foundation for a more integrated understanding of the Arctic and its role in the dynamics of the Earth's biogeophysical systems.'
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Jessica Corbett, "'Bad News for All Species': New Study Shows Nearly 600 Plants Wiped Out Over the Past 250 Years: 'Plants underpin all life on Earth, they provide the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat, as well as making up the backbone of the world's ecosystems,'" Common Dreams , June 11, 2019,, reported,

The Chilean crocus was believed extinct until a small population was discovered in 2001. At least 571 plant species, from the Chile sandalwood to the St. Helena olive, have gone extinct in the wild over the past 250 years, according to a new study that has biodiversity experts worried about what the findings suggest for the future of life on Earth.

'Plants underpin all life on Earth, they provide the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat, as well as making up the backbone of the world's ecosystems—so plant extinction is bad news for all species,' study co-authur Eimear Nic Lughadha of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew said in a statement.
     For the first-of-its-kind study, published Monday in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, researchers at Key Stockholm University compiled all known plant extinction records. That effort, Nature reported, stems from a database that Kew's Rafaël Govaerts started in 1988 'to track the status of every known plant species.'
     The researchers' new findings, according to co-author Aelys M. Humphreys of Stockholm University, 'provide an unprecedented window into plant extinction in modern times.'
     'Most people can name a mammal or bird that has become extinct in recent centuries, but few can name an extinct plant,' Humphreys said. 'This study is the first time we have an overview of what plants have already become extinct, where they have disappeared from, and how quickly this is happening.'

The Guardian noted how the figure compares with other analyses of species loss:
      The number of plants that have disappeared from the wild is more than twice the number of extinct birds, mammals, and amphibians combined. The new figure is also four times the number of extinct plants recorded in the International Union for Conservation of Nature's red list.
     'It is way more than we knew and way more than should have gone extinct,' said Dr. Maria Vorontsova, also at Kew. 'It is frightening not just because of the 571 number but because I think that is a gross underestimate.'
     Citing the study, Nature reported that 'the world's seed-bearing plants have been disappearing at a rate of nearly three species a year since 1900—which is up to 500 times higher than would be expected as a result of natural forces alone.'

While the study sparked alarm, researchers expressed hope that their work will be used to improve conservation efforts—particularly 'on islands and in the tropics, where plant loss is common, and in areas where less is known about plant extinction such as Africa and South America.'
     To prevent the loss of more plant species, 'we need to record all the plants across the world,' Vorontsova said. 'To do this we need to support herbaria and the production of plant identification guides, we need to teach our children to see and recognize their local plants, and most importantly we need botanists for years to come.'
     Another positive takeaway from the study was rediscovery: the researchers found that 430 species previously believed extinct are actually still around. However, they noted, 90 percent of those species face a high risk of future extinction.
     The Chilean crocus, for example, had seemed to disappear by 1950s—but a small population was discovered south of Santiago, Chile in 2001. That population is currently being protected from livestock, and the species is being cultivated in the U.K., but it is still listed as "critically endangered" on the red list.
     The new survey follows an 'ominous" analysis published last month by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services which found, as Common Dreams reported at the time, 'that human exploitation of the natural world has pushed a million plant and animal species to the brink of extinction—with potentially devastating implications for the future of civilization.'
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"In Just One Decade, Corporations Destroyed 50 Million Hectares of Forest—An Area the Size of Spain: 'These companies are destroying our children's future by driving us towards climate and ecological collapse," Common Dreams, June 11, 2019,, reported, " Major corporations involved with commodities like beef, palm oil, and soya pledged in 2010 to end deforestation over the next decade—but instead of fulfilling that promise, a new Greenpeace International analysis found the companies are set to destroy at least 50 million hectares of forest worldwide by 2020.
      That estimate—the environmental advocacy group noted in a statement announcing its Countdown to Extinction report (pdf at: Tuesday—is comparable to the size of Spain.
     It is also 'a conservative estimate,' the group said, based on a combination of data on deforestation, tree cover loss, and forecasting through 2019. Given recent increases in tree loss cover, 'the actual figure could be much higher.'
      Companies named in the report include General Mills, IKEA, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg, L'Oréal, Mars, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever.
     Greenpeace released its new report as over a thousand corporate executives were in Vancouver for the global summit of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a organization led by various CEOs that brings together retailers and manufacturers.
     In 2010, the CGF's board approved a resolution to achieve zero net deforestation by 2020 'through the responsible sourcing of these key commodities—soy, palm oil, paper and pulp, and cattle—so that the sourcing of these key commodities will not deplete tropical rainforests.'
     The Greenpeace report, released just months away from the CGF's deadline, details how consumer goods companies have failed to meet the deforestation goal, and the consequences of it. As Greenpeace U.K.'s Anna Jones put it, 'these companies are destroying our children's future by driving us towards climate and ecological collapse.'
     'They've wasted a decade on half-measures and in that time vast areas of the natural world have been destroyed,' said Jones, the group's global project lead for forests. 'They should be in crisis talks right now, but they're still trying to grow demand for products that will drive forest destruction even further.'
     The CGF told The Guardian in a statement Tuesday that 'members have moved substantially closer to our goal of 100 percent sustainable sourcing of the four commodity groups. But over the last nine years we have also learned that the forces driving deforestation are more complex than almost any stakeholder realized in 2010.'
      Member companies, the newspaper reported, no longer see the 'sustainable commodities' approach as effective, so they have spent the past 18 months working with outside stakeholders on a new strategy that will be discussed at the summit this week and unveiled during U.N. climate week in September.
     As leaders of consumer goods companies have spent the past decade learning their approach was flawed from the start, the Greenpeace report explains, 'the trade in high-risk commodities has boomed.'

Since 2010, the area planted with soya in Brazil has increased by 45, Indonesian palm oil production is up 75 percent, and Côte d'Ivoire's cocoa footprint has grown by 80 percent. And the trend is set to continue: by 2050, global meat consumption (and hence production) is forecast to rise by 76 percent, soya production by nearly 45 percent, and palm oil production by nearly 60 percent.
      'In the Congo Basin, we are witnessing widespread environmental and human rights violations in the name of development and the global commodities trade,' said Victorine CheThoener of Greenpeace Africa. 'It's all a kleptocracy where governments and companies collude to loot our natural resources and ordinary people pay the price.'
     Meanwhile, in Brazil, 'the soya and cattle industries have been trashing the Cerrado—destroying the local environment, aggravating the climate crisis, and displacing and committing violence against Indigenous and traditional populations that have occupied the territory for hundreds of years,' Romulo Batista of the group's local chapter said. 'Global brands must bring their suppliers under control.'
     Greenpeace analyzed the devastation caused not only by members of the CGF, but also signatories to the New York Declaration on Forests and those that 'had a cross-commodity forest protection policy, or had expressed on their websites an ambition, goal, or commitment to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains.'
      Earlier this year, the advocacy group asked more than 50 traders, retailers, producers, and consumer goods companies to 'demonstrate their progress towards ending deforestation,' the report says. 'Not a single company was able to demonstrate meaningful effort to eradicate deforestation from its supply chain.'
     The report outlines how deforestation relates to recent warnings from global scientists about the rising likelihood of climate catastrophe and devastating biodiveristy lossunless the international community works together to rapidly reform energy, transportation, and agricultural systems.
      Halting deforestation and restoring the world's forests is the cheapest and fastest way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure rapid carbon uptake. In conjunction with phasing out fossil fuels, such action is essential if we are to limit global temperature rises to 1.5ºC. Some 80 percent of global deforestation is a result of agricultural production, concentrated in tropical countries whose forests store enormous amounts of carbon and are most urgent to protect. The destruction of forests and other natural ecosystems by industrial agriculture is also wiping out the Earth's biodiversity: around 1 million species are now at risk of extinction.
      Preventing climate and ecological breakdown requires 'transformative changes' to the way forest and agricultural commodities are produced, traded, and consumed, producing and consuming less meat and dairy, and phasing out crop-based biofuels and bioplastics. Such changes would also deliver major gains for human health and the health of our planet. Companies face a stark choice: clean up the industrial food system or clear out of the global commodities trade.
With the release Greenpeace's analysis, Jones said, 'Our message to companies is simple: evolve your business to prevent climate and ecological breakdown.'
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Jesse McKinley and Brad Plumer, "New York to Approve One of the World’s Most Ambitious Climate Plans," The New York Times, June 18, 2019,, reported, " New York lawmakers have agreed to pass a sweeping climate plan that calls for the state to all but eliminate its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, envisioning an era when gas-guzzling cars, oil-burning heaters and furnaces would be phased out, and all of the state’s electricity would come from carbon-free sources.
     Under an agreement reached this week between legislative leadersand Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act would require the state to slash its planet-warming pollution 85 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, and offset the remaining 15 percent, possibly through measures to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere." By 2030, New York State aims to have 70% of its electricity from non-greenhouse sources

Its clear that the climate crisis is already here. For quite some years weather and climate conditions in the U.S. and world-wide have increasingly worse causing more and more serious harm and damage. And now, Mark Sumner, " This is the climate crisis, it's happening now, and here is what it looks like," Daily Kos, May 29, 2019,, reported, " Twelve straight nights of raging storms have produced 365 reported tornadoes across 22 states. Where the total for May averages 276, this year has seen that number almost doubled … and May isn’t over yet. CNN had a word for this. They called it “unprecedented.”
      Those storms have brought record floods to Oklahoma and Texas, but those aren’t the first states to suffer floods this year. The Midwest, from Minnesota to Missouri, has spent much of the spring fighting other record floods after parts of the Mississippi Basin received more than 200% of the normal levels of rain and snow and a “bomb cyclone” exploded like a cold hurricane over the center of the nation. Some of those towns that went under back in March or April are still underwater today. Time had a word for it. They said it was “unprecedented.”
      Mitch Smith, "Paralysis on America’s Rivers: There’s Too Much Water" The New York Times, June 10, 2019,, reported, "The devastating flooding that has submerged large parts of the Midwest and South this spring has also brought barge traffic on many of the regions’ rivers to a near standstill. The water is too high and too fast to navigate. Shipments of grains, fertilizers and construction supplies are stranded. And riverfront ports, including the ones Mr. Shell oversees in Van Buren and Fort Smith, Ark., have been overtaken by the floods and severely damaged."

      Mark Sumner, " This is the climate crisis, it's happening now, and here is what it looks like," Daily Kos, May 29, 2019,, reported, " The fire season that began last spring in California had already earned an “unprecedented” from The New York Times by August after the normal seasons of rain and drought in the West seemed almost flipped … but the 600,000 acres that had been burned by summer was far from the end. Record-setting fires continued through the fall and into the start of winter.
      While those fires were burning in the west, the opposite coast suffered a hurricane season in which Hurricane Florence dumped unprecedented rainfall. And Hurricane Michael plowed into the Florida panhandle with unprecedented strength, destroying homes and doing billions of dollars of damage to a military base "

Julia O’Malley, "Alaska Relies on Ice. What Happens When It Can’t Be Trusted?" The New York Times, April 10, 2019,, reported, " It’s not springtime now in Alaska, it’s “break-up” — the end of safe travel on ice.
     And in an era of climate change, break-up has been coming too soon, especially this year. The ice has become unpredictable, creating new, sometimes deadly hazards and a host of practical problems that disrupt the rhythms of everyday lif
     The ice roads that carry freight in winter and spring have been going soft prematurely. Hunters cannot ride safely to their spring camps. Sled-dog races have been canceled. People traveling on frozen rivers by A.T.V. or snowmobile are falling through; some have died. Rescuers trying to reach them have been stymied by thin ice."

Olivia Rosane, "Wildfires Force 10,000 to Flee as Alberta Repeals Carbon Tax," EcoWatch, May. 31, 2019,, reported, " More than 10,000 people have been forced to evacuate as wildfires spread in northern Alberta, Canada's CBC News reported Thursday. Smoke from the fires has choked skies across the province, raising the Air Quality Health Index in its capital city of Edmonton to a 10+ Thursday, the Edmonton Journal reported.
     In an ironic turn, the fires prompted Alberta Premier Jason Kenney to cancel a celebration of the repeal of the province's carbon tax, Canada's National Observer reported."
     "This event has been cancelled so the premier can receive an internal, real-time briefing on the status of Alberta's wildfires," the government said in a statement reported by Canada's National Observer."
     "Kenney had promised to repeal the carbon tax and roll back other climate change policies in the April 16 general election."
     " Fires destroyed 11 homes in the Paddle Prairie Métis Settlement, the Edmonton Journal reported further.
     'The roads are melted,' Blake Desjarlais, director of public and national affairs for the Métis Settlements General Council, told the Edmonton Journal.
      Desjarlais was frustrated by the lack of support his community was receiving from the Alberta government, Global News reported. He said they were not fighting the fire on the western side, which would most protect the evacuated community, and also that they were not doing enough to help evacuees.
     Desjarlais also said the fire could have a long-term economic impact on the community.
     'We've lost trap lines, they're a strong economic driver for us,' he said, as Global News reported. 'Most of the regional farmers have had to cut animals loose.'
     "On Thursday , smoke covered Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit and Kansas City and reached as far south as Denver, Global News reported."

The most comprehensive report to date on the melting of Himalayan glaciers, by the UN science panel on climate change found that two thirds of these glaciers may completely melt by 2100 at the current pattern of increasing global warming. That would for time bring increasing flooding and then very wide spread increasing reductions of water in much of Asia with disastrous consequences (Kai Schultz and Bhadra Sharma, "'Climate Crisis' May Melt Most Himalayan Glaciers by 2100," The New York Times, February 5, 2019). A Briefing on the finding of the report is in, "Himalayan glaciers: What if they melt," The Christian Science Monitor, April 1, 2019.

Mujib Mashal, "India Heat Wave, Soaring Up to 123 Degrees, Has Killed at Least 36," The New York Times, June 13, 2019,, reported, " One of India’s longest and most intense heat waves in decades, with temperatures reaching 123 degrees, has claimed at least 36 lives since it began in May, and the government has warned that the suffering might continue as the arrival of monsoon rains has been delayed."

· Heat waves in India have become more intense over the last few years with nighttime lows becoming higher as well as day time highs as the number of days in heat waves become longer. The range of the heat waves in northern and central India has also been expanding, having struck nine states in 2015 and 19 in 2018, to reach 23 in 2019. The extreme heat has also been drying up needed lakes and other water sources. In India's capital, New Delhi, temperatures reached a record 118.4 F. on June 10.

     A study published in Nature Cliamate Change in early February 2019 found that across the northern latitudes around the world, already 1.4 million lakes that used to freeze regularly in winter no longer do so (Nadiia Popovich, "Hockey on the Lake May Soon Be a Freezing Memory," The New York Times, February 8, 2019).

Terri Hansen, "Tribes are harnessing cutting-edge data to adapt to the climate crisis," ICT, May 28, 2019,, reports, " Climate change is already damaging Indigenous ways of life. Yet tribes are adapting."
     " Pacific Northwest tribes like the Quinault are already experiencing the effects of climate change, and they’re already adapting. A new collection of scientific resources developed through a collaboration with the University of Washington is helping Northwest tribes plan and prepare for the impacts of climate change." The Quinalt are studying the ongoing impacts, especially on shellfish, and developing plans to adopt to the changes occurring.
     Similaly, the nearby " Makah have started planning and preparing for climate change adaptation. They began with an ocean acidification impacts assessment back in 2015 that snowballed. When they did that assessment, they found that they couldn’t talk about impacts to ocean resources without also talking about impacts to the land and the air, and about the impacts of all of those resources on the tribe’s culture, Chang said. “So instead of one specific project, we are viewing this as an iterative planning process.” This has led to "multiple related projects, including impacts assessments, community engagement plans, an adaptation plan, carbon footprint analysis, and a carbon mitigation plan.
      Resources developed by the Climate Impacts Group at University of Washington for tribes in the Pacific Northwest and Oregon, Nevada, and Utah’s Great Basin may prove useful to tribes like the Quinault and the Makah. The collection of resources is designed for the 84 tribes in those regions in their various stages of the climate preparation process. The package will help tribes evaluate impacts, conduct vulnerability assessments, perform adaptation and economic planning, and locate financial resources."
     "The new climate resources are mainly online and include a climate tool, links to resources and a technical support line for tribal staff and members."

Bradad Plummer and Blacki igliozzi, "How to Cut U.S. Emissions Faster? Do What These Countries Are Doing," The New York Times, February. 13, 2019,, pointed out that even before the Trump administration, the U.S. was lowering its greenhouse gas emissions much too slowly to do its part in averting the worst impacts of global warming. The U.S. could come much closer to doing so simply by adopting seven of the strongest climate policies already being undertaken by other nations.
     Modeling by Energy Innovation, indicates that if the United States put in place an economy-wide carbon tax similar to British Columbia’s, which started small and is set to rise to $37.50 per ton, emissions would start to fall significantly. The U.S. as a whole could follow California's lead in requiring all states to produce their electricity only from zero-carbon sources — such as wind, solar or nuclear.
     Adopting Norway’s electric-vehicle incentives, which have resulted in plug-in cars now comprising half of all new sales
, would further lower global warming causing emissions, though this would be a slow process, as it would require many years for millions of older cars to be retired. Following China's lead, the U.S. could greatly increase industrial energy efficiency by setting efficiency targets for industries such as cement, steel and petrochemicals, requiring them to utilize the most efficient current technologies.
     Again spreading a California policy nation wide, the country could greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions stemming from heating and cooling by adopting strict energy efficiency standards for all new construction.
     If the United States returned to moving to force the gas and oil industry to cut the huge amounts of methane, a far more atmospheric warming gas than carbon dioxide, that are currently leaking, the impact would be a significant reduction in warming, which would save the oil and gas companies from losing billions of dollars worth of natural gas.
     The United States could duplicate the European Union’s legislation to end the use of hydrofluorocarbons, powerful greenhouse gases used in air-conditioners, refrigerators and foams. Currently the U.S. pollutes considerably in this way, having so far only cut previous use of hydrofluorocarbons in half.
      Adoption of these seven policies would reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States about 29 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, and approximately 50 percent by 2050. To reduce warming emissions further and faster, something the United Nations scientific panel has said is necessary to keep total global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, the United States and other nations would need to adopt policies exceding anything that has been put into practice so far. Additional measures might include a much greater tax on carbon, investing in advanced clean-energy technologies, retrofitting older buildings, reducing energy use (including increasing energy efficiency) in sectors such as air travel and shipping, deploying carbon capture systems in industry and from the atmosphere, revitalizing forests and curbing methane and nitrogen pollution from livestock and farming.

Costa Rica has launched a plan to end fossil fuel use by 2050. Already most of the country's electric production is from hydroelectric, geothermal, wind and solar generation, and forest cover has been doubled in the las 30 years, pulling large amounts of carbon dioxide out of the air. The plan includes switching rapidly to electric trains, busses and cars - but the changeover to all electric automobiles may be difficult to achieve fully (Sonimi Sengupta and Alexander Villegas, "With Green Deal, Costa Tries to Show the World How It's Done," The New York Times, March 12, 2019).

Eric C. Evarts, "Pumped hydro could deliver 100 percent renewable electricity," GreenCarReports, April 3, 2019,, reported, " Achieving 100 percent renewable power, as Congressional Democrats' Green New Deal and other proposals around the world envision, will require a lot of energy storage. And while the cost and availability of a storage batteries has made significant progress lately, they may not be the best solution to store renewable energy.
     A new study by researchers at the Australian National University have identified 530,000 sites around the world suitable for pumped hydro storage that can store up to 22 million gigawatt hours of electricity—coincidentally about what other studies show would be needed to support a reliable electric grid powered entirely by renewable energy
     The storage would be needed to take full advantage of renewable wind and solar power even when consumers are not demanding peak power, and then supply that power back to the grid at times when they do.
      Lithium-ion batteries similar to those made for electric cars, such as Tesla's commercial Powerpacks, are being installed on the grid around the world, including at large wind and solar farms as well as local transformer stations. Some automakers, utilities, and EV charging networks are also installing used electric-car batteries to buffer the grid on a trial basis.
     Pumped hydro storage is a much older and larger technology. It uses excess electricity produced at night to pump water uphill into reservoirs or storage tanks, then works like conventional hydro-electricity to spin turbines as the water flows back downhill during the day. Unlike conventional hydro, it doesn't generate net new power, but does improve grid reliability and enable new sources of renewable electricity to come online, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency.'
     As of 2014, the latest year for which numbers are available, the U.S. had almost 24 gigawatt-hours of pumped hydro storage at 40 locations around the U.S."

The May 2019 Issue of In These Times, to be available at:, " Getting to Zero," presents a number of interrelated articles on how a Green New Deal might work successfully.

Jessica Corbett, "Bold New Campaign Highlights How 'Nature Can Save Us' From Climate and Ecological Breakdown: 'The protection and restoration of these ecosystems can help to minimize a sixth great extinction, while enhancing local people's resilience against climate disaster,'" Common Dreams, April 3, 2019,, reported, "A group of activists, experts, and writers on Wednesday launched a bold new campaign calling for the 'thrilling but neglected approach' of embracing nature's awesome restorative powers to battle the existential crises of climate and ecological breakdown.
      Averting catastrophic global warming and devastating declines in biodiversity, scientists warn, requires not only overhauling human activities that generate planet-heating emissions—like phasing out fossil fuels—but also cutting down on the carbon that is already in the atmosphere.
     In a letter to governments, NGOs, the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Natural Climate Solutions campaign calls for tackling these crises by not only rapidly decarbonizing economies, but also by 'drawing carbon dioxide out of the air by protecting and restoring ecosystems.'
      'By defending, restoring and re-establishing forests, peatlands, mangroves, salt marshes, natural seabeds, and other crucial ecosystems, very large amounts of carbon can be removed from the air and stored,' the letter says. 'At the same time, the protection and restoration of these ecosystems can help to minimize a sixth great extinction, while enhancing local people's resilience against climate disaster.
     The letter urges the politicians, nonprofits, and international bodies to support such solutions with research, funding, and political commitment—and to 'work with the guidance and free, prior and informed consent of indigenous people and other local communities.'
     The campaign also put out a short video that outlines 'how nature can save us from climate breakdown.'
     The video notes that 'exotic and often dangerous schemes have been proposed' to reduce atmospheric carbon—referencing controversial geoengineering suggestions favored by some politicians and scientists—'but there's a better and simpler way: let nature do it for us.'
     Writer and environmentalist George Monbiot, a leader of the campaign, laid out the scientific support for this approach to carbon drawdown in an essay on the campaign's website as well as in his Wednesday column for the Guardian.
     Detailing the potential impact of restoring lands worldwide, Monbiot wrote for the newspaper:
     The greatest drawdown potential per hectare (though the total area is smaller) is the restoration of coastal habitats such as mangroves, salt marsh and seagrass beds. They stash carbon 40 times faster than tropical forests can. Peaty soils are also vital carbon stores. They are currently being oxidized by deforestation, drainage, drying, burning, farming, and mining for gardening and fuel. Restoring peat, by blocking drainage channels and allowing natural vegetation to recover, can suck back much of what has been lost
      'Scientists have only begun to explore how the recovery of certain animal populations could radically change the carbon balance,' he acknowledged, pointing to forest elephants and rhinos in Africa and Asia and tapirs in Brazil as examples.
     'Instead of making painful choices and deploying miserable means to a desirable end,' Monbiot concluded, 'we can defend ourselves from disaster by enhancing our world of wonders.'
     Key supporters of the campaign include youth climate strike leader Greta Thunberg; journalist Naomi Klein; author and activist Bill McKibben; Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann; former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed; and activist Yeb Saño,along with more than a dozen others who signed the letter.
      'Healing and restoring the natural world is key to carbon drawdown,' Klein tweeted Wednesday, 'plus it makes life fuller and richer and can create millions of jobs.'

Despite the high profiles of many supporters, the campaign launch did not attract the attention of the corporate media.
     Monbiot took to Twitter to call out broadcast outlets for failing to cover not only the climate and ecological crises, but also potential solutions like those offered by the new campaign. As he put it, 'They are living in a world of their own.'
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Andrea Germanos, "To Stop Shell From Pulling 'World Into the Abyss,' Climate Groups Deliver Groundbreaking Summons: Case seeks prevention of future climate harm," Common Dreams, April 5, 2019,, reported, "A coalition of environmental groups issued Shell a court summons Friday demanding the company shift course from its fossil fuel business model and act on its responsibility to stop fueling the climate crisis.
     The legal fight is 'not only to protect present generations but also to protect future generations,' according to the document (pdf).
     'Shell's directors still do not want to say goodbye to oil and gas,' Donald Pols, director of Friends of the Earth Netherlands, said in a statement. 'They would pull the world into the abyss. The judge can prevent this from happening.'
     The document was delivered to Shell's international headquarters in the Hague, with Friends of the Earth Netherlands, ActionAid NL, Both ENDS, Fossielvrij NL, Greenpeace NL, Young Friends of the Earth NL, and Waddenvereniging acting as co-plaintiffs. It starts legal processing against the company after it brushed off (pdf) a notice of liability last year.
     The summons calls for the fossil fuel giant to appear in the District Court of The Hague on April 17, 2019.
     Speaking about the case to Friends of the Earth's Real World Radio, Roger Cox, the lawyer representing the co-plaintiffs, explained its groundbreaking nature.
     'This is a particular unique case because what we are seeking here is a prevention of future climate harm, instead of looking for financial compensation for loses that have already occurred,' he said.
     The summons says that the company is making 'substantial' contributions towards global carbon emissions, continues to pursue fossil fuels despite knowing their contribution to the climate crisis, and has an obligation under Dutch law to act on the Paris climate goals.
     Cox told RWR that 'we also feel that the time is now to make these changes and use the law as an instrument to accelerate the energy transition and to achieve the Paris goal.'

While the case has a lofty goal, 'we do feel that we can win,' he said. As he explained in a statement, this could have far-reaching effects.
      'If successful, the uniqueness of the case would be that Shell, as one of the largest multinational corporations in the world, would be legally obligated to change its business operations. We also expect that this would have an effect on other fossil fuel companies, raising the pressure on them to change.'
     That change can't come fast enough, added Carroll Muffett, president of the Center for International Environmental Law.
     'Today's suit against Shell sends a clear signal that business as usual is no longer acceptable.'
     bCarroll Muffett, Center for International Environmental Law. 'The IPCC has warned that window of action for avoiding irreversible and truly catastrophic climate harms is narrow and closing rapidly. Today's suit against Shell sends a clear signal that business as usual is no longer acceptable. Companies that continue ignoring climate risks can and will be held legally accountable and financially responsible for their actions.'
      'Investors and corporate decision-makers who ignore this new reality,' she said, 'do so at their peril.'
     To hear more about the case, watch the video below from Friends of the Earth:

The People vs Shell from Friends of the Earth on Vimeo:
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Brad Plumer, 'A ‘Green New Deal’ Is Far From Reality, but Climate Action Is Picking Up in the States," The New York Times, February 8, 2019,, reported that with the election of more Democratic governors in November, more states are moving to counter global warming, including a few with Republican governors, "
     "Even though talk of a “Green New Deal” is getting louder in Congress, the odds of major federal climate legislation passing in the next two years remain extremely low.
     It’s a different story at the state level, however: The midterm elections in the fall brought in a new wave of governors who are now setting climate goals for their states and laying out more ambitious plans to cut emissions and expand low-carbon energy.
     In the past month, newly elected Democratic governors in Michigan, Illinois and New Mexico have joined the United States Climate Alliance, a group of 19 states and Puerto Rico that has vowed to uphold the Paris climate agreement despite President Trump’s disavowal of the accord. With the new additions, the alliance now covers one-third of America’s greenhouse gas emissions and nearly half its population."
     "States can only do so much to tackle global warming by themselves. But they can serve as laboratories of sorts, testing which climate policies work well and which ones are ineffective or too costly. And, by advancing technologies like wind, solar or electric vehicles, they could pave the way for more ambitious federal action — should that moment ever arrive.
     Here are some of the biggest steps states have taken recently on climate policy.
      Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan is establishing an office of climate and energy. CreditJake May/The Flint Journal, via Associated Press
      For years, the go-to climate move for states has been to require utilities to use more renewable electricity, a task made easier by the rapid decline in costs for wind and solar power. Governors are now poised to accelerate those policies.

In Maine, the new governor, Janet Mills, a Democrat, has vowed to restore incentives for rooftop solar and to boost wind power locally — moves that had been stymied by her Republican predecessor.
     In New Mexico, another Democrat, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, is backing a bill requiring electric utilities to get 50 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2030, keeping pace with neighbors like Colorado and Nevada. (Nevada voters in November approved their own requirement for 50 percent renewables by 2030.)
     The most striking development, though, has been the array of governors who are now floating plans for their states to get 100 percent of their electricity from zero-carbon sources. Legislators in California and Hawaii have already set deadlines for utilities to meet this target by 2045. In recent months, the governors of Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey and New York have pledged to pursue similar goals.
     These states are all venturing into uncharted territory, and there’s no guarantee they will succeed. As states rely on ever-larger amounts of wind and solar power, it becomes more challenging to juggle these intermittent sources. Getting all the way to 100 percent zero-carbon electricity, experts say, could require extensive new nationwide transmission lines, novel energy storage techniques or help from untested technologies like advanced nuclear power.
     For now, states are experimenting with varied approaches. Hawaii, for example, wants to meet its goal entirely through renewable energy. In New Jersey, by contrast, Gov. Philip D. Murphy signed legislation to keep his state’s nuclear plants open as part of a broader low-carbon portfolio. And New York is soliciting bids for large new offshore wind farms.
      Gov. Janet Mills of Maine has promised to restore incentives for renewable energy that were thwarted by her predecessor. CreditRobert F. Bukaty/Associated Press
      Electricity is responsible for about one-third of America’s carbon dioxide emissions. To go further, states will also have to clean up the cars and trucks on their roads, which account for another third.
In December, nine Eastern states and the District of Columbia announced they would work together to put a price on emissions from transportation fuels and invest the revenue in lower-carbon solutions, potentially including mass transit, electric buses or new charging stations to make it easier for people to own plug-in vehicles.
      Some of the states involved, like Pennsylvania and Maryland, are in danger of missing their self-imposed climate goals unless they can halt the stubborn rise in driving emissions.
     While the finer details of the policy will be hashed out this year, the states are modeling their efforts after the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade system in the Northeast that auctions a steadily dwindling supply of carbon pollution permits to power plants and uses the revenue to invest in efficiency and clean energy programs."
     Cutting carbon emissions in transportation is complicated, with its many factors, and thus more difficult to achieve, but steps are already being taken to deal with the problem, including by three Republican governors, in Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont.
     Additional proposals are being considered to cut greenhouse gas emissions in a number of states.

Alexander C. Kaufman, "New York City Passes Historic Climate Legislation," Portside, April 21, 2012,, reported, " The Climate Mobilization Act lays the groundwork for New York City’s own Green New Deal.
     "The nation’s largest and most economically influential city passed a historic bill Thursday capping climate-changing pollution from big buildings and mandating unprecedented cuts to greenhouse gases.
     The City Council approved the legislation in a 45-to-2 vote Thursday afternoon, all but ensuring its passage by a mayor eager to burnish his climate bona fides ahead of a potential run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020."
     "The legislation sets emissions caps for various types of buildings over 25,000 square feet; buildings produce nearly 70% of the city’s emissions. It sets steep fines if landlords miss the targets. Starting in 2024, the bill requires landlords to retrofit buildings with new windows, heating systems and insulation that would cut emissions by 40% in 2030, and double the cuts by 2050."

Andrea Germanos, "Fossil Fuel Subsidies Mean Using Public Money 'To Destroy the World': UN Chief: U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres's comment follows call by Pope Francis to 'keep it in the ground,'" Common Dreams , May 29, 2019,, reported, "As Pope Francis called on global financial leaders to help keep dirty energy in the ground, the United Nations chief said Tuesday that fossil fuel subsidies amount to 'using taxpayers' money... to destroy the world.'
     'Climate disruption is upon us, and it is progressing faster than our efforts to address it,' said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres in Vienna at the climate-focused R20 Austrian World Summit.
     While near-daily global disasters including floods, droughts, and wildfires make clear that the impacts of the climate crisis are already occurring, Guterres said, 'there is a silver lining to the looming cloud.'
     That's because 'if we do what we must to combat climate change, the benefits for societies around the world would be profound,' he said, pointing to 'cleaner water and air' and 'reduced biodiversity loss.'

But the scope of the task at hand is huge, explained Guterres, as it necessitates a total transformation of all aspects of society.
     'What is needed for effective mitigation and improved resilience,' he said, 'is quite simply a rapid and deep change in how we do business, how we generate power, how we build cities, and how we feed the world.'

Another key change, said Guterres, is to stop using taxpayer funds to prop up the coal, oil, and gas industries.
      'We need to tax pollution, not people, and to end subsidies for fossil fuels,' said Guterres. He also debunked the wrongful assumption by some that fossil fuel subsidies improve people's lives.
     'There is nothing more wrong than that,' he said. 'What we are doing is using taxpayers' money—which means our money—to boost hurricanes, to spread droughts, to melt glaciers, to bleach corals. In one word—to destroy the world.'
     'As taxpayers,' continued Guterres, 'I believe we would like to see our money back rather than to see our money used to destroy the world.'
     The two-day summit also featured speeches by 16-year old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who launched the R20 climate initiative
     Thunberg said that 'for too long the people in power... have gotten away with stealing our future and selling it for profit.'
     'We are not going to let you get away with it anymore," she said.

Schwarzenegger, in his remarks, praised young people like Thunberg who are school-striking and otherwise mobilizing to demand swift climate action.
     'Their vision should lead us to action,' said Schwarzenegger.
     Their comments came a day after the Pope spoke to a group of financial ministers from around the world and urged them to back the goals of the Paris climate accord. 'We must achieve what we have agreed upon, for our survival and well-being depend on it.'
     Among the worrisome signs he pointed to are that 'Investments in fossil fuels continue to rise, even though scientists tell us that fossil fuels should remain underground.'
     Like the U.N.'s Guterres, the pontiff referenced the increasingly frequent extreme weather events, which he said 'are only a dire premonition of things much worse to come, unless we act and act urgently.'
     Among the tasks the Pope said the financial ministers should take are 'to put an end to global dependency on fossil fuels' and 'to open a new chapter of clean and safe energy, that utilizes, for example, renewable resources such as wind, sun and water.'
     'Time is of the essence,' Pope Francis added. 'We await your decisive action for the sake of all humanity.'
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Jessica Corbett, "'A Real Win-Win-Win': New Report Reveals Benefits of $500 Billion Investment in Energy Efficiency: 'For the sake of our planet and economy, energy efficiency must be a national and regional priority in the United States,'" Common Dreams, March 26, 2019,, reported, " A new report out Tuesday reveals that investing $500 billion in making U.S. residential and commercial buildings more energy efficient would benefit the planet, save money, and create millions of jobs.
      'Residential and commercial buildings are considerable power hogs, accounting for 39 percent of U.S. energy use, more than either the industrial or transportation sectors,' explains the environmental group Food & Water Watch in Building Climate Justice: Investing in Energy Efficiency for a Fair and Just Transition (pdf).
     While acknowledging scientists' increasingly urgent warnings about the necessity of rapidly transitioning global energy systems away from fossil fuels in favor of clean renewables like solar and wind, the report focuses on the far-reaching and positive consequences of improving the energy efficiency of buildings across the country.
      Food & Water Watch lays out the impact of investing about $33.3 billion a year in a nationwide initiative from 2020 to 2035. That funding, along with 'aggressive and robust energy efficiency policies,' would be complementary to broader efforts designed to curb planet-warming emissions and prevent climate catastrophe.
     Researchers found that 'this substantial investment would reap dramatic economic benefits, create good jobs that foster a fair and just transition to clean energy, reduce energy use, and save money—all while reducing climate emissions.'
     Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter tied the report's recommendations to the national discussion about climate policies, including the Green New Deal resolution introduced earlier this year by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.).
     With all the talk about a Green New Deal, one critical piece of any effective climate policy that has largely been left out of the conversation is energy efficiency,' Hauter said. "It is the low-hanging fruit in terms of technological feasibility and cost-benefit gain.'
     Responding to the report, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a statement from Food & Water Watch, 'Energy efficiency has enormous potential to create millions of jobs, reduce carbon pollution, and save American families money on their energy bills—a real win-win-win.'
     Sanders, a cosponsor of the Green New Deal resolution who is seeking the Democratic Party's nomination for the 2020 presidential race, added, 'We must immediately come together to take bold action to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy.'
     By 2035, building upgrades would cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than 300 million metric tons, compared with current projections, and cumulatively reduce utility bills by an estimated $1.3 trillion, according to the report.
     'Both the investment and the savings on utility bills,' it states, 'would spur economic growth and job creation—necessary for a fair and just transition for fossil fuel workers and a needed economic jolt to America's communities that have not shared in the economic growth over the past 40 years.'
     This plan could generate more than 20 million full-times jobs, boosting U.S. job creation by about 20 percent, and 'the majority of these jobs would be high-quality construction and manufacturing jobs that can support families and provide future career opportunities.'
      Food & Water Watch emphasizes the importance of supporting workers whose jobs will be lost in the transition away from fossil fuels, specifically calling for '100 percent wage and benefit insurance for five years to ensure that workers and their families do not face catastrophic economic shocks from job displacement.'
     In addition to outlining the benefits of funding energy efficiency improvements, the report also features a blueprint for upgrading buildings. 'Existing buildings need to be retrofitted and upgraded,' it says, 'and states and localities must update building codes to ensure that new construction maximizes energy efficiency."
     Suggestions for both new and existing structures include: weatherizing building envelopes to prevent heating and cooling leaks; upgrading heating and cooling equipment; modernizing lighting; and replacing inefficient appliances and devices.
     The report urges Congress to:

fully fund the Weatherization Assistance Program to upgrade all eligible homes by 2035;

target investments in socially and economically disadvantaged areas and in environmental justice communities with disproportionate pollution burdens;
     robustly invest in upgrading the energy efficiency of all federal buildings;

expand funding for energy efficiency research at the Department of Energy;

strengthen and require regular upgrades to mandatory energy efficiency requirements for appliances, building shell technologies and other equipment, as well as further incentivize efficiency improvements; and
     provide sufficient incentives for building owners to upgrade the efficiency of their appliances, equipment, and buildings.
     States and localities, according to the report, should "ensure that landlords and owners of multi-family housing make retrofits and keep their tenants"; "invest in energy-efficient technology by allocating their own grants and other monetary incentives to local companies and communities"; and "strengthen and regularly upgrade building codes to ensure that newly constructed buildings are energy-efficient
      'For the sake of our planet and economy,' the report concludes, 'energy efficiency must be a national and regional priority in the United States.'
     This post has been updated with the proposed annual investment from a newer version of the report.
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Steve Terrell, "Energy bill’s passage portends end of coal era in NM," New Mexico Political Report, March 13m 2019,, reported, "The Legislature has moved to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk a controversial bill designed to dramatically increase the amount of renewable energy used to produce electricity in New Mexico while also helping the Public Service Company of New Mexico recoup its investments in the coal-burning San Juan Generating Station near Farmington [from the shutdown of that electric generating station].
     "How PNM’s electrical rates will be affected was a major point of contention during debates over the bill in the Legislature. Advocates said monthly bills will go down because the bill allows the utility to issue new bonds to pay off those issued for the San Juan power plant and the new bonds will be financed at lower interest rates. However, opponents argued ratepayers will end up paying more."
     " The bill calls for a 50 percent renewable energy portfolio standard in the state by 2030, with a goal of 80 percent by 2040."
     Steve Terrell, "Energy bill’s passage portends end of coal era in NM," New Mexico Political Report, March 13m 2019,, reported, "The Legislature has moved to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk a controversial bill designed to dramatically increase the amount of renewable energy used to produce electricity in New Mexico while also helping the Public Service Company of New Mexico recoup its investments in the coal-burning San Juan Generating Station near Farmington [from the shutdown of that electric generating station].
     "How PNM’s electrical rates will be affected was a major point of contention during debates over the bill in the Legislature. Advocates said monthly bills will go down because the bill allows the utility to issue new bonds to pay off those issued for the San Juan power plant and the new bonds will be financed at lower interest rates. However, opponents argued ratepayers will end up paying more."
     " The bill calls for a 50 percent renewable energy portfolio standard in the state by 2030, with a goal of 80 percent by 2040." The governor has favored the bill and was expected to sign it.

"New Mexico Begins Effort to Reduce Methane Pollution and Waste," New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light, June 7, 2019,, reported, "Today, New Mexico launched its effort to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. The state announced a stakeholder process, including a series of public meetings this summer, to inform new rules aimed at reducing the excessive amount of methane - a potent climate pollutant and valuable


energy resource -- that oil and gas companies release into the atmosphere through leaking, venting and flaring. The announcement follows Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham's Executive Order that directs state agencies to develop comprehensive, statewide methane rules and to work together to reduce 45 percent of the state's greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
     Last weekend faith leaders from New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light in Albuquerque traveled to South East New Mexico to meet with faith leaders and people of faith in Hobbs and Carlsbad for conversations about concerns around methane pollution. Several field trips were made with Earthworks to see the methane pollution with special infrared cameras. People of faith heard stories, witnessed challenges in the Permian Basin, listened and prayed with our brothers and sisters.
     'New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light has worked for a number of years to get methane rules to protect those with vulnerable health problems and care for the future as we face a changing climate. We have been concerned that we are wasting a sacred resource that is gift and not receiving royalties for our education funds and our children. The announcement today offers a way forward to care for creation and our communities because it is the ethical and moral thing to do.'- Sr. Joan Brown, osf, Executive Director, New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light."

Juan Cole, "5% of Scotland’s Electricity Now Green; & All Cars Electric by 2032," Informed Comment, March 30, 2019,, reported, " Scotland added ( another 6% of green energy in 2018, so that nearly 75% of its annual gross electricity consumption came from renewables, chiefly wind, solar and hydro. Scotland’s population is 5.4 million."
     Looking ahead, Scotland is engaged in research and development ( on wave and tidal energy, which has the advantage over wind and solar of being. Scotland also is planning to phase out gasoline-driven cars by 2032, with such policies as building car parks to charge electric vehicles.
     Meanwhile, Britain has been moving to obtain 30% of its electricity from wind by 2030.

Megan Geuss, "MIT says we’re overlooking a near-term solution to diesel trucking emissions: All-electric semis may take too long to get on the road, researchers say, ARS Technica, April 11, 2019,, reported, " Transportation is one of the major causes of greenhouse gas emissions in the US, and medium- and heavy-duty trucks account for about a quarter of all transportation-related emissions. At present , semis and other long-haul trucks are mostly diesel-powered, so they emit nitrogen oxides and particulates that aren't just bad for the climate; they're bad for human health as well.
     Tesla made a splash in 2017 when it introduced its all-electric semi truck, and announcements from other trucking companies followed. Daimler sold small electric delivery trucks and has an electric Cascadia in development, Nikola announced a hydrogen-powered fuel cell truck, and Siemens debuted a catenary system for freight. Yet two years later, trucking in the US is still driven by diesel-fueled, compression-ignition (CI), internal combustion engines.
     Daniel Cohn and Leslie Bromberg, a pair of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), published a paper with the Society of Automotive Engineers, suggesting that the best way forward is not to wait for all-electric or hydrogen-powered semis, but to build a plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) truck with an internal combustion engine/generator that can burn either gasoline or renewable ethanol or methanol."

" Loughborough University, Researchers Solve Scientific Puzzle That Could Improve Solar Panel Efficiency,:, May 15, 2019,, reported that new solar panels created from the semiconducting material cadmium telluride (CdTe), "have been found to produce electricity at lower costs than silicon panels and there has been a dramatic gain in efficiency brought about by adding selenium to the cadmium telluride."

"Where Glaciers Melt Away, Switzerland Sees Opportunity," The New York Times, February 14, 2018,, reported, " The Trift is a casualty of climate change, one of tens of thousands of glaciers around the world that are shrinking as the earth warms. Melting glaciers are adding to rising sea levels and causing floods, and will eventually mean less water for drinking and agriculture.
      But glacial retreat will also have an impact on hydropower, as glaciers shrink to the point where meltwater flows start to decline." For some time hydropower will increase, but eventually, it will decline to very low levels. Currently, 16 percent of the worlds electricity is hydroelectric, in Switzerland it is 60 percent.
     " In Switzerland, where the Alps are warming faster than the global average, most of the country’s 1,500 glaciers have retreated every year since 2001; many are expected to all but vanish by 2090. The great melting was especially bad in 2017, when 20 monitored Swiss glaciers lost about 3 percent of their volume because of a dry winter and an extremely hot summer. Last year was bad as well, according to Glacier Monitoring in Switzerland, which tracks changes."

Somini Sengupta, "Copenhagen Wants to Show How Cities Can Fight Climate Change, March 25, 2019,, reported, "Can a city cancel out its greenhouse gas emissions? Copenhagen intends to, and fast. By 2025, this once-grimy industrial city aims to be net carbon neutral, meaning it plans to generate more renewable energy than the dirty energy it consumes."

The not so green side of green energy is pointed out in , Lauren Villagran, "In hot water: The dangerous side of a renewable energy project," Searchlight New Mexico, March 26, 2019, . In reporting the serious water polluting aspect of a geothermal energy project that was not properly limited, it is pointed out, "The dark side of renewable energy is that every form of production carries its own environmental baggage. Without an ecological review, wind farms can put native and migratory birds at risk. Solar farms can interrupt ecosystems by fencing off and shading swaths of desert acreage. And geothermal energy, which has some advantages over wind and solar, can jeopardize freshwater resources."
     Thus it is critical in every case of attempting to do something positive, to take the negative into account, properly considering the particulars of the particular location. To make something function well, one has to know what to do (and not to do) where and when, and to properly and sufficiently control the negative effects that always occur.

Julia Conley, "'Terrifying': Rapid Loss of Biodiversity Placing Global Food Supplies at Risk of 'Irreversible Collapse': 'This should be at the top of every news bulletin and every government's agenda around the world,'" Common Dreams, February 22, 2019,, reported, " A groundbreaking report by the United Nations highlighting the rapid, widespread loss of many of the world's plant and animal species should be on the front page of every newspaper in the world, argued climate action and food access advocates on Friday.
     The global grassroots organization Slow Food was among the groups that called for far greater attention by world leaders to the 'debilitating' loss of biodiversity and the disastrous effects the decline is having on food system, which was outlined in a first-of-its kind report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
     'This should be at the top of every news bulletin and every government's agenda around the world,' said Slow Food in a statement. 'Time is running out, we must turn things around within the next 10 years or risk a total and irreversible collapse.'
     According to FAO's study of 91 countries around the world, the loss of thousands of plant and animal species is affecting air and water quality, tree and plant health, and worsening the spread of disease among livestock—all with dangerous implications for the human population and humans' food sources.
      'Less biodiversity means that plants and animals are more vulnerable to pests and diseases. Compounded by our reliance on fewer and fewer species to feed ourselves, the increasing loss of biodiversity for food and agriculture puts food security and nutrition at risk,' said Jose Graziano da Silva, FAO's director-general.
     'Consider biodiversity as a global puzzle,' Switzerland's secretary of state for agriculture, Bernard Lehmann, said Friday. 'Losing too many pieces makes the picture incomplete. Thus, biodiversity loss for food and agriculture represents a big risk for food security.'
     Along with the report, FAO shared a video on Twitter outlining the dire implications of biodiversity loss.
     'Today only nine crops account for 66 percent of total crop production,' the organization said. 'Our forests are shrinking. As they disappear so do the plants, insects, and animals they host...Now is the time to act.'
     According to FAO, at least 24 percent of nearly 4,000 wild food species, including plants, fish, and mammals, are declining in abundance—but the report is likely giving a best-case scenario of the crisis, as the status of more than half of wild food species is unknown.
      Changes in land and water management, pollution, the warming of the globe and the climate crisis are among the factors that FAO is blaming for the catastrophic loss of biodiversity.
     Declining plant biodiversity on working farms has meant that out of 6,000 plant species that can be cultivated for food, fewer than 200 are used significantly as food sources. The report pointed to The Gambia as a country where the loss of wild food sources has led the population to rely heavily on industrially-processed foods
      Of more than 7,700 breeds of livestock worldwide, more than a quarter are at risk for extinction, according to FAO, while nearly a third of fish species have been overfished and about half have reached their sustainable level, meaning humans must immediately stop driving them toward extinction in order to save the species."

Kendra Pierre-Louis, "The World Is Losing Fish to Eat as Oceans Warm, Study Finds," The New York Times, Feb. 28, 2019,, reported, " Fish populations are declining as oceans warm, putting a key source of food and income at risk for millions of people around the world, according to new research published Thursday.
     The study found that the amount of seafood that humans could sustainably harvest from a wide range of species shrank by 4.1 percent from 1930 to 2010, a casualty of human-caused climate change."
     The loss of fish populations from global warming, which is separate from losses from other causes, such as over fishing and pollution, from 1930 to 2010 totals about 1.4 million metric tons of sea life. some area of the oceans have lost up to 35% of their fish from warming. Sea food constitutes about 17% of the animal protein consumed by people world-wide, and a much higher percent in some places

Jake Johnson, "With US 'Drilling Towards Disaster,' Report Warns Anything Less Than Urgent Green New Deal Will Be 'Too Little, Too Late:' 'Our findings present an urgent and existential emergency for lawmakers in the United States at all levels of government,' says researcher," Common Dreams , January 16, 2019,, reported, " As the scientific community warns the world must dramatically and rapidly slash carbon emissions to avert global climate disaster, the United States is expanding fossil fuel extraction far more quickly than any other nation and is on pace to account for 60 percent of the global growth in oil and gas production between now and 2030.
     These are just two alarming findings from a report(pdf) published Wednesday by Oil Change International (OCI), which warns that—unless radical action on the scale of a Green New Deal is taken—U.S. fossil fuel production could single-handedly imperil the world's ability to adequately confront the climate crisis before it's too late.
     " Our findings present an urgent and existential emergency for lawmakers in the United States at all levels of government. The oil and gas industry is expanding further and faster in the United States than in any other country at precisely the time when we must begin rapidly decarbonizing to prevent runaway climate disaster," said Kelly Trout, senior research analyst at OCI and co-author of the report, which was produced in collaboration with, Friends of the Earth, and over a dozen other progressive organizations.
     'This report should be a wake-up call for elected officials who consider themselves to be climate leaders,' Trout added . 'We need a complete overhaul of our economy with a Green New Deal, and that overhaul must include standing up to the fossil fuel industry in order to take us off this path of devastation for our climate and communities. Anything less than a full, swift, and just managed decline of fossil fuel production is too little, too late."
     Titled ' Drilling Towards Disaster,' OCI's report estimates that the continued expansion of massive fossil fuel extraction and pipeline projects throughout the U.S. under President Donald Trump has put the nation on track to account for 60 percent of global growth in fossil fuel production between 2019 and 2030—the year by which United Nations experts say the world must cut carbon emissions in half to avert planetary catastrophe.
     According to OCI's research, the U.S. is expanding oil and gas extraction 'at least four times more than any other country.'
     Additionally, the new analysis finds that the United States is on pace to release 120 billion tons of new carbon pollution—"equivalent to the lifetime CO2 emissions of nearly 1,000 coal-fired power plants"—into the atmosphere between 2018 and 2050.
      If not curtailed, U.S. oil and gas expansion will impede the rest of the world's ability to manage a climate-safe, equitable decline of oil and gas production,' the report warns.

     OCI's report comes just days after new figures from the independent research firm Rhodium Group showed that carbon emissions surged by 3.4 percent in 2018, thanks in part to the Trump Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) ongoing efforts to roll back regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas pollution.
     To begin reversing this planet-threatening increase in fossil fuel production—which the Trump administration has gleefully touted as the president denies the human caused-climate crisis—OCI's report offers a series of recommendations that would begin aligning U.S. policy with the urgent demands of the scientific evidence.
      These recommendations include:
     Banning all 'new leases, licenses, or permits that enable new fossil fuel exploration or production, or new long-lived infrastructure such as pipelines, export terminals, or refineries';
     Developing a plan to phase out existing fossil fuel production that priorities the poor and vulnerable communities that are most severely impacted by the climate crisis;

Halting all "subsidies and other public finance for the fossil fuel industry';
     Backing a Green New Deal that 'ensures a rapid and just transition to 100 percent renewable energy";
     Rooting out the influence of fossil fuel money on the American political system.
     As Common Dreams has reported, momentum for a Green New Deal has grown throughout the U.S. thanks to persistent organizing and action by the youth-led Sunrise Movement and bold progressives such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who helped push the ambitious proposal into mainstream political discussion.
According to a survey published in December, 81 percent of Americans support a Green New Deal.
     May Boeve, executive director of, said in a statement that OCI's research 'adds even more urgency to the need for a just transition off of fossil fuels to a renewable energy economy.'
     "To prevent the worst impacts of climate change, we must keep oil, coal, and gas in the ground," Boeve said. "It's time for public officials at every level to follow the lead of communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis and support bold climate policy."

Patrick McCully of the Rainforest Action Network agreed, noting that incremental measures are not nearly enough to sufficiently address the global climate crisis and prevent the worst-case scientific predictions from becoming reality.
     'Right now, we're on a sinking boat, and instead of just scooping water out, we must take immediate action to patch the hole where it's gushing in,' McCully concluded. 'This means we must put a full-stop to fossil fuel expansion, or we all sink into climate chaos. U.S. policymakers—as well as the private sector, like the Wall Street banks that are funding this extraction—must facilitate phasing out extraction while phasing in an equitable transition to renewable energy that supports communities and workers.'
     This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License."

Jessica Corbett, "Keeping Global Warming Below 1.5°C May Still Be Possible With Immediate Action, New Study Shows: '"It's good news from a geophysical point of view,' says the lead researcher. 'We are basically saying we can't build anything now that emits fossil fuels," Common Dreams , January 16, 2019,, reported, " Bolstering urgent warnings from the global scientific community that the world must rapidly transition away from fossil fuels to avert climate catastrophe and keep global warming below 1.5°C within this century, a new study out Tuesday suggests meeting that end is simply a matter of political will.
     Published in the journal Nature Communications, the key takeaway from the study is that 'although the challenges laid out by the Paris Agreement are daunting, we indicate 1.5°C remains possible and is attainable with ambitious and immediate emission reduction across all sectors.'
     While that goal is described by some as 'daunting,' critics of the Paris accord—which is backed by every nation on Earth except the United States under President Donald Trump—and its recently established rulebook have concluded that neither go far enough. Beyond those squabbles, though, there is a general consensus among the world's scientists that tackling the climate crisis requires ' rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented' societal reforms.
      Specifically, the new research shows that if carbon-intensive infrastructure is phased out from this point forward, there is a 64 percent chance of keeping global temperature rise within this century below 1.5°C. However, the window of opportunity is closing quickly. According to the report, 'delaying mitigation until 2030 considerably reduces the likelihood that 1.5°C would be attainable even if the rate of fossil fuel retirement was accelerated.'
     'It's good news from a geophysical point of view. But on the other side of the coin, the [immediate fossil fuel phaseout] is really at the limit of what we could we possibly do,' lead researcher Christopher Smith, of the University of Leeds, told the Guardian. 'We are basically saying we can't build anything now that emits fossil fuels.'
      While the findings suggest the world still has the option to meet the Paris agreement's ambitions, there are some limitations to the research. As the Guardian pointed out, 'the analysis did not include the possibility of tipping points such as the sudden release of huge volumes of methane from permafrost, which could spark runaway global warming.'
     Smith, for his part, anticipates that global warming will surpass 1.5°C. 'We are going the right way, but I don't think we will do enough, quickly enough. I think we are heading for 2°C. to 2.5°C,' he said, but 'if you don't have a goal, you are not going to get anywhere. If you have a target that is really hard to achieve and you miss it slightly, that is better than wandering aimlessly into a future climate that is no good for anybody.'
     The study comes as a new report from Oil Change International warns the United States is 'drilling toward disaster' with fossil fuel expansion, and that if it doesn't rapidly shift course—such as by implementing Green New Deal—the country 'will impede the rest of the world's ability to manage a climate-safe, equitable decline of oil and gas production.'
     The planet, meanwhile, is experiencing the consequences of ongoing fossil fuel production. According to recently published research, the world's oceans are warmingabout 40 percent faster than scientists believed in 2013, and Antarctica is melting six times more quickly than it was in the 1980s. As oceans and the atmosphere warm, ice melts, and sea levels rise, experts have also warned that extreme weather will grow increasingly more common—and deadly.
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      Jon Queally, "Scientists Warn Crashing Insect Population Puts 'Planet's Ecosystems and Survival of Mankind' at Risk: 'This is the stuff that worries me most. We don't know what we're doing, not trying to stop it, [and] with big consequences we don't really understand,'" Common Dreams , February 11, 2019,, reported, "The first global scientific review of its kind reaches an ominous conclusion about the state of nature warning that unless humanity drastically and urgently changes its behavior the world's insects could be extinct within a century.
     Presented in exclusive reporting by the Guardian's environment editor Damian Carrington, the findings of the new analysis, published in the journal Biological Conservation, found that industrial agricultural techniques—'particularly the heavy use of pesticides'—as well as climate change and urbanization are the key drivers behind the extinction-level decline of insect populations that could herald a 'catastrophic collapse of nature's ecosystems' if not addressed.
      'If insect species losses cannot be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet's ecosystems and for the survival of mankind,' report co-author Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, at the University of Sydney, Australia, told the Guardian. Sánchez-Bayo wrote the scholarly analysis with Kris Wyckhuys at the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing.
     Calling the current annual global insect decline rate of 2.5 percent over the last three decades a 'shocking' number, Sánchez-Bayo characterized it as 'very rapid' for insects worldwide . If that continues, he warned: 'In 10 years you will have a quarter less, in 50 years only half left and in 100 years you will have none.'
     Isn't this a bit alarmist? Anticipating that concern, Sánchez-Bayo said the language of the report was intended 'to really wake people up,' but that's because the findings are so worrying.
     Not involved with the study, Professor Dave Goulson at the University of Sussex in the UK, agreed. 'It should be of huge concern to all of us,' Goulson told the Guardian, 'for insects are at the heart of every food web, they pollinate the large majority of plant species, keep the soil healthy, recycle nutrients, control pests, and much more. Love them or loathe them, we humans cannot survive without insects.'
     As Carrington reports:
      The planet is at the start of a sixth mass extinction in its history, with huge losses already reported in larger animals that are easier to study. But insects are by far the most varied and abundant animals, outweighing humanity by 17 times. They are 'essential' for the proper functioning of all ecosystems, the researchers say, as food for other creatures, pollinators and recyclers of nutrients.
      Insect population collapses have recently been reported in Germany and Puerto Rico, but the review strongly indicates the crisis is global. The researchers set out their conclusions in unusually forceful terms for a peer-reviewed scientific paper: 'The [insect] trends confirm that the sixth major extinction event is profoundly impacting [on] life forms on our planet.'
     Doug Parr, the chief scientist for Greenpeace U.K., responded to the reporting by saying these are the climate-related developments that concern him most of all.
     'I spend so many hours a week concerned climate change,' he said in a tweet linking to the story. 'But this is the stuff that worries me most. We don't know what we're doing, not trying to stop it, [and] with big consequences we don't really understand.'

     According to Sánchez-Bayo, the 'main cause of the decline is agricultural intensification,' and he put special emphasis on new classes of pesticides and herbicides that have been brought to market over the last twenty years alongside a global surge in industrialized monocultures. 'That means the elimination of all trees and shrubs that normally surround the fields, so there are plain, bare fields that are treated with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides,' he said.
     As campaigners worldwide intensify their collective demand that elected leaders, governments, communities, and businesses do significantly more to address the crisis of a warming planet and halt the destruction of the Earth's natural systems, journalist David Sirota contrasted evidence of species loss—and the threat it contains—with those voices who say something like a Green New Deal would somehow be "too expensive" or disruptive to the status quo:
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Jessica Corbett, "Scientists Call for 'Global Agricultural Revolution' and 'Planetary Health Diet' to Save Lives—and Earth: 'The food we eat and how we produce it determines the health of people and the planet, and we are currently getting this seriously wrong," Common Dreams , January 17, 2019,, reported, " While scientists continue to call for immediately phasing out fossil fuels across the global to avert climate catastrophe, a team of international experts on Thursday unveiled a proposal to address another major driver of the climate crisis: the world's unhealthy and unsustainable food system.
      'The food we eat and how we produce it determines the health of people and the planet, and we are currently getting this seriously wrong," declared Tim Lang, a co-author of the EAT-Lancet Commission and professor at City, University of London. 'We need a significant overhaul, changing the global food system on a scale not seen before in ways appropriate to each country's circumstances.'
     The commission brought together 37 experts in agriculture, environmental sustainability, human health, and political science from 16 countries. Over three years, they developed the 'planetary health diet,' which aims to address the global food system's devastating environmental impact as well as mass malnutrition.
     Noting that more than 800 million people worldwide 'have insufficient food, while many more consume an unhealthy diet that contributes to premature death and disease,' co-lead commissioner Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard University said the '"world's diets must change dramatically' to reverse the damage that's been done.
     'To be healthy,' he explained, '"diets must have an appropriate calorie intake and consist of a variety of plant-based foods, low amounts of animal-based foods, unsaturated rather than saturated fats, and few refined grains, highly processed foods, and added sugars.'
     'This is the first attempt to set universal scientific targets for the food system that apply to all people and the planet,' according to the final report, Food in the Anthropocene: Healthy Diets From Sustainable Food Systems (pdf).
     The 'Great Food Transformation' envisioned by the commission acknowledges that the world population is on track to reach an estimated 10 billion by 2050. The researchers considered current food production and consumption trends in terms of not only planet-warming emissions but also cropland and freshwater use, nitrogen and phosphorus cycling, and species extinction.
      'Humanity now poses a threat to the stability of the planet,' co-lead commissioner Johan Rockström of the Stockholm Resilience Center told the Guardian. '[This requires] nothing less than a new global agricultural revolution.'
     The report, published in The Lancet, lays out five key strategies for its proposed overhaul of global food norms:
     Seek international and national commitment to shift toward healthy dietsthat feature more plant-based foods—including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains—and less animal products.
     Reorient agricultural priorities from producing high quantities of food to producing healthy food that nurtures human health and supports environmental sustainability.
     Sustainably intensify food production to increase high-quality output with a series of reforms that include becoming a net carbon sink from 2040 forward to align with the goals of the Paris climate agreement.
     Strong and coordinated governance of land and oceans, including by implementing a 'Half Earth' strategy for biodiversity conservation.
     At least halve food losses and waste, in line with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), on both the production side and the consumption side
     Alongside its report, the commission put out a brief (pdf) identifying top takeaways and specific actions that individuals can take to help transform the global food system. Suggestions include buying more sustainably produced food, embracing plants as a source of protein, and slashing both meat consumption and food waste.

AFP diet graphic
     The unveiling of the planetary health diet follows a series of recent studies that have shown it is environmentally necessary for humans—particularly in the United States and Europe—to dramatically reduce red meat consumption. The commission estimates that shifting toward such a diet could save at least 11 million adult lives annually.
     The commission's report comes as the New England Journal of Medicine published a ' grim analysis' on Thursday which warns that the World Health Organization's conclusion from just five years ago that rising global temperatures over the next few decades will kill 250,000 people per year is a 'conservative estimate.'
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Jessica Corbett, "'A World Without Clouds. Think About That a Minute': New Study Details Possibility of Devastating Climate Feedback Loop: 'We face a stark choice [between] radical, disruptive changes to our physical world or radical, disruptive changes to our political and economic systems to avoid those outcomes,'" Common Dreams, February 25, 2019,, reported, "As people across the globe mobilize to demand bold action to combat the climate crisis and scientific findings about looming ' environmental breakdown' pile up, a startling new study published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience warns that human-caused global warming could cause stratocumulus clouds to totally disappear in as little as a century, triggering up to 8°C (14°F) of additional warming.
      Stratocumulus clouds cover about two-thirds of the Earth and help keep it cool by reflecting solar radiation back to space. Recent research has suggested that planetary warming correlates with greater cloud loss, stoking fears about a feedback loop that could spell disaster.
     For this study, researchers at the California Institute of Technology used a supercomputer simulation to explore what could lead these low-lying, lumpy clouds to vanish completely. As science journalist Natalie Wolchover laid out in a lengthy piece for Quanta Magazine titled ' A World Without Clouds':
      The simulation revealed a tipping point: a level of warming at which stratocumulus clouds break up altogether. The disappearance occurs when the concentration of CO2 in the simulated atmosphere reaches 1,200 parts per million [ppm]—a level that fossil fuel burning could push us past in about a century, under 'business-as-usual' emissions scenarios. In the simulation , when the tipping point is breached, Earth's temperature soars 8 degrees Celsius, in addition to the 4 degrees of warming or more caused by the CO2 directly...
      To imagine 12 degrees of warming, think of crocodiles swimming in the Arctic and of the scorched, mostly lifeless equatorial regions during the [Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum or PETM]. If carbon emissions aren't curbed quickly enough and the tipping point is breached, 'that would be truly devastating climate change,' said Caltech's Tapio Schneider, who performed the new simulation with Colleen Kaul and Kyle Pressel.
      Quanta Magazine also broke down the study's key findings in a short video shared on social media:

The study elicited alarm from climate campaigners along with calls for the 'radical, disruptive changes' to society's energy and economic systems that scientists and experts have repeatedly said are necessary to prevent climate catastrophe:
     Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the amount of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere has surged from about 280 ppm to more than 410 ppm today. Although concentrations will continue to rise as long as the international community maintains unsustainable activities that generate greenhouse gas emissions, some observers pointed out that atmospheric carbon hitting 1,200 ppm is far from a foregone conclusion.
     And, as Penn State University climatologist Michael E. Mann noted, 'if we let CO2levels get anywhere near that high we're already in big trouble.'
     However, as Washington Post climate reporter Chris Mooney concluded in a series of tweets, 'the point is not that this scary scenario is going to happen. Given the current trajectory of climate policy and renewables, it seems unlikely. Rather, the key point—and it's a big deal—is that there are many things we don't understand about the climate system and there could be key triggers out there, which set off processes that you can't easily stop.'
     In other words, as MIT professor Thomas Levenson put it: 'The really terrifying aspect of this research is the reminder that we do not yet know all the ways catastrophic outcomes can emerge from this uncontrolled experiment on our only habitat.'
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Brad Plumer, "U.S. Carbon Emissions Surged in 2018 Even as Coal Plants Closed," The New York Times, Jan. 8, 2019,, reported, " America’s carbon dioxide emissions rose by 3.4 percent in 2018, the biggest increase in eight years, according to a preliminary estimate published Tuesday.
     Strikingly, the sharp uptick in emissions occurred even as a near-record number of coal plants around the United States retired last year, illustrating how difficult it could be for the country to make further progress on climate change in the years to come, particularly as the Trump administration pushes to roll back federal regulations that limit greenhouse gas emissions."
     The increase in carbon emissions came from an expanding economy, with the industrial sector - now less regulated - increasing its CO 2 by 5.7% (and other pollution as well), while largely for that reason electric power demand rose at a rate of 1.9%, faster than the rapidly increasing rate of wind and solar power, and with low gas prices, automobile driving increased, while trucking and air travel were also up. Appropriate policy could bring more efficiency (with lower costs in the medium and longer run) and less pollution.
     " Last month, scientists reported that greenhouse gas emissions worldwide rose at an accelerating pace in 2018, putting the world on track to face some of the most severe consequences of global warming sooner than expected.

Kendra Pierre-Louis and Nadja Popovich, "Ocean Heat Waves Are Threatening Marine Life," The New York Times, March 4, 2019,, reported that deadly heat waves in the ocean are occurring more often, and at higher temperatures with global warming induced climate change. They create considerable harm to marine life, including being destructive of coral reefs to kelp forests to sea grass beds, the framework of many ocean ecosystems. " An earlier study by some of the same researchers found that, from 1925 to 2016, marine heat waves became, on average, 34 percent more frequent and 17 percent longer. Over all, there were 54 percent more days per year with marine heat waves globally."
Moreover, “ There’s also some indication that El Niños have been getting more extreme with climate change.”

The Earth's heating up continued in 2018, which was the fourth hottest year since world temperature began being recorded in 1880, with all of the 10 hottest years being recent (John Schawartz and Nadia Popovich, "2018 Continued Warming Trend, As Fourth Hottest year since 1880," The New York Times, February 7, 2019).

Somini Sengupta, "U.S. Midwest Freezes, Australia Burns: This Is the Age of Weather Extremes," The New York Times, January 29, 2019,, reported on global warming induced climate change, " In Chicago, officials warned about the risk of almost instant frostbite on what could be the city’s coldest day ever. Warming centers opened around the Midwest. And schools and universities closed throughout the region as rare polar winds streamed down from the Arctic.
     At the same Alaska Relies on Ice time, on the other side of the planet, wildfires raged in Australia’s record-breaking heat. Soaring air-conditioner use overloaded electrical grids and caused widespread power failures. The authorities slowed and canceled trams to save power. Labor leaders called for laws that would require businesses to close when temperatures reached hazardous levels: nearly 116 degrees Fahrenheit, or 47 Celsius, as was the case last week in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia.
      This is weather in the age of extremes. It comes on top of multiple extremes, all kinds, in all kinds of places.
      'When something happens — whether it’s a cold snap, a wildfire, a hurricane, any of those things — we need to think beyond what we have seen in the past and assume there’s a high probability that it will be worse than anything we’ve ever seen,' said Crystal A. Kolden, an associate professor at the University of Idaho, who specializes in wildfires and who is currently working in Tasmania during one of the state’s worst fire seasons."

" Top of Form
     Jessica Corbett, "As Americans Increasingly Bear 'Real Costs of Climate Crisis,' Polls Show Soaring Realization of Global Warming's Threat Extreme weather events and suffering they cause beginning to put dents in 'ongoing multi-billion dollar deception campaign' put forth by the fossil fuel industry," Common Dreams, January 22, 2019, reported, "While President Donald Trump, GOP lawmakers, and the fossil fuel industry continue to deny the dangers of the climate crisis to justify pushing for polluter-friendly policies, a growing majority of Americans—faced with increasingly destructive and costly droughts, storms, and wildfires—accept global warming driven by human activity as reality and are concerned about it, according to a pair of polls out Tuesday.

One survey, conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, found that 73 percent of Americans polled in November and December believe that global warming is happening, a 10 percent jump since March of 2015.
     Additionally , 62 percent understand that it's mostly human-caused, 65 percent think it's affecting weather in the United States, and a majority are concerned about harm from extreme heat, flooding, droughts, and water shortages.
     'Despite Big Oil's ongoing multi-billion dollar deception campaign, people across America are bearing the real costs of the climate crisis, so it's no surprise we're more concerned than ever," said executive director May Boeve, in response to the results."

Julia Conley, "Evidence of Human-Caused Climate Crisis Has Now Reached 'Gold Standard'-Level Certainty, Scientists Say: 'There's a one-in-a-million chance humans are NOT warming the planet,'" Common Dreams, February 25, 2019,, reported, "Most Americans now recognize the scientific community's consensus that human activity is fueling the climate crisis, according to polls—but for those who are still unconvinced of the conclusion reached by 97 percent of climate scientists, a new study makes an even more definite assertion.
      Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California found that the information available can now be classified as "five-sigma"—a standard in the scientific community meaning that there is a one-in-a-million chance that the same data would be observable if humans were not causing the planet to grow warmer through activities like fossil fuel extraction. The classification represents a "gold standard" level of certainty.
'The narrative out there that scientists don't know the cause of climate change is wrong,' Benjamin Santer, who led the study, told Reuters. 'We do.'
     Scientists applied the same 'five-sigma' measure to research confirming the existence of the Higgs boson subatomic particle in 2012, a finding that was received with applause from the science community and the press.
     The report, which was published in the journal Nature Climate Change, builds on the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report from 2013, which found that it was 'extremely likely' that humans were causing the climate crisis—with a 95 percent chance.
     In recent years, although President Donald Trump and other Republican lawmakers have attempted to cast doubt on the scientific consensus that human activity is causing global warming and the climate crisis, the American public has increasingly believed scientists.
     In a 2018 survey by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, 62 percent of Americans believed that man-made climate change was taking place, versus just 47 percent convinced that was the case just five years earlier.
     The Nature Climate Change study also comes on the heels of reports that the melting of ice in Antarctica and the warming of the ocean are both occurring much faster than previously thought; that the last four years have been the hottest on record; and that the warming of the globe could cause clouds to disappear from the sky in the next generation, leading to an 8º Celsius (14.4º Fahrenheit) jump in temperature.
     'Humanity cannot afford to ignore such clear signals,' the authors of the most recent study wrote in Nature Climate Change.
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Hunter, " The world's biggest companies have identified $1 trillion in climate risks, and that's just a start," Daily Kos , June 08, 2019, reported, " It's when corporate America, the names behind the symbols on the stock market tickers, begins to take hits to the bottom line that we'll begin taking truly urgent action on climate change. And the good and bad news is that we are very close indeed to that point . Last year's Carbon Disclosure Project reports show that the responding 215 of the world's 500 corporations expect to lose, by their own measures, $1 trillion in climate-related costs. The individual warnings suggest that corporate accountants, at least, are planning for a future in which climate change fundamentally alters entire regions and industries."

Jessica Corbett, "Adding to Planetary Alarm Bells, Top US Finance Official Warns Climate Crisis a Recipe for Global Economic Collapse: 'It's abundantly clear that climate change poses financial risk to the stability of the financial system,'" Common Dreams, June 12, 2019,, reported, " Demanding action from industries and government, a top federal regulator warned this week that the human-caused climate emergency poses a threat to the economy which rivals the subprime mortgage meltdown that led to the 2008 financial crisis.
      Rostin Behnam is part of the five-member Commodities Futures Trading Commission, an independent federal agency. As the sponsor of CFTC's Market Risk Advisory Committee, he convened a public meeting Wednesday to discuss climate-related financial threats and the formation of a panel to produce a report which reviews those threats and offers solutions.

"As most of the world's markets and market regulators are taking steps towards assessing and mitigating the current and potential threats of climate change, we in the U.S. must also demand action from all segments of the public and private sectors, including this agency,' Behnam said in his opening statement Wednesday.
      'The impacts of climate change affect every aspect of the American economy—from production agriculture to commercial manufacturing and the financing of every step in each process,' he continued. 'Any solutions seeking to address and mitigate climate risk must be equally focused on ensuring the safety and continued prosperity of our urban cores and rural communities. Failing to address financial market risks associated with climate change will impede economic growth, and most likely hit rural communities the hardest.'
     Behnam pointed to extreme weather that scientists say is exacerbated by the climate crisis, from the heightened threat of wildfires in Northern California to catastrophic floods following heavy rainfall in the Midwest this spring, which could have a long-term negative impact on both farmers and food prices. 'I believe it is time to examine the relationship of these terrible, and sadly, more frequent events, to financial market risk and more generally, market stability,' he said.
     The commissioner's comments at the meeting echoed his interview with the New York Times from earlier this week.
      'If climate change causes more volatile frequent and extreme weather events, you're going to have a scenario where these large providers of financial products—mortgages, home insurance, pensions—cannot shift risk away from their portfolios,' Behnam told the Times. 'It's abundantly clear that climate change poses financial risk to the stability of the financial system."

Dave Levitan, "The Green New Deal Costs Less Than Doing Nothing: Republicans keep saying Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's plan is too expensive. But their own plan—to ignore the climate crisis—is even more so," The New Republic, May 3, 2019,, reported, "As the planet warms, we won’t just lose more beachfront property to rising seas, and more riverfront property to rising rivers. An increase in air pollution will cause a concomitant increase in hospitalizations. Bridges and roads will buckle and melt under rising temperatures. The agriculture industry will wither under more frequent, more severe droughts. Wildfires will burn hotter and longer, and further encroach on urban areas. Diseases that we didn’t formerly contend with, like Dengue fever, will spread. Ski season will shorten."
     Various reports have looked into some of the projected costs. "The Stern Review, a massive 2006 publication c overing all aspects of climate economics, arrived at an eventual annual loss of between five and twenty percent of the global GDP, which would run into the tens of trillions of dollars." More specifics in more recent reports include: The Climate Lab " modeled the costs associated with things like agricultural output decline, mortality due to temperature extremes, and increases in electricity demand. They found that by the end of the century, the U.S. could be losing between one and four percent of its GDP—or a few trillion dollars, most likely—every single year. The estimated impact was geographically varied: Some parts of the country might fare better, losing little or none of its GDP, while others could be losing hundreds of billions every year ("
     A paper ( Nature Climate Change projected $26 billion in annual losses due to worsened air quality by 2090; $140 billion due to temperature-related deaths; another $160 billion in lost labor; and $120 billion in yearly damage to coastal property, totaling $450 billion a year, in just four of the 22 sectors that would be impacted. In addition, shifts in electricity demand and supply would cost $9.2 billion annually. Damage to rail systems would cost $5.5 billion, and to roads and bridges $21 billion. Increased rainfall totals stress on urban drainage systems, would cost $5.6 billion per year. The expansion north of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus would costing $3.3 billion annually [and what about other costs from diseases spreading?]. Increased inland flooding would cost $8 billion more, plus $4.6 billion from increased water quality issues, and $2 billion in lost winter recreation revenue. Damage to various ecosystems will carry extreme costs, from $3.1 billion in damage to freshwater fish stocks to $4.1 billion in losses on coral reefs. The study projects that over all, if current trends continue, global warming climate change would cost some $520 billion dollars by 2090. [This does not include additional costs, most particularly from damages in the rest of the world that would impact the U.S., including from climate change forced mass migration, illness and death, damage to agriculture and the world economy. Even more important, global warming is accelerating increasingly faster than science has been predicting, increasing its costs in the process]. The report suggests, that if the U.S, and the world act sufficiently and quickly to avoid the worst outcome of the already expanding damages from climate change, the cost of climate could be reduced to $295 billion by 2090.
     [Furthermore, not only are the falsely claimed cost of the Green New Deal clearly too high, and the actual costs - really investments can't be stated until specifics of the plan are worked out - not only would a Green New Deal save billions - perhaps many trillions - by preventing losses, but it would create jobs and economic development that would add money to the economy. In addition, some of the costs in the proposal, such as moving to single payer health care, would save more money than those costs by greatly reducing the cost of providing health care].

Behnam was appointed by President Donald Trump to a CFTC seat that legally must be filled by a Democrat, the newspaper noted—and the forthcoming report he initiated will likely put his agency at odds with an administration that caters to the polluting industries driving the climate crisis.
     Because the report, expected late this year or early next, would be a product of the federal government, it would most likely put Mr. Behnam in direct conflict with the policies of the Trump administration. The report, which Mr. Behnam said he expected would focus in particular on potential harm to the nation's agriculture sector, is likely to emerge at a moment when Mr. Trump will be making the case to farm states, which have already been hurt by his crop tariffs, to re-elect him in 2020.
     Though Behnam efforts and the panel's recommendations may not be welcomed by the Trump administration, Democratic Sens. Brian Schatz (Hawaii) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio)—both members of the Senate Banking Committee—thanked the commissioner for his leadership on climate in a letter Wednesday.
     'Climate change impacts are likely to exacerbate market volatility, erode investor confidence, and increase the risk of financial crashes,' the senators wrote. 'We strongly support your decision to assess climate-related risks to our financial markets and the impact on the stability of the global financial system. We encourage you to reach out to other financial regulatory agencies to urge them to follow your lead. We also encourage you to engage with the group of 36 international central banks and bank supervisors working together to develop analytic tools to assess climate-related financial risks.'
     'All of our financial regulatory agencies and Congress must work together to build resilience to this looming threat in our economy and financial markets,' they concluded. 'We look forward to working with you on this going forward.'
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For the 13th consecutive summer, in 2018, Navajo Nation suffered heat and drought. The problem was illustrated by the deaths of 200 wild horses near Gray Mountain, stuck in the mud while attempting to reach dwindling water ("5. Drought continues," Navajo Times, December 22, 2019).

But when precipitation comes after drought, these days it is often extreme. In February 2019, Navajo Nation was struck by the heaviest snowfall in years half a foot to two feet deep - disrupting transportation and much of life for days (Arlyssa Becenti, "'Snowpocaypse not yet over," Navajo Times, February 28, 2019).

Jessica Corbett, "New Report Exposes Pentagon's Massive Contributions to Climate Crisis Post-9/11: Failing to curb the U.S. military's fossil fuel use, Costs of War Project co-director warns, "will help guarantee the nightmare scenarios forecast by scientists," Common Dreams, June 12, 2019,, reported, "From the 2001 launch of the so-called War on Terror to 2017, the Pentagon generated at least 1.2 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases—with annual rates exceeding the planet-warming emissions of industrialized countries such as Portugal or Sweden—according to new research.
     Boston University professor Neta C. Crawford details the U.S. Department of Defense's massive contributions to the global climate emergency in a paper (pdf) published Wednesday by the Costs of War Project at Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.
      'The U.S. military's energy consumption drives total U.S. government energy consumption,' the paper reads. ' The DOD is the single largest consumer of energy in the U.S., and in fact, the world's single largest institutional consumer of petroleum.'
     ' Absent any change in U.S. military fuel use policy, the fuel consumption of the U.S. military will necessarily continue to generate high levels of greenhouse gases," the paper warns. 'These greenhouse gases, combined with other U.S. emissions, will help guarantee the nightmare scenarios that the military predicts and that many climate scientists say are possible."
     Crawford, co-director of the Costs of War Project, estimates U.S. military emissions—which largely come from fueling weapons and equipment as well as operating more than 560,000 buildings around the world—from 1975 to 2017, relying on data from the Energy Department because the Pentagon does not report its fuel consumption numbers to Congress.
     In the paper, she also examines patterns of military fuel use since 2001 in relation to emissions and the Pentagon's views on "climate change as a threat to military installations and operations, as well as to national security, when and if climate change leads mass migration, conflict, and war."
      Writing about her research for The Conversation Wednesday, Crawford noted that DOD's annual emissions have declined since reaching a peak in 2004, as the Pentagon has, over the past decade, " reduced its fossil fuel consumption through actions that include using renewable energy, weatherizing buildings, and reducing aircraft idling time on runways."

DOD emissions
      The paper's opening summary outlines four major benefits of further decreasing DOD's fossil fuel use:
     First, the U.S. would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This would thereby mitigate climate change and its associated threats to national security.

Second, reducing fossil fuel consumption would have important political and security benefits, including reducing the dependence of troops in the field on oil, which the military acknowledges makes them vulnerable to enemy attacks. If the U.S. military were to significantly decrease its dependence on oil, the U.S. could reduce the political and fuel resources it uses to defend access to oil, particularly in the Persian Gulf, where it concentrates these efforts.
     Third, by decreasing U.S. dependence on oil-rich states the U.S. could then reevaluate the size of the U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf and reevaluate its relationship with Saudi Arabia and other allies in the region.
     Finally, by spending less money on fuel and operations to provide secure access to petroleum, the U.S. could decrease its military spending and reorient the economy to more economically productive activities.
     Crawford, in her piece for The Conversation, concluded that " climate change should be front and center in U.S. national security debates. Cutting Pentagon greenhouse gas emissions will help save lives in the United States, and could diminish the risk of climate conflict
     She is far from the first to highlight how the Pentagon is fueling the world's climate crisis and call for urgent reforms. Just last month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) released a climate "resiliency and readiness" plan for the U.S. military as part of her 2020 campaign for president. However, as Common Dreams reported at the time, anti-war critics of Warren's plan charged that "trying to 'green' the Pentagon without addressing the destructive impacts of its bloated budget and American imperialism is a misguided way to combat the emergency of global warming."
     Author and advocate Stacy Bannerman, in an op-ed for Common Dreams last year, warned that 'if we don't get serious about stopping the United States War Machine, we could lose the biggest battle of our lives.'
     'In order to achieve the massive systemic and cultural transformations required for mitigating climate change and advancing climate justice,' Bannerman wrote, 'we're going to have to deal with the socially sanctioned, institutionalized violence perpetrated by U.S. foreign policy that is pouring fuel on the fire of global warming.'
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Air travel produces large amounts of global warming increasing gasses, raising the question of whether people should avoid unnecessary flights (Andy Newman, "Travel's Climate Problem: If to see the world is to destroy it, should we just stay home," The New York Times, June 7, 2019).

Eric C. Evarts, "Colorado moves to follow California's low-emissions air-quality rules" Green Car Reports, June 20, 2018,, reported, " Colorado has added its name to the list of 12 states that follow California's tighter emissions standards.
     Governor John Hickenlooper directed Colorado's Air Quality Control Commission to begin the legal process of bringing the state into the coalition of those that follow California's air quality rules, rather than the federal EPA's."
     17 States are suing EPA over its lowering of emissions rules.

Steve Terrell, "Energy bill’s passage portends end of coal era in NM," New Mexico Political Report, March 13m 2019,, reported, "The Legislature has moved to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk a controversial bill designed to dramatically increase the amount of renewable energy used to produce electricity in New Mexico while also helping the Public Service Company of New Mexico recoup its investments in the coal-burning San Juan Generating Station near Farmington [from the shutdown of that electric generating station].
     "How PNM’s electrical rates will be affected was a major point of contention during debates over the bill in the Legislature. Advocates said monthly bills will go down because the bill allows the utility to issue new bonds to pay off those issued for the San Juan power plant and the new bonds will be financed at lower interest rates. However, opponents argued ratepayers will end up paying more."
     " The bill calls for a 50 percent renewable energy portfolio standard in the state by 2030, with a goal of 80 percent by 2040." The Governor has favored the bill and was expected to sign it.
     Studies of the water running off melting glaciers in North America find the runoff to be disrupting eco systems in and around glacially fed waterways, currently by the increase in water and what it carries, but that will be compounded later by declining water flow as the glaciers approach and then reach total melt down ( Henry Fountain, "When the Glaciers Disappear, Those Species Will Go Extinct,’" The New York Times, April 17, 2019

     Nadja Popovich, How Climate Change May Affect the Plants in Your Yard,’" The New York Times, May 23, 2019,, reports, with maps demonstrating the changes over time since 2000 and projecting to 2040, how plant hardiness zones have been shifting northward in the United States, impacting what can be grown, and grown well, in one's garden and on farms and in orchards. This also reflects changes occurring in what has been growing, and will grow, on uncultivated lands, or spring up uninvited in cultivated spaces.
Brad Plumer and Nadja Popovich, "These Countries Have Prices on Carbon. Are They Working?" The New York Times, April 2, 2019,, reported, " The idea of putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions to help tackle climate change has been slowly spreading around the globe over the past two decades.
     This week , Canada’s federal government took the latest step when it extended its carbon-pricing program nationwide by imposing a tax on fossil fuels in four provinces that had declined to write their own climate plans.
      More than 40 governments worldwide have now adopted some sort of price on carbon, either through direct taxes on fossil fuels or through cap-and-trade programs. In Britain, coal use plummeted after the introduction of a carbon tax in 2013. In the Northeastern United States, nine states have set a cap on emissions from the power sector and require companies to buy tradable pollution permits.
      Economists have long suggested that raising the cost of burning coal, oil and gas can be a cost-effective way to curb emissions. But, in practice, most countries have found it politically difficult to set prices that are high enough to spur truly deep reductions. Many carbon pricing programs today are fairly modest. In France and Australia, efforts to increase carbon taxes were shelved after a backlash from voters angry about rising energy prices.
     Partly for that reason, carbon pricing has, so far, played only a supporting role in efforts to mitigate global warming
." For some efforts to date, go to:

Alanna Mitchell, "‘Earthworm Dilemma’ Has Climate Scientists Racing to Keep Up," The New York Times, May 20, 2019,, reportd "Worms are wriggling into Earth’s northernmost forests, creating major unknowns for climate-change models."
     " Native earthworms disappeared from most of northern North America 10,000 years ago, during the ice age. Now invasive earthworm species from southern Europe — survivors of that frozen epoch, and introduced to this continent by European settlers centuries ago — are making their way through northern forests, their spread hastened by roads, timber and petroleum activity, tire treads, boats, anglers and even gardeners.
      As the worms feed, they release into the atmosphere much of the carbon stored in the forest floor. Climate scientists are worried." No one yet knows how much additional carbon dioxide this will put into the air.

Eoin Higgins, "'The Changes Are Really Accelerating': Alaska at Record Warm While Greenland Sees Major Ice Melt: 'The numbers needing relocation will grow, the costs are going up, and people's lives and cultural practices will be impacted," Common Dreams, June 14, 2019,, reported, " The climate crisis is rapidly warming the Arctic, and the effects are being felt from Alaska to Greenland.
      The northernmost point on the planet is heating up more quickly than any other region in the world. The reason for this warming is ice–albedo feedback: as ice melts it opens up land and sea to the sun, which then absorb more heat that would have been bounced off by the ice, leading to more warming. It's a vicious circle of warmth that's changing the environment at the north pole.

In Alaska, the crisis led this year to the warmest spring on record for the state; one city, Akiak, may turn into an island due to swelling riverbanks and erosion exacerbated by thawing permafrost and ice melt. Massachusetts-based Woods Hole Research Center scientist Susan Natali told The Guardian that what's happening in Akiak is just an indicator of the danger posed to Alaska by the climate crisis.
      'The changes are really accelerating in Alaska,' said Natali.
      Thawing will result in people losing their homes—in cities like Akiak, it already has—and, Natali warned, eventually the scope of the problem will be beyond the capabilities of the U.S. government to handle.
     'It's a real challenge because in the U.S. there isn't the precedence to deal with this and there isn't the political framework to deal with it either,' Natali told The Guardian. 'The numbers needing relocation will grow, the costs are going up, and people's lives and cultural practices will be impacted.'
      Meanwhile, in Greenland, 45 percent of the island's massive ice sheet is melting—much higher than the 10 percent that is normally melting at this point in the year. While much of the melt is expected to refreeze once temperatures stabilize, the integrity of the ice after the early melt makes it more likely to accelerate later in the year.
      That means the unprecedented June melt will likely combine with the ice–albedo feedback for record melting, Xavier Fettweis, a Greenland researcher at Belgium's University of Liege, told science hub Earther.
      'Due to a lower winter accumulation than normal, the bare ice area has been exposed very early in this area enhancing the melt due to the melt-albedo feedback,' said Fettweis. 'Therefore, at the beginning of the melt season, the snowpack along the west coast is now preconditioned to break records of melt.'
     As Earther put it, the ice melt could lead to a repeat of a frightening situation in the Arctic not seen in almost a decade:
     It remains to be seen if we'll get a meltdown like July 2012 when the entire ice sheet's surface destabilized, but regardless, it's a disconcerting June for an ice sheet that, if it completely melted away, would raise sea levels by about 24 feet.
     The problem just isn't going away, Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy climate specialist Rich Thoman told news-channel KTUU.
     'It's surely going to be the case that by the time we get to late September, there's going to be no sea ice within hundreds of miles of Alaska,' said Thoman.
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Sandra E. Garcia, "Deadly Winter Storm Moves East, Knocking Out Power to 200,000," The New York Times, January 13, 2019,, reported, "A winter storm that slammed some parts of the Midwest and that officials say contributed to the deaths of at least nine people moved east on Sunday, causing travel disruptions and power failures.
     Much of the snow was winding down in the Midwest, Dan Pydynowski, a meteorologist with AccuWeather, said. 'There is still some light lingering snow around St. Louis and parts of central Illinois,' he said, adding that it was expected to stop by late Sunday evening.
     But as the Midwest dug itself out, the storm continued east on Sunday. The system delivered snow to Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; Delaware; parts of New Jersey; and the mountains in Virginia. Mr. Pydynowski said the snow would continue across southern New Jersey until very early Monday morning before ending."
     While the Midwest and Northeast were hit by another heavy snow, followed by extreme cold, the southern portion of the huge storm complex cast what used to be well out of season tornadoes, of category 4, across the South. Alan Blinder, Jack Healy and Matt Stevens, "Across Alabama, ‘There Wasn’t Even Time to Be Afraid’: A warning, and then winds of about 170 miles per hour cut a swath of destruction across Alabama, killing at least 23 and injuring dozens of others?," The New York Times, March 4, 2019, "The tornado ripped a mile-wide gash through the heart of this rural community in eastern Alabama, killing at least 23 people in the deadliest tornado to hit the United States in six years, including three children and several members of some families. Dozens of others were injured, and the authorities said Monday that an untold number still had not been accounted for."

Kendra Pierre-Louis, "Brace for the Polar Vortex: It May Be Visiting More Often," The New York Times, January 18, 2019,, reported, "Find your long johns, break out the thick socks and raid the supermarket. After a month of relatively mild winter weather, the Midwest and the East Coast are bracing for what is becoming a seasonal rite of passage: the polar vortex.
     The phrase has become synonymous with frigid temperatures that make snowstorms more likely
. A blast of arctic air is expected to herald the vortex’s arrival on Monday."
      Kate Taylor, "Winter’s One-Two Punch: Behind the Storm, a Dangerous Flash Freeze," The New York Times, January 20, 2019,, reported, "As a powerful winter storm moved up the East Coast to Maine and then out to sea on Sunday, residents across the Midwest and the Eastern Seaboard were bracing for winter’s next blow: plunging temperatures and blustery winds right behind the storm that were expected to freeze solid everything in sight, creating dangerous travel conditions and potentially widespread power failures.
     On Sunday afternoon, some 20,000 utility customers were already without electricity in Connecticut, where freezing rain had damaged trees and power lines. The influx of Arctic air was expected only to make matters worse.
     The cold was expected to reach as far south as Tampa, FL.
      The extreme cold that began hitting the Midwest on January 28, was the worst in a quarter century, and expected to last a number of days. In Chicago and Minneapolis highs were 14 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Some northern Midwest campuses closed and many local governments took actions to help people subjected to the extreme cold, which was more typical of northern Canada (Mitch Smith, "Polar Vortex to Grip Midwest With Most Extreme Cold in a Generation," The New York Times, January 28, 2018,
     By February 1, 2019 , at least 21 people had died in the in places record breaking cold, ice, and wind chill in the Midwest, as the cold was moving east ( Julie Bosman and Mitch Smith, "University of Iowa Student Is Among More Than 20 Dead in Midwestern Deep Freeze," The New York Times, January 31, 2019,
     Sandra E. Garcia, "Seattle Hit by Unusually Heavy Snowfall Moving Across Pacific," The New York Times, February 9, 2019,, reported, "An unusual group of storm systems battering the Pacific Northwest has halted dozens of flights and knocked out power for thousands, hitting Seattle with as much snowfall in one day as it usually receives in a year, according to the National Weather Service."

     Discussion on the Tom Hartmann Radio Program, May 20, 2019, reported that the severe weather in central and Eastern North America is part of a climate change - or now better called "climate crisis" - in which the jet stream no longer keeps extreme weather well to the north. It is now normal - instead of once in decades - to have long seasons of great precipitation, bringing extensive flooding, and wind - including large long ground touching tornados - regularly across much of the regions. A current result is that the flooding and wet fields were well behind their normal achievement in crop planting with further delay from weather likely and some crops already wiped out or heavily damaged. This is expected to bring a poor harvest with food shortages and quite significant food price inflation.

Mitch Smith andAdeel Hassan, "Snow in Forecast for a 2,500-Mile Path From California to Maine: You thought spring was on the horizon, didn't you? ," The New York Times, March 1, 2019,, reports that in a year of extreme weather, where very large storms are compatible with global warming, "Spring may be within sight, but as the calendar flipped to March, forecasters on Friday predicted a walloping storm this weekend, with snow and icy rain expected to coat a 2,500-mile path from Northern California to southern Maine. Rain was also forecast to drench Southern California and much of the South, from Texas to Virginia."

Radio reports on a number of days in March 2019 indicate that this year of large winter storms, sometimes with record amounts of snow followed by extreme cold, were continuing in the Midwest and Eastern U.S., across the winter. As of March 17, the huge amounts of snow in the Northern Midwest were melting, with many rivers already at or over flood stage, threatening great flooding, increasing as the rising waters converge going South into the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. The floods began as the next large storm hit.

      Andrea Germanos, "'Off the Charts': Catastrophic Flooding Wallops Midwest: A 'bomb cyclone' storm along with warm temperatures contributed to still-unfolding disaster," Common Dreams , March 18, 2019,, reported, " Nebraska residents are bracing for more record-breaking river levels as major flooding continues to affect portions of the Midwest.
     The still-unfolding catastrophe caused at least three known deaths across the region
     The N ebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said Sunday that 17 locations across the state had been hit by record flooding, and more records could be broken over the next two days. Flooding in some areas may continue until next weekend, the agency added.
     ' Major to historic river flooding is expected to continue across parts of the Missouri and Mississippi River Basins," the National Weather Service warned Monday, 'due to rapid snow melt the past few days.'
     Suggesting the still-unfolding catastrophe is a sign of a 'hot new world,' climate activist and author Bill McKibben tweeted, 'The Midwest flooding is off the charts—at places in Nebraska, the Missouri is four feet higher than it's ever been before."
     Copernicus, the European Union's Earth Observation Program, captured images of the flooding in the Cornhusker State, and said its magnitude was 'biblical':
      'This really is the most devastating flooding we've probably ever had in our state's history, from the standpoint of how widespread it is," Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said Monday.
     While Nebraska may be the most intensely affected at the moment, it is far from the only state hit by flooding. Iowa and Wisconsin also declared states of emergency as a result of of major flooding, and the graphics below show others in the Missouri and Mississippi River Basins that are facing rising waters:
     The Weather Channel attributed the flooding to 'a perfect storm of meteorological factors' including a 'bomb cyclone' storm that brought snow and rain.
     Meteorologist Jeff Masters broke down the details last week:
      The heavy rains from the bomb cyclone were accompanied by very warm temperatures which melted a snowpack of 5-13" of snow. The snowpack had a high liquid water content—equivalent to an extra 1-3" of rain falling—since the snow had been accumulating and compacting since early February. When Wednesday's warm temperatures in the 50s and 60s and heavy rain melted the snow, the runoff flowed very quickly into the rivers, because the frozen ground was unable to absorb much water to slow things down. Many of the flooding rivers had thick ice covering them, due to the long stretch of cold weather the Midwest endured this winter. When the huge pulse of floodwaters entered the rivers, this caused the ice to break up and create ice jams, which blocked the flow of the rivers, causing additional flooding.
     'Throughout Nebraska and the Midwest, our friends are dealing with the worst flooding in half a century,' Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in tweet over the weekend. 'We must provide immediate help to those suffering. Long-term, we must take bold steps to stop climate change, which makes extreme flooding much worse.'

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The flooding has been extremely damaging to many Midwest farmers and ranchers who have lost livestock, equipment and buildings, as well as damage to fields. Coming at a time when they are already under financial pressure, it is likely to force many out of business ( Mitch Smith, Jack Healy and Timothy Williams, "‘It’s Probably Over for Us’: Record Flooding Pummels Midwest When Farmers Can Least Afford It," The New York Times, March 18, 2019,
Radio reports March 21-23 put the flooding in a number of places across the Midwest at record levels, and likely to be worse downstream as high waters from further north converge.

Eoin Higgins, "'State of Emergency': Pine Ridge Reservation Flooding Exposes Racial Divide in Climate Crisis: 'We're seeing the differential impact of climate change unfold before our eyes in real time,'" Common Dreams , March 25, 2019,, reported, " Flooding has inundated the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, leading to a serious crisis for its Native American population—and a slow government response that, critics say, exposes the racial imbalance in American disaster relief.
     'This is a state of emergency right now,' said Pine Ridge resident Henry Red Cloud.
      Rapidly melting snow from a recent blizzard is soaking the reservation and already damaged water lines, cutting the community off from safe drinking water. Roads are mostly impassable mud pits.
     Pine Ridge, according to The New York Times, is 'in a state of shock and triage.'
      Officials with the Oglala Sioux Tribe, which administers the reservation, say they lack the training, manpower and equipment needed to deal with such a large-scale crisis. And there's a pervasive sense on Pine Ridge, a place of long-strained relations with the state and federal governments, that help has been woefully slow to arrive, and that few people beyond the reservation know or care much about its plight.
     Help is on the way from the federal government, though it's moving at a glacial pace. The distinction between the pace of recovery at Pine Ridge and other areas of the Midwest affected by the disaster was noted by a number of observers.
      'Unlike in Nebraska, where the National Guard rescued 111 people, including some by helicopter and boat,' the Times reported, " outside help for Pine Ridge was conspicuously scarce at first."
      Roads are washed out and flooded, so most aid is being trucked in by boat and horse.
     The National Guard arrived on scene over the weekend to assist the Red Shirt, Pine Ridge, Porcupine, Evergreen, and Wounded Knee communities on the reservation.
     Observers noted that the reservation's issues are longstanding and that the flooding will only exacerbate the problems.
      'Even before the floods, conditions on Pine Ridge have been described as 'third world,'' tweeted reporter Selina Guevara.
     Native American journalist Julian Brave NoiseCat, in a lengthy Twitter thread detailing the connections between the reservation's past and current crises, put the current situation in historical perspective.
     'I visited Wounded Knee, where, in 1890, hundreds of Lakota men, women and children were butchered by the United States cavalry,' wrote NoiseCat. 'Yesterday, residents of the Wounded Knee houses were walking down the highway to get water rations from the National Guard.'
     Environmental group cited NoiseCat's reporting and warned that Pine Ridge was only the beginning of how climate change will hit different communities.
     'We're seeing the differential impact of climate change unfold before our eyes in real time
,' the organization said on Twitter.
     Organizers are calling for relief efforts:
     To officially help the Oglala Sioux Tribe follow this official link: Please share!!
     b Oglala Sioux Tribe (@OSTOfficial1) March 25, 2019
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An E-mail ( from Pine Ridge, April 13, 2019, reports that a new heavy snow on top of the flooding is making the situation on the reservation even more serious as people cannot get out, and trucks cannot get in with food, medicine, propane for heating and other supplies - nor can people get to clinics for dialysis or other medical care.

Flooding in South Dakota, in March, also caused evacuations on the Cheyenne River Reservation, as the Moreau Rive rose ("Flooding forces evacuations on South Dakota Reservation," NFIC, March 2019).

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, "Thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flooding: Aftermath of severe weather for Midwest tribes," ICT, May 24, 2019,, reported, "T ribes in the Midwest suffered damages from severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flooding this week, and the severe weather will continue." Examples include, " The River Spirit Casino, owned by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation [in Oklahoma], is temporarily closed due to the rising water from the Arkansas River." The Cherokee Nation closed its casino in Fort Gibson in anticipation of the Arkansas River overflowing its banks, while the Pawnee Nation closed its tribal offices in the face of rising waters. The Osage Nation has suffered flooding that has damaged tribal members homes, and has provided emergency financial assistance up to $1,000 a household.

The unprecedented storms, with climate change often staying over areas for previously unusual lengths of time, bringing flooding and tornados to the central and southern U.S. this spring were continuing in April and May, 2019 . At the end of May, " After One More Day of Tornadoes, Hope for a Respite," The New York Times, May 29, 2019,, reported, "a record-setting run of severe storms that has spawned hundreds of tornadoes across the nation over the past two weeks appeared on Wednesday to be nearing an end."
     Powered by a high pressure system in the South and a trough that hung atop the West, the burst of storms pushed the United States to a total of 38 tornado-linked deaths so far this year, the highest count since 2014. Wednesday was the 13th consecutive day when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration received at least eight preliminary reports of tornadoes.
     And of the roughly 300 tornado or severe thunderstorm watches that forecasters have issued this year, more than 40 percent have come since May 17, when this pernicious round of bad weather began."

Juan Declet-Barreto, climate scientist, "The Wettest 12 Months: New Analysis Shows Spikes in Flood Alerts in the US," Union of Concerned Sciences, May 23, 2019,, (An early version of this post initially stated the findings were for the continental US but has since been changed to reflect that the results were for the contiguous US, as Alaska was not included in the analysis), reported, " April 2019 marked the wettest 12-month period in the United States since record-keeping began 124 years ago, breaking the previous record set from May 2015–April 2016. In most places in the contiguous US, by April 2019 it had already rained more than the annual average during the 20th century. This week, heavy rain is dumping up to 1 foot of rain in northern and central parts of the US. It’s evident that extreme precipitation events are getting more extreme, and also that climate change is one of the culprits.
     But what does this mean to flood risks? We already know that more frequent, heavier rainfall is causing higher risk of flooding. As of May 21, 2019, hundreds of counties in states in the Great Plains and Midwest were under active flood or flash flood warnings and advisories (in light green, dark green, and dark red on the National Weather Service (NWS) map below). But it’s unclear what the ' wettest 12-month period' ever on record means in terms of flood risks to the population, so we took a look at flood alerts, warnings, and advisories issued by the NWS to get some clarity.
     A key function of the NWS is to communicate to government agencies and the public when life-threatening extreme weather events are likely or certain to occur. One key way in which the NWS does that is by issuing alerts based on meteorological forecasting models and data.


Active flood or flash flood warnings and advisories (in light green, dark green, and dark red) on May 21, 2019.
      Flood risks are increasing—and climate change is playing a large role
One useful way that climate scientists assess change over time is by looking at change in climatological variables (e.g., precipitation) between a recent period and a historical period—the difference is called a “ climate anomaly.” I’ve taken that concept and applied it to calculating the difference between the average number of flood alerts issued between 1986-2017 (the historical period) and the number of alerts issued between May 2018 and April 2019—what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) just declared to be the wettest 12-month period on record (the recent period).
     My calculations for the contiguous US—based on data from NWS alerts archived at the Iowa Environmental Mesonet—are alarming. I found that out of 3,108 counties in the contiguous US, 71 percent (2,197) had more flood watches, warnings, and advisories during the last 12 months than the average for the 1986-2017 historical period. Many of the counties with the largest estimates of increased alerts (in red on the map) host large populations in metropolitan areas, for example Los Angeles (CA), Indianapolis (IN), Chicago (IL), Phoenix (AZ), Dallas and southeastern Texas, Sioux Falls (SD), Nashville (TN), Columbus (SC), Asheville (NC), and Pittsburgh and Philadelphia (PA). Risks are high in these urban regions, many of which have large impermeable surface areas that can contribute to flood risks. And many have insufficient flood protection to deal with increased water volumes during the heaviest precipitation events.

     Change in National Weather Service flood watches, warnings, and advisories . 71 percent of counties in the contiguous US had more flood watches, warnings, and advisories during the last 12 months than the average for the 1986-2017 historical period.
     Slicing the data by region over time also shows that regional patterns are similar to the observed changes in heavy precipitation in the National Climate Assessment over the longer period from 1958–2016 (99th percentile precipitation panel in the linked figure), which found the largest increases in the Northeast and Midwest. These regions also experienced the largest rapid increases in flood watches, warnings, and advisories, with the Great Plains, Southeast, and Alaska also showing some rapid increases.

      Flood watches, warnings, and alerts issued by NWS, 1986-2018
     We are clearly in a new normal in terms of extreme precipitation and that raises questions about the new normal of flood risks
. Certainly, the Arctic is getting hotter, and the US Northeast has been chilly and gloomy, the March bomb cyclones contributed a ton of snow to Midwestern places that were quickly flooded as temperatures increased shortly after—and did you see that it snowed in New England in May?
     But besides climate factors, the increase in flood alerts also points to increased risks to population due to new development (i.e., population increase) in areas of the country that did not have so many people. Recall that extreme weather alerts are issued by NWS to protect lives and property—so extreme weather that happens in non-populated areas does not typically trigger an alert. But as more places are populated, the people and infrastructure there become vulnerable to flood risks. That seems to be the case in places with large population growth over the last few decades.
     Case in point: four of the counties with 50 or more alerts in the 12 wettest months on record are Arizona counties that experienced large population growth since the 1980s—and Maricopa County, where metro Phoenix is located, had the second-highest number of alerts (Yavapai County is number one). And along the Mississippi river banks, scientists say that farmland, residential, and commercial development on floodplains, and too much reliance on levees and other forms of flood protection, have given people a false sense of security. Yet that security is eroding, because the floodgates along the Mississippi have had to be opened more frequently. Floodwaters are intentionally diverted away from urban locations and onto agricultural or rural areas, often leading to economic damages in the agricultural sector.
      Obviously, there is a complex set of factors contributing to localized increased flood risks—it’s not lost on me that even if Arizona counties had the largest increases, the Southwest as a region had the smallest growth in NWS alerts—expected for a semi-arid region. However, when it does rain, it is more likely to be more intense and overwhelm the infrastructure constructed for dry river beds that were constructed to handle flash flood flow rates of the past. We know that climate is a growing contributor to risks in many parts of the country. And these risks are happening more frequently in the same places—as the map above shows—which is exacerbating impacts on people and property.
      Building resilience to increased flood risks from climate and other factors
     With flood risks growing, it’s urgent to do more to help build resilience. Building resilience to flood risks requires integrated actions and resources by the federal family (e.g., FEMA, HUD, Corps of Engineers, USGS, NOAA, NASA, DOD, etc.), and NWS flood warnings are just one part of this
. A few obvious places to start would be for the federal government to consider climate risks and make other improvements to mapping flood risks, investing in pre-flood risk reduction measures, thinking carefully about where and how we develop, preserving non-paved areas, and paying attention to low-income and other vulnerable communities who are typically overburdened with climate risks such as flooding.

In addition, the country relies on a network of government agencies, universities, non-government organizations, and the private sector for advancing and communicating the science on extreme precipitation and riverine flooding to communities, policymakers, planners, and engineers. Congress should continue to support adequate funding for the following key agencies and programs:
     The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration provide weather forecasting and scientific research on extreme weather events and a changing climate.
     The US Geological Survey leads the Federal Priority Stream gauges program (part of the larger National Streamflow Network), Flood Inundation Mapping program, and the 3D Elevation Program, which the nation depends on for accurate flood risk mapping and planning.
     FEMA provides flood risk mapping.
     The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency provide valuable resources for families and communities to help them stay safe and healthy before, during, and after floods.
      Funding should be increased for both the stream gauge and mapping programs. Flood risk maps exist for only about one-third of the nation and many of these are out of date and limited in scope. Congress and states with federal and state agencies could take three critical actions that would address the science and data needs by expanding research on extreme precipitation events, increasing the river gauge network, and ramping up flood mapping programs.
     Finally, the analysis presented here fills one critical gap in tracking cumulative flood warnings—a task that should be routinely done by the NWS and communicated to the public by FEMA. All of these actions led by government agencies can help strengthen the science that keeps us safe from emerging flood and climate-related risks

Jonathan Blitzer, " How Climate Change Is Fueling the U.S. Border Crisis: In the western highlands of Guatemala, the question is no longer whether someone will leave but when," The New Yorker, April 3, 2019,, reported, "In February, citing a 'national-security crisis on our southern border,' Donald Trump declared a state of emergency, a measure that even members of Congress from his own party rejected. Three months earlier, with much less fanfare , thirteen federal agencies issued a landmark report about the damage wrought by climate change. In a sixteen-hundred-page analysis, government scientists described wildfires in California, the collapse of infrastructure in the South, crop shortages in the Midwest, and catastrophic flooding. The President publicly dismissed the findings. 'As to whether or not it’s man-made and whether or not the effects that you’re talking about are there, I don’t see it,' he said. There was a deeper layer of denial in this, since overlooking these effects meant turning a blind eye to one of the major forces driving migration to the border. 'There are always a lot of reasons why people migrate,' Yarsinio Palacios, an expert on forestry in Guatemala, told me. “Maybe a family member is sick. Maybe they are trying to make up for losses from the previous year. But in every situation, it has something to do with climate change.”
      The western highlands, which extend from Antigua to the Mexican border, cover roughly twenty per cent of Guatemala and contain a large share of the country’s three hundred microclimates, ranging from dank, tropical locales near the Pacific Coast to the arid, alpine reaches of the department of Huehuetenango. The population in the highlands is mostly indigenous, and people’s livelihoods are almost exclusively agrarian. The malnutrition rate, which hovers around sixty-five per cent, is among the highest in the Western Hemisphere. In 2014, a group of agronomists and scientists, working on an initiative called Climate, Nature, and Communities of Guatemala, produced a report that cautioned lawmakers about the region’s susceptibility to a new threat. The highlands, they wrote, 'was the most vulnerable area in the country to climate change.'
     In the years before the report was published, three hurricanes had caused damage that cost more than the previous four decades’ worth of public and private investment in the national economy. Extreme-weather events were just the most obvious climate-related calamities. There were increasingly wide fluctuations in temperature—unexpected surges in heat followed by morning frosts—and unpredictable rainfall. Almost half a year’s worth of precipitation might fall in a single week, which would flood the soil and destroy crops. Grain and vegetable harvests that once produced enough food to feed a family for close to a year now lasted less than five months. 'Inattention to these issues,' the report’s authors wrote, can drive 'more migration to the United States' and 'put at grave risk the already deteriorating viability of the country.'
     Guatemalan migration to the U.S., which had been steady since the late nineteen-seventies, has spiked in recent years. In 2018, fifty thousand families were apprehended at the border—twice as many as the year before. Within the first five months of the current fiscal year, sixty-six thousand families were arrested. The number of unaccompanied children has also increased: American authorities recorded twenty-two thousand children from Guatemala last year, more than those from El Salvador and Honduras combined. Much of this migration has come from the western highlands, which receives not only some of the highest rates of remittances per capita but also the greatest number of deportees. Of the ninety-four thousand immigrants deported to Guatemala from the U.S. and Mexico last year, about half came from this region

Manuela Andreoni, "Rio de Janeiro Storm Kills 6, Turning Roads Into Rivers and Burying Bus in Mud," The New York Times, February 7, 2019,, reported, "A[n unusually] powerful summer storm swept through Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday night, leaving at least six people dead, as streets turned into rivers and mudslides destroyed homes and buried a bus, where two of the dead were found."

Manuela Andreoni, "‘It’s Complete Chaos’: Storm Frees Gators in Rio Favela Where Officials Won’t Go," The New York Times, April 10, 2019,, reported, " The storm that swept through Rio de Janeiro this week left a wreck in its wake: A landslide swallowed homes, floodwaters rose up in hospitals and power lines collapsed as streets turned into roaring rivers.
     Then came the alligators
— or, more precisely, their South American cousins, the caimans.
     The storm knocked down the walls of a caiman farm in a neighborhood, or favela, that is controlled, like others in Rio de Janeiro, by a heavily armed criminal paramilitary group. This made the local authorities reluctant to enter — and left the creatures, which can grow to be 11 feet long, to swim through the flooded streets, terrifying residents."

Anna Schaverien, "Britain Experiences Summer Temperatures on Hottest Winter Day ," The New York Times, February 26, 2019,, reported, " Two days of unseasonable sunshine in Britain this week have resulted in more than the shedding of hats, scarves and winter coats: They have also brought the highest temperatures ever recorded in the country in winter.
     Temperatures peaked on Tuesday at 21.2 degrees Celsius (70.16 Fahrenheit) in Kew Gardens, London, the hottest February day in Britain since records began in 1910, according to the Met Office, the national meteorological service."
     Anna Schaverien, "Wildfires Rage in Britain After Record Temperatures: Firefighters tackled blazes in some of the country’s most beloved nature spots, including the woodland that inspired the Hundred Acre Wood of the 'Winnie the Pooh' novels," The New York Times, February 27, 2019,, reported, " On the same day that Britain experienced record winter temperatures, wildfires broke out at some of the nation’s most beloved nature spots."

Climate Change reducing rainfall combined with population growth are moving England toward severe water shortages in many parts of the country by 2040 or 2050 (Iliana Magra, "For Britain, Water, Water Everywhere, Nor...," The New York Times, March 20, 2019).

In January, the German and Austrian Alps were hit with a "once in a generation" snow storm that paralyzed travel and left six people dead (Christopher Schuetze, "Snowfall in Alps Leaves 6 Dead and Strands Tourists," The New York Times, January 11, 2019).

Megan Specia, "Flooding Displaces Tens of Thousands in Iran. And More Rain Is Forecast, " The New York Times, April 6, 2019,, reported, " Nationwide floods in Iran have displaced tens of thousands of people and left dozens dead in the past two weeks. More rain is forecast in the coming days.
     Heavy rain began in mid-March in the northeastern province of Golestan, which received 70 percent of its average annual rainfall in one day. The flooding has steadily spread across the nation, inundating communities in at least 26 of Iran’s 31 provinces
     "Death Toll From Indonesia Floods and Landslides Climbs to 68," The New York Times, January 27, 2019,, reported that because of an unusually heavy storm, "At least 68 people have died on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi and nearly 7,000 have taken refuge in emergency shelters after floods, landslides and a tornado battered the region last week, the authorities said on Sunday."
     Muktita Suhartono and Richard C. Paddock, "Flash Flooding in Indonesia Kills at Least 50," The New York Times, March 17, 2019,," Reported, that very heavy rains caused, "Flash flooding in the Indonesian province of Papua killed at least 50 people and injured 59 near the provincial capital, Jayapura, disaster officials said Sunday.
      The number of victims is expected to rise as rescuers search for survivors in the town of Sentani, which was hit by the flood Saturday evening."

Food shortages in North Korea were worsened by its worst drought in 37 years, as of May 2019, with the country receiving only 43% of normal rainfall in the first four and a half months of 2019 (Choe-Sang-Hun, "Long North Korean Drought Aggravates Food Shortages," The New York Times, May 16, 2016).

Jamie Tarabay, "Across Australia, Yet Another Scorching Summer," The New York Times, January 25, 2019,, reported, " At a dried-up waterhole in Australia’s far north, wild horses were found dead or dying. In cities in the southeast, power outages darkened traffic lights and shopping malls, and office workers and commuters were left exhausted and wilted.
      On the island of Tasmania, more than 50 wildfires were burning, and farmers were bracing for more. And in Elizabeth North, a town north of Adelaide, the Red Lion Hotel promised free beer if the temperature reached 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) — and then had to deliver."
     " Australia — again — is in the midst of one of its hottest summers on record. In the southeast, where most people live, aging coal-powered plants struggled to cope with demand on Friday, with more than 160,000 households temporarily losing power."

As an usually large (up until now) cyclone created tremendous damage and considerable death as it roared across three countries in Southern Africa in mid-March, 2019: Jessica Corbett, "'Everything Is Destroyed': 90% of Mozambique Port City Wrecked by Tropical Cyclone Idai: 'The people who've done the least to change the climate suffer the most.'" Common Dreams , Monday, March 18, 2019,, reported, " Hundreds of people were killed and many more remain missing after a tropical cyclone destroyed 90 percent of the port city of Beira, Mozambique, before moving on to Malawi and Zimbabwe—eliciting fresh demands for bolder efforts to battle the climate crisis that is making extreme weather more common and devastating.
     An initial assessment from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on Monday found that 90 percent of the city and the surrounding area 'is completely destroyed' after experiencing a direct hit from Cyclone Idai last Thursda
     'The situation is terrible. The scale of devastation is enormous,' said Jamie LeSueur, who is leading the IFRC team into Beira. 'Communication lines have been completely cut and roads have been destroyed. Some affected communities are not accessible.'
     'I think this is the biggest natural disaster Mozambique has ever faced,' Celso Correia, the country's environment minister, told the South Africa-based Mail & Guardian. 'Everything is destroyed. Our priority now is to save human lives.'
     Citing the Red Cross and government officials, The Associated Press reported Monday that across the three African countries, 'more than 215 people have been killed by the storm, hundreds more are missing, and more than 1.5 million people have been affected by the widespread destruction and flooding.'
     However, LeSueur noted, aid workers and government officials are still working to access the damage: 'Beira has been severely battered. But we are also hearing that the situation outside the city could be even worse. [Sunday], a large dam burst and cut off the last road to the city.'
     Speaking to state-owned Radio Mozambique on Monday, President Filipe Nyusi said the death toll may surpass 1,000 people in his country alone.
      As aerial footage began to circulate online Monday, the emerging sense of devastation provoked calls for the world to 'wake up' to the reality of the global climate crisis:
     Bill McKibben, co-founder of the environmental group, tweeted a reminder on Monday that 'the people who've done the least to change the climate suffer the most.'

An editorial published Monday by Zimbabwe's state-owned daily newspaper, The Herald, called the storm a 'wake-up call to climate change.' As the editorial reads:
      The increase in cyclones and other extreme weather phenomena like droughts and floods, clearly indicate that climate change effects are intensifying... While we cannot completely stop climate change, there is much the government can do to adapt to the weather phenomenon. After all the tumult surrounding Cyclone Idai dies down, it will be critical for government to have a re-look at the adaptive strategies to climate change which it has put in place.
     While recognizing that in the short term, 'there is urgent need for medicines, shelter, food, and new homes for the survivors of Cyclone Idai,' the editorial calls for a long-term 'holistic approach to fighting the effects of climate change and ensure that communities are cushioned even in the event of devastating cyclones.'
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Again, Norimitsu Onishi and Kimon de Greef, Cyclone Kenneth Pounds Mozambique, Killing at Least 5," The New York Times,
April 28, 2019,, reported, "Cyclone Kenneth dumped heavy rains in northern Mozambique on Sunday, flooding parts of a provincial capital, prompting evacuations and complicating efforts by rescuers to reach remote areas. The storm has killed at least five people so far.
Many roads were washed out, and aid officials said they had been able to reach some badly affected areas only by helicopter."

"The, until recently unprecedented, many days of brushfire causing heat that grilled Australia in its summer were followed by days of torrential rain, causing serious flooding in Northern Australia. From January 26 to February 4, a record almost four feet of rain fell in Townsville in Queensland, equivalent to a normal year's rainfall (Livia Albeck-Ripka, "In Australia, Relentless Rains Force Hundreds to Evacuate," The New York Times, February 5, 2019).

Coral Davenport, "Trump’s Order to Open Arctic Waters to Oil Drilling Was Unlawful, Federal Judge Finds," The New York Times, March 30, 2019,, reported, "In a major legal blow to President Trump’s push to expand offshore oil and gas development, a federal judge ruled that an executive order by Mr. Trump that lifted an Obama-era ban on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean and parts of the North Atlantic coast was unlawful."
     The decision, by Judge Sharon L. Gleason of the United States District Court for the District of Alaska, concluded late Friday that President Barack Obama’s 2015 and 2016 withdrawal from drilling of about 120 million acres of Arctic Ocean and about 3.8 million acres in the Atlantic 'will remain in full force and effect unless and until revoked by Congress.' She wrote that an April 2017 executive order by Mr. Trump revoking the drilling ban 'is unlawful, as it exceeded the president’s authority.'”

Andrea Germanos, "Snubbing Law and Climate, Trump Issues New Permit for Keystone XL: Trump 'can huff and puff all he wants: this pipeline isn't getting built," Common Dreams, March 29, 2019,, reported, " President Donald Trump issued on Friday a new presidential permit to allow for construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
     'This is a ridiculous attempt by Trump to skirt due process to benefit an oil corporation,' said executive director May Boeve in a statement.
     The permit states that pipeline company TransCanada has the authority 'to construct, connect, operate, and maintain pipeline facilities at the international border of the United States and Canada at Phillips County, Montana, for the import of oil from Canada to the United States.' Trump added that the permit he issued for the pipeline on March 23, 2017 was revoked.
     'That permit,' as The Hill reported, 'was invalidated by a Montana federal judge in November. The ruling is being appealed in the 9th Circuit'."
     Judge Gail Hagerty of the North Dakota Judicial District, December 31, 2018, dismissed 45 cases as being without merit in which water protectors had been charged with crimes for protesting against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, casting in doubt the remaining 49 ("Court agrees on dismissal of 45 DAPL cases," NFIC, February 2019).

Embridge Energy filed papers with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, in Spring 2019, to replace its #4, as well as its #3, pipeline across the Fond do Lac band of Lake Superior Chippewa Reservation. The current #4 runs above ground, and will be replaced by underground pipe. The Chippewa approve of the change, saying the above ground line hinders the natural flow of water and presents barrier to resources ("Embridge now says Line #4 needs replacement on Fond du Lac Reservation as well as line #3," NFIC, April 2019).

The U.S. Department of Transportation, following a number of fiery and polluting oil train wrecks, issued a rule requiring railroads to establish regional response tams along oil train routes and to provide information about such trains to state and tribal emergency response organizations, identifying a coordinator for each zone (JohnRaby, "Feds requiring regional response teams to oil train wrecks," NFIC, April 2019).

In Ecuador, where the government had planned to make up for falling oil prices, to keep providing money for social programs, by new oil drilling leases, protests by environmentalists - including Mujeres Amazones (Indigenous women living in the rainforest), in December 2018, caused the government to drop plans for drilling (at least temporarily) in Yasuni National Park, and reducing oil auctions in the southern, while considering whether to cancel those also ("An Indigenous Victory for the Amazon," In These Times, March 2019).

Andrea Germanos, "As Corporate Power Threatens Americans' Right to Water, Groups Offer UN Body List of Issues to Raise With US: 'Civil and political rights must encompass the human right to water, which is increasingly under threat by corporations that seek to use and abuse our water supplies for profit,'" Common Dreams , January 14, 2019,, reported, " When it comes to ensuring the human right to clean water, the United States has a long way to go.
     That's the thrust of a new letter (pdf) to the United Nations Human Rights Committee as the body gets ready to review how the U.S. is faring in its implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty seen as part of the 'International Bill of Human Rights
     'Since the U.N. recognized the human right to water in 2010, things have not become substantially better for people struggling in the U.S. with unsafe water, high bills, or the effects of industrial pollution from fracking and factory farms,' said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. 'Civil and political rights must encompass the human right to water, which is increasingly under threat by corporations that seek to use and abuse our water supplies for profit.'
     The letter, submitted by Food & Water Watch and co-signed by the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise, and In the Public Interest, was sent Monday, the deadline for organizations to send to the committee areas they feel should be included on the 'List of Issues Prior to Reporting.' As the ACLU has explained, 'In 2017, the U.S. agreed to receive a List of Issues Prior to Reporting from the U.N. Human Rights Committee which will form the basis for the U.S. government's periodic report to the committee.'
     The groups' letter outlines five main issues, the first of which is the growing privatization of public water and sewer services. These efforts, the groups say, pose 'a threat to water affordability and access for low-income neighborhood.' At the same time, increases in water costs are driving water shutoffs, which in turn can lead to evictions or even child protective agencies taking parents' children away.
     Another water related issue outlined in the letter is racial discrimination, seen in how polluting facilities are disproportionately located within communities where the majority of residents are people of color. Native communities are also facing this affront to their civil rights, as 'tribal public water systems are twice as likely to violate health-based water quality regulations as non-tribal systems,' the letter states.
     In addition, the letter asserts the U.S. government has failed to take the necessary measures to improve infrastructure in line with ongoing, and soon to be worsening, effects of climate change. The groups say a fair taxation system should be ensured to fund the improvements, because forcing 'cities to shoulder all the costs is a subsidy to the industrial and agricultural polluters.'
     Lastly, the letter warns of fracking's threat to water, both in terms of sucking up the valuable public good and also polluting it. 'While the U.N. recognizes access to clean drinking water as a fundamental human right, enshrined before its use by agriculture and industry, the U.S. federal government and its states have prioritized water use for oil and gas drilling and livestock, resulting in contaminated waterways and groundwaters,' the letter declares.
     Among the groups' recommendations are for the U.S. authorities to ban all fracking; create a national water trust fund, ensure restrictions on facilities upstream of tribal waters; enact a ban on concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs); transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035; make states put forth voter referendums on possible sales or leases of publicly owned water or sewer system to for-profit corporations.
     'The more we learn about various issues affecting the human right to water in the U.S., including millions of residents having their water shut off because they can't pay their bills, the more there is to be deeply concerned about,' said Maude Barlow, board chair of Food & Water Watch and former senior advisor to the U.N. on water issues.
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The Utah Lands Trust Administration, in spring 2019, dropped plans to lease some 5700 acres of Bears Ears National Monument, after pressure from the Southern Utah Wilderness Allience, The Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration ("Utah Lands Trust Administration Backs oss Plan for New Leasing in Bears Ears," Redrock Wilderness, Spring 2019).

The Trump Administration, in March 2019, loosened the rule protecting sage grouse habitat in 10 western states, allowing oil and gas extraction in previously excluded nine million acres (Coral Davenport, "Grouse Habitat Is Opened for OPil and Gas Production," The New York Times," March 16, 2019).

The U.S. Department of the Interior, in early February 2019, delayed a plan to allow seismic testing for oil and gas across large sections of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska (Henry Fountain, "Interior Dept. Postpones Testing for Oil Reserve in Arctic Wildlife Refuge," The New York Times," February 8, 2019).

Tim Vanderpool, "A Fracking Boom Ransacks the Four Corners: Native American activists in northwest New Mexico are putting up a firm resistance as the U.S. Bureau of Land Management hands over their homeland to allies in the oil and gas industry," NRDC, March 20, 2019,, reported, "Update: On May 7, 2019, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Bureau of Land Management illegally approved oil and gas drilling and fracking in the Greater Chaco region. The court specifically reversed the approval of 25 drilling permits; however, the case has implications for hundreds of drilling permits that have been approved in the area.
     The sandstone mesas around Chaco Culture National Historical Park deserve contemplative quiet, in respect to the Pueblo people who built this masonry marvel of ceremonial buildings and monumental plazas around AD 850. But up here, tranquility is in short supply. Instead, much of this high-desert corner of northwest New Mexico, home to several American Indian tribes, has become a noisy industrial wasteland, its hush disturbed by some 23,000 active oil and gas wells, its flats rutted by service roads, its air tainted with methane, hydrogen sulfide, and other noxious by-products of fracking.
      The toxic dangers became clear on the night of July 11, 2016, when residents of the tiny Navajo village of Nageezi were shaken awake by exploding wells and fireballs hurtling over their homes. It was just the type of conflagration that longtime Navajo activist Daniel Tso had been predicting for five years, ever since the fracking boom took hold of the region.

     'There is a total disregard for the people living here,' says Tso, who has been mapping fracking operations across the San Juan Basin, a 7,500-square-mile area covering parts of New Mexico and Colorado near the Four Corners. 'They’re having to breathe in hydrogen sulfide and methane and other hazardous gasses on a daily basis.' His opposition is gaining traction among residents; in November, he beat a pro-industry incumbent to win a seat on the Navajo Nation Council.
     According to an NRDC report , people living near fracking sites are exposed to air pollution that can cause a number of serious health impacts, from birth defects and blood disorders to cancer. Fracking’s toxic by-products also spread by water. A 2017 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study noted that hydraulic fracturing activities have resulted in 'impacts on drinking water resources, including contamination of drinking water wells.' Nonetheless, Tso says federal officials ignore those threats when handing out drilling permits.
      Chaco Culture National Historical Park faces its own perils. Although drilling is prohibited within this UNESCO World Heritage Site, the intense surrounding activity affects the way of life for American Indians, who consider the ruins sacred. Cultural roots here run profoundly deep; a structure called Pueblo Bonito, considered the heart of the Chacoan universe, was constructed by ancestors of New Mexico’s Pueblo peoples between AD 850 and 1150. Nearby canyon walls are marked by their abundant petroglyphs and paintings; other rock art depicts traditional Navajo ceremonies.
     Outside Chaco, most nontribal areas of the San Juan Basin are controlled by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which has been approving drill sites at a rapid-fire pace. During the January partial government shutdown—and despite protests from activists—the BLM announced the auction of several new parcels near Chaco for gas and oil development.
     Overwhelmed by the rush, Tso and other Native American activists eventually turned to outside organizations such as NRDC and WildEarth Guardians for help. Along with the Navajo group Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment (Diné CARE) and others, they put together the Frack Off Greater Chaco Coalition. 'We are a very small population with limited political influence, little information on the total development and leasing processes, and zero resources to put together a study and do monitoring,' Tso says. 'But the Greater Chaco Coalition has 110 individuals and NGOs that are our allies now.'
     Members lobby elected officials and protest at BLM offices urging the agency to beef up its bare-bones environmental and cultural reviews. Still, this is a game of catch-up; more than 90 percent of federal lands in the San Juan Basin have already been leased to oil and gas companies. And government officials show little interest in slowing down, particularly under the Trump administration, which has pushed to minimize buffers around Chaco and expand fossil fuel development throughout public lands.
     Agency representatives even walked out of a 2016 meeting on the Navajo Nation after the community asked the BLM to allow attendees to openly discuss their concerns about drilling and fracking on sacred lands. In March 2018, protests led then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to delay lease sales within a 10-mile buffer zone around Chaco—but three months later, the feds charged ahead with leasing other lands in the region. Meanwhile, activists have kept up pressure on the agency to rein in the drilling frenzy. Last December at BLM offices in Santa Fe, they hand-delivered more than 10,000 individual comments opposing further leasing.

Courting Disaster
     The BLM last issued a resource management plan for the San Juan Basin in 2003, a few short years before emerging production technologies would create vast new potential across the region. But the agency failed to consider the cumulative impact of so many new wells. Instead, it promised an amendment to the 2003 planning document to analyze the impacts of fracking in the area, while continuing to issue permits to drill.
     In response, NRDC, Diné CARE, the San Juan Citizens Alliance, and WildEarth Guardians, represented by the Western Environmental Law Center, sued in 2015 to halt to further permitting until the BLM complies with the National Environmental Policy Act. The lawsuit also called out the agency for not analyzing the indirect and cumulative impacts of drilling on cultural sites, as required by the National Historic Preservation Act.
     But a legal resolution has proved elusive. Last year a federal judge dismissed the suit, finding that BLM complied with the National Environmental Policy Act and did not violate the National Historic Preservation Act because it considered the effects of drilling on historical sites. The citizen groups subsequently took the case to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. 'The Bureau of Land Management failed to analyze the indirect and cumulative impacts of the challenged drilling approvals on natural resources and cultural sites in the Greater Chaco landscape,' says NRDC senior attorney Alison Kelly. 'This analysis must be completed and adequate protections put in place before these important resources are forever lost to fossil fuel development.'
     At the same time, the BLM has moved to decrease public oversight, squeezing the permit challenge and comment period from 30 days down to 10 and suddenly refusing to accept comments by email or fax. Instead, all opinions must now be delivered by hand or via regular mail—even as the agency proudly expands its ability to accept drilling applications online.
     To Lori Goodman of Diné CARE, these changes reflect a too-cozy relationship between the extraction industry and the BLM. 'This is all about the energy companies coming in as fast as they could and cutting through all regulations while the management plan was being amended,' she says. 'Community people asked for a moratorium—no more oil and gas permits until the amendment was finished. The BLM stated that was not necessary.'
      Protecting Antiquity
     While the oil and gas industry sinks its teeth deeper into the Four Corners region, residents and admirers of the landscape are witnessing the destruction of centuries of culture. Many archaeologists see the Chaco Culture National Historical Park’s ancient structures as on par with Egypt’s pyramids in their significance

     'We’ve seen more and more of the Chaco landscape being fragmented,' says Paul Reed, an archaeologist with Tucson-based Archaeology Southwest. 'The irony is that these agencies think they’re doing a good job, from what we can tell. They identify archaeological sites, and those sites are avoided. They move 100 feet away with an oil pad or a road or something. But over time, the landscape is becoming more chopped up and compromised. We find that unacceptable for this World Heritage site.'
      Reed and others are pushing for a 10-mile buffer around the park where no drilling would be allowed, a concept that last year landed in a bill introduced by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM). If passed, Udall’s Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act would withdraw approximately 316,000 acres of federal land from oil and gas leasing, essentially creating the buffer. His measure was applauded by environmentalists, the Navajo Nation, and by the All Pueblo Council of Governors, which has passed four resolutions calling for a temporary moratorium near Chaco Canyon until more protections are put in place.
      Despite this progress, activists such as Tso expect a long fight to protect Chaco’s culture, its residents, and the natural landscape, which also shelters many native species. 'Many of these areas are pristine,' he says. 'Some are critical habitat or spawning grounds for mule deer. The high cliffs are aviaries for golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, and falcons.' And those marvels bring to the landscape other values—not to mention visitors—that the administration ought to consider before it drills any further."

Jessica Corbett, "Even If All US Drilling and Fracking Halts Today, Warns New Report, 'Flood of Toxic Waste Streams' Will Grow for Decades: Detailing decades of EPA's mismanagement of toxic fossil fuel waste, researchers demand immediate action to stem assault on people and planet," Common Dreams , June 18, 2019,, reported, " For more than three decades, the U.S. government has mismanaged toxic oil and gas waste containing carcinogens, heavy metals, and radioactive materials, according to a new Earthworks report (at:—and with the country on track to continue drilling and fracking for fossil fuels, the advocacy group warns of growing threats to the planet and public health.
      'Even if we stop all new drilling and fracking immediately, the flood of toxic waste streams will continue to grow for decades,' Melissa Troutman, the report's lead author, said in a statement Tuesday. 'In spite of industry claims of innovation, the risks from oil and gas waste are getting worse, not better.'
     Building on a 2015 Earthworks analysis, Still Wasting Away (pdf) details congressional and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) actions as well as industry lobbying related to the federal rules for liquid and solid waste from fossil fuel development.
      'Despite over 30 years of research about the toxic impacts of the industry's waste, it is far from being handled properly,' the report says. 'There is little consistency in tracking, testing, and monitoring requirements for oil and gas waste in the United States.'
      'At all stages of the oil and gas waste management process,' the report explains, 'toxins can enter the environment accidentally (spills, leaks, waste truck rollovers, and illegal dumping) or legally under current state and federal law (road spreading, discharge to rivers, landfill leaching).'
      Demonstrating the scope of the threat that such waste poses to human health, the report notes that 'an estimated 17.6 million Americans live within a mile of oil and gas development, including half of the population in West Virginia and almost a quarter of the population in Ohio.'
      The report calls for immediate action from state and federal governments, and offers several policy recommendations to stem mounting risks to water, soil, air, and people nationwide.
      Still Wasting Away features a timeline that tracks federal action on fossil fuel waste management and industry lobbying all the way back to 1976, when Congress enacted the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) that required the EPA to craft rules to identify and manage hazardous waste.
     The EPA spent the next few years writing regulations—and fossil fuel lobbyists reportedly got to work trying to influence the agency, which issued a key final decision on industry waste in 1988.
     As Earthworks senior policy counsel Aaron Mintzes put it, 'Industry lobbyists secured a 'special' designation for oil and gas wastes that exempt it from our national hazardous waste safeguards.' Mintzes added that ' oil and gas waste is indeed 'special,' it is especially toxic, but that means it should require more oversight, not less.'
     In 2016, Earthworks and other environmental organizations filed a federal lawsuit against the EPA in a bid to force the agency to more strictly manage fossil fuel waste under the RCRA, and the EPA agreed to a consent decree that required the agency to review and consider revising its rules. In April, the EPA announced that it wasn't making any changes and that it would allow states to continue spearheading regulation.
     'EPA will continue to work with states and other organizations to identify areas for continued improvement and to address emerging issues to ensure that exploration, development, and production wastes continue to be managed in a manner that is protective of human health and the environment, 'the EPA vowed on its website.

With the release of Still Wasting Away, Earthworks charged Tuesday that 'this report, and others, reveal that EPA and state governments are leaving communities at increased risk for exposure to toxic and carcinogenic oil and gas waste.'
     While the Earthworks report details waste management failures under both Democratic and Republican presidents, environmental advocates face an uphill battle in their fight for stricter federal rules under the Trump administration. According to a New York Times tally updated earlier this month, the administration—with help from congressional Republicans—has worked to roll back at least 83 environmental regulations since President Donald Trump took office.
     Still Wasting Away will be followed by supplemental reports for nine states that are home to much of the country's drilling and fracking for fossil fuels: California, Colorado, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and West Virginia.
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Food and Water Watch reported in an E-mail, May 29, 2019, "Williams Pipeline Permit Denied!" New York Governor Cuomo’s administration denied the permit for the Williams pipeline, which would have carried fracked gas along the shores of New York City, threatening the communities hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy. It's an amazing victory for Food & Water Watch activists and our allies who fought for over two years to block this dangerous project."
     The New York Department of Environmental Conservation denied Transco Williams a water quality permit, in part, because, 'construction of the proposed project would result in significant water quality impacts from the re-suspension of sediments and other contaminants, including mercury and copper. In addition, the proposed project would cause impacts to habitats due to the disturbance of shellfish beds and other benthic resources.'
     "But the fight is not over yet. Williams has already re-applied for permits."
     For more go to:

Jessica Corbett, "'Shameful Day for Canada': First Nations Encampment Violently Raided, Land Protectors Arrested: 'Is this a normal way to respond to Indigenous people who are peacefully protecting their drinking water from fracking pipelines?'" Common Dreams , January 08, 2019,, reported, " More than 50 protests have been planned for across the globe on Tuesday in solidarity with a First Nations group fighting against the construction of TransCanada's Coastal GasLink through unceded Wet'suwet'en territory, with the number of protests rising overnight after Canadian police broke down a checkpoint gate erected by Indigenous land protectors and arrested more than a dozen people.
     Reacting to footage of the 'invasion' by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), author and activist Naomi Klein said it was 'a shameful day for Canada, which has marketed itself as a progressive leader on climate and Indigenous rights.'
     Klein condemned the government's raid on unceded Wet'suwet'en territory and the arrest of First Nations land defenders, 'all for a gas pipeline that is entirely incompatible with a safe climate.'
     People at the Gidimt'en camp have been anticipating the arrival of the RCMP, who are enforcing a B.C. Supreme Court injunction that came last month in response to another camp on the territory formed by another Wet'suwet'en clan, the Unist'ot'en, in opposition to the fossil fuel company's proposed route
     'Camp members faced both uniformed RCMP and camouflage-wearing Emergency Response Team tactical unit officers through the barbed wire,' according to the Toronto Star. 'Police climbed a ladder over the top of the gate, circumventing a secondary blockade formed by the bodies of the camp members themselves. Then they began to arrest people.'
     The Mounties established a 'temporary exclusion zone,' and said in a statement that 'there are both privacy and safety concerns in keeping the public and the media at the perimeter, which should be as small as possible and as brief as possible in the circumstances, based on security and safety needs.' The statement noted that 'during the arrests, the RCMP observed a number of fires being lit along the roadway by unknown persons, and large trees felled across the roadway.'
     Journalists and supporters of the land defenders posted updates from the scene to social media and called out Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the clear contrast between his claims that he wants to build a legacy of 'reconciliation' with First Nations and how his government has responded to objections from the Wet'suwet'en people over the pipeline.
     As Common Dreams reported Monday, although TransCanada claims it has signed agreements with First Nations leaders along the pipeline routes, Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs were not consulted, and say that those who signed off on the pipeline, which is set to cut through traditional lands, were not authorized to do so under Indigenous laws.
     This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License."

Julia Conley, "'Shame on Trudeau': Anger Stirred as Canada's Energy Board Approves Trans Mountain Pipeline: 'We have a duty to protect what we've all been blessed with in British Columbia in regard to the pristine beauty of the environment,' said one First Nations leader. 'We will rise to the challenge,'" Common Dreams , February 22, 2019,, reported, " Indigenous tribes and green campaigners were angered but not surprised Friday when Canada's National Energy Board (NEB) recommended that the government move ahead with its planned expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline—despite acknowledging that the project will negatively affect the environment.

The decision paved the way for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's administration to increase fossil fuel emissions, endanger wildlife, and threaten the lives and livelihoods of the eight million people who live in the pipeline's path.
     The NEB argued that the pipeline is in the public interest and provided the government with a list of 16 conditions that it must meet as it prepares to expand the 1,150 kilometer (714 mile) pipeline, tripling the amount of oil the tar sands pipeline will carry from Edmonton, Alberta to Burnaby, British Columbia—but critics including Burnaby mayor Mike Hurley argued that the NEB has no intention of protecting the environment or wildlife by enforcing strict regulations on the construction.
     The conditions will not 'prevent significant public safety risks and harms to marine life and other environmental impacts,' Hurley told the Vancouver Sun."

China has undertaken large scale fracking for oil and gas drilling, as has the United States, bringing all the same problems including polluting water and earthquakes. In February 2019 fracking caused earthquakes in Sichuan Province causing serious damage and destruction, including to homes, triggering large local protests ( Steven Lee Myers, "China Experiences a Fracking Boom, and All the Problems That Go With I t," The New York Times, March 8, 2019,

Melissa Eddy, "Germany Lays Out a Path to Quit Coal by 2038," The New York Times, January 26, 2019,, reported, " Germany will spend tens of billions of dollars to end its use of coal power within two decades, if a plan agreed to early Saturday by representatives of the power industry, environmental movement, miners and local interest groups becomes official policy."
     The plan was negotiated by consensus by a commission representing all the major interests, environmentalists, consumers, the coal companies, the minors' unions, power companies, the national and directly impacted state governments. The four states directly impacted must now approve the plan. It is a comprehensive agreement aimed at taking into account the primary interests of all the concerned parties. If put into effect, it will be extremely important as coal.
      "Here is a summary of the deal’s key points.
     A steady timetable with an ambitious start
     b" The plan calls for about a quarter of Germany’s coal plants — 12.5 gigawatts’ worth — to shut by 2022. The commission refrained from naming specific plants, leaving that decision to power companies.
     b" Reviews of those measures and other planned reductions are scheduled every three years.
     b" The final deadline for ending coal use is 2038, but could be moved forward to 2035. A review in 2032 will decide.
Tran Ngoc Huan, Daniel Alves Dalla Corte, Sarah Lamaison, Dilan Karapinar, Lukas Lutz, Nicolas Menguy, Martin Foldyna, Silver-Hamill Turren-Cruz, Anders Hagfeldt, Federico Bella, Marc Fontecave, and Victor Mougel, "Low-cost high-efficiency system for solar-driven conversion of CO 2 to hydrocarbons," PNAS, May 14, 2019,, reported,
      Carbon dioxide electroreduction may constitute a key technology in coming years to valorize CO 2 as high value-added chemicals such as hydrocarbons and a way to store intermittent solar energy durably. Based on readily available technologies, systems combining a photovoltaic (PV) cell with an electrolyzer cell (EC) for CO 2 reduction to hydrocarbons are likely to constitute a key strategy for tackling this challenge. However, a low-cost, sustainable, and highly efficient PV–EC system has yet to be developed. In this article, we show that this goal can be reached using a low-cost and easily processable perovskite photovoltaic minimodule combined to an electrolyzer device using the same Cu-based catalysts at both electrodes and in which all energy losses have been minimized."
      Somini Sengupta, "China’s Coal Plants Haven’t Cut Methane Emissions as Required, Study Finds," The New York Times, January 29, 2019,, reported, " China, the world’s coal juggernaut, has continued to produce more methane emissions from its coal mines despite its pledge to curb the planet-warming pollutant, according to new research.
     In a paper published Tuesday in Nature Communications, researchers concluded that China had failed to meet its own government regulations requiring coal mines to rapidly reduce methane emissions, at least in the five years after 2010, when the regulations were passed.
     It matters because coal is the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel, and China is, by far, the largest producer in the world.
      Coal accounts for 40 percent of electricity generation globally and an even higher share in China, which has abundant coal resources and more than four million workers employed in the coal sector. Scientists and policymakers agree that the world will have to quit coal to have any hope of averting catastrophic climate change."

Sue Sturgis, "The South Pays Dearly for Nuclear Industry's Failed 'Renaissance:' The estimated cost for the project below doubled and now stands at $27 billion, which Georgia Power customers are already paying for thanks to a state law — since overturned — that allowed utilities to collect payment before a project is completed," Portside, April 20, 2019,, reported, " In the decade after the meltdown at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, which took place 40 years ago this week, number of nuclear plant orders that U.S. utilities canceled nationwide amid skyrocketing costs: about 100.

In today's dollars, estimated amount those abandoned plants cost taxpayers and ratepayers: over $40 billion.
      Amount ratepayers shouldered in cost overruns alone for the approximately 100 nuclear power plants built around that time: over $200 billion."
     "Between 2007 and 2009, number of applications for new reactor construction projects submitted to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission by utility companies: 18.

Of those proposed projects, number that were in the South, where electricity markets are dominated by the monopoly utility model with guaranteed profits, and where some states allow utilities to force customers to pay in advance for construction projects: 13.
      Of the 18 proposed reactor projects, number that are still proceeding today, with others canceled amid skyrocketing costs driven in part by the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan: 1.
      Amount Duke Energy wants to charge its South Carolina customers for a decade of planning for two reactors that were never built at its Lee plant in Cherokee County: $240 million.
     Amount Florida Power & Light has already charged Florida ratepayers for two new proposed reactors at its Turkey Point plant in Miami-Dade County, construction of which is on hold and may never resume: over $300 million
      Amount South Carolina ratepayers must pay for SCE&G's and Santee Cooper's now-canceled project involving construction of two new reactors at the Summer plant in Fairfield County: $2.3 billion.
     Number of powerful 5 kilowatt home solar electric systems that could be installed with $2.3 billion: more than 65,000.
     Initial cost estimate for the one commercial nuclear project that's still proceeding, Georgia Power's construction of two reactors at Plant Vogtle in Burke County: $14 billion.

Current cost estimate for the Vogtle project, now set to finish in 2022: over $27 billion.
      Because of Georgia's nuclear prepayment law, approximate amount the Vogtle project has already added to the average annual Georgia Power electricity bill: $120."

Steven Lee Myers, "China’s Voracious Appetite for Timber Stokes Fury in Russia and Beyond: After sharply restricting logging in its own forests, China turned to imports, overwhelming even a country with abundant resources: Russia," The New York Times, April 9, 2019,, reported, "From the Altai Mountains to the Pacific Coast, logging is ravaging Russia’s vast forests, leaving behind swathes of scarred earth studded with dying stumps."
     " Since China began restricting commercial logging in its own natural forests two decades ago, it has increasingly turned to Russia, importing huge amounts of wood in 2017 to satisfy the voracious appetite of its construction companies and furniture manufacturers.
     'In Siberia, people understand they need the forests to survive,' said Eugene Simonov, an environmentalist who has studied the impact of commercial logging in Russia’s Far East. 'And they know their forests are now being stolen.'
     Russia has been a witting collaborator, too, selling Chinese companies logging rights at low cost and, critics say, turning a blind eye to logging beyond what is legally allowed."

A study published in Nature, April 3, 2019, showed that with global warming, not only are the increased heat waves destroying coral, but also limiting the coral's ability to recover and regenerate after a heat wave subsides. This is bringing changes in the ecosystem supported by the coral reef ( Livia Albeck-Ripka, "The Great Barrier Reef Was Seen as ‘Too Big to Fail.’ A Study Suggests It Isn’t.," The New York Times, April 3, 2019, Here is the finding of the study:
      Terry P. Hughes, James T. Kerry, Andrew H. Baird, Sean R. Connolly, Tory J. Chase, Andreas Dietzel, Tessa Hill, Andrew S. Hoey, Mia O. Hoogenboom, Mizue Jacobson, Ailsa Kerswell, Joshua S. Madin, Abbie Mieog, Allison S. Paley, Morgan S. Pratchett, Gergely Torda and Rachael M. Woods, " Global warming impairs stock recruitment dynamics of corals," Nature, April 3, 2019, Global warming impairs stock–recruitment dynamics of corals, found, "Abstract: Changes in disturbance regimes due to climate change are increasingly challenging the capacity of ecosystems to absorb recurrent shocks and reassemble afterwards, escalating the risk of widespread ecological collapse of current ecosystems and the emergence of novel assemblages 1 , 2 , 3. In marine systems, the production of larvae and recruitment of functionally important species are fundamental processes for rebuilding depleted adult populations, maintaining resilience and avoiding regime shifts in the face of rising environmental pressures 4 , 5. Here we document a regional-scale shift in stock–recruitment relationships of corals along the Great Barrier Reef—the world’s largest coral reef system—following unprecedented back-to-back mass bleaching events caused by global warming. As a consequence of mass mortality of adult brood stock in 2016 and 2017 owing to heat stress 6, the amount of larval recruitment declined in 2018 by 89% compared to historical levels. For the first time, brooding pocilloporids replaced spawning acroporids as the dominant taxon in the depleted recruitment pool. The collapse in stock–recruitment relationships indicates that the low resistance of adult brood stocks to repeated episodes of coral bleaching is inexorably tied to an impaired capacity for recovery, which highlights the multifaceted processes that underlie the global decline of coral reefs. The extent to which the Great Barrier Reef will be able to recover from the collapse in stock–recruitment relationships remains uncertain, given the projected increased frequency of extreme climate events over the next two decades 7."

Climate change has brought severe drought in Panama, lowering the water levels in the Panama Canal and reducing its navigability (Henry Fountain, "Water Levels Drop at Panama Canal, as Climate Change Alters Weather Patterns," The New York Times, May 18, 2019).

"Dozens of Countries Have Been Working to Plant ‘Great Green Wall’ – and It’s Holding Back Poverty," Good News Network, March 31, 2019, (Also reported in 31, Leslie Salzillo, Africa is building a wall—a wall of trees across the entire continent and it's changing the world, Daily Kos, March, 2019,, reported, " More than 20 African countries have joined together in an international mission to plant a massive wall of trees running across the continent – and after a little over a decade of work, it has reaped great success.
     The tree-planting project, which has been dubbed The Great Green Wall of Africa, stretches across roughly 6,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) of terrain at the southern edge of the Sahara desert, a region known as the Sahel.
      The region was once a lush oasis of greenery and foliage back in the 1970s, but the combined forces of population growth, unsustainable land management, and climate change turned the area into a barren and degraded swath of land."
      Eleven countries launched the project in 2007, which has since grown to plant the wall of trees across the continent. To lost just a few of the achievements, in Nigeria, 12 million acres of degraded land has been restored in Nigeria. In Senegal, some 30 million acres of drought-resistant trees have been planted. In Ethiopia, 37 million acres of land has been restored.
     The results have included:

"Growing fertile land, one of humanity’s most precious natural assets.

Growing a wall of hope against abject poverty.

Growing food security, for the millions that go hungry every day.

Growing health and wellbeing for the world’s poorest communities.

Growing improved water security, so women and girls don’t have to spend hours everyday fetching water.

Growing gender equity, empowering women with new opportunities.

Growing sustainable energy, powering communities towards a brighter future.

Growing green jobs, giving real incomes to families across the Sahel.

Growing economic opportunities to boost small business and commercial enterprise.

Growing a reason to stay

to help break the cycle of migration.

Growing sustainable consumption patterns,

Growing to protect the natural capital of the Sahel.

Growing resilience to climate change in a region where temperatures are rising faster than anywhere else on Earth.

Growing a symbol of peace in countries where conflict continues to displace communities.

Growing strategic partnerships to accelerate rural development across Africa."

Stephen Nash, "Vietnam’s Empty Forests: The Asian nation is a hot spot of biological diversity, but local and international conservation groups are struggling to halt what amounts to animal genocide," The New York Times, April 1, 2019,, reported, "Despite long and tragic wars with the Japanese, the French, the Chinese and the United States during the last century , Vietnam is a treasure house. It is one of the world’s hot spots of biological diversity, according to the science research. There are 30 national parks in a country a bit larger than New Mexico, and about as many kinds of animals as in those pre-eminent safari destinations, Kenya and Tanzania.
     In fact, hundreds of new-to-science species of plants and animals have been discovered in Vietnam during the last three decades, and more are recorded each year."
     However, illegal poaching has been underway for some time in the national parks, often undertaken by park rangers, making Vietnam a major center for world criminal wildlife tracking. That, combined with loss of habitat from an expanding human population has led to huge animal losses. This has reached the point of creating "empty forest syndrome," in which in good wildlife habitat, even small animals and birds are hunted to extinction.

Indigenous people on the Torres Strait Island of Masig, Australia, filed a claim with the United Nations, in May 2019 , saying that by failing to take adequate action to counter global warming which is causing rising seas and more frequent and vigorous storms to erode their island home and destroying sacred and historic sites, and thus destroying their culture, Australia is infringing on their human rights (Livia Albeck-Ripka, "Their Islands Are Eroding, as Are Their Human Rights, a Claim Says," The New York Times, May 13, 2019).

Julia Conley, "'Openly Declaring Their Illegal Whaling Activities,' Japan Abandons Global Effort to Protect Whale Population: 'As a country surrounded by oceans where people's lives have been heavily reliant on marine resources, it is essential for Japan to work towards healthy oceans. Japan's government has so far failed to resolve these problems,'" Common Dreams , December 26, 2018,, reported, "After denying for several days reports that they were planning to leave the International Whaling Commission (IWC ), Japanese officials said Wednesday that the country would withdraw from the 89-member panel in order to defy its ban on commercial whaling.
     The move will eliminate the country's long-held "pretense" of hunting whales only for research purposes, said the conservation group Sea Shepherd, as Japan officially declares itself a "pirate whaling nation
     'This means that Japan is now openly declaring their illegal whaling activities,' Paul Watson, founder of the group, told the New York Times.
     Since the IWC introduced its ban on commercial whaling in 1986, Japan has used regular so-called 'research whaling" trips off the coasts of Antarctica as a loophole to continue its whale-hunting. The country has killed an average of 333 minke whales on its expeditions, including more than 120 pregnant female whales last year.
      Instead of traveling to the Southern Ocean every year, Japanese whalers will now resume hunting in Japan's territories and exclusive economic zone beginning in July 2019, selling whale meat on the open market.
     Greenpeace Japan noted that the country's timing of the announcement would not stop green groups from condemning its plan to openly slaughter whales for profit.
     'It's clear that the government is trying to sneak in this announcement at the end of year away from the spotlight of international media, but the world sees this for what it is,' said Sam Annesley, the group's executive director. 'The declaration today is out of step with the international community, let alone the protection needed to safeguard the future of our oceans and these majestic creatures.'

Following Iceland and Norway, which have also defied the IWC's ban on commercial whaling,
     Japan's withdrawal from the international body will mark the end of its participation in the global effort to save the world's whales from human activity.
     'The Commission is the pre-eminent global body responsible for the conservation and management of whales and leads international efforts to tackle the growing range of threats to whales globally, including by-catch, ship strikes, entanglement, noise, and whaling,' said Australia's environment minister, Melissa Price, in a statement. 'Their decision to withdraw is regrettable and Australia urges Japan to return to the Convention and Commission as a matter of priority.'
     As Common Dreams reported  last week, Japan first denied rumors of its plans to leave the IWC. Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga admitted in a statement that the government is putting its own 'life and culture of using whales' ahead of conservation efforts.
     'In its long history, Japan has used whales not only as a source of protein but also for a variety of other purposes,' Suga said.
     In fact, demand for whale meat in Japan has plummeted in recent years, with the industry depending on government subsidies to survive.
     Commercial whaling represents the exact opposite direction Japan should be headed in regarding marine activity, Greenpeace Japan said.
     The world's oceans face multiple threats such as acidification and plastic pollution, in addition to overfishing,' Annesley said. 'As a country surrounded by oceans where people's lives have been heavily reliant on marine resources, it is essential for Japan to work towards healthy oceans. Japan's government has so far failed to resolve these problems.
     'As the chair of the G20 in 2019, the Japanese government needs to recommit to the IWC and prioritize new measures for marine conservation,' he concluded.
     This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License."

Anya Schoolman, " Solar Co-ops: Healing Home, Neighborhood, & Planet," The Shalom Report, January 9, 2019,, reported and commented, "[This is the second in our series on how congregations can take steps to heal the Earth from the climate crisis. T he first was on how to "Move Our Money to Protect Our Planet. (MOM/POP). See it at
     [Anya Schoolman is now the executive director of Solar United Neighbors, a network that began in Washington DC and has now spread across the country as an inspiration and guide to the creation of many local neighborhood or congregation-based solar co-ops. This is her story of how SUN began and grew.
     [ Inspired by SUN’s work, The Shalom Center in 2013 sparked the creation of a solar co-op in our neighborhood in Philadelphia – the Northwest Philadelphia Solar Co-op (NAPSACK for short). For information on and from SUN, click to -- AW, editor]
     Dear friends,
     I live in Washington, DC. Solar United Neighbors began in 2007 when my son Walter was searching for a Tikkun Olam project for his bar mitzvah. Shortly thereafter, he and his friend Diego saw the Al Gore film “An Inconvenient Truth,” they decided they wanted to install solar panels on their homes. When I looked into going solar, though, I discovered it was complicated and expensive.
     But Walter and Diego would not be talked out of it. I wondered if some sort of bulk purchase might make solar affordable. Diego and Walter knocked on doors throughout their neighborhood. In just two weeks, they signed up 50 neighbors who also wanted to go solar.
     That group, the Mt. Pleasant Solar Cooperative, helped 45 neighbors go solar. Participants worked together for their rights as energy producers. They persuaded the D.C. Council to pass legislation that created a local market for solar. They also shared their success with friends and neighbors. Soon after, other neighbors from across the region started organizing solar co-ops and fighting for better solar policies together.
      Solar United Neighbors grew out of this movement. The organization has expanded across the country, doing on-the-ground projects and helping communities everywhere take control of their energy. Today, through the implementation of a group purchase—known as a solar co-op -- Solar United Neighbors has helped more than 3,500 homes go solar.
     A solar co-op is a group of homeowners in a defined geographic area who use their combined purchasing power to ensure they receive the most competitive solar installation. Solar installers face significant costs finding, qualifying, and educating solar customers.

By forming a group of interested buyers, co-op members ensure the most competitive pricing because the co-op has already done some of the work of finding customers for the installer. Furthermore, solar co-ops allow neighbors to work together to eliminate barriers to roof top solar, like cumbersome permitting requirements, shortsighted HOA rules, or unfair compensation from utilities.

     The basics of a solar co-op are simple. Get a group together and learn about solar. Run a competitive bidding process to choose one installer to work for your group. Each participant gets a site visit from the installer and makes an individual decision about whether solar is right for them.
     By working in a group, people can support each other, get better prices, get better service, and address problems if they come up. Solar United Neighbors provides technical support to groups hoping to start a solar co-op. In states where they have staff, they can provide complete support for the process from beginning to end. Solar United Neighbors provides educational resources, public information sessions, and one-on-one support for all co-op participants.

Solar United Neighbors has also helped a number of congregations go solar. Many congregations will do a combination of going solar themselves and then organizing a group purchase for their congregation. Others use a solar co-op as a way to introduce the idea of solar to a congregation and help people get comfortable with the technology before the more complicated project of solarizing the congregational building itself.
     Robyn Miller-Tarnoff first got interested in solar in high school when she attended a parade featuring solar-powered cars. This sparked her interest in the impact various sources of energy have on the environment.
     Fast forward several years: Now a member of Temple Sinai in Washington, D.C., Robyn encouraged her synagogue to decide to install solar on its building. Temple Sinai worked with several other area congregations that were also interested in going solar. Temple Sinai had a 124 KW solar system installed on its roof in 2016. Here is how it looks:
     But Robyn and others at the synagogue wanted to do more. Using the synagogue’s installation of a new rabbi as a 'teachable moment,' they launched a solar co-op to spread solar not just to congregation members, but to friends and family as well. They worked with Solar United Neighbors, as well as with Congregation Beth El in Bethesda and St. Mark’s Church on Capitol Hill to recruit and educate co-op members.
     In total, Robyn estimates more than 225 people were educated about solar by the co-op through information sessions and peer-to-peer contact.
     'It felt like a reunion,' Robyn said of the info session, noting how many of her friends and neighbors attended.
     More than 50 homes went solar with the group, including Robyn’s.
     She had a 12 kW system installed on her roof and estimates that it will offset just about all of her electricity needs.
     'We could invest in a mutual fund where you don’t know where your money is going,' she said. 'If you’re buying solar, it’s the ultimate local investment.'
     Robyn opted for dark-blue panels so that they stand out on her roof. She wants the panels to be a conversation starter.
     The conversation has already started within Robyn’s own family. She said she inspired a cousin who lives in California to look into starting a similar solar co-op group in her neighborhood.
     Organizing a solar bulk purchase is one of the easiest things a congregation can do for the environment. Going solar isn’t complicated. Going as a group makes it possible to share the work, fight against barriers in the market, and join together for more impact. It is an important step in helping repair the world
      [To add just one more note: We urge that solar co-ops see themselves not only as energy-saving and money-saving groups, not only as planet-healing work; not only, in neighborhoods with high levels of coal dust or oil refineries, as ways to heal from asthma and cancer epidemics; not only as political groups to press for governmental action to heal the planet; but ALSO as communal groups that gather perhaps once a month to sing, share home cookery, tell stories of their lives. The co-op should be a place of joy as well as justice.-- AW, ed.]"

Christopher F. Schuetze, "Heavy Snowfall in Alps Leaves 6 Dead and Strands Tourists,” The New York Times, January 10, 2019,, reported, " Once-in-a-generation heavy snowfall has paralyzed travel and tourism in parts of the Alps, with conditions that have left at least six people dead, Austrian officials said on Thursday.
      Heavy snowfall and strong winds are projected to continue in Austria and southern parts of Germany until at least Friday, bringing at least an additional 20 inches, or 50 centimeters, of snow over 24 hours to parts of the Alps that have already seen as much as 10 feet over the past week."

Lisa Friedman, "New E.P.A. Plan Could Free Coal Plants to Release More Mercury Into the Air," The New York Times, December 28, 2018,, "The Trump administration proposed on Friday major changes to the way the federal government calculates the benefits, in human health and safety, of restricting mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants."
"It drastically changed the formula the government uses in its required cost-benefit analysis of the regulation by taking into account only certain effects that can be measured in dollars, while ignoring or playing down other health benefits.
     The result could set a precedent reaching far beyond mercury rules. 'It will make it much more difficult for the government to justify environmental regulations in many cases
,' said Robert N. Stavins, a professor of environmental economics at Harvard University." It will also provide a basis for mining and other companies to challenge regulations in court.

Maria Abi-Habib and Hari Kumar, "India Finally Has Plan to Fight Air Pollution. Environmentalists Are Wary," The New York Times, January 11, 2019,, reported, " India has nine of the world’s 10 most polluted cities, according to one World Health Organization measure, with choking urban smog that researchers estimate killed 1.24 million people in 2017.
     But until this week, it did not have nationally set targets for reducing hazardous air pollution.
     That changed this week, when the government’s National Clean Air Program unveiled a five-year plan that environmentalists welcomed as long overdue but criticized as lacking clear mechanisms or robust funding to achieve its aims, which include reducing air pollution in 102 cities by up to 30 percent from 2017 levels."

Julie Turkewitz, Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals’ in Drinking Water Leave Military Families Reeling," The New York Times, February 22, 2019,, reported, "the Defense Department has admitted that it allowed a firefighting foam to slip into at least 55 drinking water systems at military bases around the globe, sometimes for generations. This exposed tens of thousands of Americans, possibly many more, to per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a group of man-made chemicals known as PFAS that have been linked to cancers, immune suppression and other serious health problems.
     Though the presence of the chemicals has been known for years, an announcement last week from the Environmental Protection Agency for the first time promised regulatory action, a significant acknowledgment of the startling scope of the problem that drew outrage from veterans and others living in contaminated communities.
     Acting administrator Andrew Wheeler said that the agency would begin the process of potentially limiting the presence of two of the compounds in drinking water, calling this a 'pivotal moment in the history of the agency.'
     The admission drew some praise, but many said that it was not enough and that millions of people would keep ingesting the substances while a regulatory process plods along."
     "While the military has used the chemicals extensively, it is far from the only entity to do so, and in recent years, c ompanies like DuPont have come under fire for leaching PFAS into water systems.
     All told, 10 million people could be drinking water laced with high levels of PFAS, according to Patrick Breysse, a top official at the federal Centers for Disease Control. Mr. Breysse has called the presence of the chemicals 'one of the most seminal public health challenges' of the coming decades

Jim Robbins, "Oceans Are Getting Louder, Posing Potential Threats to Marine Life: Increasing ship traffic, sonar and seismic air gun blasts now planned for offshore drilling may be disrupting migration, reproduction and even the chatter of the seas’ creatures," The New York Times," January 22, 2019,, reported, "Slow-moving, hulking ships crisscross miles of ocean in a lawn mower pattern, wielding an array of 12 to 48 air guns blasting pressurized air repeatedly into the depths of the ocean.
     The sound waves hit the sea floor, penetrating miles into it, and bounce back to the surface, where they are picked up by hydrophones. The acoustic patterns form a three-dimensional map of where oil and gas most likely lie.
      The seismic air guns probably produce the loudest noise that humans use regularly underwater, and it is about to become far louder in the Atlantic. As part of the Trump administration’s plans to allow offshore drilling for gas and oil exploration, five companies have been given permits to carry out seismic mapping with the air guns all along the Eastern Seaboard, from Central Florida to the Northeast, for the first time in three decades. The surveys haven’t started yet in the Atlantic, but now that the ban on offshore drilling has been lifted, companies can be granted access to explore regions along the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific."
     " The prospect of incessant underwater sonic tests is the latest example cited by environmentalists and others of the growing problem of ocean noise, spawning lawsuits against some industries and governments as well as spurring more research into the potential dangers for marine life.

Some scientists say the noises from air guns, ship sonar and general tanker traffic can cause the gradual or even outright death of sea creatures, from the giants to the tiniest — whales, dolphins, fish, squid, octopuses and even plankton. Other effects include impairing animals’ hearing, brain hemorrhaging and the drowning out of communication sounds important for survival, experts say."

Jacqueline Williams, "Oil Spill Threatens a Treasured Coral Atoll in the South Pacific," The New York Times, March 6, 2019,, "An oil spill from a cargo ship that ran aground near a World Heritage site in the South Pacific is spreading, alarming environmentalists and government officials about the threat to the delicate local ecosystem and to people living there.
     The Hong Kong-flagged ship, Solomon Trader, was carrying more than 770 tons of heavy fuel oil when it ran aground last month on Rennell Island, one of the Solomon Islands, which Unesco says is the largest raised coral atoll in the world. The ship is leaking just outside the boundaries of the World Heritage site, called East Rennell."

A cargo ship sailing in the North Sea off Holland, in early January 2019, lost 277 cargo containers in a storm. At least one of the containers held a highly toxic substance, peroxide powder. Fortunately the powder is biodegradable in about 30 days. But in the meantime it was a danger for ocean life in the area (Milan Scheuer, "Ship's Loss of Containers Is a Disaster for Nature," The New York Times, January 5, 2019).

With Lake Erie suffering a number of serious environmental problems, the City of Toledo, OH has a ballot measure, which if passed - and upheld by the courts - would give the lake the rights of a person, allowing people to sue on its behalf. This is one of an increasing number of such attempts to give personhood to natural entities, to allow paw suits to be brought for harms to them. Timothy Williams, "Legal Rights for Lake Erie? Voters in Ohio City Will Decide," The New York Times, February 17, 2019,, reported "The peculiar ballot question comes amid a string of environmental calamities at the lake — poisonous algal blooms in summer, runoff containing fertilizer and animal manure, and a constant threat from invasive fish. But this special election is not merely symbolic. It is legal strategy: If the lake gets legal rights, the theory goes, people can sue polluters on its behalf."
      Julia Conley, In 'Historic Vote,' Ohio City Residents Grant Lake Erie Legal Rights of a Person: 'What Toledo voters and other places working on rights of nature are hoping is to not only change laws but to change culture,'" Common Dreams, February 27, 2019,, reported, " Tired of receiving notices warning that their drinking water may have been compromised and having little recourse to fight corporate polluters, voters in Toledo, Ohio on Tuesday approved a measure granting Lake Erie some of the same legal rights as a human being.
     Sixty-one percent of voters in Tuesday's special election voted in favor of Lake Erie's Bill of Rights, which allows residents to take legal action against entities that violate the lake's rights to 'flourish and naturally evolve' without interference."

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in November 2018, released a report finding that the 2015 Gold King Mine spill into the Animas River in Southwest Colorado did not have initial severe effects, and no long lasting effects, locally, or downstream in waters that flow through the Southern Ute, Ute Mountain Ute and Navajo reservations (Dan Elliott, "EPA: Fish damage from mine spill wasn't severe or long lasting," NFIC, December 2018).

Senior officials at EPA did not follow the advice of agency scientists and lawyers, when issuing a rule, in April 2019, restricting, but not banning as recommended, the use of highly carcinogenic asbestos (Lisa Friedman, "E.P.A. Ignores Experts on Asbestos Ban, Memos Say, " The New York Times, May 8, 2019).

Winona LaDuke, "The White Earth Band of Ojibwe Legally Recognized the Rights of Wild Rice. Here’s Why: Finally, plant species have r ights, too," Yes! , February 1, 2019, , reported, "Manoomin (“wild rice”) now has legal rights. At the close of 2018, the White Earth band of Ojibwe passed a law formally recognizing the Rights of Manoomin. According to a resolution, these rights were recognized because “it has become necessary to provide a legal basis to protect wild rice and fresh water resources as part of our primary treaty foods for future generations.”

Former Mayor of New York and billionaire, Michael Bloomberg, said, he would give $500 million to a new campaign to close every coal fired power plant in the U.S. and reduce use of natural gas (Lisa Friedman, "Bloomberg Promises $500 million to Help Close Every Coal Power Plant in the U.S.," The New York Times, June 6, 2019

Plastic in the ocean is becoming increasingly, and too often deadly, problem for sea life. Daniel Victor, "Dead Whale Found With 88 Pounds of Plastic Inside Body in the Philippines," The New York Times, March 18, 2019,, reported, " A beached whale found in the Philippines on Saturday died with 88 pounds of plastic trash inside its body, an unusually large amount even by the grim standards of what is a common threat to marine wildlife.
     The 1,100-pound whale, measuring 15 feet long, was found in the town of Mabini with plastic bags and a variety of other disposable plastic products inside its stomach."

Palkdo Karasz, "Gibraltar Bans Releasing of Helium-Filled Balloons to Protect Marine Wildlife," The New York Times,

March 26, 2019, reported, " For years, 30,000 red and white balloons flooded into the blue sky above Gibraltar each September, symbols of the joy and pride of the small community jutting into the sea as it celebrated its National Day.
      But what goes up must come down — sometimes as a hazard to wildlife — and Gibraltar, the tiny British territory at the southern tip of Spain, has become the latest community to take action by banning the release of helium-filled balloons.
     Antipollution campaigners have long warned coastal communities that these festive accessories pose a deadly threat to marine wildlife once they end their flight in the oceans. In recent years, the authorities on Gibraltar, which stands at the only gateway from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, became aware of the damage the balloons were doing."

Thom Cole, "More trees dying in New Mexico," Sant Fe New Mexican, March 24, 2019, reported, " Forest mortality increased nearly 50 percent across New Mexico in 2018, the first jump in five years, according to an annual report on the health of the state’s forests.
      More than 120,000 acres of ponderosa pine, spruce, piñon and other trees were lost, said the recently released report.
      Near-record heat and a drought across the state weakened the ability of trees to fight off beetles and other pests, according to John Formby, an entomologist who heads the state forest health program."

"The tribal Aviary of the Coeur d'Alene Nation, the first in the Pacific Northwest, in January 2019, was housing its first six injured eagles, being rehabilitated ("First tribal Aviary in the Pacific Northwest," NFIC, May 2019).
      Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico also has an eagle aviary for rehabilitating, and in some cases providing a safe home, for rescued injured eagles, that also provides eagle feathers that the birds molt to Native people for ceremonies, as such feathers are in short supply (George Black, "Mixed Blessings: Eagles have long been sacred to Native Americans. But a demand that far outstrips the supply has put wild birds in a secular bind," Audubon, Spring, 2019).
     Other tribal eagle aviaries include the Iowa Grey Snow Eagle House, an aviary in Perkins, Oklahoma, opened in 2006. The Comanche Nation of Oklahoma opened an aviary in 2009, and the individuals operating the aviary also established Comanche Nation Sia in 2010, a repository of feathers from migratory birds other than eagles, whose feathers are also essential in Native customs. Citizen Potawatomi Nation, centered at Shawnee, Oklahoma, opened its eagle aviary in 2012. The Navajo Nation opened an eagle in July 2016, at Window Rock, Arizona, the largest aviary of its type in the United States, serving the religious needs of a large Native American community ("Tribal Eagle Aviaries in the Southwest Reflect the Spirit of the Ages," American Eagle Foundation, March 30, 2017,
     The Coeur d'Alene tribe of Idaho has been working with federal and state authorities to save tundra swans from dying frim toxic mining waste, by trying to keep the birds away from toxic areas, including raising the water level. The long run goal is to create good habitat for the swans that will draw them. As of May 2019, 150 of the birds had been found dead of poisoning ("Tundra Swans dying from toxic mining waste in Northern Idaho," NFIC, May 2019).

Overfishing of crabs that shorebirds in Delaware Bay feed on, as of June 4, 2019 was leaving several migrating bird species that pass their hungry and in danger of extinction (Jon Hurdle, "Delaware Bay Shorebirds Going Hungry," The New York Times, June 4, 2019).

Karen Weintraub, "An Emperor Penguin Colony in Antarctica Vanishes: A colony in Halley Bay lost more than 10,000 chicks in 2016 and hasn’t recovered. Some adults have relocated," The New York Times,
     April 25, 2019,, reported, " The Antarctic’s second-largest colony of emperor penguins collapsed in 2016, with more than 10,000 chicks lost, and the population has not recovered, according to a new study.
     Many of the adults relocated nearby, satellite imagery shows, but the fact that emperor penguins are vulnerable in what had been considered the safest part of their range raises serious long-term concerns, said Phil Trathan, the paper’s co-author and head of conservation biology with the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, England."

Andrew E. Kramer, "Polar Bears Have Invaded a Russian Outpost, and They’re Hungry, The New York Times, Februry 11, 2019,, reported on polar bears, hungry because of loss of Arctic ice resulting from global warming, "Dozens of polar bears have laid siege to a small military settlement deep in the Russian Arctic, leaving residents afraid to send their children to school, or even open their front doors.
     The settlement, Belushya Guba, on a finger of land stretching into the Arctic Ocean, has declared a state of emergency as the bears have attacked people, broken into homes, menaced schools and feasted at a local dump."
     Mary Ellen Hannibal "Are We Watching the End of the Monarch Butterfly? " The New York Times, Januaary 25, 2019,, reported, ""The total number of West Coast monarchs was estimated at approximately 4.5 million in the 1980s. In the latest count, that number fell to 28,429, dipping below the number scientists estimate is needed to keep the population going. This drastic decline indicates the migration is collapsing. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to announce in June whether its scientists think the monarch qualifies for protection under the Endangered Species Act."

Eoin Higgins, "'We Can't Trust the Permafrost Anymore': Doomsday Vault at Risk in Norway, 'Not good," Common Dreams, March 27, 2019,, reported, " Just over a decade after it first opened, the world's 'doomsday vault' of seeds is imperiled by climate change as the polar region where it's located warms faster than any other area on the planet.
     The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which opened in late February 2008, was built by the organization Crop Trust and the Norwegian government on the island of Svalbard next to the northernmost town in the world with more than 1,000 residents, Longyearbyen.
     ' Svalbard is the ultimate failsafe for biodiversity of crops,' said Crop Trust executive director Marie Haga.
     Northern temperatures and environment on the island were a major reason for the construction. According to in-depth reporting from CNN, the project planners hoped that the permafrost around the construction of the underground vault would, in time, refreeze. But the planet has other plans.
     Longyearbyen and, by extension, the vault, is warming more rapidly than the rest of the planet. That's because the polar regions of Earth—the coldest areas on the planet—are less able to reflect sunlight away from the polar seas due to disappearing ice and snow cover.

It's an ironic turn of events for the creators of the vault, who chose the location for the vault "because the area is not prone to volcanoes or earthquakes, while the Norwegian political system is also extremely stable,'" said CNN.
     Because of the warming, the permafrost around the underground vault's tunnel entrance has not refrozen. That led to leaking water in the tunnel in October 2016, which then froze into ice.
     In response, CNN reported, "Statsbygg [the Norwegian state agency in charge of real estate] undertook 100 million Norwegian krone ($11.7 million) of reconstruction work, more than double the original cost of the structure."
      But the warming now may become unsustainable for the structure. It's already forcing changes to Longyearbyen's population of 2,144 as the people in the town find themselves scrambling to avoid avalanches and deal with a changing climate that's more often dumping rain rather than snow.
     'We can't trust the permafrost anymore,' said Statsbygg communications manager Hege Njaa Aschim.
     British advocacy group Global Citizen was more to the point.
     'Not good,' the group tweeted.
     This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License."

John Ahni Schertow, "The Yurok Nation Just Established The Rights Of The Klamath River," Cultural Survival, May 21, 2019,, reported, " This month, the Yurok Tribal Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution establishing the rights of the Klamath River.
     According to the Yurok Tribe, the resolution 'establishes the Rights of the Klamath River to exist, flourish, and naturally evolve; to have a clean and healthy environment free from pollutants; to have a stable climate free from human-caused climate change impacts; and to be free from contamination by genetically engineered organisms.'
     'This resolution provides another powerful tool to protect our river, which has sustained the Yurok people since time began,” said Joseph L. James, the Chairman of the Yurok Tribe.' We have always and will always do everything in our power to preserve and enhance the Klamath for all future generations.'
     'We are sending a strong message that we now have an additional legal mechanism to shield the Klamath against those who might harm our most sacred resource,' added Toby Vanlandingham, the Weitchpec District Representative on the Yurok Tribal Council. 'It is and always will be our responsibility to defend this river by any means necessary.'
     The Yurok Tribe says that the Klamath River has supported 'uncountable generations of Yurok people', explaining that the river is central to the Tribe’s ceremonial practices, food security and other important facets of the Yurok lifeway.

With this resolution, the Yurok Tribe becomes the fourth Native American Tribe to adopt the Rights of Nature.
     In 2016, the Ho-Chunk Nation amended their Tribal constitution to enshrine the Rights of Nature after enduring years of significant environmental impacts stemming from frac sand mining, the transport of Bakken oil and industrial agriculture.
     In 2017 , the Ponca Nation in Oklahoma passed a statute recognizing the rights of nature in response to their own struggle with fracking. 'We all know that water is life. The years of fish kills related to the fracking and injection wells amount to environmental genocide,' said Casey Camp-Horinek. 'It is going to take all of us humans because we’re speaking for those without voices, for the deer, the cattle, those that fly. In our Tribe we have a funeral a week now. We’re being fracked to death and It’s time to take a stand for our people and defend the earth.'
     Earlier this year, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe adopted a Rights of Manoomin law to protect the legal rights of manoomin, or wild rice, and the fresh water resources and habitats on which it depends. The White Earth Tribal resolution explained that the Rights of Manoomin law was adopted because 'it has become necessary to provide a legal basis to protect wild rice and fresh water resources as part of our primary treaty foods for future generations. This comes as wild rice, a traditional staple and sacred food for this Nation, faces significant impacts from habitat loss, climate change, development, genetic engineering, and other threats.'”

The U .S. Senate and the House passed a public lands bill, in early February, that protects a million acres from mining and permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund (Coral Davenport, "Senate Passes Bill Creating Huge Tractsof Protected Land," The New York Times, February 13, 2019).

Mark R. Tercek, Chief Executive Officer of the Nature Conservancy stated June 3, 2019,, " Overfishing has decimated global fish populations. Climate change and ocean acidity are pushing coral reefs to the brink of extinction. Coastal communities are increasingly vulnerable to storms and rising sea levels.
     That's why the big ocean conservation strategy we call 'Blue Bonds for Conservation' inspires so much hope. Our goal is to conserve ocean areas almost 10 times the size of California.
     How? With an innovative model that paves the way for small island nations to protect at least 30 percent of their surrounding ocean waters in just a few years by refinancing their debt. That will help bring fish populations back, breathe new life into coral reefs that help protect coasts, and make the complex web of life in our oceans healthier for the long-term.
     We're making plans to put this approach into action with as many as 20 countries in the next five years, but there are as many as 85 island nations where this approach could make a major impact
     So this is just the beginning of a very promising road ahead."

Oceana reported via E-mail, June 19, 2019,, " Starving and emaciated gray whales are dying and washing up on West Coast beaches. Nearly 150 gray whales have died in U.S., Canadian and Mexican waters already, and right now there’s no end in sight.
     Gray whale mothers and their young are especially at risk. The mothers reach the limits of their fat storage earlier than males because of feeding their calves. The calves, in turn, face slim odds of survival without their mothers.
      Gray whales are just the tip of the iceberg. Whenever a large, high-visibility species suffers like these whales are, it can signal that the greater ocean ecosystem is in trouble. The stakes are sky-high for the entire Pacific and Arctic coast ecosystem and all the marine life that call it home."

Palko Karasz, "France to End Disposal of $900 Million in Unsold Goods Each Year," The New York Times, June 5, 2019,, reported, " France plans to outlaw the destruction of unsold consumer products, a practice that currently results in the disposal of new goods worth 800 million euros, or more than $900 million, in the country each year.
     By 2023, manufacturers and retailers will have to donate, reuse or recycle the goods
, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said on Tuesday of the measure, which the government billed as the first of its kind."

Rick Gladstone, "The Globe Is Going Gray Fast, U.N. Says in New Forecast," The New York Times, June 17, 2019,, reported, The world’s population is getting older, slowing down and may stop growing completely by 2100.
     Women are having fewer babies, the number of elders is rising fast and an increased number of countries face population declines, according to a projection of world population trends released Monday by the United Nations.
     The global population of 7.7 billion will increase to 9.7 billion by midcentury and may peak at 10.9 billion by around 2100, the United Nations said. The findings are a downward revision from the previous forecast by the global body, when it projected 11.2 billion people would inhabit the planet by century’s end.

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U.S. Developments

Many of the reports in this issue of U.S. government legislation, agency action, and court decisions are informed by electronic flyers from Hobbs, Straus, Dean and Walker, LLP, 2120 L Street NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037, Reports from Indian Country Today Media Network, from the web, are listed as from ICTMN.

U.S. Government Developments

As the relatively few reports, below, of government actions on Indian Issues indicates, the combination of the divided Congress and the functioning of the Trump administration has resulted, in the first six months of 2019, in by far the fewest government actions in Indian affairs since at least the 1960s.

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Presidential Actions

Vincent Schilling, "White House issues proclamation for 'Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives Awareness Day, 2019,'" ICT, May 5, 2019,, reported, On May 3rd, the White House issued a proclamation on the White House website under presidential actions in acknowledgment of Missing and Murdered Indigenous / Native American and Alaska Natives.
     The proclamation, titled Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives Awareness Day, 2019 reads as follows:
      'On Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives Awareness Day, we draw attention to the horrible acts of violence committed against American Indian and Alaska Native people, particularly women and children. Too many American Indians and Alaska Natives are the victims of abuse, sexual exploitation, or murder — or are missing from their communities. Some of those missing may be victims of human trafficking. We must work together as a Nation to correct these injustices and ensure the safety of all Americans, particularly our most vulnerable populations.
      American Indian and Alaska Native people face alarming levels of violence. Data from the National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that more than 1.5 million American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence, including sexual violence, in their lifetimes. American Indian and Alaska Native children attempt and commit suicide at rates far higher than those in any other demographic in our Nation, and often endure disproportionately high rates of endemic drug abuse, violence, and crime.
     Ending the violence that disproportionately affects American Indian and Alaska Native communities is imperative. Under my Administration, Federal agencies are working more comprehensively and more collaboratively to address violent crime in Indian country, to recover the American Indian and Alaska Native women and children who have gone missing, and to find justice for those who have been murdered. As a result of these ongoing efforts, we are improving public safety, we are expanding funding and training opportunities for law enforcement in Indian country, and we are better equipping them with tools like access to criminal databases. We have also established improved protocols based on our government-to-government relationships with the tribes, and have become more transparent and accountable in our efforts.
      Currently, every United States Attorney’s Office with Indian country jurisdiction has developed sexual assault response and multidisciplinary teams to combat sexual assault and abuse of American Indian and Alaska Native women and children. In addition, the Attorney General has developed a working group dedicated to addressing violent crime in Indian country. This working group has made the development of law enforcement strategies for Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) a priority, improving human trafficking training and creating law enforcement initiatives for United States Attorneys.
      To help address the significant challenges in collecting data regarding missing and murdered American Indian and Alaska Native people, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) partnered together to capture tribal data through new data fields in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. DOJ has also expanded the Tribal Access Program (TAP) and Amber Alert in Indian country to make law enforcement more aware of missing persons and to enhance their ability to be responsive to missing persons reports and Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) registrants in the area. TAP also enables tribal law enforcement to have access to national law enforcement databases and to immediately and directly enter missing persons reports into them. In addition, BIA’s Tribal Justice Support Directorate funds the training of tribal attorneys in prosecuting domestic violence and partner abuse crimes as part of implementing the Violence Against Women Act.
     In Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019, DOJ allocated historic amounts of funding to combat violent crime in Indian country, including to the MMIP efforts of the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). DOJ set aside close to $300 million from the Crime Victim Fund over two years to assist victims of crime in Indian country. It also expanded the Tribal Special Assistant United States Attorney program, which is aimed at reducing violent crime, including violence against women, in Indian country and building important partnerships between Federal and tribal agencies. In addition, DOJ funds the National Indian Country Training Initiative (NICTI), which continues to provide training at the National Advocacy Center and in the field for Federal, State, and tribal criminal justice and social service professionals.
     My Administration will continue working to root out injustice and protect each and every person in America. On Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives Awareness Day, we pause to raise awareness of unacceptable acts of violence that profoundly harm American Indian and Alaska Native communities. As a Nation, we honor the lives of all missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives, and we reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that violence against these vulnerable Americans shall not be overlooked or tolerated.
     NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 5, 2019, as Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives Awareness Day. I call upon Americans and all Federal, State, tribal, and local governments to increase awareness of the crisis of missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives through appropriate programs and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this third day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand nineteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-third.

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Congressional Developments

Acee Agoyo ,"Tribal land bills advance despite damage caused by Trump's 'racist' tweet," Indian Z, May 16, 2019,, reported, "The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives approved one of Indian Country's longest-running legislative priorities on Wednesday even as Republicans revolted against a closely-related bill opposed by President Donald Trump.
By a vote of 323 to 96, lawmakers in the chamber approved H.R.375, which ensures that all tribes, regardless of the date of federal recognition, can restore their homelands through the land-into-trust process. The action marked the first time since 2010 that such a measure, also known as a "fix" to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar , has cleared either the House or the Senate.
     Yet while the roll call looks promising -- a quarter of the House voted in favor of H.R.375 -- it reinforces the challenges that tribes and their advocates face in the Trump era. Republicans supported the bill, but only by a narrow margin, and they ditched a second tribal land measure in droves after the leader of their party told them to."

"Savanna’s Act Introduced in the House," Native American Legislative Update, May 2019, reported, "On May 15, Reps. Norma J. Torres (CA-32), Dan Newhouse (WA-04), and Deb Haaland (NM-01) introduced Savanna’s Act (H.R.4485). The Senate version of Savanna’s Act (S. 227) was introduced earlier this year by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Catherine Cortez Masto (NV).
      Savanna’s Act addresses the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women by improving law enforcement’s response to missing cases. It does so by increasing coordination among all levels of law enforcement, improving data collection and sharing, and providing valuable resources for tribal law enforcement.
     The newly introduced House version of the bill goes a step further than its Senate companion. It creates standard law enforcement guidelines for all U.S. Attorneys, not just those with tribal lands under their jurisdiction. It incentivizes law enforcement agencies to enforce protocols and collect data related to missing cases through increased grant funding.
     Savanna’s Act is the first step towards ending the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Congress must continue to prioritize the safety of Native American women through the passage of Savanna’s Act and the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). While VAWA has passed the House, it has yet to be introduced in the Senate."

The Indian Programs Advance Appropriations Act, aimed at protecting tribes and Indian programs from the impacts of future government shutdowns and short term financing, was introduced in the Senate, in January 2019. The bill would authorize advance appropriations for Indian Health Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs programs and for contact support for tribes that have taken over IHS and BIA programs ("Bill would protect tribes from future shutdowns," Navajo Times, 31, 2019).

A bill to enhance tribal road safety, and for other purposes, S207, was introduced in the Senate by John Barrasso (R-WY), January 24, 2019, that would increase funding for bridges and infrastructure upkeep of roads on reservations, as well as requiring uniform crash reports to keep track of road problems across Indian Country.
     In a hearing on the bill of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, in early April 2019, officials of the Gila River Tribe complained that the BIA has been failing its responsibility to keep roads in passable condition. They said the roads were deteriorating, many unpaved, paved roads cracked and uneven. The roads belong to the federal government, so the tribe cannot fix them, even when it is able to do so, as it did with roads turned over to the tribe by the BIA. The poor road conditions in a spread out reservation hinder economic development, while worsening health, education and various activities by making it slow, difficult and dangerous for residents to travel. This is a problem on many reservations ( Keerthi Vedantam , Tribal roads: Cracked, bumpy and unsafe," ICT, April 4, 2019,

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, "Congress explores legislation to protect Chaco Canyon from oil and gas development: Southwest tribes say the canyon has cultural significance that oil and gas development will destroy," ICT, April 11, 2019,, reported, "Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, reintroduces a bill from last year that will permanently protect lands around Chaco Canyon from being exploited by oil and gas companies.
     The Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Martin Heinrich, D- New Mexico, last May, would 'prevent any future leasing or development of minerals owned by the U.S. government on lands in a '10-mile buffer region' around Chaco Culture National Historical Park.'
     The S.2907 bill would be a permanent protection for the Chaco ruins and the estimated 5,000 artifacts within the greater Chaco area.
     The bill also 'withdraws 316,076 acres of minerals from the 909,00 acres of the proposed Chaco Protection Zone of oil, natural gas, coal, silver and other minerals owned by the federal government

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Federal Agency Developments

     The Government Accountability Office (GAO) was asked by Democratic members of Congress in 2016 to review federal agency tribal relations, following complaints of lack of adequate agency consultation with tribes concerning approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline. In May 2019, several members of Congress and tribal leaders publicly discussed the recently released GAO reports findings. These included complaints by several dozen Indian nations that they were consulted only in the late stages of agency decision making. The report's recommendations included: that agencies inform tribes on the impact tribal input may have on infrastructure decisions; and that the government create a central system that agencies could access to determine when they needed to consult with tribes. Tribal leaders proposed that Congress pass legislation that would, in effect, turn the recommendations into law (Mary Hudetz, "Lawmakers: Report cites need for better tribal consultation," NFIC, May 2019).

A report by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, made public in December 2018, found that funding levels for American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, entities, and programs are grossly inadequate and fall well below the government's trust responsibility to provide education, safety, healthcare, and other services. The commission's recommendations included that Congress pass legislation to meet tribal needs, and that Native Hawaiians receive the same benefits as federally recognized tribes (Felicia Fonseca, "Report: US fails in funding obligation to Native Americans," NFIC, January 2019)

"MOA Implementing Amended PL 477 Employment and Training Program Released," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 19-002, January 2nd, 2019,, reported, "On December 20, 2018, the Department of the Interior (DOI) released a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) implementing the Indian Employment, Training and Related Services Consolidation Act of 2017 (Amended PL 477). The White House played a key role in coordinating the agencies around drafting the MOA. Now that the MOA is in place , DOI will begin to implement Amended PL 477. However, the MOA contains problematic limiting provisions, discussed below.
     Background. The PL 477 program allows tribes and tribal organizations to combine certain federal funds made available for programs pertaining to employment, training, and related services into one holistic employment and training PL 477 plan designed and carried out by the tribe.
     Amended PL 477. Amended PL 477, enacted on December 18, 2017, was a comprehensive amendment to the Indian Employment, Training and Related Services Demonstration Act of 1992 (as amended), commonly referred to as PL 477. In recognition of the program's success, it reauthorized the PL 477 program as permanent rather than as a demonstration project and expanded the programs eligible for inclusion in a PL 477 plan, including by increasing the federal agencies covered. Amended PL 477 also contained clarifying language meant to stop federal agencies from impeding implementation of PL 477. It explicitly stated only one annual report is required, limited the reasons for denying a program's integration, and created strict approval deadlines. Amended PL 477 had a statutory deadline of one year from its enactment for the agencies to develop and enter into an interdepartmental MOA on its implementation. (For further information on Amended PL 477, see our General Memorandum 18-009 of February 9, 2018.)
      MOA. DOI took the position it would not implement Amended PL 477 until the MOA was in place. For this reason, the MOA provides the first insights into how the agencies are reading the breadth of Amended PL 477. The MOA contains the signatures of the heads of all 12 agencies covered by Amended PL 477, indicating their willingness to implement Amended PL 477, at least as provided for in the MOA. However, the MOA contains many provisions that will likely result in Amended PL 477's implementation in ways that conflict with the spirit and text of Amended PL 477. Some of the major issues are discussed below.
     First, the MOA gives affected agencies—agencies that operate programs a tribe seeks to incorporate into its PL 477 plan—significant power. Amended PL 477 states DOI has "exclusive authority" to approve or deny a PL 477 plan and thereafter implements the plan. But the MOA gives affected agencies authority to determine if the programs they operate are eligible for inclusion in a PL 477 plan and a role in almost all aspects of implementation, including drafting reporting forms, reviewing reports, monitoring, and technical assistance.
     Second, the MOA limits the programs eligible for inclusion in a PL 477 plan. Amended PL 477 dictates a program is eligible for inclusion if it is operated by a covered agency, carries out a covered purpose, and receives a covered type of funding. The MOA limits the covered purposes and funding and provides "discretion" when examining whether to approve inclusion of a program.
     Similarly, the MOA provides more opportunities for disapproval associated with a waiver request. Amended PL 477 allows tribes to request and affected agencies to approve waivers of applicable statutory or administrative requirements. The MOA states a tribe must request a waiver if an affected agency directs it to do so, and it states an affected agency may conduct a risk assessment of a tribe's financial and programmatic compliance before approving a request. It directs an affected agency to disapprove inclusion of a program in a PL 477 plan if the affected agency requests and the tribe denies an extension of time for review of a waiver request.
     Last, the MOA calls on the agencies to request multiple extensions of deadlines, but Amended PL 477 says plans and waiver requests not denied within a 90-day window are deemed approved. Additionally, the text of Amended PL 477 permits only one extension of up to 90 days for plan approval, and it does not allow extensions for waiver requests.
     Leading up to release of the MOA, a group of representatives of the PL 477 Tribal Work Group met at the White House with federal officials to discuss the MOA. During the meeting, Work Group members emphasized that the MOA and implementation must be consistent with the text of Amended PL 477. It became clear there were certain areas within the MOA that would raise issues, including those discussed above."

Vincent Schilling, "Presidential task force for protecting Native children in IHS takes first steps: U.S. Attorney Trent Shores, Choctaw: ‘Protecting Native American children who enter the Indian Health Service system is a common sense mission,’" ICT, April 9, 2019,, reported, "On March 26th, the Trump administration announced the creation of a presidential task force aimed at protecting the rights of Native American children that are treated or might seek medical treatment within the confines of the Indian Health Service.

The Presidential Task Force on Protecting Native Children was created in part as a response to a predatory pediatrician by the name of Stanley Patrick Weber, who was an IHS doctor and was convicted of the sexual assault of Native boys."
     On April 4, the White House Office of the Press Secretary released its first report on the Task Forces’ first convened meeting on 'examining institutional and systemic problems that may have failed to prevent the predatory abuse of Native American children in the care of the Indian Health Service.'”
     "Readout of the First Meeting of the Presidential Task Force on Protecting Native American Children in the Indian Health Service System," The White House, Issued on: April 4, 2019,, stated, " The Presidential Task Force on Protecting Native American Children in the Indian Health Service System (Task Force) convened its first meeting on April 4, 2019, at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
     The President announced the formation of the Task Force in March, less than two weeks ago, and charged it with examining institutional and systemic problems that may have failed to prevent the predatory abuse of Native American children in the care of the Indian Health Service (IHS). The Task Force will develop and recommend policies, protocols, and best practices to protect Native American children in the IHS system and seek to prevent such abuses from happening ever again.
     The Task Force is led by co-chairs Joseph Grogan, Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, and Trent Shores, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma and a citizen of the Choctaw Nation. The Task Force relies on the expertise and experiences of Task Force members; draws on additional Federal employees and Federal resources; and seeks the perspective of and engagement with tribal leaders and Native Americans.
     In today’s inaugural meeting, the Task Force discussed its mission, expectations, and goals, including seeking the perspective of Native Americans on the IHS system. The Task Force met with Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief James Floyd. Principal Chief Floyd is the chief executive of the tribe, with 28 years of Federal service that includes the management of Veterans Affairs facilities in Oklahoma, Missouri, and Utah. The Task Force also heard from Dr. Mark Butterbrodt, a former pediatrician at Pine Ridge reservation, and Inspector Curt Muller, Office of the Inspector General for Health and Human Services (HHS).
     The Task Force explored issues relating to the recruitment and retention of healthcare providers, including continuing education requirements and reporting protocols. The Task Force also discussed existing relationships among healthcare providers with Federal, State, local, and tribal authorities, and additional social, community, and cultural topics of relevance. The Task Force focused on 'lessons learned' from other medical institutions, tribal histories, and Federal, State, local, and individual experiences.
     Upon completion of its initial deliverables, the Task Force will convene again for meetings, including in South Dakota and Montana.

Please note: This Task Force’s focus is separate and distinguishable from other investigations into the IHS. Specifically, the work of the Task Force will not interfere with: (1) the criminal investigation of one particular pediatrician; (2) a review underway at HHS, including a review by the Department’s Inspector General, which HHS Secretary Azar ordered earlier this year; or (3) a review conducted by an outside, independent contractor retained by IHS."

Dana Ferguson, "Violated: How the Indian Health Service betrays patient trust and treaties in the Great Plains: Dozens of patients have died needlessly due to errors made in Indian Health Service hospitals in South Dakota alone," Sioux Falls Argus Leader, February 6, 2019, , reported,, reported, " Dozens of patients have died needlessly due to errors made in IHS hospitals in South Dakota alone. Thousands more in the state’s rural Indian reservations face limited access to primary care providers, long wait times for basic medical treatments and outstanding medical debt for necessary care sought outside the federally-funded facilities."
     "Over the course of a monthslong investigation, the Argus Leader reviewed hundreds of pages of federal hospital inspection records and legal filings that illustrated the horror stories at two South Dakota IHS hospitals. The results are staggering:
     A 12-year-old girl attempted to hang herself after she was left alone in the Rosebud emergency room using her broken call light cord and her shoelaces.

Doctors in the Rosebud emergency room restrained and pepper sprayed a man overdosing on meth, which caused a fatal heart attack.
     Faulty temperature controls and mold growing on the Rosebud hospital’s walls made patients and hospital employees sick, at times preventing hospital staff from working.
     Patients were put at risk of contracting disease when hospital staff failed to properly disinfect a blood sugar monitor between blood draws.
     Patients reported opting not to go to IHS hospitals out of fear of misdiagnosis. They said they'd rather take their chances with illness or injury at home.

Inspection records combined with dozens of patient interviews reveal medical failures at the hospitals that have persisted for years, despite warnings from federal watchdogs."

" Indian Health Service Issues Reimbursement Rates for Calendar Year 2019," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 19-004, February 7th, 2019,, reported

The Indian Health Service (IHS) issued in a February 6, 2019, FEDERAL REGISTER notice its Calendar Year (CY) 2019 reimbursement rates applicable to Medicare and Medicaid services provided by IHS-funded health programs (operated by IHS and tribes/tribal organizations). These rates are set annually by IHS, with the concurrence of the Office of Management and Budget, and are based on cost reports compiled by IHS. The notice may be found here:
     Medicare Part A (Inpatient Services) rates are not included in the notice as they are paid based on the prospective payment system. A comparison of the 2018 and 2019 rates follows: Inpatient Hospital Per Diem Rate (Excludes Physician Services) for MEDICAID CY 2018 CY 2019 Lower 48 $3,229 $3,442 Alaska $3,277 $3,434

Outpatient Per Visit Rate (Excluding Medicare) for MEDICAID CY 2018 CY 2019 Lower 48 $427 $455 Alaska $653 $682

Outpatient Per Visit Rate for MEDICARE CY 2018 CY 2019 Lower 48 $383 $405 Alaska $595 $646

MEDICARE Part B Inpatient Ancillary Per Diem Rate CY 2018 CY 2019 Lower 48 $ 740 $ 789 Alaska $1,061 $1,144

The Outpatient Surgery Rates for Medicare are the established Medicare rates for freestanding Ambulatory Surgery Centers."

     The Indian Health Service office of Indian Health Programs awarded grants of more than $7.5 million to30 Urban Indian organizations around the United States
in spring of 2019. For details go to ("IHS awards $7.5 million to Urban Indian Organizations," NFIC, April 2019).

The annual report of the U.S. Department of Justice for 2017 on Indian country crime indicated that there was a 3% increase in the number of cases dropped by the department or sent to other courts, with 37% of the cases not prosecuted. 70% of the cases not prosecuted were dropped for lack of evidence. One fourth of the not prosecuted cases involved reported sexual assaults, and one third concerned other assaults (including domestic violence). To date, action by Congress and the Justice Department to improve anticrime measures on reservations has not increased significantly the department's ability to convict perpetrators (Mary Hudetz, "Indian Country criminal prosecutions plateau," NFIC, December 2018).

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, "Census is less than a year away; A better count is essential for Indian Country," ICT, April 11, 2019,, reported, "The Census Bureau reported an official 12.2 percent undercount of American Indians on reservations, an undercount of 0.7 percent in 2000, and a 4.9 percent in 2010.
     We are now less than a year away until the 2020 Census Day. And there is even less time for some communities in Indian Country. The first official count will take place in Tooksook Bay, Alaska, in January.
     So the bureau is busy hiring people now within their own communities, said Tim Olson, associate director for field operations of the U.S. Census Bureau, at a Census Bureau press briefing in Washington, D.C. Employees will be paid $13.50 to $30 per hour depending on the location.
     This is critical for tribal communities because Native American and Alaskan Native communities have been historically undercounted. So hiring people from the actual communities they are familiar with could help produce a more accurate count. "

InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, "Tribal—Navy Consultation Results in Exemption of Northern California Marine Waters from Navy Training And Testing," Cultural Survival, March 29, 2019,, reported, " In late December 2018, the United States Navy discontinued its training and testing activities within ocean waters situated offshore from Northern California’s coastline. The operational change applies to a 12-mile-wide area of both state and federal marine waters, from the Mendocino-Humboldt county line to the California-Oregon border. The affected area is the southernmost region of the Navy’s Northwest Training Range Complex (NWTRC) that stretches from Northern California to the US-Canada border. It encompasses portions of several Tribal Nations’ traditional territories.

      The Navy made the decision to discontinue its training and testing activities offshore from Northern California following 3½ years of discussions with delegates from the ten Northern California Tribes that comprise the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council. The Tribes and the Navy entered into a formal government-to-government consultation process in 2015 to address the Tribes’ resistance to Navy training and testing activities within the NWTRC.

     The ten sovereign Tribal Nations and the Navy are in ongoing formal consultation to seek ways of ensuring military training and testing within the Tribes’ traditional territories causes the least possible harm to culturally significant marine life, and the Tribes’ cultural places and ways of life.

      This is the first time a collective consultation process has occurred between multiple California Indian Tribal governments and a federal agency to address concerns about protecting the ocean ecosystem and Tribal ways of life. The Tribes participating in the consultation are: Cahto Tribe of Laytonville Rancheria; Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians; Hopland Band of Pomo Indians; Little River Band of Pomo Indians; Pinoleville Pomo Nation; Potter Valley Tribe; Robinson Rancheria of Pomo Indians; Round Valley Indian Tribes; Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians; and Sherwood Valley Rancheria of Pomo Indians.
     In 1986, the Tribes established a Tribal consortium, the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, to help protect and revitalize traditional territorial lands and cultural ways of life. The Sinkyone Council is facilitating and coordinating the consultation process between the Tribes and the Navy. The Tribes, the Sinkyone Council, and the Navy have affirmed commitment to continued open and meaningful engagement during the government-to-government consultation process. The Council since 2005 has opposed and commented on the Navy’s training and testing activities.

     The Navy’s activities in the NWTRC allow for a broad array of training and testing activities, including sonar, test missile firing and aircraft patrols. The Tribes assert these activities cause harm to marine and Tribal life and degrade areas of cultural importance.
     The Navy plans to release a Draft Supplemental EIS (SEIS) in March 2019, which is intended to cover the next five-year period of its training and testing program (2020-2025) for the NWTRC. The Navy’s change in operations—to exempt Northern California’s offshore area from future training and testing activities—has been a crucial priority for the Tribes. The operational change is to be explained and delineated in the Draft SEIS document the Navy is now preparing.
     The Navy plans to hold public meetings in May 2019, following release of the Draft SEIS. People are urged to attend the meetings in Fort Bragg and Eureka, and to support the Tribes’ concerns. The Tribes and the Sinkyone Council have requested the Navy to structure the meetings to include a public open-mic forum, as provided at the Navy’s previous public meetings.

     For more information, contact the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, Hawk Rosales, Executive Director, 707-468-9500, [email protected], Priscilla Hunter, Chairwoman, 707-391-6410 E-mail: [email protected]."

For information on gaming regulations and actions from the National Indian Gaming Commission (NICG) go to:

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Federal Indian Budgets

FY 2019 Omnibus Appropriations Bill Signed Into Law, Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 19-005, February 15th, 2019,, reported, "On February 14, 2019, the House and Senate overwhelmingly approved an FY 2019 omnibus appropriations measure (H.J. Res. 31) providing funding through the end of the fiscal year for seven appropriations bills. The President signed the bill on February 15. Had the bill not been signed on February 15, another partial government shutdown would have begun.
      For the first five months of the fiscal year these departments and agencies have been funded at FY 2018 levels. The appropriations bills in the omnibus measure are: Interior, Environment and Related Agencies; Agriculture; Commerce-Justice-Science; Financial Services and General Government; State-Foreign Operations; Transportation-Housing and Urban Development; and Homeland Security.
     We attach the final FY 2019 funding charts [at:] for Indian Affairs (which includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education) and for the Indian Health Service (IHS). Congress rejected the funding cuts requested by the Administration. The final bill is $17.4 million over the FY 2018 enacted level for Indian Affairs and $266.4 million over the enacted level for the IHS. Detailed General Memoranda on the final FY 2019 appropriations for Indian Affairs and the IHS are forthcoming.
      The experience of the recent 35-day partial government shutdown and yet another year of funding via Continuing Resolutions has generated increased interest in providing advance appropriations for tribal programs. Bills on this topic have been introduced by Senator Udall (D-NM; S 229) and Representative McCollum (D-MN, HR 1128) regarding selected Indian Affairs and IHS programs and HR 1135 by Representative Young (R-AK) concerning the IHS.
     We expect the Administration to release an overall FY 2020 budget proposal the week of March 11 with more details to come the following week."

FY 2019 Indian Affairs Enacted

Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 19-007,

April 10th, 2019,

"In this Memorandum we report on final FY 2019 appropriations for Indian Affairs (which includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) and related accounts), as well as a few other selected programs, as enacted in Division E of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019 (Act), Public law 116-6. The Act was signed four and a half months into fiscal year 2019 following several Continuing Resolutions which had provided funding at FY 2018 levels and a 35-day partial government shutdown during which no funding was provided for those agencies which did not yet have an enacted appropriations bill. The Explanatory Statement accompanying the Act provides that House Committee Report 115-765 and Senate Committee Report 115-276 apply unless changed by the Explanatory Statement. We attach the budget charts from p. 781-787 of the Explanatory Statement.

We reported on the Administration's proposed FY 2019 Indian Affairs budget compared with the House and Senate recommendations in our General Memorandum 18-032 of August 16, 2018.


For FY 2019 Congress provided $3 billion for Indian Affairs--$17.4 million above the FY 2018 enacted amount and a stark contrast to the $2.4 billion requested by the Trump Administration. The enacted amounts for FYs 2018 and 2019 reflect a broad two-year deal reached by Congress to readjust the spending caps for FYs 2018 and 2019 for both domestic discretionary and defense discretionary accounts.

Congress rejected the Trump Administration's request for overall lower spending levels as well as the zeroing out of many programs, including much of the funding associated with the Tiwahe Initiative. Generally for FY 2019, Congress provided funding levels similar to FY 2018 (with increases for fixed costs) and some additional, targeted increases.

The House Report explains:

All subactivities and program elements presented in the budget estimate submitted to the Congress are continued at fiscal year 2018 enacted levels and adjusted for requested fixed costs and transfers. None of the requested program changes are agreed to unless specifically addressed below.

The Senate Report also reminds the Administration of previously requested information, which remains outstanding:

… budget reductions proposed in the request are not included in the recommendation. Other budget reductions proposed in the request are not included in the recommendation. The Committee has included fixed costs and internal transfers as proposed along with the following instructions.

The Committee would like to remind the Bureau of the importance of meeting reporting requirements and notes that the Bureau has not submitted reports as directed over the last several fiscal years. The Committee directs the formation of these reports in order to help determine funding levels for programs; therefore, if the Bureau cannot produce information as requested, the Committee may not be able to properly evaluate programs and future funding levels may be impacted.

The addition of many Bureau programs to the Government Accountability Office’s [GAO] 2018 high risk list (GAO–17–317) indicate there are several challenges to overcome in order to improve the Federal management of programs that serve Tribes and their members. The Committee stands ready to work with the Bureaus to implement the GAO recommendations and strongly encourages the Bureau to make these necessary changes.

In keeping with prior years, the following statement of values is included in the House Report:

The Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Indian Education, and Office of the Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs (together, "Indian Affairs") programs serve 573 federally recognized Indian Tribes, a service population of approximately two million American Indians and Alaska Natives in Tribal and Native communities. The Bureau of Indian Affairs provides direct services and funding for compacts and contracts for Tribes to provide Federal programs for a wide range of activities necessary for community development. Programs address Tribal government, natural resource management, trust services, law enforcement, economic development, and social service needs. The Bureau of Indian Education manages a school system with 169 elementary and secondary schools and 14 dormitories providing educational services to 47,000 individual students, with an Average Daily Membership of 41,000 students in 23 States. The BIE also operates two post-secondary schools and administers grants for 29 Tribally controlled colleges and universities and two Tribal technical colleges. In preparation for the fiscal year 2019 appropriation bill, the Subcommittee held two days of hearings and received testimony from over 80 witnesses on a variety of topics pertaining to American Indian and Alaska Native programs. The Federal government has a legal and moral obligation to provide quality services to American Indians and Alaska Natives. On a nonpartisan basis, the Committee continues to protect and, where possible, strengthen the budgets for Indian Country programs in this bill in order to address longstanding and underfunded needs [emphasis added].

Department of Interior Reorganization. For FY 2019, to comply with President Trump's Executive Order 13781 on a Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch, each federal agency is creating a reorganization plan. See our General Memorandum 17-025 of April 14, 2017. The Department of Interior is planning to reorganize around common regional boundaries to "enhance coordination of resource decisions and policies and simplify how citizens engage with the Department" but due to substantial pushback from tribes, they will leave the boundaries for Indian Affairs intact. Many tribes expressed concern about the proposed Reorganization—both in terms of the structure of the proposed Reorganization as well as the level of consultation with tribes. One concern about the proposal to align offices along regional boundaries and push more decisions to the regional level is that tribes interact with other bureaus and offices in the Department of Interior beyond Indian Affairs so it might not be easy for tribes to simply "opt out." The details of Congress's directions for the Reorganization are found under the OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY—DEPARTMENTAL OPERATIONS section of this report.

Public Lands Infrastructure Initiative. For FY 2019, the Administration proposed the creation of a new Public Lands Infrastructure Fund (Fund) to "address repairs and improvements in national parks, national wildlife refuges, and Bureau of Indian Education-funded schools." However, in order for the Fund to accrue a balance that can be spent on these projects, the Administration proposed that 50% of any revenues from energy leasing above the current FY 2018 baseline be deposited into the Fund for a period of 10 years, with the total deposits capped at $18 billion (the other 50% of increased revenues would go to the Treasury to support deficit reduction). The Administration estimated that this would result in $6.8 billion in expenditures from the Fund over 10 years. On the other hand, the Department of Interior's Royalty Policy Committee is also considering sharply lowering the royalty rate for these energy leases. Thus, there would need to be substantially more energy development on public lands in order for the proposed Fund to accrue this estimated amount. Ultimately, Congress did not pass legislation (H.R.6510 - Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act) introduced by then House Natural Resources Chairman Rep. Bishop (R-UT) to authorize the Fund. Further information about the Administration's request for regular appropriations for school maintenance and repair—as well as the response from Congress—is found under the EDUCATION CONSTRUCTION subsection of this report.


FY 2018 Enacted $2,411,200,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $2,002,996,000 FY 2019 House $2,436,821,000 FY 2019 Senate $2,403,890,000 FY 2019 Enacted $2,414,577,000

Operation of Indian Programs (OIP) budget includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE). The Explanatory Statement explains that, "All programs, projects, and activities are maintained at fiscal year 2018 levels, except for requested fixed cost increases and transfers, or unless otherwise specified below." Further the Explanatory Statement says, "Indian Affairs is reminded of the importance of meeting reporting requirement deadlines so that the Committees can properly evaluate programs. Failure to do so could negatively impact future budgets."

Tribal Priority Allocations (TPA). The House Report affirms the importance of TPA programs:

TPA programs fund basic Tribal services, such as social services, job placement and training, child welfare, natural resources management, and Tribal courts. TPA programs give Tribes the opportunity to further Indian self determination by establishing their own priorities and reallocating Federal funds among programs in this budget category.


FY 2018 Enacted $1,496,787,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $1,261,146,000 FY 2019 House $1,518,278,000 FY 2019 Senate $1,504,232,000 FY 2019 Enacted $1,510,020,000

Activities within the Bureau of Indian Affairs are: Tribal Government; Human Services; Trust-Natural Resources Management; Trust-Real Estate Services; Public Safety and Justice; Community and Economic Development; and Executive Direction and Administrative Services.


FY 2018 Enacted $317,967,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $291,514,000 FY 2019 House $323,438,000 FY 2019 Senate $319,973,000 FY 2019 Enacted $320,973,000

The Tribal Government sub-activities are: Aid to Tribal Government; Consolidated Tribal Government Program; Self-Governance Compacts; New Tribes; Small and Needy Tribes; Road Maintenance; and Tribal Government Program Oversight. (For amounts by sub-activity, see p. 781 of the attachment.)

Congress rejected the Administration's proposed cuts, including the proposal to zero out funding for the Small and Needy Tribes sub-activity. For some sub-activities, modest increases are provided.

Consolidated Tribal Government Program. The Senate Report states: The Committee is concerned about the funding and allocation for the Consolidated Tribal Government Program and has included the fiscal year 2018 enacted level for this program along with fixed costs. The Committee again requests the Bureau report back to the Committee within 30 days of enactment of this act with a description of the number of Tribes that use this program and how increases for this program compare to others that offer similar services.

New Tribes. This sub-activity provides $160,000 in Tribal Priority Allocation (TPA) base funding per tribe to support newly federally-recognized tribes. Once a tribe has been acknowledged, it remains in this category for three fiscal years. Congress concurred with the Administration's request for $1,120,000 to provide initial federal support for the six Virginia tribes federally recognized by an Act of Congress in January 2018: the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan, and the Nansemond. The Senate Report elaborates that, "the Committee is also aware that new Tribes seeking Tribal recognition are often met with delay. The Committee expects the Bureau to efficiently administer the Tribal recognition process and strongly encourages action on pending requests."

Road Maintenance. Congress provided a modest increase to this sub-activity, and specified that of the total provided, $2 million is "to improve the condition of unpaved roads and bridges used by school buses transporting students" and that, "Funds to implement the Native American Tourism Improvement and Visitor Experience Act of 2016 continue at the fiscal year 2018 enacted level."

The Senate Report once again requests an update on the implementation of the Government Accountability Office's recommendations:

The Committee is concerned about the future funding of the Road Maintenance account, the backlog for deferred maintenance of roads in Indian Country, and the implementation of roads data in the National Tribal Transportation Facility Inventory; therefore, the Committee directs the Bureau to report back to the Committee within 60 days of enactment of this act on how the Bureau plans to allocate the funds provided in the bill and the progress being made to implement the GAO recommendations outlined in the report GAO–17–423. Within the program funding for road maintenance, $1,000,000 is continued for the implementation of the NATIVE Act of 2016.


FY 2018 Enacted $161,063,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $115,358,000 FY 2019 House $161,416,000 FY 2019 Senate $161,416,000 FY 2019 Enacted $161,416,000

The Human Services sub-activities are: Social Services; Welfare Assistance; Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA); Housing Improvement Program (HIP); Human Services Tribal Design; and Human Services Program Oversight. (For amounts by sub-activity, see p. 782 of the attachment.)

Tiwahe Initiative. Congress once again rejected the Administration's proposed cuts to the individual Human Services sub-activities (many of which support the broader Tiwahe Initiative) as well as the Administration's proposal to zero out funding for the Tiwahe Initiative demonstration project and the Housing Improvement Program sub-activity. The House Report provides the following direction:

Funding for the Tiwahe (family) initiative is restored. As originally proposed by the Department and supported by the Congress, fiscal year 2019 is the fifth and final year of the initiative. After the fiscal year has ended, and in consultation with affected Tribes, the Bureau is directed to publish a final report that includes measures of success and guidelines for other Tribes wanting to implement the model with Tribal Priority Allocation funds.

The Senate Report elaborates:

The recommendation includes funding to continue the Tiwahe Initiative at the enacted levels. The Committee believes this initiative is a way to help strengthen Tribal communities by leveraging programs and resources; however, it is important to measure program effectiveness. The Committee directs the Bureau to report back within 90 days of enactment of this act on the performance measures being used to monitor and track the initiative’s effectiveness in Indian country. Within the amounts provided for Tiwahe, at least $300,000 is to be used to support women and children's shelters that are serving the needs of multiple tribes or Alaska native Villages in the areas served by Tiwahe pilot sites. The Committee continues to support the Tiwahe pilot initiative; however, the Committee understands there are significant social service needs in Indian Country. The Committee directs the Bureau to report back within 180 days of enactment of this act on the status of the National Training Center for Indian Services and how this Center will seek to improve social services across Indian Country.

Welfare Assistance. Once again, the Senate Report requests the following information:

The Committee remains concerned about the funding distribution for welfare assistance and directs the Bureau to report back to the Committee upon enactment of this act on how this funding would be distributed.


FY 2018 Enacted $204,202,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $153,424,000 FY 2019 House $207,370,000 FY 2019 Senate $204,870,000 FY 2019 Enacted $206,870,000

The Trust–Natural Resources Management sub-activities are: Natural Resources, general; Irrigation Operation and Maintenance; Rights Protection Implementation; Tribal Management/Development Programs; Endangered Species; Tribal Climate Resilience/Cooperative Landscape Conservation; Integrated Resource Information; Agriculture and Range; Forestry; Water Resources; Fish/Wildlife & Parks; and Resource Management Oversight. (For amounts by sub-activity, see p. 782 of the attachment.)

Congress rejected the Administration's proposed cuts, including the Administration's proposal to zero out funding for the Tribal Climate Resilience/Cooperative Landscape Conservation sub-activity.

Pacific Salmon Treaty. Congress directs the BIA to provide the following report: The Conferees understand that the Pacific Salmon Commission is close to reaching an agreement to amend Annex IV of the Pacific Salmon Treaty to replace management terms that expire on December 31, 2018; therefore, the Bureau is directed to report back within 90 days of enactment of this Act with a detailed cost estimate of the responsibilities under the Pacific Salmon Treaty and, specifically, Annex IV of the Treaty as proposed to be amended.

Tribal Management/Development Program, including Cooperative Agreements and Alaska Subsistence. The Senate Report directs:

Within the amounts, $12,036,000 is provided for the Tribal Management/Development Program. The recommendation does not include the proposed cuts to the rights protection implementation program or the invasive species program. It is the Committee's understanding the Bureau has entered into cooperative agreements with Ahtna Inter Tribal Resource Commission and the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fisheries Commission with other organizations interested in establishing similar agreements; therefore, it is the Committee’s expectation that within the funding provided, pilot projects and programs for Alaska subsistence will continue.

Funding Distributions for Tribes East of the Mississippi River. The Senate Report states: The Committee recognizes that many Tribes west of the Mississippi River tend to have reservations that are larger in terms of land mass than those east of the Mississippi River and face challenges including drought. However, the Committee expects that Tribes across the country who have resource challenges receive appropriate.funding.

Resource Management Agreements with Tribes. The Senate Report directs:

The Department of the Interior is expected to promote and expand the use of agreements with Indian Tribes to protect Indian trust resources from catastrophic wildfire, insect and disease infestation, or other threats from adjacent Federal lands, as authorized by law. The Committee directs the Bureau to coordinate with the Office of Wildland Fire to submit a report describing how the Department determines the use of wildfire suppression and rehabilitation resources and prioritizes Indian forest land.

Coastal Tribes. The House Report directs: The Committee supports the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ efforts to address the needs of coastal Tribal communities by working to address threats to public safety, natural resources, and sacred sites. Consistent with the Federal government’s treaty and trust obligations, the Committee directs the Bureau of Indian Affairs to work with at-risk Tribes to identify and expedite the necessary resources.

Forestry. Congress provided a $500,000 program increase for forestry Tribal priority allocations.

Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. The House Report directs:

Within the amounts provided for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, the recommendation continues $545,000 for substantially producing Tribal hatcheries in BIA’s Northwest Region currently not receiving annual BIA hatchery operations funding. This funding should be allocated in the same manner as in fiscal year 2018 but should be considered base funding in fiscal year 2019 and thereafter.

Elwha River Ecosystem and Fisheries Restoration Act. Congress provided $1,500,000 to implement section 7(b) of Public Law 102–495, the Elwha River Ecosystem and Fisheries Act, and directed the Bureau "to follow the related guidance contained in House Report 115–765." The House Report directs:

The Committee directs the Secretary, or his designee, to work with the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe to identify appropriate lands in Clallam County, Washington, to satisfy the requirements of section 7 of the Elwha River Ecosystem and Fisheries Restoration Act (P.L. 102–495).

Tribal Partnerships with USGS. The Senate Report directs: The Committee continues direction for the Bureau to enter into a formal partnership with local Tribes and the United States Geological Survey to help develop a water quality strategy for transboundary rivers. .


FY 2018 Enacted $129,841,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $105,484,000 FY 2019 House $130,680,000 FY 2019 Senate $130,680,000 FY 2019 Enacted $130,680,000

The Trust–Real Estate Services sub-activities are: Trust Services; Navajo-Hopi Settlement Program; Probate; Land Title and Records Offices; Real Estate Services; Land Records Improvement; Environmental Quality; Alaska Native Programs; Rights Protection; and Trust-Real Estate Services Oversight.

Congress rejected the Administration's proposed cuts, including the proposal to zero out funding for the Alaska Native Programs sub-activity and the Litigation Support/Attorney Fees program element within the Rights Protection sub-activity. Further, Congress specified $1,500,000 is for rights protection litigation support. The Senate Report explains that the slight overall increase for Trust–Real Estate Services is to cover fixed costs and internal transfers.

Alaska Native Programs. Not only did Congress reject the Administration's request to zero out the sub-activity, the Senate Report and the Explanatory Statement specify that within the amount provided, there continue to be a program level of $450,000 for "the certification of historical places and cultural sites, including Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act sites."

Realty Trust Acquisition Program. The House Report directs: The Committee directs the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to identify the funding determined necessary, in collaboration with congressional and agency stakeholders, within the Trust—Real Estate Services budget activity to improve the efficiency of the Realty Trust acquisition program at BIA. The Committee understands that the program has long suffered from shortages of personnel which has resulted in a history of backlogs, slow processing times and has hindered engagement with Tribes and Tribal members.

Furthermore, the Committee understands the program is transitioning to a more automated tracking process and looks forward to more timely and accurate processing and reporting. The Committee expects the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs to be in regular communication with the Committee regarding direction or assistance needed until the problems of backlogs and slow processing times have been adequately resolved.

Abandoned Wells. The Senate Report, echoing the FY 2018 Joint Explanatory Statement, directs:

The Committee directs the Bureau to conduct an inventory of wells for which BIA is responsible to reclaim, including cost estimates, for submission to the Committee within 90 days of enactment of this act.

Fee-to-Trust. The Senate Report states:

The Committee notes the Bureau's ongoing public comment period concerning the revision of fee-to-trust regulations and directs the Bureau to report to the Committee within 30 days of the date of the enactment of this act concerning the status of all pending applications before the Bureau, including detail on tribal consultation undertaken during the revision process.


FY 2018 Enacted $405,520,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $350,131,000 FY 2019 House $418,915,000 FY 2019 Senate $407,267,000 FY 2019 Enacted $411,517,000

The Public Safety and Justice sub-activities are: Law Enforcement; Tribal Courts; and Fire Protection. (For amounts by sub-activity, see p. 784-785 of the attachment.)

The Congress rejected the Administration's proposed cuts, including the proposal to zero out Tribal Justice Support for tribes in PL 280 states and for the implementation of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Congress specified funding levels for certain program elements as follows:

The agreement provides $411,517,000 for public safety and justice programs, of which $1,000,000 is to implement the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act; $8,250,000 is for patrol officers in areas hit hardest by the opioid epidemic; $3,033,000 is to reduce recidivism through the Tiwahe initiative; $2,000,000 is for Tribal detention facility staffing needs, including addressing the needs of newly funded Tribal detention facilities; $13,000,000 is to address the needs of Tribes affected by Public Law 83–280; and $2,000,000 is to implement the Violence Against Women Act for both training and specific Tribal court needs.

Law Enforcement Funding for Restored Tribes. The Senate Report once again provides the following direction and once again requests following report: The Committee understands that several Tribes who were terminated and then subsequently restored now face significant challenges in securing law enforcement funding through self-determination contracts. The Bureau is directed to work with affected Tribes to assess their law enforcement needs and submit a report to the Committee within 60 days of enactment of this act that details the amounts necessary to provide sufficient law enforcement capacity for these Tribes.

Educational and Health-Related Services for Individuals in Tribal Detention Centers Considered Allowable Costs. The House Report provides the BIA with the following continued direction:

For the purpose of addressing the needs of juveniles in custody at Tribal detention centers operated or administered by the BIA, educational and health-related services to juveniles in custody are allowable costs for detention/corrections program funding. Indian Affairs is urged to provide mental health and substance abuse services when needed by juvenile and adult detainees and convicted prisoners.

Tribal Courts and Tribal Justice Support in PL 280 States. The Senate Report provides the BIA with the following continued direction:

The Committee remains concerned about the Tribal courts needs as identified in the Indian Law and Order Commission’s November 2013 report which notes Federal investment in Tribal justice for Public Law 83–280 States has been more limited than elsewhere in Indian Country. The Committee expects the Bureau to continue to work with Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations to consider options that promote, design, or pilot Tribal court systems for Tribal communities subject to full or partial State jurisdiction under Public Law 83–280.


FY 2018 Enacted $46,447,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $35,826,000 FY 2019 House $51,579,000 FY 2019 Senate $46,579,000 FY 2019 Enacted $47,579,000

The Community and Economic Development sub-activities are: Job Placement and Training; Economic Development; Minerals and Mining; and Community Development Oversight.

The Congress rejected all of the Administration's proposed cuts, including the proposal to zero out the elements of the Tiwahe Initiative funded under Job Placement and Training sub-activity. The Senate Report states that the Committee "expects the funding for the Tiwahe initiative will continue at enacted levels." The Congress also continued targeted increases to fund implementation of the NATIVE Act and to modernize the National Indian Oil and Gas Management System (NIOGEMS).

Implementation of the NATIVE Act. Congress continued directing $3.4 million of Community Development-Central Oversight funds towards implementation of the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience Act (NATIVE Act). The House Report explains that this implementation can continue to occur "via cooperative agreements with Tribes or Tribal organizations…"

Minerals and Mining and NIOGEMS. Congress continued directing funds from the Minerals and Mining sub-activity to the modernization of oil and gas management (including the National Indian Oil and Gas Management System (NIOGEMS)), providing $1 million for this effort. The Senate Report requests following report:

The Committee understands the NIOGEMS has been distributed to some Tribes and regional offices and instructs the Bureau to report back within 120 days of enactment of this act on the cost to further expand this system to more reservations and offices.

GAO High Risk Report. The Senate Committee once again requests the following response to the high risk GAO report (GA0-17-317):

The recent GAO high risk report found the Bureau does not properly manage Indian energy resources held in trust and thereby limits opportunities for Tribes and their members to use those resources to create economic benefits in their communities. The Committee requests the Bureau work to make the necessary changes recommended by the GAO report and report back to the Committee outlining any barriers, statutory or regulatory, that prohibit or slow the pace of resource development as well as a status update on the open items that still need to be implemented according to the GAO report.

Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development. Congress provided the following $1 million program increase and expectations:

A program increase of $1,000,000 is included for the Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development to provide assistance to Tribes to enhance economic development and improve access to private financing of development projects. The Office should assist with feasibility studies and provide technical assistance to Tribes to establish commercial codes, courts and other business structures. Further, the Office should undertake efforts to build Tribal capacity to lease Tribal lands and manage economic and energy resource development. Finally, the Office should explore opportunities to foster incubators of Tribal-owned and other Native American-owned businesses. The Office is expected to track accomplishments for each of these purposes and to report them annually in its budget justification.


FY 2018 Enacted $231,747,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $209,409,000 FY 2019 House $224,880,000 FY 2019 Senate $233,447,000 FY 2019 Enacted $230,985,000

The Executive Direction and Administrative Services sub-activities are: Assistant Secretary Support; Executive Direction; Administrative Services; Safety and Risk Management; Information Resources Technology; Human Capital Management; Facilities Management; Intra-Governmental Payments; and Rentals.

Congress rejected the Administration's request for cuts and allocated the funding as follows: • Assistant Secretary Support $10,155,000 • Executive Direction $20,251,000 • Administrative Services $48,019,000

Alcohol Distilleries in Indian Country. On December 11, 2018, legislation was enacted as PL 115-304 to repeal the federal ban on the establishment and operation of alcohol distilleries in Indian Country (see our General Memorandum 18-039). Regarding the law's implementation, the following was included in the Explanatory Statement: Tribal Sovereignty.—It is the Conferees’ understanding that the authorizing committees of jurisdiction are actively working to expeditiously address issues raised by 25 U.S.C. section 251. The Bureau is expected to work cooperatively with Tribes and the relevant committees on such efforts.

Health and Safety Inspections at BIE System Facilities. The House Report continues language from FY 2018, directing, "Indian Affairs is directed to complete annual health and safety inspections of all BIE system facilities and to publish quarterly updates on the status of such inspections."

BIE Vacancies. The House Report directs "Human Resources is directed to make filling vacancies within the Bureau of Indian Education its highest priority."

Operating and Law Enforcement Needs for Treaty Fishing Sites on the Columbia River. The Senate Report continues language from FYs 2017 and 2018, once again requesting the following report:

The Committee notes that the Bureau has not yet complied with the fiscal year 2018 directive to provide a report on funding requirements associated with operating and law enforcement needs for congressionally authorized treaty fishing sites on the Columbia River. The Bureau is directed to transmit the report no later than 30 days following enactment of this act. The Bureau is also urged to incorporate unfunded needs for these sites as part of the Bureau's fiscal year 2020 budget.

Implementation of Amendments to the "477" Program. The Senate Report states, "The Committee is concerned the Indian Employment, Training and Related Services Act, as amended, has not been fully implemented. The Bureau shall report back within 60 days of enactment of this act on the status of implementation."


FY 2018 Enacted $914,413,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $741,850,000 FY 2019 House $918,543,000 FY 2019 Senate $899,658,000 FY 2019 Enacted $904,557,000

The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) category displays funds for the BIE-funded elementary and secondary school systems as well as other education programs including higher education and scholarships. The Bureau of Indian Education sub-activities are: Elementary and Secondary Programs (Forward Funded); Elementary and Secondary Programs (Non-Forward Funded); Post Secondary Programs (Forward Funded); Post Secondary Programs (Non-Forward Funded); and Education Management.

For FY 2019 Congress rejected the substantial cuts requested by the Administration. For FY 2018, Congress had provided a temporarily increased spending level for the BIE in order to move those remaining tribal colleges which were not on a forward funded schedule to a forward funded schedule. For FY 2019, Congress, rather than letting that temporary increase go (since all the tribal colleges were successfully transitioned) instead retained a portion of that increased spending level but directed it to other areas of the BIE budget.

Implementation of the BIE Transformation and GAO Recommendations. The House Report states:

Consistent with GAO report 13–774, the Secretary is urged to reorganize Indian Affairs so that control and accountability of the BIE system is consolidated within the BIE, to present such reorganization proposal in the next fiscal year budget request, and to submit to the Committees a corresponding updated workforce plan.

The Senate Report states:

The Committee fully supports making the needed reforms to the Bureau of Indian Education [BIE] in order to improve the quality of education offered to address the performance gap of student's education at BIE-funded schools. The first phase of the current reform effort was approved in 2015; however, the Committee has not received any updated information on the next phase nor has the Bureau complied with Committee directives to report on the status of multiple programs as part of the fiscal year 2018 appropriations process. Over the past 3 years, the GAO has issued several reports (GAO–13–774, GAO–15–121, GAO–17–447, GAO–17–421, and GAO–16–313) outlining management challenges at the Bureau and there are still outstanding open recommendations to address as well as additional issues outlined in the high risk report (GAO–17–317). The Committee is fully supportive of efforts to reform and better the system, but concerns about how the Bureau manages funding, tracks school conditions,and manages the overall school system remain. The Committee stands ready to work with the administration on the appropriate steps forward and directs the Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs to report back within 60 days of enactment of this act on the progress made towards implementing all the GAO recommendations and the current status of the reform effort as well as the status of Congressional directives.

Inter-Agency Coordination to Serve Native Children. The House and Senate Reports continue language from prior fiscal years urging greater inter-agency coordination in order to better serve Native students:

The House Report states:

The BIE is encouraged to coordinate with the Indian Health Service to integrate preventive dental care and mental health care at schools within the BIE system.

The Senate Report states:

The administration's emphasis on education must be complemented by efforts to improve interagency coordination for the multiplicity of programs that affect the wellbeing of Native children. In addition to education, these include healthcare, social service, child welfare and juvenile justice programs. The Committee encourages the Bureau to work with other relevant Federal, State, local, and Tribal organizations to begin the process of identifying ways to make programs more effective in serving Native Children. The Bureau, working with the Indian Health Service as appropriate, is also urged to consider integrating school-based preventative health services such as dental care into elementary schools in order to improve health outcomes of Tribal students.

Bill Language Continuing Limitations on New Schools and the Expansion of Grades, Charter Schools, Satellite Locations and BIE-funded Schools in Alaska. For FY 2019, Congress continued this limiting language from prior appropriations Acts, including the language modifying the limits on expanded grades first provided in the FY 2018 appropriations Act. The House Report explains the intent of these restrictions and also clarifies how the restrictions on charter schools and satellite locations should be interpreted:

The bill continues language limiting the expansion of grades and schools in the BIE system while allowing for the expansion of additional grades to schools that meet certain criteria. The intent of the language is to prevent already limited funds from being spread further to additional schools and grades. The intent is not to limit Tribal flexibility at existing schools. Nothing in the bill is intended to prohibit a Tribe from converting a Tribally-controlled school already in the BIE system to a charter school in accordance with State and Federal law.

The bill continues language providing the Secretary with the authority to approve satellite locations of existing BIE schools if a Tribe can demonstrate that the establishment of such locations would provide comparable levels of education as are being offered at such existing BIE schools, and would not significantly increase costs to the Federal government. The intent is for this authority to be exercised only in extraordinary circumstances to provide Tribes with additional flexibility regarding where students are educated without compromising how they are educated, and to significantly reduce the hardship and expense of transporting students over long distances, all without unduly increasing costs that would otherwise unfairly come at the expense of other schools in the BIE system.

Elementary and Secondary Programs (Forward Funded) FY 2018 Enacted $579,242,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $511,788,000 FY 2019 House $584,368,000 FY 2019 Senate $580,681,000 FY 2019 Enacted $582,580,000

The Elementary and Secondary forward funded sub-activity includes the following program elements: ISEP Formula Funding; ISEP Program Adjustments; Education Program Enhancements; Tribal Education Departments; Student Transportation; Early Childhood Development; and Tribal Grant Support Costs. Funds appropriated for FY 2019 for these programs will become available for obligation on July 1, 2019, for SY 2019-2020. (For amounts by program element, see p. 783 of the attachment.)

Congress rejected the Administration's request for overall cuts and the request to zero out funding for Tribal Education Departments and for Early Childhood Development (commonly referred to as the FACE program). Congress also provided what is estimated to be full finding for Tribal Grant Support Costs.

ISEP and Language and Culture. Congress rejected the Administration's request to cut $24.8 million from ISEP Formula Funds and instead provided a $1.2 million increase. Further, they rejected the requested $2.8 million cut to ISEP Program Adjustments. The Senate Report emphasizes that ISEP funds should be used to enhance access to Native language and culture programs:

The Committee fully supports broadening access to Native language and culture programs, which have been linked to higher academic achievement for Native youth. The Committee expects the Individual Student Equalization Program should continue to enhance access to Native language and culture programs in BIE-funded schools and directs the Bureau to report within 60 days of enactment of this act on how previous funding provided has been and can continue to be used to support these programs.

Education Program Enhancements and Language Immersion. Congress rejected the Administration's proposal to cut $5.9 million from this program element. Further, Congress specified that the $2 million set-aside for Native language immersion grants is to continue, pursuant to the following directions: The House Report states:

Prior to distributing these funds, the Bureau shall coordinate with the Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that Bureau investments complement, but do not duplicate, existing language immersion programs.

The Senate Report states:

The Bureau is expected to report within 60 days of enactment of this act regarding the status of fiscal year 2018 funds and the planned distribution of funds in this act.

Student Transportation. Congress rejected Administration's request to cut $5.4 million from this program element. The Senate once again requests the following report:

The Committee is concerned by the recent Government Accountability Office report (GAO–17–423) on Tribal transportation, which identified potential negative impacts of road conditions on Native student school attendance. The Committee recommends BIE take steps to improve its data collection on the cause of student absences, including data on road and weather conditions, and to report back to the Committee within 120 days of enactment of this act regarding its actions to improve student absence data tracking and analysis.

Elementary and Secondary Programs (Non-Forward Funded) FY 2018 Enacted $141,563,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $114,128,000 FY 2019 House $151,972,000 FY 2019 Senate $141,972,000 FY 2019 Enacted $143,972,000

The Elementary and Secondary non-forward funded sub-activity includes the following program elements: Facilities Operations; Facilities Maintenance; Juvenile Detention Center Grants; and Johnson-O'Malley Assistance Grants. (For amounts by program element, see p. 783 of the attachment.)

Facilities. Congress rejected the Administration's request to cut $6.2 million from the Facilities Operations and $5.8 million from Facilities Maintenance program elements. Further, Congress provided a $2 million increase for Facilities Operations to be used as follows:

The Conferees are aware of the Department's efforts to pursue alternative financing options to address the significant need for replacement school construction at Bureau of Indian Education funded schools and have included an increase of $2,000,000 within Facility Operations to implement a pilot program to meet these needs. Before obligating these funds, the Department shall provide an expenditure plan for these funds to the Committees that includes details regarding how these funds will be used in fiscal year 2019, potential out-year impacts and demand for the program, and additional recommendations for legislative authority or other considerations for future program management.

Juvenile Detention Center Grants. In FY 2016, Congress initiated this grant program to meet the education and health-related needs of Native youth detained or incarcerated in currently operating, BIA-funded, juvenile detention centers for an extended period of time. Congress rejected the Administration's request to zero it out.

Johnson O'Malley Assistance Grants. Congress rejected the Administration's request to zero out funding for the Johnson O'Malley program; however, the Senate Report once again raises concerns about the accuracy of the student count:

The Committee remains concerned about the distribution methodology of the Johnson O’Malley [JOM] assistance grants and requests the Bureau report back to the Committee within 90 days of enactment of this act on the status of updating the JOM counts and the methodology used to determine the new counts. The Committee would like the Bureau to include what, if any, barriers there are to providing updates to the JOM count.

Post Secondary Programs (Forward Funded) FY 2018 Enacted $ 94,183,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $ 72,128,000 FY 2019 House $105,190,000 FY 2019 Senate $ 99,992,000 FY 2019 Enacted $100,992,000

This sub-activity includes Tribal Colleges and Universities and Tribal Technical Colleges (United Tribes Technical College (UTTC) and Navajo Technical University (NTU)) and now, finally, Haskell and SIPI. (For amounts by program element, see p. 783 of the attachment.)

Congress rejected the Administration's requested cuts and provided a $1 million increase for Tribal Colleges and Universities.

Study of Unfunded Tribal College Needs. The Senate Report once again requests the following:

The Committee also recognizes that many Tribal colleges have significant unfunded needs and directs the Bureau to work with Tribal leaders and other stakeholders to develop a consistent methodology for determining Tribal college operating needs to inform future budget requests. The Committee expects the methodology to address operating and infrastructure needs including classrooms and housing. .

Post Secondary Programs (Non-Forward Funded) FY 2018 Enacted $64,171,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $20,524,000 FY 2019 House $41,658,000 FY 2019 Senate $41,658,000 FY 2019 Enacted $41,658,000

The non-forward funded Post Secondary Programs sub-activity includes: Tribal Colleges and Universities Supplements; Scholarships and Adult Education; Special Higher Education Scholarships; and the Science Post Graduate Scholarship Fund. (For amounts by program element, see p. 784 of the attachment.)

Congress rejected the Administration's request to cut the Tribal Colleges and Universities Supplements and to zero out everything else.

Education Management FY 2018 Enacted $35,254,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $23,282,000 FY 2019 House $35,355,000 FY 2019 Senate $35,355,000 FY 2019 Enacted $35,355,000

The Education Management sub-activity consists of Education Program Management and Information Technology.

Congress rejected the Administration's request to cut $9.4 million from Education Program Management and $2.5 million from Information Technology.

High-Speed Internet Access for Schools. The Senate Report continues language from FY 2018, once again requesting the following report:

The Committee understands the importance of bringing broadband to reservations and villages, but remains concerned about how these funds are used and the planning process used for this type of investment. The Committee directs the agency to report back within 90 days of enactment of this act on a scalable plan to increase bandwidth in schools, procure computers, and software. This report should also include how the Bureau is working with other Federal agencies to coordinate and plan for the technology buildout.


FY 2018 Enacted Such sums as may be necessary (Estimated: $241,600,000) FY 2019 Admin. Request Such sums as may be necessary (Estimated: $247,000,000) FY 2019 House Such sums as may be necessary (Estimated: $247,000,000) FY 2019 Senate Such sums as may be necessary (Estimated: $247,000,000) FY 2019 Enacted Such sums as may be necessary (Estimated: $247,000,000)

Congress concurred with the Administration's request that Contract Support Costs (CSC) continue as an indefinite appropriation at "such sums as may be necessary" and that it continue in its own separate account comprised of Contract Support (such sums as may be necessary, estimated to be: $242,000,000) and the Indian Self-Determination Fund ($5,000,000).

The House Report states:

The Committee recommends an indefinite appropriation estimated to be $247,000,000 for contract support costs incurred by the agency as required by law. The bill includes language making available for two years such sums as are necessary to meet the Federal government's full legal obligation, and prohibiting the transfer of funds to any other account for any other purpose.

The Senate Report states:

Contract Support Costs.—The Committee has continued language from fiscal year 2018 establishing an indefinite appropriation for contract support costs estimated to be $247,000,000 which is an increase of $5,400,000 above the fiscal year 2018 level. By retaining an indefinite appropriation for this account, additional funds may be provided by the Bureau if its budget estimate proves to be lower than necessary to meet the legal obligation to pay the full amount due to Tribes. The Committee believes fully funding these costs will ensure that Tribes have the necessary resources they need to deliver program services efficiently and effectively.

General Provisions Continued. At the Administration's request, Congress continued by reference the following general provisions:

Contract Support Costs, Prior Year Limitation Sec. 405. Sections 405 and 406 of division F of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (Public Law 113-235) shall continue in effect in fiscal year 2019. Contract Support Costs, Fiscal Year 2019 Limitation Sec. 406. Amounts provided by this Act for fiscal year 2019 under headings "Department of Health and Human Services, Indian Health Service, Contract Support Costs" and "Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education, Contract Support Costs" are the only amounts available for contract support costs arising out of self-determination or self-governance contracts, grants, compacts, or annual funding agreements for fiscal year 2019 with the Bureau of Indian Affairs or the Indian Health Service: Provided, That such amounts provided by this Act are not available for payment of claims for contract support costs for prior years, or for repayment of payments for settlement or judgments awarding contract support costs for prior years.


FY 2018 Enacted $354,113,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $133,288,000* FY 2019 House $354,485,000 FY 2019 Senate $359,419,000 FY 2019 Enacted $358,719,000

*(The Administration was requesting to spend $133,288,000 but "cancel" $21,367,000 in unobligated, prior fiscal year balances for a total of $111,921,000.)

The Construction budget includes: Education Construction; Public Safety and Justice Construction; Resources Management Construction; and Other Program Construction/ General Administration.

Congress rejected all of the Administration's requests for drastic cuts and rescissions to Construction, instead providing that, "All programs, projects, and activities are maintained at fiscal year 2018 levels except for requested fixed cost increases and transfers, or unless otherwise specified below."


FY 2018 Enacted $238,245,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $ 72,851,000 FY 2019 House $238,250,000 FY 2019 Senate $238,250,000 FY 2019 Enacted $238,250,000

The Education Construction sub-activities are: Replacement School Construction; Replacement Facility Construction; Employee Housing Repair; and Facilities Improvement and Repair.

Congress rejected the Administration's request to zero out Replacement School Campus Construction and Replacement Facility Construction. Congress continued the robust funding levels provided in FY 2018, apportioning the funding as follows:

• Replacement School Campus Construction $105,504,000 • Replacement Facility Construction $ 23,935,000 • Employee Housing Repair $ 13,576,000 • Facilities Improvement and Repair $ 95,235,000

School Campus Replacement Construction List. The House Report provides the following direction:

The Committee recognizes the School Facilities & Construction Negotiated Rulemaking Committee established under Public Law 107–110 for the equitable distribution of funds. Appropriations in this bill for campus-wide replacement are limited to the 10 schools selected via the rulemaking committee process and published by Indian Affairs on April 5, 2016. Indian Affairs should submit a similar list for facilities with the fiscal year 2020 budget request.

Innovative Financing for Repair and Replacement. The House Report continues to express support for innovative financing options for school campus replacement: The Committee continues to strongly support innovative financing options to supplement annual appropriations and accelerate repair and replacement of Bureau schools, including through the use of construction bonds, tax credits, and grant programs. Indian Affairs is urged to work with any Tribes willing to include such financing in ongoing and future projects.

Facilities Improvement and Repair: Deferred Maintenance and Safety Inspections. The Senate Report provides the following direction and requests the following reports: The Committee expects the increases continued for the facility improvement and repair program shall be used to address deficiencies identified by annual school safety inspections.

The Committee remains concerned about the deferred maintenance projects at schools and directs the Bureau to submit the allocation plan as required by Public Law 115–31. The Committee is encouraged to learn that BIA and BIE continue to work together to ensure annual safety inspections are completed for all BIE school facilities. However, the Committee is concerned that, as recommended by the Government Accountability Office in report GAO–16–313, BIA and BIE have not developed concrete tracking and capacity-building systems to ensure safety issues flagged by these inspections are addressed in a timely manner. Furthermore, the Committee is concerned by reports from tribally operated BIE schools that BIE does not provide timely access to or training about the Facilities Improvement and Repair Program and other available emergency maintenance funding. The Committee directs BIE and BIA to report back within 90 days with a detailed implementation plan to address these remaining concerns.

Long-Term Facilities Plan. The Senate Report continues to request a long-term facilities plan for BIE-system schools modeled after the one produced by the Department of Defense Education Activity:

The Committee understands many schools are in need of repair, improvement, and upgrades in order to bring schools into good condition. The Committee stands ready to work with the administration and Tribes to develop a comprehensive strategy that provides safe, functional, and accessible facilities for schools. The Committee directs the Bureau to report back within 90 days of enactment of this act on the progress the Bureau has made towards implementing a long-term facilities plan similar to the Department of Defense process in 2009 as encouraged in the joint explanatory statement accompanied by Public Law 114–113. .


FY 2018 Enacted $35,309,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $10,421,000 FY 2019 House $35,310,000 FY 2019 Senate $35,310,000 FY 2019 Enacted $35,310,000

The Public Safety & Justice Construction sub-activities are: Facilities Replacement/New Construction; Employee Housing; Facilities Improvement and Repair; Fire Safety Coordination; and Fire Protection.

Congress continued the robust funding levels from FY 2018, apportioning the funding as follows: • Facilities Replacement and New Construction $18,000,000 • Employee Housing $ 4,494,000 • Facilities Improvement and Repair $ 9,372,000 • Fire Safety Coordination $ 170,000 • Fire Protection $ 3,274,000

Master Plan Development. The House Report continues language from FY 2018 calling for the following master plan to be maintained:

The Bureau is directed to maintain a master plan detailing the location, condition, and function of existing owned and leased facilities relative to location and size of the user populations. The plan shall be used to prioritize facilities replacement and new construction to fill in the largest service gaps first. Regional justice centers that combine functions and serve multiple user populations, while providing for reasonable driving distances for visitation and transport, should be strongly considered.


FY 2018 Enacted $67,192,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $38,026,000 FY 2019 House $67,231,000 FY 2019 Senate $72,231,000 FY 2019 Enacted $71,231,000

The Resources Management Construction sub-activities are: Irrigation Project Construction; Engineering and Supervision; Survey and Design; Federal Power and Compliance; and Dam Projects.

Congress rejected the Administration's proposed cuts, instead providing funding near FY 2018 levels.

Irrigation Projects Authorized by the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN Act). The WIIN Act created the Indian Irrigation Fund (Fund) to help address the deferred maintenance needs and water storage needs of certain categories of Indian irrigation projects. The WIIN Act authorizes deposits from the general U.S. Treasury into the Fund and authorizes Congress through FY 2028 to provide yearly expenditures from the Fund through the yearly appropriations process. For FY 2019 Congress provided $10 million in expenditures from the Fund and directs the BIA "to report back to the Committees on Appropriations within 90 days of enactment of this Act outlining the execution strategy for those funds provided under section 3211 of the WIIN Act (P.L. 114–322)."

Dam Safety Classification. The Senate Report provides the following direction: The Committee continues the increases for dam safety and is concerned there is an unknown number of dams on reservations that have not received a hazard classification and that the current review process is behind schedule resulting in delays for dams to receive a comprehensive review. The Committee strongly encourages the Bureau to begin the work on the dams and report back to the Committee on the best way to effectively quantify the potential pool of dams on reservations in need of a review and/or classification.


FY 2018 Enacted $13,367,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $11,990,000 FY 2019 House $13,694,000 FY 2019 Senate $13,628,000 FY 2019 Enacted $13,928,000

The Other Program Construction sub-activities are: Telecommunications Improvement and Repair; Facilities/Quarters Improvement and Repair; and Construction Program Management.

Congress provided near level funding, apportioning it as follows: $1,419,000 for telecommunications, including $300,000 to improve officer safety by eliminating radio communications dead zones; $3,919,000 for facilities and quarters; and $8,590,000 for program management, including $2,634,000 to continue the project at Fort Peck.


FY 2018 Enacted $55,457,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $45,644,000 FY 2019 House $50,057,000 FY 2019 Senate $55,457,000 FY 2019 Enacted $50,057,000

For amounts by settlement, see p. 786 of the attachment. Further, the Act provides, "That the Secretary shall make payments in such amounts as necessary to satisfy the total authorized amount for the Navajo Nation Water Rights Trust Fund." Congress in the Explanatory Statement says that the amounts provided ensure that Indian Affairs will meet the statutory deadlines of all authorized settlement agreements to date.


FY 2018 Enacted $ 9,272,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $ 6,699,000 FY 2019 House $19,279,000 FY 2019 Senate $ 9,279,000 FY 2019 Enacted $10,779,000

This program guarantees or insures loans covering up to 90 percent of outstanding loan principal to Indian tribes, tribal members, or for profit and not-for-profit businesses which are at least 51% Indian owned.



FY 2018 Enacted $15,431,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $ 4,400,000 FY 2019 House $ 7,750,000 FY 2019 Senate $ 7,400,000 FY 2019 Enacted $ 8,750,000

The Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation (ONHIR) was created as a result of the Navajo Hopi Settlement Act of 1974, Public Law 93–531. The Office is charged with planning and conducting relocation activities associated with the settlement of land disputes between the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe.

For FY 2019, the Administration had requested a funding cut for the Office "… to facilitate and expedite resettlement activities, and bring about the closure of the Office." Part of this request would have involved transferring $3 million to the Office of Special Trustee (OST) with OST then assuming responsibility for development of a detailed transition plan for a phased closure of ONHIR as well as the transfer the land management activities currently conducted by ONHIR to a new office within OST.

Congress, however, had other ideas. The Explanatory Statement says: The bill provides $8,750,000 for the Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation (ONHIR), of which $1,000,000 is to be transferred to the Department of the Interior, Office of Inspector General, for a comprehensive audit of ONHIR’s finances and any related investigations that are necessary in preparation for the eventual transfer of responsibilities to the Department when ONHIR closes.

The agreement continues the direction provided in the explanatory statement accompanying Division G of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017, P.L. 115–31. The Conferees remain committed to bringing the relocation process to an orderly conclusion and ensuring all eligible relocatees receive the relocation benefits to which they are entitled. Consultation with all affected parties and agencies is the key to a transparent, orderly closeout. The statute provides for termination of ONHIR when the President determines its functions have been fully discharged. That determination requires development of a comprehensive plan. The Conferees expect to receive a progress report on development of this plan within 90 days of enactment of this Act.



FY 2018 Enacted $11,485,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $ 5,738,000 FY 2019 House $11,485,000 FY 2019 Senate $11,485,000 FY 2019 Enacted $11,735,000

The Tribal Historic Preservation Program provides funding to tribes that have signed agreements with the National Park Service designating them as having an approved Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO).


National Recreation and Preservation is found under a different part of the National Park Service budget than Historic Preservation.

Congress rejected the Administration's proposed cuts, including the proposal to zero out National Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) grants. Instead, Congress provided level funding and in some cases, targeted increases. The Explanatory Statement provides the following direction:

Cultural Programs.—The agreement includes $25,562,000 for cultural programs, an increase of $500,000 above the enacted level. The increase above the enacted level is provided pursuant to 20 U.S.C. 4451(b) for grants to nonprofit organizations or institutions for the purpose of supporting programs for Native Hawaiian or Alaska Native culture and arts development at a total program level of $1,000,000 to be utilized consistent with the direction outlined in the explanatory statement accompanying Public Law 115– 141. This program is a good example of a multi-state, multi-organizational collaboration as envisioned under the American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian Culture and Art Development Act.


Department of Interior Reorganization. The Explanatory Statement maintains that as the Department proceeds with the different phases of the Reorganization, tribes must still be taken into account, despite the fact that the Department has not changed the regional boundaries for Indian Affairs:

Department of the Interior Reorganization.—The Conferees note that the Department moved forward with the first phase of its planned reorganization on August 22, 2018, when it established new regional boundaries for all of its bureaus except for those which fall under the leadership of the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs. Recognizing that many of the specific details of the reorganization are still in development, the Conferees reiterate that the Department must develop a concrete plan for how it will reshape its essential functions, taking into account its relationships with the Tribes, State and local governments, private and nonprofit partners, the public, and the Department’s workforce. Transparency must be an essential element of the reorganization process, and the Department is expected to continue engaging external stakeholders and conducting robust Tribal consultation as it develops its expected organizational changes. The Conferees appreciate the commitment of Departmental leadership, through an exchange of formal letters, to regularly consult with the Committees throughout the ongoing reorganization process and to adhere to the reprogramming guidelines set forth in the explanatory statement accompanying this Act, which require the Department to submit certain organizational changes for Committee review, including workforce restructure, reshaping, or transfer of functions. The Conferees also note that the agreement includes a total of $14,100,000 in new funding to implement the reorganization within the budgets of the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and Bureau of Indian Affairs, and expect the Department to provide a report on the planned use of these funds to the Committees 30 days prior to obligating these funds. The Senate Report states:

Reorganization.—The Committee has provided funds as requested for the Department's reorganization plan. However, many of the details of this proposal remain unknown. This is in large part because the Department is seeking the input of many stakeholders and has yet to incorporate these recommendations into its final reorganization plan. Given the current lack of specifics relating to the reorganization proposal, the Committee directs the Department to not obligate these funds until the Secretary has submitted a reprogramming in accordance with the procedures outlined in this report that provides greater detail on the reorganization, its impacts on staff, funding, and service delivery, and how these funds will be expended. The Committee has heard from tribal organizations about the need for more robust consultation related to this proposal as well, and therefore expects the Department to meet with these groups and formulate a process for tribal consultation that meets the needs of all stakeholders. The Committee further expects the Department to continue to meet with the committees of jurisdiction, to inform them ahead of forthcoming actions and to respond to their requests for the quantitative analyses and materials associated with this proposal.

We also note that the Act contains language found under TITLE VI—GENERAL PROVISIONS—THIS ACT, SEC. 608 which would restrict the Executive Branch from obligating or expending any funds to reorganize "any agency or entity" funded by the Act until specific reports have been received and formal reprograming requests have been approved by both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. The Act gives each agency 60 days from the date of enactment to submit the requested report. The Act would also reduce the amount appropriated for salaries and expenses by $100,000 per day from any agency that is late providing the report until the report is received.

National Monument Designations. The House Report provides the following direction: The Department is directed to work collaboratively with interested parties, including but not limited to, the Congress, States, local communities, Tribal governments and others prior to planning, implementing, or making national monument designations.

Chief Standing Bear Trail. The House Report states: The Committee recognizes the importance of Chief Standing Bear as one of America's earliest civil rights leaders. The Committee supports the work on the State and local level to establish a multi-state trail commemorating his accomplishments and urges the Secretary to assist in these efforts.

Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children. At the request of Senators Moran (R-KS) and Murkowski (R-AK) and former Senator Heitkamp (D-ND) the Act provides $400,000 for the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children which was established by Public Law 114–244."

Cindy Yurth, "Relocation Office funded but future is murky," Navajo Times, February 28, 2019, reported that the Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation, scheduled to close in 2018, was continued to complete some unfinished business and to await the outcome of court cases challenging the office's denial of relocation benefits.

FY 2019 Indian Health Service Final Appropriations

Hobbs-StrausGeneral Memorandum 19-006, March 25th, 2019,

"In this Memorandum we report on final FY 2019 appropriations for the Indian Health Service (IHS) as enacted in Division E of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019 (Act), Public law 116-6. The Act was signed four and a half months into fiscal year 2019 following several Continuing Resolutions which provided funding at FY 2018 levels and a 35-day partial government shutdown during which no funding was provided for those agencies which did not yet have an enacted appropriations bill. The Explanatory Statement accompanying the Act provides that House Committee Report 115-765 and Senate Committee Report 115-276 apply unless changed by the Explanatory Statement.

We reported on the Administration's proposed FY 2019 IHS budget in our General Memorandum 18-015 of April 18, 2018.and on the House and Senate Committee recommendations in General Memorandum 18-025 of June 26, 2018.


FY 2018 Enacted $5,537,764,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $5,424,023,000 FY 2019 House Committee $5,907,614,000 FY 2019 Senate Committee $5,772,116,000 FY 2019

Differences Attributed to SDPI and Staffing Considerations. The Administration's proposed FY 2019 IHS budget included $150 million in discretionary IHS funding for the Special Diabetes Program for Indians. Congress rejected this proposal and kept the program funded on a mandatory basis. Initially, the Administration's proposed budget also included $159 million estimated for staffing of new facilities but later the estimate provided to the Appropriations Committees was revised to $115 million.

Staffing Packages for Newly Constructed Facilities. The Act includes funding to meet the current estimated needed for staffing packages for newly constructed facilities—$115,233,000 in the Services and Facilities accounts combined ($103.9 million in Services; $11.3 million in Facilities). Funding is for facilities funded through the Construction Priority System or the Joint Venture Program that have opened in FY 2018 or will open in FY 2019 and which have achieved beneficial occupancy status. Rejection of Proposed Deletions and Reductions of Programs. Congress rejected the Administration's proposed deletion of all funding for the Community Health Representatives, Health Education, and the Tribal Management programs. They also rejected other large budget cuts proposed by the Administration, maintaining FY 2018 enacted increases.


FY 2018 Enacted Such sums as may be necessary FY 2019 Admin. Request Such sums as may be necessary FY 2019 House Committee Such sums as may be necessary FY 2019 Senate Committee Such sums as may be necessary FY 2019 Enacted Such sums as may be necessary

The Act maintains Contract Support Costs (CSC) as a separate appropriation account with an indefinite amount—"such sums as may be necessary." The FY 2019 estimate is $822,227,000.

Congress rejected the Administration's proposal to reinstate two provisions from the FY 2016 Appropriations Act for IHS which are contrary to the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) with regard to CSC. The first is the "carryover" clause that could be read to deny the CSC carryover authority granted by the ISDEAA; the other is the "notwithstanding" clause used by IHS to deny contract support costs for their grant programs – Domestic Violence Prevention; Substance Abuse and Suicide Prevention; Zero Suicide Initiative; after-care pilot projects at Youth Regional Treatment Centers; funding for the improvement of third party collections; accreditation emergencies; the housing subsidy authority for civilian employees, and a new pilot project for opioid prevention and treatment recovery on the list.

Congress has not gone along with those two Administration proposals in the past. The FY 2018 House Report encourages IHS to provide CSC for its grant programs.

Continuation of Sections 405 and 406 of General Provisions. The Act continues by reference, as requested, sections 405 and 406 of the FY 2015 Appropriations Act. These provisions prohibit BIA and IHS from using FY 2019 CSC funds to pay past-year CSC claims or to repay the Judgment Fund for judgments or settlements related to past-year CSC claims. They do not preclude tribes from recovering such judgments or settlements from the Judgment Fund. The following is from Division G, Title IV of the Act:

Contract Support Costs, Prior Year Limitation. Sec. 405. Sections 405 and 406 of division F of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (Public Law 113-235) shall continue in effect in fiscal year 2019.

Contract Support Costs, Fiscal Year 2019 Limitation. Sec. 406. Amounts provided by this Act for fiscal year 2019 under headings "Department of Health and Human Services, Indian Health Service, Contract Support Costs" and "Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education, Contract Support Costs" are the only amounts available for contract support costs arising out of self-determination or self-governance contracts, grants, compacts, or annual funding agreements for fiscal year 2019 with the Bureau of Indian Affairs or the Indian Health Service: Provided, That such amounts provided by this Act are not available for payment of claims for contract support costs for prior years, or for repayment of payments for settlement or judgments awarding contract support costs for prior years.


FY 2018 Enacted $3,952,290,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $3,945,975,000 FY 2019 House Committee $4,202,639,000 FY 2019 Senate Committee $4,072,385,000 FY 2019 Enacted $4,103,190,000


FY 2018 Enacted $2,045,128,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $2,189,688,000 FY 2019 House Committee $2,170,257,000 FY 2019 Senate Committee $2,198,623,000 FY 2019 Enacted $2,147,343,000

Tribal Clinic Leases. The Act provides $36 million in supplemental funding for "operations and maintenance of village built and tribally leased clinics". The House bill had recommended $18 million and the Senate bill $15 million for this purpose, but the amount was increased in conference because of a legal mandate to fully fund section 105(l) ISDEAA leases of tribal facilities used to carry out ISDEAA agreements. The FY 2018 appropriation was $11 million but the IHS reprogrammed an additional $25 million for the leases, bringing the total to $36 million. The Senate Committee comments on the issue of funding the leases under section 105(l) of the ISDEAA (the litigation referred to below is the Maniilaq Association v. Burwell, 170F. Supp. 3d 243 (D.D.C. 2016)).:

Village Built Clinics.—The Committee has provided additional resources for village built clinics [VBCs] leasing costs. The Service testified before the Committee that these resources are now being used not only to pay for the traditional VBCs but also for new costs relating to litigation which requires that section 105(l) of the Indian Self-Determination Act mandates payment of leasing costs when Tribal facilities are used to operate IHS programs. The agency indicated that these costs may grow exponentially over time. While the Committee has not included proposed language in the budget request to overturn this decision it is concerned with the budgetary impacts of this case moving forward. Within 90 days of enactment of this act, the Service shall submit a report which indicates the current number of Tribes pursuing 105(l) leasing arrangements, where these Tribes are located by State, the associated costs, and proposals for addressing this issue in the budget beyond simply overturning a court decision. The Committee believes these costs should be included separately in the budget request from those funds needed for village built clinics. (S. Rept. p. 94)

Accreditation Emergencies. The Act provides $58 million for hospital accreditation emergencies, the same as the FY 2018 enacted level.

The House Report states:

Accreditation Emergencies.—The recommendation includes $58,000,000 as requested to assist IHS-operated facilities that have been terminated or received notice of termination from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Medicare program. Funding shall be allocated to such facilities in amounts to: restore compliance; supplement purchased/referred care, including transportation, in the event of temporary closure of such facility or one or more of its departments; and compensate for third-party collection shortfalls resulting from being out of compliance. Primary consideration should be given to facilities that have been without certification the longest. Shortfalls shall be calculated relative to the average of the collections in each of the two fiscal years preceding the notice of termination. Funds allocated to a facility to address compliance issues shall be made available to Tribes newly assuming operation of such facilities pursuant to the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 (P.L. 93-638). (H. Rept. P. 79-80)

The Senate Report expresses concern about the deficiencies identified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at the Gallup Indian Medical Center and instructs IHS to take needed steps to come into compliance so that the facility does not lose its access to third party reimbursements and to address other deficiency issues.

New Tribes Funding. The Act provides $1.96 million, as requested, for the following newly-recognized or reinstated tribes: the Pamunkey Tribe of Virginia, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians (Oklahoma) and the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians (California) with the caveat in both Committee reports that they have recently been made aware of the litigation between United Keetoowah Band and the Cherokee Nation. The Committees are taking a neutral stand on the litigation and report that they will "consult with all parties involved before taking final congressional action."

Quality of Care. The Senate Committee states with regard to measurement of patient health:

The Committee finds that structural reforms are needed at the Indian Health Service, and directs IHS to work with the Committee to improve access to care and quality of services. The Committee also directs Indian Health Service to establish measurements for tracking the improvement of patient health, rather than defining increased funding alone as a metric for measuring improvements. (S. Rept. p. 93)

First Aid Kit Enhancements. The Senate Committee states with regard to first aid kit enhancements:

The Committee is aware that first aid products endorsed by the Department of Defense’s Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care [CoTCCC] help to reduce death or trauma as a result of bleeding. The Committee believe these products could help the agency save lives, especially in rural areas where it might take significant time to transport a patient to a hospital and/or healthcare facility for appropriate treatment. Accordingly, the Committee encourages the Agency to analyze incorporating CoTCCC's hemostatic dressing of choice in healthcare facilities and vehicles and provide a report to the Committee within 90 days of enactment. (S. Rept. p. 93)


FY 2018 Enacted $195,283,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $203,783,000 FY 2019 House Committee $207,906,000 FY 2019 Senate Committee $203,872,000 FY 2019 Enacted $204,672,000

Current Services/Staffing. The increase is for staffing of new facilities and an $800,000 transfer from the Direct Operations account to backfill vacant dental health position in Headquarters.


FY 2018 Enacted $ 99,900,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $105,169,000 FY 2019 House Committee $106,752,000 FY 2019 Senate Committee $105,281,000 FY 2019 Enacted $105,281,000

Current Services/Staffing. The increase is for staffing of new facilities. Included is $6.9 million to continue behavioral health integration and $3.6 million to continue the suicide prevention initiative.


FY 2018 Enacted $227,788,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $235,286,000 FY 2019 House Committee $238,560,000 FY 2019 Senate Committee $245,566,000 FY 2019 Enacted $245,566,000

Current Services/Staffing. The increase is for the staffing of new facilities and new funding of $10 million for an opioid pilot program. The Act retains FY 2018 increases of $6,500,000 for the Generation Indigenous initiative; $1,800,000 for the youth pilot project; and $2,000,000 to fund essential detoxification related services.

The Senate Committee states with regard to the opioid pilot program:

Opioid Grants. —To better combat the opioid epidemic, the Committee has included an increase of $10,000,000 and instructs the Service, in coordination with the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, to use the additional funds provided above the fiscal year 2018 level to create a Special Behavioral Health Pilot Program modeled after the Special Diabetes Program for Indians. This Special Behavioral Health Pilot Program for Indians should support the development, documentation, and sharing of more locally-designed and culturally appropriate prevention and treatment interventions for mental health and substance use disorders in Tribal and urban Indian communities. The Director of the Indian Health Service, in coordination with the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, shall awards grants for providing services, provide technical assistance to grantees under this section collect, and evaluate performance of the program. (S. Rept. p. 92)

Development of Clinic Capacity Model. The Senate Committee provides the following continuing directions:

The Service shall continue its partnership with Na'Nizhoozhi Center in Gallup, N.M., and work with the Center and other Federal, State, local and Tribal partners to develop a sustainable model for clinical capacity, as provided by the statement to accompany Public Law 115–31. (S. Rept. p. 92)

Care and Treatment. The Senate Committee states:

The Committee is concerned that alcohol and opioid use disorders continue to be some of the most severe public health and safety problems facing American Indian and Alaska Native [AI/AN] individuals, families, and communities. To address this problem, the Committee directs IHS to increase its support for culturally competent preventive, educational, and treatment services programs and partner with academic institutions with established AI/AN training and health professions programs to research and promote culturally responsive Care. Additionally, the Committee encourages the IHS to employ the full spectrum of medication assisted treatments for alcohol and opioid use disorders, including non-narcotic treatment options that are less subject to diversion combined with counseling services. (S. Rept. p. 92)

Prescription Drug Monitoring. The Senate Committee states:

The Committee is concerned that IHS and tribally operated health facilities are not participating in State Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs and emergency department information exchanges. The Committee strongly encourages these facilities to participate in these programs. Accordingly, within 90 days of enactment of this act, the Service shall provide the Committee with a report outlining by State such facilities that are participating and those that are not, and any issues preventing facilities from uploading data to these programs or exchanges. (S. Rept. p. 93) PURCHASED/REFERRED CARE

FY 2018 Enacted $962,695,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $954,957,000 FY 2019 House Committee $964,819,000 FY 2019 Senate Committee $964,819,000 FY 2019 Enacted $964,819,000

CHEF. Included in the total is $53 million for the Catastrophic Health Emergency Fund, the same as the FY 2018 enacted level. The Explanatory Statement addresses distribution of future increases:

The Conferees recognize the strong need for Purchased/Referred Care funding across Indian Country, particularly in areas that lack Indian Health Service facilities. The Conferees further recognize the Service’s continued pro rata allocation of any increases provided for population growth and inflation, regardless of any population growth or cost-of-living differences among areas, as documented by the Government Accountability Office (GAO-12-466). Consistent with GAO recommendations, the Conferees encourage the Service to consider allocating any future budget increases using the allocation formula established in consultation with the Tribes.


FY 2018 Enacted $72,280,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request -0- FY 2019 House Committee $125,666,000 FY 2019 Senate Committee -0- FY 2019 Enacted $72,280,000

The House Report language notes the funds are provided "in order to reduce disparities across the IHS system." The House bill language provides that the Fund "may be used, as needed, to carry out activities typically funded under the Indian Health Facilities Account."


FY 2018 Enacted $85,043,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $87,023,000 FY 2019 House Committee $90,540,000 FY 2019 Senate Committee $89,159,000 FY 2019 Enacted $89,159,000

Current Services/Staffing. The increase provides staffing of new facilities.


FY 2018 Enacted $19,871,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request -0- FY 2019 House Committee $20,568,000 FY 2019 Senate Committee $20,568,000 FY 2019 Enacted $20,568,000

The increase is for staffing of new facilities costs.


FY 2018 Enacted $62,888,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request -0- FY 2019 House Committee $62,888,000 FY 2019 Senate Committee $62,888,000 FY 2019 Enacted $62,888,000


FY 2018 Enacted $2,127,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $2,035,000 FY 2019 House Committee $2,164,000 FY 2019 Senate Committee $2,127,000 FY 2019 Enacted $2,127,000


FY 2018 Enacted $49,315,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $46,422,000 FY 2019 House Committee $60,000,000 FY 2019 Senate Committee $49,315,000 FY 2019 Enacted $51,315,000

The Explanatory Statement notes that a $2 million general program increase is provided and states that "the Service is expected to continue to include current services estimates for urban Indian health in future budget requests."


FY 2018 Enacted $49,363,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $43,394,000 FY 2019 House Committee $70,765,000 FY 2019 Senate Committee $49,558,000 FY 2019 Enacted $57,363,000

Programs funded under Indian Health Professions are: Health Professions Preparatory and Pre-Graduate Scholarships; Health Professions Scholarships; Extern Program; Loan Repayment Program; Quentin N. Burdick American Indians Into Nursing Program; Indians into Medicine Program; and American Indians into Psychology Program.

The Explanatory Statement notes that the Act allows up to $44 million for the loan repayment program (compares to $36 million in FY 2018). Also provided is an increase of $195,000 to expand the Indians into Medicine Program to four sites. Funding for the Quintin N. Burdick American Indians into Nursing Program and the American Indians into Psychology Program is continued at no less than the fiscal year 2018 enacted levels.


FY 2018 Enacted $2,465,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request -0- FY 2019 House Committee $2,465,000 FY 2019 Senate Committee $2,465,000 FY 2019 Enacted $2,465,000

The Tribal Management grant program, authorized in 1975 under the authority of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, provides competitive grant funding for new and continuation grants for the purpose of evaluating the feasibility of contracting IHS programs, developing tribal management capabilities, and evaluating health services.


FY 2018 Enacted $72,338,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $73,431,000 FY 2019 House Committee $73,431,000 FY 2019 Senate Committee $72,338,000 FY 2019 Enacted $71,538,000

IHS estimates that 58.7 percent of the Direct Operations budget would go to Headquarters and 41.3 percent to the 12 Area Offices. Tribal Shares funding for Title I contracts and Title V compacts are also included. $800,000 would be transferred to Dental Services to backfill dental vacancies in Headquarters.


FY 2018 Enacted $5,806,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $4,787,000 FY 2019 House Committee $5,858,000 FY 2019 Senate Committee $5,806,000 FY 2019 Enacted $5,806,000

The Self-Governance budget supports implementation of the IHS Tribal Self-Governance Program including funding required for Tribal Shares; oversight of the IHS Director's Agency Lead Negotiators; technical assistance on tribal consultation activities; analysis of Indian Health Care Improvement Act new authorities; and funding to support the activities of the IHS Director's Tribal Self-Governance Advisory Committee.

The IHS notes in its FY 2019 budget justification that in FY 2017, approximately $2 billion was transferred to tribes to support 94 ISDEAA Title V compacts and 120 funding agreements.


Indian Health Care Improvement Act/Level of Need Funded. The House Committee again addresses the issue of underfunding of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act:

It has been over eight years since the permanent reauthorization of the Indian HealthCare Improvement Act (HCIA), yet many of the provisions in the law remain unfunded. Tribes have specifically requested that priority areas for funding focus on diabetes treatment and prevention, behavioral health, and health professions. The Committee is aware of the work being done by the IHS in consultation with Tribes to re-evaluate the existing formula for calculating the level of need funded. The Service is expected to combine this calculation with other existing resource deficiency metrics to estimate a total amount necessary for fully funding existing health services, and report to the Committee no later than 180 days after enactment of this Act. (H. Rept. p. 80)

Maternal and Child Health Coordinator. The House Committee requests a report on the plan to hire a permanent Maternal and Child Health Coordinator:

The Committee is aware the Indian Health Service Chief Medical Officer (CMO) has established the hiring of a national maternal/child health coordinator as a top priority for the Office of Clinical and Preventive Services. In addition, the CMO has also appointed a Chief Clinical Consultant for Obstetrics and Gynecology for issues related to maternal health. Within 90 days of enactment of this Act, the Indian Health Service shall report on its progress to hire a permanent Maternal and Child Health Coordinator at Headquarters with experience working as a health care provider on maternal and child health issues. (H. Rept. p. 80)


FY 2018 Enacted $867,504,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $505,820,000 FY 2019 House Committee $882,748,000 FY 2019 Senate Committee $877,504,000 FY 2019 Enacted $878,806,000


FY 2018 Enacted $167,527,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $ 75,745,000 FY 2019 House Committee $167,527,000 FY 2019 Senate Committee $167,527,000 FY 2019 Enacted $167,527,000

As of October 1, 2016, the Backlog of Essential Maintenance, Alteration, and Repair is $515.4 million. Maintenance and Improvement (M&I) funds are provided to Area Offices for distribution to projects in their regions.


FY 2018 Enacted $240,758,000 FY 2019 Admin, Request $228,852,000 FY 2019 House Committee $256,002,000 FY 2019 Senate Committee $250,758,000 FY 2019 Enacted $252,060,000


FY 2018 Enacted $23,706,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $19,952,000 FY 2019 House Committee $23,706,000 FY 2019 Senate Committee $23,706,000 FY 2019 Enacted $23,706,000

The Act provides for $500,000 for the TRANSAM program and up to $2.7 million for the purchase of ambulances.


Construction of Sanitation Facilities

FY 2018 Enacted $192,033,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $101,772,000 FY 2019 House Committee $192,033,000 FY 2019 Senate Committee $192,033,000 FY 2019 Enacted $192,033,000

The sanitation facilities construction program provides funding for sanitation projects to serve new or like-new housing, existing homes, emergency projects, and studies and training related to sanitation facilities construction projects. The funds cannot be used to provide sanitation facilities for Department of Housing and Urban Development-built homes.

Construction of Health Care Facilities

FY 2018 Enacted $243,480,000 FY 2019 Admin. Request $ 79,500,000 FY 2019 House Committee $243,480,000 FY 2019 Senate Committee $243,480,000 FY 2019 Enacted $243,480,000

The Act provides $15 million for the Small Ambulatory Program, the same as the FY 2018 enacted level. The Senate Report also notes $6.5 million is for new and replacement quarters and $5 million "for healthcare facilities construction for the Service to enter into contracts with tribes or tribal organizations to carry out demonstration projects as authorized under the Indian Health Care Improvement Act."


The Explanatory Statement requires three facilities-related reports:

Health Care Facilities Priority System List and Gap Analysis. IHS is required to work down the current facility priority system list and also to provide within 180 days of enactment the "gap analysis directed by House Report 115-238 so that the Committees can more accurately determine facilities needs across the IHS system."

Indian Health Care Improvement Act Demonstration Authorities. The IHS is to report within 180 days of enactment on the criteria the agency will use for ranking projects funded through demonstration authorities provided in the most recent IHCIA. One factor to be considered is "the distance that patients must travel to receive the same or similar service".

Health Facilities Requirements in Alaska. The IHS is to work with tribal organizations and submit a report within 180 days of enactment that "includes an assessment of updated facilities needs in the State of Alaska as well as recommendations for alternative financing options which could address the need for additional health care facilities space suitable to meet the current and future health care needs of IHS beneficiaries in the State".


The Act continues language from previously enacted bills, including the following:

Housing Allowances. Continues the provision that the IHS may provide to civilian medical personnel serving in IHS-operated hospitals housing allowances equivalent to those that would be provided to members of the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service serving in similar positions at such hospitals.

IDEA Data Collection Language. Continues the BIA authorization to collect data from the IHS and tribes regarding disabled children in order to assist with the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The provision is:

Provided further, That the Bureau of Indian Affairs may collect from the Indian Health Service and tribes and tribal organizations operating health facilities pursuant to Public Law 93-638 such individually identifiable health information relating to disabled children as may be necessary for the purpose of carrying out its functions under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. (20 U.S.C. 1400, et. seq.)

Prohibition on Implementing Eligibility Regulations. Continues the prohibition on the implementation of the eligibility regulations, published September 16, 1987.

Services for Non-Indians. Continues the provision that allows the IHS and tribal facilities to extend health care services to non-Indians, subject to charges. The provision states:

Provided, That in accordance with the provisions of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, non-Indian patients may be extended health care at all tribally administered or Indian Health Service facilities, subject to charges, and the proceeds along with funds recovered under the Federal Medical Care Recovery Act (42 U.S.C. 2651-2653) shall be credited to the account of the facility providing the service and shall be available without fiscal year limitation.

Assessments by HHS. Continues the provision which provides that no IHS funds may be used for any assessments or charges by the Department of Health and Human Services "unless identified in the budget justification and provided in this Act, or approved by the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations through the reprogramming process."

Limitation on No-Bid Contracts. Continues the provision regarding the use of no-bid contracts. The provision specifically exempts Indian Self-Determination agreements:

Sec. 411. None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act to executive branch agencies may be used to enter into any Federal contract unless such contract is entered into in accordance with the requirements of Chapter 33 of title 41 United States Code or chapter 137 of title 10, United States Code, and the Federal Acquisition Regulations, unless: (1) Federal law specifically authorizes a contract to be entered into without regard for these requirements, including formula grants for States, or federally recognized Indian tribes; or (2) Such contract is authorized by the Indian Self-Determination and Education and Assistance Act (Public Law 93-638, 25 U.S.C. 450 et seq.) or by any other Federal laws that specifically authorize a contract within an Indian tribe as defined in section 4(e) of that Act (25 U.S.C. 450b(e)); or (3) Such contract was awarded prior to the date of enactment of this Act.

Use of Defaulted Funds. Continues the provision that allows funds collected on defaults from the Loan Repayment and Health Professions Scholarship programs to be used to make new awards under the Loan Repayment and Scholarship programs."

     Status of FY 2019 Appropriations and Partial Government Shutdown, Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 19-003, January 8th, 2019,, reported, " FY 2019 Appropriations Status. As of this writing we are in day 17 of a partial government shutdown affecting the Indian Health Service (IHS) and Indian Affairs (BIA/BIE) and many other federal agencies whose FY 2019 funding has lapsed as of December 21, 2018. On January 4, 2019, the House approved legislation (HR 21) on a largely party line vote (241-190) which would fund 6 of the 7 affected appropriations bills using the text of the Senate-passed FY 2019 appropriations bills from last year. The appropriations bills are: Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; Financial Services and General Government; Transportation-Housing and Urban Development; Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science; and State and Foreign Operations.
     The House Democrats, now the majority party, likely used the Senate-passed bills of last year because they had been approved by a wide bipartisan margin and, unlike the House-passed bills from last year, do not contain so many controversial policy riders. We point out that the FY 2019 Interior and Related Agencies bill approved by the House last year contains more funding for the IHS and Indian Affairs than does the Senate bill, so that is problematic. For a comparison of the FY 2019 House and Senate Committee recommendations for the IHS see our General Memorandum 18-025 of June 26, 2018 and for Indian Affairs see our General Memorandum 18-032 of August 16, 2018. HR 21 does not include Homeland Security funding which is the bill from which a border wall would be funded; rather the House Democrats' position is that there should be a short-term extension for Homeland Security while discussions continue. The President has said he will not sign HR 21 and Senate Majority Leader McConnell's position is that he will not call up that legislation unless the President will sign it. Now, Senate Democrats reportedly are coalescing around a plan to block any legislation on the Senate Floor that does not address the lapse in appropriations and House Democrats are planning to bring up individual FY 2019 spending bills in the House.
     Directions for Impacted Federal Agencies and Federal Agency Contingency Plans. The White House's Office of Management and Budget has created a page ( ) to provide guidance to impacted federal agencies during the lapse in appropriations. This includes both an FAQ document and "special instructions" to agencies (both documents are attached). The page also provides links to each federal agency's contingency plan. Some federal agencies have made specific contingency plans by bureau and office. For example, under the Department of Interior, the BIA and the BIE each have their own contingency plans (attached). The Department of Health and Human Services has a contingency plan for few agencies for which appropriations have lapsed (including IHS) (attached) as well as a staffing plan (attached) and the IHS as a Dear Tribal Leader Letter (attached).
     Generally, federal agencies for which appropriations have lapsed cannot incur obligations except in certain circumstances: when Congress has granted that agency authority to do so, when that agency is taking action to protect human life or property or if the work of certain federal employees is funded from sources other than the yearly appropriations process (such as fees or mandatory funding). Employees whose duties include protecting human life or property are generally "excepted" from the shutdown and required to report to work, albeit without pay. When Congress eventually provides funding to reopen the impacted agencies, those employees usually receive back pay. "Non-excepted" employees are generally furloughed and usually receive back pay as well; however, some Members of Congress object to this and do not want to pay the furloughed employees because they were not performing work during the shutdown. Each agency makes determinations about "excepted" and "non-excepted" employees. Regarding contracts and grants, the FAQ states that generally, routine, ongoing operational and administrative actions relating to contract or grant administration (including payment processing) cannot continue when there is a lapse in appropriations.
     Specifically, the BIA's contingency plan provides categories of excepted required services and activities including: law enforcement, child protection, wildland fire management, irrigation (because it is fee funded) and safety of dams. Because most BIE accounts are forward funded (meaning that the FY 2018 appropriations law provided funding for the 2018-2019 school year) most BIE-funded employees and functions are excepted, including the BIE-funded K-12 school system and tribal colleges and universities. HHS's contingency plan states that the IHS is to continue to provide direct clinical health care services as well as referrals for contracted services that cannot be provided through IHS clinics. The HHS guidance however, states that IHS can only perform certain national policy development or oversight but is unable to provide the majority of funds to tribes and urban Indian health programs. The IHS's Dear Tribal Leader Letter states that Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) agreements funded by appropriations will be impacted by the lapse in appropriations; however, HHS has determined that that tribally-managed programs operating under ISDEAA agreements are "excepted programs" which must continue to address emergency circumstances although no awards are being made and ISDEAA negotiations are suspended during the shutdown. The IHS suggests using prior year amounts or third party billing revenues to continue operations.

Impacts. Because the lapse in appropriations started just before the holidays, the impacts are just now starting to be felt. In years past when there have been short lapses in appropriations, the impacts have been relatively minor. Because Congress and the President have hardened their negotiating positions, this shutdown has the potential to last much longer and the impacts will grow the longer it lasts. The last extended government shutdown was in 2013."

FY 2020 Indian Health Service Proposed Appropriations

Hobbes Sstraus General Memorandum 19-009, April 23, 2019,

In this Memorandum, we report on the Trump Administration’s proposed FY 2020 appropriations for the Indian Health Service (IHS). The Administration’s proposed FY 2020 appropriations levels are described in terms of above or below the FY 2019 Continuing Resolution which is generally the same as the FY 2018 enacted levels, not the FY 2019 enacted amounts. We reported on the FY 2019 enacted levels in our General Memorandum 19-006 of March 25, 2019, and in this Memorandum we use the FY 2019 enacted levels.

The reference “CJ” refers to the Administration’s Congressional Budget Justification, and the term Current Services refers medical and non-medical inflation, pay costs, and population growth.


FY 2018 Enacted FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Admin. Request

$5,537,764,000 $5,804,223,000 $5,944,567,000

The proposed budget for the IHS is $140 million over the FY 2019 enacted level. The Budget Justification notes that the Administration’s priorities are for direct services and staffing of newly constructed facilities. However, the Administration’s funding proposals are described in relation to FY 2019 Continuing Resolution amounts which in reality are FY 2018 enacted levels.

Key items in the proposed FY 2020 budget are: 1) $68.8 million to partially fund current services (medical and non-medical inflation, pay costs; and population growth; 2) $97.5 million for staffing of new facilities as follows: $78.5 million for Cherokee Regional Health Center; $3.8 million for Yakutat Tlingit Health Center; $7.4 million for Northern California Youth Regional Treatment Center; and $7.8 million for Ysleta Del Sur Health Center; 3) $25 million for Electronic Health Record System transition; 4) $25 million to expand the Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS Initiative; 5) $20 million to begin transition of the Community Health Representatives (CHR) program to a National Community Health Aide Program (while reducing funding for the CHR program); 6) $11.5 million for or newly recognized tribes; and 7) $8 million for recruitment and retention efforts, including housing subsidies.

Funding for Contract Support Costs would continue at “such sums as may be necessary” and is estimated to be $855 million. The Administration did not repeat its proposal of last year to change the funding for the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) from a mandatory to a discretionary basis. Instead they proposed to continue funding it on a mandatory basis and to extend the authorization of the program for FYs 2020 and 2021 at the current level of $150 million annually. The current SDPI program authorization expires September 30, 2019.

Funding is proposed to be significantly reduced for Health Facilities Construction; supplemental funding for village clinics, Community Health Representatives, and the Indian Health Professions programs. Funding is proposed to be eliminated for the Public Health Nursing and the Health Education programs.


FY 2018 Enacted FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Admin. Request

Such sums as may be necessary Such sums as may be necessary Such sums as may be necessary

Contract Support Costs (CSC) is proposed to remain as a separate appropriation account with an indefinite amount—"such sums as may be necessary." The FY 2020 estimate is $855,000,000 which compares to the FY 2019 estimate of $822,227,000.

Once again, the Trump Administration proposes two provisions from the FY 2016 Appropriations Act for IHS which are contrary to the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) with regard to CSC. The first is the "carryover" clause that could be read to deny the CSC carryover authority granted by the ISDEAA; the second is the "notwithstanding" clause used by IHS to deny contract support costs for their grant programs – Domestic Violence Prevention; Substance Abuse and Suicide Prevention; Zero Suicide Initiative; after-care pilot projects at Youth Regional Treatment Centers; funding for the improvement of third party collections; accreditation emergencies; the housing subsidy authority for civilian employees, and a new pilot project for opioid prevention and treatment recovery. Added to the list in FY 2020 would be costs of the Electronic Records System, recruitment and retention of health care providers, and the Hepatitis C/HIV/AIDS Initiative. Congress has not gone along with these two Administration proposals in the past.

Continuation of Sections 405 and 406 of General Provisions. The Administration would continue sections 405 and 406 of the FY 2015 Appropriations Act. These provisions prohibit BIA and IHS from using FY 2020 CSC funds to pay past-year CSC claims or to repay the Judgment Fund for judgments or settlements related to past-year CSC claims. They do not preclude tribes from recovering such judgments or settlements from the Judgment Fund. The following is from Division G, Title IV of the Act:

Contract Support Costs, Prior Year Limitation. Sec. 405. Sections 405 and 406 of division F of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (Public Law 113-235) shall continue in effect in fiscal year 2020.

Contract Support Costs, Fiscal Year 2020 Limitation. Sec. 406. Amounts provided by this Act for fiscal year 2020 under headings "Department of Health and Human Services, Indian Health Service, Contract Support Costs" and "Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education, Contract Support Costs" are the only amounts available for contract support costs arising out of self-determination or self-governance contracts, grants, compacts, or annual funding agreements for fiscal year 2019 with the Bureau of Indian Affairs or the Indian Health Service: Provided, That such amounts provided by this Act are not available for payment of claims for contract support costs for prior years, or for repayment of payments for settlement or judgments awarding contract support costs for prior years.


FY 2018 Enacted FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Admin Request


FY 2018 Enacted FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Admin Request

$3,952,290,000 $4,103,190,000 $4,286,541,000

$2,045,128,000 $2,147,343,000 $2,363,278,000

Current Services/Staffing. Proposed is funding to partially meet current services: $2.1 million for pay costs; $15.8 million for inflation; and $25 million for population growth. Staffing of new facilities is requested at $71.7 million.

Tribal Clinic Leases. The Administration proposes only $11 million in supplemental funds for tribal clinic leases, down from $36 million enacted for FY 2019. The FY 2019 increase was in response to a legal mandate to fully fund section 105(l) ISDEAA leases of tribal facilities used to carry out ISDEAA agreements.

Accreditation Emergencies. Proposed is “not less than” $58 million for hospital accreditation emergencies. FY 2019 funding for this purpose was $58 million. New language clarifies that funds may be used for related facilities activities.

Ending Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS. $25 million is proposed as part of a national federal effort to end Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS. Of that amount $7 million would focus on strategies

including diagnosing, treating, protecting and responding to the epidemic. In addition, $18 million would be for the prevention of HCF “which will be modeled after the successful outcomes-driven work done by the Cherokee Nation and the Northwest Portland Area Tribes.”

New Tribes Funding. Proposed is $11.5 million for six tribes federally recognized on January 30, 2018: Chickahominy Indian Tribe; Chickahominy Indian Tribe – Eastern Division; Monacan Indian Nation; Nansemond Indian Tribe; Upper Mattaponi Tribe; Rappahannock Tribe.

National Community Health Aide Program (CHAP). $20 million is proposed to establish a National CHAP program outside of Alaska, while at the same time phasing out the Community Health Representative (CHR) program. Of the $20 million, $5 million would be for a training center network partnership with tribal colleges; $5 million would be for management of certification boards and compliance; and $10 million or funding to support expansion of CHAP for tribes who have received training and certification for the National CHAP program. (CJ-67).


New funding of $25 million would be used to “lay the groundwork” to modernize the Electronic Health Record system. The budget justification notes that the current Resource and Patient Management System has been identified by the Government Accountability Office as one of IHS’ top three systems most in need of modernization. The funds “would be used at the discretion of the IHS Director, and available until expended.”


FY 2018 Enacted FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Admin. Request

$195,283,000 $204,672,000 $212,370,000

Current Services/Staffing. The proposal includes $4.8 million for staffing of new facilities and $3.5 million for current services.


FY 2018 Enacted FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Admin. Request

$ 99,900,000 $105,281,000 $109,825,000

Current Services/Staffing. The proposal includes $2.8 million is for staffing of new facilities and $1.8 million for current services.


FY 2018 Enacted $227,788,000 FY 2019 Enacted $245,566,000

FY 2020 Admin. Request $246,034,000

Current Services/Staffing. The proposal includes $7.6 million for staffing of new facilities and $4.3 million for current services. Not taken into account is the FY 2019 increase of $10 million for an opioid pilot program.


FY 2018 Enacted FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Admin. Request

$962,695,000 $964,819,000 $968,177,000

Current Services/CHEF. Included in the total is $51.5 million for the Catastrophic Health Emergency Fund which is $1.5 million below the FY 2019 enacted level, and $4.7 million for current services.


FY 2018 Enacted FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Admin. Request

$72,280,000 $72,280,000 $72,280,000

Unlike the FY 2019 Act, funding for this program is not included in the proposed bill language, but it is included in the budget justification chart.


FY 2018 Enacted FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Admin. Request

$85,043,000 $89,159,000 $92,084,000

Current Services/Staffing. The proposal includes $3.4 million for staffing of new facilities and $1.5 million for current services.


FY 2018 Enacted FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Admin. Request

$19,871,000 $20,568,000 -0-

The Budget Justification notes that elimination of the funding “would discontinue the program at federal sites and discontinue the funding transferred to Tribes as part of their annual contracts and compacts; however, Tribes may choose to use their own resources to support similar functions.” (CJ-130).


FY 2018 Enacted FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Admin. Request

The proposal includes $39,000 for current services. URBAN INDIAN HEALTH

FY 2018 Enacted FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Admin. Request

$2,127,000 $2,127,000 $2,173,000

$49,315,000 $51,315,000 $48,771,000

FY 2018 Enacted FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Admin. Request

$62,888,000 $62,888,000 $24,000,000

The Budget Justification notes that the proposed reduction “begin phase out of the CHR program in FY 2020 and will replace the program with a new national Community Health Aide Program (CHAP). The requested funding will allow for a seamless transition to the new National CHAP.” (CJ-133). See the Hospitals and Clinics portion of this memorandum regarding the request of $20 million for a National CHAP program.


The proposal includes $876,000 for current services. INDIAN HEALTH PROFESSIONS

FY 2018 Enacted FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Admin. Request

$49,363,000 $57,363,000 $43,612,000

Programs funded under Indian Health Professions are: Health Professions Preparatory and Pre-Graduate Scholarships; Health Professions Scholarships; Extern Program; Loan Repayment Program; Quentin N. Burdick American Indians Into Nursing Program; Indians into Medicine Program; and American Indians into Psychology Program.

The proposal includes $433,000 for current services and $36 million for the loan repayment program (compares to $44 million in FY 2019).

$2,465,000 $2,465,000 -0-

The Tribal Management grant program, authorized in 1975 under the authority of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, provides competitive grant funding for new and continuation grants for the purpose of evaluating the feasibility of contracting IHS programs, developing tribal management capabilities, and evaluating health services.

The Administration proposes to eliminate funding for this program, stating “the budget prioritizes direct health care services and staffing of newly constructed facilities.” (CJ-153).


FY 2018 Enacted FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Admin. Request


FY 2018 Enacted FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Admin. Request

$72,338,000 $71,538,000 $74,131,000

IHS estimates that 75 percent of the Direct Operations would go to Headquarters and 26.5 percent to the 12 Area Offices. This is a significant increase in the Headquarters share because of the expanded administrative oversight of national functions. (CJ-158).


FY 2018 Enacted FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Admin. Request

$5,806,000 $5,806,000 $4,807,000

The Self-Governance budget supports implementation of the IHS Tribal Self-Governance Program including funding required for Tribal Shares; oversight of the IHS Director's Agency Lead Negotiators; technical assistance on tribal consultation activities; analysis of Indian Health Care Improvement Act new authorities; and funding to support the activities of the IHS Director's Tribal Self-Governance Advisory Committee.

The IHS notes in its FY 2020 budget justification that in FY 2018, approximately $2.3 billion was transferred to tribes to support 101 ISDEAA Title V compacts and 127 funding agreements.


FY 2018 Enacted FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Admin. Request

$867,504,000 $878,806,000 $803,026,000


As of October 1, 2018, the Backlog of Essential Maintenance, Alteration, and Repair is $648.9 million. Maintenance and Improvement (M&I) funds are provided to Area Offices for distribution to projects in their regions. The October 2016 backlog was estimated at $515.4 million.

Demolition Fund. The IHS appropriations Act has for many years included a provision providing that “not to exceed $500,000” may be placed in a Demolition Fund to be used until expended for demolition of Federal buildings. This bill language limitation is proposed to be eliminated because of the significant backlog of structures which require demolition, apparently meaning that the amount for demolition may be increased (CJ-19).


Included is $4.2 million for current services and $7 million for staffing of new facilities. MEDICAL EQUIPMENT

FY 2018 Enacted FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Admin. Request

$167,527,000 $167,527,000 $168,568,000

FY 2018 Enacted FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Admin. Request

$240,758,000 $252,060,000 $251,413,000

FY 2018 Enacted FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Admin. Request

$23,706,000 $23,706,000 $23,983,000

Proposed is $381,000 for current services; $500,000 for the TRANSAM program; $18.5 million for new and replacement equipment in federally- and tribally operated facilities; and $5 million for new equipment in tribally-constructed facilities. No funding is requested for purchase of ambulances as IHS explains that they no longer purchase ambulances from GSA but rather provide a price subsidy (CJ-19).


Construction of Sanitation Facilities

FY 2018 Enacted FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Admin. Request

$192,033,000 $192,033,000 $193,252,000

The sanitation facilities construction program provides funding for sanitation projects to serve new or like-new housing, existing homes, emergency projects, and studies and training related to sanitation facilities construction projects. The funds cannot be used to provide sanitation facilities for Department of Housing and Urban Development-built homes.

Construction of Health Care Facilities

FY 2018 Enacted FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Admin. Request

$243,480,000 $243,480,000 $165,810,000

Proposed is $60.2 million for Boda Gap Health Center quarters; $51.4 million for the Albuquerque West Health Center; $44.2 million for the Albuquerque Central Health Center; and $10 million for new and replacement staff quarters which would be distributed to Area Offices based on their internal priority lists.


The Act continues language from previously enacted bills, including the following:

IDEA Data Collection Language. Continues the BIA authorization to collect data from the IHS and tribes regarding disabled children in order to assist with the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The provision is:

Provided further, That the Bureau of Indian Affairs may collect from the Indian Health Service and tribes and tribal organizations operating health facilities pursuant to Public Law 93-638 such individually identifiable health information relating to disabled children as may be necessary for the purpose of carrying out its functions under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. (20 U.S.C. 1400, et. seq.)

Prohibition on Implementing Eligibility Regulations. Continues the prohibition on the implementation of the eligibility regulations, published September 16, 1987.

Services for Non-Indians. Continues the provision that allows the IHS and tribal facilities to extend health care services to non-Indians, subject to charges. The provision states:

Provided, That in accordance with the provisions of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, non-Indian patients may be extended health care at all tribally administered or Indian Health Service facilities, subject to charges, and the proceeds along with funds recovered under the Federal Medical Care Recovery Act (42 U.S.C. 2651-2653) shall be credited to the account of the facility providing the service and shall be available without fiscal year limitation.

Assessments by HHS. Continues the provision which provides that no IHS funds may be used for any assessments or charges by the Department of Health and Human Services "unless identified in the budget justification and provided in this Act, or approved by the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations through the reprogramming process."

Limitation on No-Bid Contracts. Continues the provision regarding the use of no-bid contracts. The provision specifically exempts Indian Self-Determination agreements:

Sec. 411. None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act to executive branch agencies may be used to enter into any Federal contract unless such contract is entered into in accordance with the requirements of Chapter 33 of title 41 United States Code or chapter 137 of title 10, United States Code, and the Federal Acquisition Regulations, unless:

(1) Federal law specifically authorizes a contract to be entered into without regard for these requirements, including formula grants for States, or federally recognized Indian tribes;or (2) Such contract is authorized by the Indian Self-Determination and Education and Assistance Act (Public Law 93-638, 25 U.S.C. 450 et seq.) or by any other Federal laws that specifically authorize a contract within an Indian tribe as defined in section 4(e) of that Act (25 U.S.C. 450b(e)); or

(3) Such contract was awarded prior to the date of enactment of this Act.

Use of Defaulted Funds. Continues the provision that allows funds collected on defaults from the Loan Repayment and Health Professions Scholarship programs to be used to make new awards under the Loan Repayment and Scholarships.


Bill language not included. Not included in FY 2020 proposed bill language are provisions from FY 2019 language with regard to IHS providing civilian medical personnel serving in IHS-operated hospitals housing allowances equivalent to those that would be provided to the Commissioned Corps personnel serving in similar positions at such hospitals; and language regarding required advance notification to Appropriations Committees if the IHS appropriations structure is changed. "


"House Appropriations Wins," FCNL, Native American Legislative Update, May 2019, reported," On May 16, the House Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee released its draft Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations bill. There are a couple of important wins for Native American communities.

Assistance for tribal implementation of the Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction (SDVCJ) was increased to $5 million. The SDVCJ is a part of the Violence Against Women Act. It acknowledges tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians for crimes of domestic violence and is crucial for keeping Native American women and communities safe.
      A five percent, $142 million, set-aside for the Crime Victims Fund was also included. It provides grants for victim services. FCNL has worked on this tribal set-aside through both budget appropriations and the SURVIVE Act (S. 211/ H.R. 1351).
      The SURVIVE Act would permanently establish a five percent tribal set-aside of the crime victims fund, to ensure that funding reaches communities with the greatest needs. It must remain in the final spending bill. FCNL will continue to lobby on this funding priority."

FY 2020 Indian Affairs Request

Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 19-008,

April 16th, 2019,

"In this Memorandum we report on the Trump Administration's request for FY 2020 appropriations for Indian Affairs (which includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) and related accounts), as well as a few other selected programs.

Comparing FY 2019 Enacted vs FY 2020 Administration Request. We attach the Administration's detailed FY 2020 Request budget charts for the BIA and the BIE; however, please note that because FY 2019 Enacted appropriations came so late this year, the FY 2019 amount used in these charts is the annualized Continuing Resolution level which assumes a continuation of the FY 2018 Enacted spending levels, NOT the actual FY 2019 Enacted amount. Throughout this document when we compare the Administration's FY 2020 Request to FY 2019, we use the true FY 2019 Enacted amounts for comparison. We reported on the FY 2019 Indian Affairs Enacted budget in our General Memorandum 19-007 of April 10, 2019.

When we refer to page numbers in this report, we are referring to the page number of that Bureau's or Office's FY 2020 Budget Justification.


For FY 2020 the Trump Administration is requesting $2.7 billion for the Indian Affairs budget, a $291.6 million cut from the FY 2019 Enacted amount of $3 billion.

Department of the Interior Reorganization. The planned Reorganization of the Department of the Interior is underway; however, at the request of many tribes, Indian Affairs will not be part of this Reorganization.

Proposed Structural Changes. Notably in the FY 2020 Indian Affairs budget request, the Administration is proposing to strengthen the BIE as an independent bureau with a separate budget structure from the BIA and to shift the reporting relationship of the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST) from the Office of the Secretary to the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs (AS-IA). The OST would continue to be a separate organization reporting to AS-IA, in the same manner as the BIA and BIE do. The proposed organizational chart is attached.

Initiative to Combat Violence in Indian Communities. For FY 2020, the Administration is "launching a new initiative to focus on violence in Indian Country and target significant and rising criminal justice issues plaguing Native American communities, particularly against Native women. This initiative will coordinate a broad group of Federal and Tribal stakeholders across Indian Country to address: unsolved cold cases; escalating reports and improved reporting of missing and murdered persons, domestic violence and crimes in the Violence Against Women Act; human trafficking, and the opioid epidemic." [p. IA-PSJ-2, IA-PSJ-3]

Public Lands Infrastructure Initiative. For FY 2020, the Administration is once again proposing the creation of a new Public Lands Infrastructure Fund (Fund) to "address repairs and improvements in national parks, national wildlife refuges, and Bureau of Indian Education-funded schools." Further information about the Administration's request for regular appropriations for school maintenance and repair is found under the EDUCATION CONSTRUCTION subsection of this report.


FY 2018 Enacted $2,411,200,000 FY 2019 Enacted $2,414,577,000 FY 2020 Admin. Request $1,462,310,000

Operation of Indian Programs (OIP) budget previously included the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE). The FY 2020 amount reflects the Administration's request to strengthen BIE as an independent bureau.


FY 2018 Enacted $1,496,787,000 FY 2019 Enacted $1,510,020,000 FY 2020 Admin. Request $1,462,310,000

Budget activities within the Bureau of Indian Affairs are: Tribal Government; Human Services; Trust-Natural Resources Management; Trust-Real Estate Services; Public Safety and Justice; Community and Economic Development; and Executive Direction and Administrative Services.


FY 2018 Enacted $317,967,000 FY 2019 Enacted $320,973,000 FY 2020 Admin. Request $326,013,000

The Tribal Government sub-activities are: Aid to Tribal Government; Consolidated Tribal Government Program; Self-Governance Compacts; New Tribes; Small and Needy Tribes; Road Maintenance; and Tribal Government Program Oversight.

Self-Governance Compacts. The Administration is requesting a $12.6 million increase for this sub-activity which provides resources to new and existing self-governance tribes, enabling them to plan, conduct consolidate, and administer programs, services, functions, and activities for tribal citizens according to priorities established by their tribal governments.

New Tribes. This sub-activity provides $160,000 in Tribal Priority Allocation (TPA) base funding per tribe to support newly federally-recognized tribes. Once a tribe has been acknowledged, it remains in this category for three fiscal years. The Administration is requesting a $160,000 increase to this sub-activity "to fund the Monacan tribe at a level consistent with BIA policy and commensurate with the size of its tribal membership."

Small and Needy Tribes. This sub-activity provides a minimum base level by which small and needy tribes can run viable tribal governments. Once again, the Administration is requesting that it be zeroed out.


FY 2018 Enacted $161,063,000 FY 2019 Enacted $161,416,000 FY 2020 Admin. Request $142,950,000

The Human Services sub-activities are: Social Services; Welfare Assistance; Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA); Housing Improvement Program (HIP); Human Services Tribal Design; and Human Services Program Oversight.

Housing Improvement Program. This sub-activity provides funding for housing repairs and renovations of existing homes, construction of modest replacement homes or construction of modest homes for families who do not own a home but have ownership or lease sufficient land suitable for housing. Once again, the Administration is requesting that it be zeroed out.


FY 2018 Enacted $204,202,000 FY 2019 Enacted $206,870,000 FY 2020 Admin. Request $184,089,000

The Trust–Natural Resources Management sub-activities are: Natural Resources, general; Irrigation Operation and Maintenance; Rights Protection Implementation; Tribal Management/Development Programs; Endangered Species; Tribal Climate Resilience/Cooperative Landscape Conservation; Integrated Resource Information; Agriculture and Range; Forestry; Water Resources; Fish/Wildlife & Parks; and Resource Management Oversight.

Once again, the Administration is requesting cuts to the Endangered Species sub-activity and the Agriculture and Range sub-activity. Once again, the Administration is requesting that the Tribal Climate Resilience/Cooperative Landscape Conservation sub-activity be zeroed out. This sub-activity is focused on protecting and enhancing healthy and resilient ecosystems which are vulnerable to climate change and on which tribes rely on for subsistence harvests. This sub-activity also funds efforts to make Native communities which are vulnerable to climate change more resilient. .


FY 2018 Enacted $129,841,000 FY 2019 Enacted $130,680,000 FY 2020 Admin. Request $121,965,000

The Trust–Real Estate Services sub-activities are: Trust Services; Navajo-Hopi Settlement Program; Probate; Land Title and Records Offices; Real Estate Services; Land Records Improvement; Environmental Quality; Alaska Native Programs; Rights Protection; and Trust-Real Estate Services Oversight.

The Administration is requesting substantial cuts for the Environmental Quality sub-activity and once again requesting to zero out the Litigation Support/Attorney Fees and Other Indian Rights Protection program elements within the Rights Protection sub-activity. The Litigation Support/Attorney Fees program element provides funding to tribes to protect, defend, or establish their rights and protect tribal trust resources guaranteed through treaty, court order, statute executive order or other legal authorities. The Other Indian Rights Protection program element supports water rights negotiation/litigation staff at the regional level.


FY 2018 Enacted $405,520,000 FY 2019 Enacted $411,517,000 FY 2020 Admin. Request $409,159,000

The Public Safety and Justice sub-activities are: Law Enforcement; Tribal Courts; and Fire Protection.

Opioid Crisis Initiative. The Administration is requesting a $2.5 million increase to the Law Enforcement Special Initiatives program element under the Law Enforcement sub-activity to better address the opioid crisis in Indian Country. Funding would be directed to expanding the BIA's capacity to oversee interdiction programs and would support 10 additional Full Time Equivalent (FTE) positions to expand the DOI Opioid Task Force operation.


FY 2018 Enacted $46,447,000 FY 2019 Enacted $47,579,000 FY 2020 Admin. Request $44,397,000

The Community and Economic Development sub-activities are: Job Placement and Training; Economic Development; Minerals and Mining; and Community Development Oversight.


FY 2018 Enacted $231,747,000 FY 2019 Enacted $230,985,000 FY 2020 Enacted $233,737,000

The Executive Direction and Administrative Services sub-activities are: Assistant Secretary Support; Executive Direction; Administrative Services; Safety and Risk Management; Information Resources Technology; Human Capital Management; Facilities Management; Intra-Governmental Payments; and Rentals.

The Administration's request reflects spending levels relatively similar to FY 2019 Enacted levels but is differentiated by a $2.5 million requested reduction for the Information Resources Technology sub-activity as well as some increases in other areas attributed to fixed costs.


FY 2018 Enacted Such sums as may be necessary (Estimated: $241,600,000) FY 2019 Enacted Such sums as may be necessary (Estimated: $247,000,000) FY 2020 Admin. Request Such sums as may be necessary (Estimated: $285,857,000)

The Administration is requesting that Contract Support Costs (CSC) continue as an indefinite appropriation at "such sums as may be necessary" and that it continue in its own separate account comprised of Contract Support (such sums as may be necessary, estimated to be: $280,857,000) and the Indian Self-Determination Fund ($5,000,000).

General Provisions Continued. The Administration is requesting that the following general provisions continue:

Contract Support Costs, Prior Year Limitation Sec. __. Sections 405 and 406 of division F of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (Public Law 113-235) shall continue in effect in fiscal year 2020. Contract Support Costs, Fiscal Year 2020 Limitation Sec. __. Amounts provided by this Act for fiscal year 2020 under headings "Department of Health and Human Services, Indian Health Service, Contract Support Costs" and "Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education, Contract Support Costs" are the only amounts available for contract support costs arising out of self-determination or self-governance contracts, grants, compacts, or annual funding agreements for fiscal year 2020 with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Indian Education or the Indian Health Service: Provided, That such amounts provided by this Act are not available for payment of claims for contract support costs for prior years, or for repayment of payments for settlement or judgments awarding contract support costs for prior years.


FY 2018 Enacted $354,113,000 FY 2019 Enacted $358,719,000 FY 2020 Admin. Request $ 58,482,000 Per the Administrations' request to move Education Construction to the BIE's budget the Construction budget would be composed of: Public Safety and Justice Construction; Resources Management Construction; and Other Program Construction/ General Administration.


FY 2018 Enacted $35,309,000 FY 2019 Enacted $35,310,000 FY 2020 Admin. Request $10,422,000

The Public Safety & Justice Construction sub-activities are: Facilities Replacement/New Construction; Employee Housing; Facilities Improvement and Repair; Fire Safety Coordination; and Fire Protection.

The Administration is proposing to zero out Facilities Replacement; cut Employee Housing by $1.4 million and cut Facilities Improvement and Repair by $5.3 million, proposing funding levels as follows:

• Facilities Replacement and New Construction $ -0- • Employee Housing $ 3,092,000 • Facilities Improvement and Repair $ 4,058,000 • Fire Safety Coordination $ 167,000 • Fire Protection $ 3,105,000


FY 2018 Enacted $67,192,000 FY 2019 Enacted $71,231,000 FY 2020 Admin. Request $36,053,000

The Resources Management Construction sub-activities are: Irrigation Project Construction; Engineering and Supervision; Survey and Design; Federal Power and Compliance; and Dam Projects.

The Administration is proposing to cut $11.6 million from Irrigation Project Construction; and cut $18.5 million from Dam Projects.


FY 2018 Enacted $13,367,000 FY 2019 Enacted $13,928,000 FY 2020 Admin. Request $12,007,000

The Other Program Construction sub-activities are: Telecommunications Improvement and Repair; Facilities/Quarters Improvement and Repair; and Construction Program Management. Facilities/Quarters Improvement and Repair. The Administration is requesting a $1 million cut to this sub-activity.


FY 2018 Enacted $55,457,000 FY 2019 Enacted $50,057,000 FY 2020 Admin. Request $45,644,000

Details by settlement can be found in attached Indian Affairs budget chart. The Administration explains the FY 2020 request as follows:

(Unallocated -9,813,000): The distribution of settlement funding in 2020 will depend on final 2019 payments to active settlements. The Navajo Trust Fund and the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project (both authorized in P.L. 111-11) have enforceability dates in 2019 and will not require funding in 2020. Administration of the Hoopa-Yurok Settlement (P.L. 100-580) and the Pyramid Lake Water Rights Settlement (P.L. 101-618) are also complete as of end of fiscal year 2019. The 2020 funding will be allocated between ongoing administration needs of the White Earth Land Settlement Act (P.L. 99-264), final payment to the Pechanga Water Rights Settlement (P.L. 114-322), and the Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement (P.L. 114-322) whose enforceability date is in January 2025. [p.IA-SET-3]


FY 2018 Enacted $ 9,272,000 FY 2019 Enacted $10,779,000 FY 2020 Admin. Request $ 909,000

The Indian Guaranteed Loan Program is made up of Loan Subsidies and Program Management. This program guarantees or insures loans covering up to 90 percent of outstanding loan principal to Indian tribes, tribal members, or for profit and not-for-profit businesses which are at least 51% Indian owned.

Loan Subsidies. The Administration is not requesting any funding for new Indian Guaranteed Loan Program subsidies, explaining that, "… this program largely duplicates other existing loan programs serving Indian Country. The President's reform plan 'Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century' proposed, where feasible, to centralize small business loans and loan guarantee programs under the Small Business Administration." [p. IA-LOAN-4]

Program Management. The Administration is requesting to cut $348,000 from this sub-activity leaving $909,000 to "provide oversight and administrative support for the existing loan portfolio." [p. IA-LOAN-4]


FY 2018 Enacted $ 914,413,000 FY 2019 Enacted $ 904,557,000 FY 2020 Admin. Request $ 936,274,000

Consistent with the Government Accountability Office's (GAO) recommendations, the requests of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and the Department of Interior's FY 2018-2022 Strategic Plan, the Administration is proposing to strengthen the BIE as an independent bureau with a separate budget structure. Specifically, the House Appropriations Committee Report from FY 2019 urges:

Consistent with GAO report 13–774, the Secretary is urged to reorganize Indian Affairs so that control and accountability of the BIE system is consolidated within the BIE, to present such reorganization proposal in the next fiscal year budget request, and to submit to the Committees a corresponding updated workforce plan.

The Administration proposes to do this by moving the BIE operational accounts out from under the BIA's Operation of Indian Programs account to a separate Operation of Indian Education Programs account and moving the Education Construction account out from under the Indian Affairs Construction account. The new BIE budget would then be composed of the Operation of Indian Education Programs account and the Education Construction account. The amount shown above for the Administration's FY 2020 BIE request includes both the request for Operation of Indian Education Programs account and the Education Construction account. The Administration explains:

A key aspect of this effort is decoupling overlapping functions of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and BIE to better deliver services to schools, maximize efficiency, and build capacity within BIE. BIE will retain existing programs and gradually assume direct responsibility for acquisition, safety, and facilities management. Aligning resources with management responsibilities addresses recommendations of the Government Accountability Office and will provide BIE the autonomy and accountability needed to improve service delivery to, and by, BIE-funded schools.

… The 2020 budget maintains existing Administrative Provisions for both the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the BIE, and proposes appropriations language allowing for the transfer of funding between accounts with reporting to Congress, as the bureaus transition to the new funding structure. [p. BIE-ES-1 to BIE-ES-2]


FY 2018 Enacted $914,413,000 FY 2019 Enacted $904,557,000 FY 2020 Admin. Request $867,416,000

The Operation of Indian Education Programs category displays funds for the BIE-funded elementary and secondary school systems as well as other education programs including higher education and scholarships. Budget activities within the Operation of Indian Education Programs are: Elementary and Secondary Programs (Forward Funded); Elementary and Secondary Programs (Non-Forward Funded); Post Secondary Programs (Forward Funded); Post Secondary Programs (Non-Forward Funded); and Education Management.

Bill Language Continuing Limitations on New Schools and the Expansion of Grades, Charter Schools, Satellite Locations and BIE-funded Schools in Alaska. For FY 2020, the Administration proposes to continue this limiting language from prior appropriations Acts, including the language modifying the limits on expanded grades first provided in the FY 2018 appropriations Act.

ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY PROGRAMS (FORWARD FUNDED) FY 2018 Enacted $579,242,000 FY 2019 Enacted $582,580,000 FY 2020 Admin. Request $585,055,000

The Elementary and Secondary forward funded sub-activities are: ISEP Formula Funding; ISEP Program Adjustments; Education Program Enhancements; Tribal Education Departments; Student Transportation; Early Childhood Development; and Tribal Grant Support Costs. Funds appropriated for FY 2020 for these programs will become available for obligation on July 1, 2020, for SY 2020-2021.

Education Program Enhancements. The Administration is requesting a $2 million increase to the sub-activity overall and requesting that the Native Language Immersion Grants continue.

Early Child and Family Development (FACE). The Administration is requesting a $2 million increase for this sub-activity stating that, "BIE will maintain FACE sites while continuing implementation of early childhood activities outlined in the BIE Strategic Direction. Implementation will be accomplished through a phased approach utilizing pilot initiatives to determine the most effective strategies for improving kindergarten readiness."

Tribal Grant Support Costs. The Administration is requesting that full funding be continued, albeit at a slightly lower estimate: $81,508,000.

ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY PROGRAMS (NON-FORWARD FUNDED) FY 2018 Enacted $141,563,000 FY 2019 Enacted $143,972,000 FY 2020 Admin. Request $141,729,000

The Elementary and Secondary non-forward funded sub-activities are: Facilities Operations; Facilities Maintenance; Juvenile Detention Center Grants; and Johnson-O'Malley Assistance Grants.

POST SECONDARY PROGRAMS (FORWARD FUNDED) FY 2018 Enacted $ 94,183,000 FY 2019 Enacted $100,992,000 FY 2020 Admin. Request $ 96,810,000

The Post Secondary forward funded sub-activities are: Tribal Colleges and Universities; Tribal Technical Colleges (United Tribes Technical College (UTTC) and Navajo Technical University (NTU)); and now, finally, Haskell and SIPI.

POST SECONDARY PROGRAMS (NON-FORWARD FUNDED) FY 2018 Enacted $64,171,000 FY 2019 Enacted $41,658,000 FY 2020 Admin. Request $ 1,220,000

The Post Secondary non-forward funded sub-activities are: Tribal Colleges and Universities Supplements; Scholarships and Adult Education; Special Higher Education Scholarships; and the Science Post Graduate Scholarship Fund.

The Administration is once again requesting to continue funding for Tribal Colleges and Universities Supplements while zeroing out everything else.

EDUCATION MANAGEMENT FY 2018 Enacted $35,254,000 FY 2019 Enacted $35,355,000 FY 2020 Admin. Request $42,602,000

The Education Management sub-activities are Education Program Management and Information Technology.

Education Program Management. The Administration is requesting a $7.2 million and 88 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) increase to be used as follows:

In FY 2020, BIE will continue successful implementation of the BIE Strategic Direction and ongoing reform efforts, strengthen BIE as an independent bureau, and increase accountability and transparency throughout the Bureau. The additional resources in the 2020 request will improve BIE’s ability to implement GAO and OIG recommendations and address critical School Operations by hiring additional acquisition, facilities, and safety staff. The capacity will allow BIE to ensure prompt acquisitions, regular safety inspections and action on required abatement actions. In addition, BIE will develop safety committees, threat assessments, school violence prevention and response strategies, and promulgate national protocols and procedures. Additional funding will also support Education Program Administrators, grants managers, and support staff for the Education Resource Centers located in the Dakotas. [p. BIE-OIEP-6]


FY 2018 Enacted $238,245,000 FY 2019 Enacted $238,250,000 FY 2020 Admin. Request $ 68,858,000

The Education Construction sub-activities are: Replacement School Construction; Replacement Facility Construction; Employee Housing Repair; and Facilities Improvement and Repair.

Replacement Construction. The Administration is once again requesting to zero out Replacement School Campus Construction and Replacement Facility Construction ($105.5 million and $23.9 million cuts, respectively) and once again stating that Indian Affairs "will continue construction of the three remaining 2004 list replacements schools and continue design and construction efforts for at least four schools from the 2016 replacement school list." We note that Congress has repeatedly rejected the Administration's requests to zero out these two sub-activities. Further, we note that Congress continues to request and the Administration continues not to provide: a replacement priority list beyond 2016 as well as a long-term facilities plan similar to the Department of Defense process in 2009.

Employee Housing. The Administration is proposing a new $1 million sub-activity: Replacement – New Employee Housing; however this is paired with a request to cut $8.5 million from Employee Housing Repair.

Facilities Improvement and Repair. The Administration estimates that there is a $591.8 million deferred maintenance backlog within the BIE system. The Administration is requesting a $32.4 million cut to this sub-activity and urges Congress to take up legislation to authorize the proposed Public Lands Infrastructure Fund.

The Administration's request by sub-activity: • Replacement School Campus Construction $ -0- • Replacement Facility Construction $ -0- • Replacement – New Employee Housing $ 1,000,000 • Employee Housing Repair $ 5,062,000 • Facilities Improvement and Repair $ 62,796,000


FY 2018 Enacted $119,400,000 FY 2019 Enacted $107,067,000 FY 2020 Admin. Request $105,143,000

History and Purpose of the Office. The Administration explains: The Congress designated the Secretary of the Interior with responsibility for approximately 56 million surface acres, 58 million acres of subsurface mineral interests, and over $5 billion held in trust by the Federal Government on behalf of American Indians and Indian Tribes. The Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST) has operational purview for financial trust fund management, including receipt, investment, and disbursement of Indian trust funds. Trust fund operations entail management of over $5 billion held in about 3,500 trust accounts for more than 250 Indian Tribes and nearly 406,000 open Individual Indian Money (IIM) accounts. Trust fund balances result from judgment awards, claims settlements, land-use agreements, royalties on natural resource use, other proceeds derived directly from trust resources, and financial investment income. [p. OST-1]

Proposed Changes. The Administration is proposing to change the reporting relationship of OST from the Office of the Secretary to the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs. The OST would continue to be a separate organization reporting to the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs, as do BIA and BIE. The Administration explains, "The realignment within the department will enhance planning and coordination of policies and services to Indian Country." [p.IA-GS-4] The proposed changes are as follows:

• Transfer of the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations (LBBP). The budget proposes to realign the Land Buy Back Program for Tribal Nations from the Office of the Secretary to OST. The LBBP is responsible for the expenditure of the $1.9 billion Trust Land Consolidation Fund authorized by the Settlement Agreement in Cobell v. Salazar, No. 96-CV1285-JR and confirmed by the Claims Resolution Act of 2010. • Transfer of OST to the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs (AS-IA). The budget proposes to change the reporting relationship of the OST from the Office of the Secretary to the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs. The OST will continue to be a separate organization reporting to the AS-IA, as do the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE). • Transfer of the Office of Appraisal Services to Office of the Secretary. The budget also reflects the approved transfer of the Office of Appraisal Services to the Office of the Secretary’s Appraisal and Valuation Services Office (AVSO). Under AVSO, all appraisal and valuations are conducted by a single entity within the Department as required by the Indian Trust Asset Reform Act. [p. OST-1]



FY 2018 Enacted $15,431,000 FY 2019 Enacted $ 8,750,000 FY 2020 Admin. Request $ 7,500,000

The Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation (ONHIR) was created as a result of the Navajo Hopi Settlement Act of 1974, Public Law 93–531. The Office is charged with planning and conducting relocation activities associated with the settlement of land disputes between the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe.

The Administration states, "The funds requested will support the Operation of the Office, Relocation Operations, and Discretionary Funding to facilitate and expedite resettlement activities, and bring about the closure of the Office, consistent with the provisions of PL 93-531 and its associated Amendments Act of 1980, PL 96-305, 1988, PL 100-666, and 1991, PL 102-180."



FY 2018 Enacted $11,485,000 FY 2019 Enacted $11,735,000 FY 2020 Admin. Request $ 5,738,000 The Tribal Historic Preservation Program provides funding to tribes that have signed agreements with the National Park Service designating them as having an approved Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO).


National Recreation and Preservation is found under a different part of the National Park Service budget than Historic Preservation. Cultural Programs is the sub-activity which funds National Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) grants.

Cultural Programs FY 2018 Enacted $25,062,000 FY 2019 Enacted $25,562,000 FY 2020 Admin. Request $19,404,000


Department of the Interior Reorganization. The planned Reorganization of the Department of the Interior is underway; however, at the request of many tribes, Indian Affairs will not be part of this Reorganization. We note that despite the fact Indian Affairs will not be part of the Reorganization, Congress has directed the Administration to continue to take the views of tribes into account as the Reorganization of the Department of the Interior proceeds. For FY 2020 the Administration states:

Over many decades, the Department of the Interior experienced new bureaus becoming established on an ad hoc basis with their own unique regional organizations. This ultimately resulted in a complicated series of 49 regional boundaries among 8 bureaus. This complexity led to the situation where bureau regional leadership was often focused on different geographic areas, did not have an adequate and shared understanding of the needs and perspectives of regional stakeholders, and opportunities to share administrative capacity across bureaus were difficult to recognize and implement.

Further, members of the public were often frustrated by problems in inter-bureau decision making where uncoordinated timelines and processes could lead to unnecessarily long delays in reaching a decision. The Department’s reorganization is focused on making improvements across each of these areas. On August 22, 2018, after working closely with stakeholders across the country on options to consolidate Interior’s 49 different regions into common regions, the Department announced the designation of Interior’s 12 new unified regions. As a result of Tribal consultation, BIA, BIE, and the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians will not realign their regional field structures. Work is underway in 2019 to plan implementation, conduct analysis, and identify areas for collaboration within the new regions. [p.OS-9]"

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In the Courts

The U.S. Supreme Court

      Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, "Treaty rights win in Supreme Court," ICT, May 20, 2019,, reported, " Treaties don’t have an expiration date even during statehood as Supreme Court rules a 150-year-old treaty protects Crow Tribe and hunting rights.
     There was a major win for treaty rights in the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, as the court ruled in favor of the Crow tribe hunting case, Herrera v. Wyoming [No. 17–532., May 20, 2019] with a vote of 5-4." The case involved a Crow tribal member killing an elk without a state license off reservation in the Bighorn National Forest in Wyoming. "Herrera argued that he was protected by the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie which states hunters can “hunt on the unoccupied lands of the United States so long as game may be found thereon, and as long as peace subsists among the whites and Indians on the borders of the hunting districts.” The state courts had found against the tribal member, holding that the treaty expired in 1890 when Wyoming became a state. In the majority opinion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by justices Gisberg, BREYER, KAGAN, and Gorsuch, wrote, “ The Crow Tribe’s hunting right survived Wyoming’s statehood, and the lands within Bighorn National Forest did not become categorically “occupied” when setting aside as a national reserve … The Treaty of Fort Laramie specified that “the tribes did not ‘surrender the privilege of hunting, fishing, or passing over’ any of the lands in dispute” by entering the treaty.”'

The Supreme Court decided Washington State Department of Licensing v. Cougar Den Inc. (16-498), March 19, 2019,, and, Holding: The Supreme Court of Washington’s judgment -- that the “right to travel” provision of the 1855 Treaty Between the United States and the Yakama Nation of Indians pre-empts the state’s fuel tax as applied to Cougar Den’s importation of fuel by public highway for sale within the reservation -- is affirmed, 5-4, in an opinion by Justice Breyer on March 19, 2019. Justice Breyer announced the judgment of the court and delivered an opinion, in which Justices Sotomayor and Kagan joined. Justice Gorsuch filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which Justice Ginsburg joined. Chief Justice Roberts filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justices Thomas, Alito, and Kavanaugh joined. Justice Kavanaugh filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justice Thomas joined.
     Justice Breyer said, in part, "The State of Washington's application of the tax to Cougar Den's importation of fuel is pre-empted by the Yakama Nation's reservation of 'the right, in common with citizens of the United States, to travel upon all public highways.' This conclusion rests upon three considerations taken together. First, this Court has considered this treaty four times previously; each time it has considered language very similar to the language now before the Court; and each time it has stressed that the language of the treaty should be understood as bearing the meaning that the Yakamas understood it to have in 1855. See United States v. Winans, 198 U. S. 371, 380-381; Seufert Brothers Co. v. United States, 249 U. S. 194, 196-198; Tulee v. Washington, 315 U. S. 681, 683-685; Washington v. Washington State Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessel Assn., 443 U. S. 658, 677-678. Thus, although the words "in common with" on their face could be read to permit application to the Yakamas of general legislation (like the legislation at issue here) that applies to all citizens, this Court has refused to read "in common with" in this way because that is not what the Yakamas understood the words to mean in 1855. See Winans, 198 U. S., at 379, 381; Seufert Brothers, 249 U. S., at 198-199; Tulee, 315 U. S., at 684; Fishing Vessel, 443 U. S., at 679, 684-685. Second, the historical record adopted by the agency and the courts below indicates that the treaty negotiations and the United States' representatives' statements to the Yakamas would have led the Yakamas to understand that the treaty's protection of the right to travel on the public highways included the right to travel with goods for purposes of trade. Third, to impose a tax upon traveling with certain goods burdens that travel. And the right to travel on the public highways without such burdens is just what the treaty protects. Therefore, precedent tells the Court that the tax must be pre-empted."
     Writing for the dissenters, the Chief Justice said in part, "But the mere fact that a state law has an effect on the Yakamas while they are exercising a treaty right does not establish that the law impermissibly burdens the right itself. And the right to travel with goods is just an application of the Yakamas' right to travel. It ensures that the Yakamas enjoy the same privileges when they travel with goods as when they travel without them. It is not an additional right to possess whatever goods they wish on the highway, immune from regulation and taxation. Under our precedents, a state law violates a treaty right only if the law imposes liability upon the Yakamas "for exercising the very right their ancestors intended to reserve." Tulee v. Washington, 315 U. S. 681, 685 (1942). Because Washington is taxing Cougar Den for possessing fuel, not for traveling on the highways, the State's method of administering its fuel tax is consistent with the treaty. I respectfully dissent from the contrary conclusion of the plurality and concurrence.

Robert Pear, Indian Tribe Joins Big Pharma at the Supreme Court, Defending a Lucrative Deal," The New York Times, January 26, 2019,, reported, " When a pharmaceutical company sold its patent rights for a blockbuster drug to an Indian tribe 16 months ago, stymied competitors and consumer groups condemned the move as a flagrant abuse of the patent system.
      This month, the company, Allergan, doubled down, asking the Supreme Court to rule that the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe can use its sovereign immunity to fend off challenges by makers of low-cost generic copies of the best-selling prescription eyedrops, Restasis.
     Congress is gearing up for what promises to be a yearlong investigation of drug prices, with House and Senate committees planning to hold hearings on Tuesday. The deal between Allergan and the Saint Regis Mohawks promises to be front and center when lawmakers in both parties examine the use of patents to delay competition and keep prices high."

Lower Federal Courts

      Comanche v. Zinke 10th Circuit Decision Denying Preliminary Injunction," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 19-001, January 2nd, 2019,, reported,"

In an unpublished decision issued December 14, 2018, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of a preliminary injunction requested by the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma ("Comanche Nation") to prevent the opening of a Chickasaw Nation ("Chickasaw Nation") casino. The Court stated that, 'Comanche Nation is unlikely to succeed on the merits of its challenge to a decision by the Secretary of the Interior ('the Secretary') to take land into trust for the benefit of Chickasaw Nation and approve the land for gaming.'
     On November 13, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma denied the Comanche Nation's request for a preliminary injunction to prevent the opening of a Chickasaw Nation casino on land recently taken into trust. The Comanche Nation had challenged the Secretary's decision to take the land into trust as unauthorized by law or otherwise arbitrary and capricious. The court held that the Comanche Nation did not make the necessary showing of a likelihood of success on the merits.
     The Comanche Nation had challenged the trust determination on several grounds, including the following:
     1. The Comanche Nation argued that Secretary's regulations were inconsistent with Congressional intent and arbitrarily departed from prior regulations or practice. The Tenth Circuit agreed with the District Court's conclusion that the Comanche Nation's claims were barred by the statute of limitations for challenging enacted regulations.
     2. The Tenth Circuit found that the Secretary's regulations and interpretations were reasonable and, therefore, entitled to deference.
     3. The Tenth Circuit rejected the Comanche Nation's contention that site of the Chickasaw Nation's casino may be ineligible for gaming if the Chickasaw Nation's reservation was never actually disestablished. This aspect of the Comanche Nation's argument relied on Murphy v. Royal, 875 F.3d 896 (10th Cir. 2017), cert. granted 138 S. Ct. 2026 (2018). However, the Tenth Circuit emphasized that, "Our Murphy panel concluded the Creek Reservation remains extant, but it did not address the status of the Chickasaw Reservation at all." The Court further noted that if the Chickasaw Nation's reservation had not been disestablished, then the casino site would remain within the bounds of that reservation, in which case, the Secretary could conduct an 'on-reservation' acquisition under 25 C.F.R. §§ 151.3(a)(1) and 151.2(f).
     4. Lastly, the Tenth Circuit rejected the Comanche Nation's arguments under the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. § 4321, et seq. Comanche Nation argued that the Secretary failed to consider the economic effects the new Chickasaw Nation casino would have on the Comanche Nation's existing casino. The Court cited prior case law holding that 'socioeconomic impacts, standing alone, do not constitute significant environmental impacts cognizable under NEPA.'"

The U .S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, on May 7, 2019, ruled that the U.S. Bureau of Land management had violated the National Environmental Policy Act when it approved oil and gas drilling leases near Chaco Culture National Historic Park, in New Mexico (Arlyssa Becenti, "Appeals Court: BLM violated law in issuing Chaco permits," Navajo Times, May 9, 2019).

U.S. District Court Judge Charles Goodwin in Oklahoma, in April 2019, struck down as overly restrictive an Oklahoma law that permitted only members of federally recognized tribes to have their artwork labeled as "Native American." The Judge stated that the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 also permits members of state recognized tribes to so label their art ("Judge strikes down Oklahoma Native American art law as too restrictive," NFIC, May 2019).

     Four norther Wisconsin Chippewa nations brought suit against the state of Wisconsin in Federal District Court
, in December 2018, to bar the state from collecting taxes on lands the tribes acquired under an 1854 treaty ("Northern Wisconsin Chippewa Tribes file lawsuit against State," NFIC, December 2018).

State and Local Courts

      Dan Bacher, " Fishing Groups, Winnemem Wintu Tribe Sue CA Department of Water Resources to Protect Delta Flows," Daily Kos, January 17, 2019,, reported, "In the latest legal battle in the California water wars , a coalition of environmental, fishing, and Native American groups led by the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen Associations (PCFFA) filed suit on January 16 against the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) to 'overturn its latest attempt to force former Governor Jerry Brown’s Twin Tunnels (California WaterFix) proposal upon California taxpayers,' according to a press release from PCFFA.
      The suit, filed in Sacramento Superior Court [(Filing at:] by the Law Offices of Stephan C. Volker, challenges DWR’s attempt to revamp its 30-year-old Coordinated Operations Agreement (COA) with the federal Bureau of Reclamation to export more water from the Delta through the Twin Tunnels while evading scrutiny under California’s environmental laws, including the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Delta Reform Act and the Public Trust Doctrine.
     The North Coast Rivers Alliance and the Winnemem Wintu (McCloud River) Tribe are joining the PCFFA in filing suit against DWR. The Tribe, under the leadership of Chief Caleen Sisk, is currently fighting to bring the winter-run Chinook salmon, now thriving in the Rakaira River in New Zealand after eggs were shipped there over 100 years ago, back to the McCloud River above Shasta Dam. "
     "The lawsuit alleges that DWR’s attempted COA addendum would export more water from California’s Delta and its upstream reservoirs when imperiled fish populations can least afford it — during drought years — for export to San Joaquin Valley corporate agribusiness and Southern California water interests."

"Legacy Of Genocide Resurfaces In Boston As Construction Is Planned On Burial Site," Cultural Survoival, April 18, 2019,, reported, " In 2014, a 3,400-foot bridge connecting Long Island to Quincy’s Moon Island was closed downand demolished due to structural degradation. In 2018, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announcedhis $92 million project to rebuild the bridge by 2021 and construct a drug treatment center and recovery campus on Long Island. The City of Quincy contests the construction of a new bridge and is fighting to prevent the project’s implementation, claiming that a new bridge will increase traffic.

      Lesser known to the public are the Native American Tribes who share an important stake in the outcome of this battle. The genocide, ethnic cleansing, and colonial policies wreaked upon Indigenous Peoples is often breezed over in history class. King Philip’s War (1675-1676) is taught as the last major effort by the Indians of southern New England to drive out the English settlerswhen Pokunoket chief Metacom (King Philip) united Tribes in the area in attacks against the New England settlers. Metacom was defeated and executed and so concludes the chapter in history textbooks. Little is taught in regards to how the Native American population was treated leading up to and in the aftermath of the war, nor the Native perspective of the story.

      Beginning in the latter half of 1675 English settlers governing the Massachusetts Bay Colony forcibly relocated Native civilians, whom they saw as a threat in the climate of war, to islands in the Boston Harbor. Recognized today as concentration camps, current historical research estimates that between 500 and 1,100 Native people were forced onto the islands. These numbers remain low as colonists at the time of relocation only documented Christian Native people and not communities that refused to convert but were also displaced with their Christian counterparts.

     During the first winter on the islands, hundreds of Native people perished from starvation and exposure to extreme temperatures. The Massachusetts Bay Colony records of 1675-1686 revealthat the majority of Indigenous people forced onto the islands were women and children. Men were exploited for “service of the country” (volume 5 page 86). If the Native persons attempted to leave the islands and return to the mainland, settlers were encouraged to “ kill and destroy them as they best may or can.

      Among the islands used as a concentration camp was Long Island. Local and regional Native American Tribes and First Nations retain a vested interest in having a say in what happens on these sacred grounds. Ideally, they wish to protect Long Island as a Native burial ground and memorial of the acts of genocide committed in the 1670s.

      For decades, the Muhheconneuk Intertribal Committee on Deer Island (MICDI) and the Muhheconnew National Confederacy (MNC), with the support of the North American Indian Center of Boston (NAICOB), have attempted to work with the City of Boston to memorialize the Harbor Islands as well as protect burial sites from infrastructural projects. Their fight for recognition took formal shape in 1991 when the coalition publicly sought approval from the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA) to be informed of construction occurring on Deer Island – a harbor island near Long Island that also served as an internment camp for Native people following King Philip’s War. Tribes further requested the authority to conduct their own archeological survey of Deer Island.

      Collaboration between Tribes and state bodies over the past 30 years has fluctuated in its degree of success. In 1985, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Public Archeology Laboratory partnered with the University of Massachusetts Boston to conduct an archeological survey of both Long Island and Deer Island prior to the construction of a wastewater treatment facility on Deer Island. The survey results concluded that Deer Island yielded ' no potential significant prehistoric or historic period cultural resources.' The report also established that while ' cultural resources may have survived in the area as remnants it is not likely that they would have retained sufficient integrity to meet normal standards of significance.' 'Normal standards of significance’' and according to whom, was not defined.

     When construction began on Deer Island in the early 1990s it appeared that the MWRA would work with the Tribes to erect a memorial on the island as well as grant them the right to conduct their own archeological survey. The Muhheconneuk Intertribal Committee on Deer Island revealed, however, that in 1994 the MWRA backed out of these agreements and began to move soil, from Deer Island, including human remains, and dumped it into the Quincy Quarry.

      The 1985 archeological survey of Long Island did however yield results necessary to garner historical preservation. The report disclosed that ' Long Island is considered to be a significant complex of prehistoric and historic period cultural resource much of which may be eligible for inclusion in the National Register' of historic places.

     In the late 1990s, Tribes began to gain traction in their efforts to receive proper recognition of the atrocities committed against Native Americans on the Harbor Islands. The Muhheconnew National Confederacy and the City of Boston partnered in 1996 to host a commemoration on Long Island of Proclamation Day, August 30,1675 in remembrance of the internment of Native Americans and suspension of their civil liberties.

     Boston Harbor Islands National Park was also founded in 1996. The MICDI and the MNC worked jointly with the City of Boston and the National Park Service to draft policy aimed at preserving the historical significance of the Harbor Islands as well as protecting the burial grounds. While collaboration between groups appeared progressive in the initial years of the park’s creation the MICDI and MNC later found many of their efforts blocked and initiatives halted by administrative bureaucracy and governmental apathy.

      After enduring years of fruitless negotiations with state institutions, today the plans for bridge construction offers a new challenge and opportunity to address the native burial grounds on Long Island. The MICDI and MNC, with the support of the North American Indian Center of Boston, have opened dialogue with the City of Boston to ensure that the burial grounds and surrounding land containing historically poignant artifacts will remain preserved and untouched by possible construction.
      Tribal organizations were confronted by another setback, however, on October 2, 2018 when the Committee on Planning, Development, and Transportation and Committee on Homelessness, Mental Health, and Recovery held a ' joint hearing to discuss the current status of plans for the new bridge.' While third party organizations were permitted to provide testimony neither the MICDI, MNC, nor NAICOB received an invitation to attend the hearing. The Tribes lamented the passage of a vital opportunity to contribute input due to the city’s failure to inform and consult Tribal representative bodies of the hearing’s formation.

     The Muhheconneuk Intertribal Committee on Deer Island published a written testimony on October 16, 2018, in response to their unintended absence at the October 2 hearing. The MICDI maintains that while it has not yet taken a stance on the construction of a new bridge, it remains imperative that Tribes be informed and consulted on future policy decisions by both the Boston and Quincy governments

     On Monday April 1, 2019 a hearing was held at Quincy City Hall for the purpose of allowing the Muhheconneuk Intertribal Committee on Deer Island and the North American Indian Center to share the dark history that took place on the Harbor Islands, voice potential concerns regarding the construction of a new bridge, and propose solutions to preserve Long Island’s burial grounds. Testimony of the president of the North American Indian Center of Boston’s board president Jean-Luc Pierite resonated powerfully when he declared, 'These aren’t just bones in the soil. They have names that are attached to them.'
      The question of development on Long Island provides an opportunity for us to reckon with a dark history in a public way and educate our fellow citizens about the rich cultures and histories of local Native American Tribes. The cities of Quincy and Boston are required to adhere to international human rights standards enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, endorsed by the United States in 2007, when engaging with the human remains that exist on Long Island, and can take this opportunity to engage Tribes in the area with the goal of seeking their free, prior and informed consent before any further projects take place that will affect these important historical sites. It is important to actively seek participation from and include local Tribes in any decision making that involves the remains of their ancestors."

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Tribal Courts

"Huyadadcet: A Road to Recovery: Struck by the number of nonviolent offenders imprisoned on drug charges, the Tuliap Tribes and UW alumnus Brian Kilgore are offering second chances through treatment," University of Washington, 2019,, reported, "Enter the Tulalip Healing to Wellness Court. Presided over by Tulalip Tribal Court chief judge and UW School of Law graduate Ron Whitener, ’94, a citizen of the Squaxin Island Tribe, the Wellness Court provides nonviolent offenders whose crimes stem from drug abuse and mental health conditions with an alternative to incarceration: real help.
      Taking a therapeutic approach
     'The traditional criminal justice system says, ‘We’re going to punish you, and you’re going to behave differently,’ says Kilgore, who joined the Tulalip Office of the Reservation Attorney in 2015. But reality proves otherwise — studies show that up to 80 percent of drug abusers commit a new crime once they’re released from prison, and 95 percent start using again
     'The tribal drug court says the reason some people commit crimes isn’t because they’re bad people, but because they’re addicts,' Kilgore continues. 'Punishment won’t change their behavior, but resources and options and tools will help them develop into people who aren’t going to use drugs or be back in the criminal justice system.'"
     "According to the latest information available from the Washington Department of Health, drug- and alcohol-related deaths in Washington state amount to 32.4 per 100,000 people annually. In Tulalip, that number skyrockets to 278.7 per 100,000 people — and as the Tulalip Tribes and Kilgore recognized, years of conventional punishment haven’t proved effective at breaking the cycle."
     To find a better way, Kilgore worked with the Tulalap community to initiate the tribal Healing and Wellnes Court, in 2017, "Helping people achieve emotional, psychological and social well-being through motivation and behavior change,"
      " If an offender meets the high-risk, high-need requirements for participating in the Wellness Court, they go up for review by the team: judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, coordinator, case manager, chemical dependency counselor, law enforcement officer and tribal community member, who supports cultural reintegration — an element that distinguishes the Tulalip Wellness Court from other state drug court programs. Everyone works together to support the participants during their journey."
" 'Numbers around the country show that this model is far more effective than conventional prosecution,” says Kilgore. “People who graduate commit new crimes at much lower rates. It’s better for them, it’s better for their families and it’s better for the court system.'”

Another of the tribal courts that has been bringing back traditional restorative justice in a contemporary form is the Yurok Tribal Court in far northern California. With collaboration from local main stream courts allowing tribal member cases to be tried in tribal court, Judge Abby Abinanti has moved the tribal court from a western model, in 2017, to traditional peacemaking approach. Almost all cases are settled by mediation, even if in a few instances it takes years . Incarceration in criminal cases has given way to supervised release combined with participation in traditional work and ceremonies. The change has helped increase harmony in the community and has been a step in reviving the traditional Yurok culture: applying traditional values appropriately for the Twenty-First Century. Increasingly, some mainstream criminal justice reformers are learning from tribal courts and joining the restorative justice movement. Numerous local courts are finding that restorative approaches with tribal-state court collaboration reduce recidivism, costs and prison populations (Henry Gass, "Native Justice: In Northern California Judge Abby's tribal court holds lessons for the American justice system," Christian Science Monitor Weekly, April 1, 2019.

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Tribal Government and State and Local Government Developments

Frank Hopper, "State Attorney General announces free, prior and informed consent policy with Washington tribes," ICT, May 23, 2019,, reported, " Once, there was no easy recourse for tribes when governments or corporations engaged in one-sided, or unilateral, actions that negatively affected them. But on May 10, a major milestone in the fight for Native sovereignty was reached when Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson

announced a new state policy regarding Washington’s federally-recognized tribes."
      “'Effective immediately,' Ferguson said, 'my office is adopting a consultation and consent policy regarding Washington’s 29 federally-recognized tribes. Going forward my office will obtain free, prior and informed consent before initiating a program or project that directly affects tribes in our state.'”

John Tetpon , "A defining moment for Alaska Natives – a devastating state budget: Alaska has only one major source of income, big oil. But the barrel prices have dropped significantly. The governor calls it 'an honest budget,'" ICT, February 26, 2019,, reported, " The governor of Alaska dealt a devastating blow to Alaska’s Native people in his proposed budget with unprecedented cuts to programs that have given life-changing opportunities for thousands of people across the state."
     Because the state's only major source of revenue is income from oil production in the state, whose revenues have declined, Alaska was then "overdrawn by $1.6 billion. The proposed budget is part of Dunleavy’s plan to trim the deficit by $1.3 billion. The plan includes cutting nearly one-fifth of the budget of the state Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, which include the university education system
     The governor's budget makes the following cuts: $300 million cut from K-12 education; $3 million cut from the Village Public Safety Officer program; Ending a hold harmless provision that allows 36,000 rural residents to get food stamps even if getting a Permanent Fund dividend would disqualify them; Ending the Alaska Marine Highway system that allows rural people to travel; Ending the fish tax revenue sharing program for small fishing villages; and Ending the Power Cost Equalization fund that helped villages reduce the high costs of heating oil and electrical power. Without the fund, the cost of power could jump more than 100-percent.
     The cuts have been criticized as causing major harm to low income people in the state, especially to Native Alaskans. It would also lead to reduction in federal money to some of the cut programs where the state provides matching funding. The budget, which does not include a reduction in the payments from oil revenue to individual Alaskans has also been cited as being politically divisive.
     Julie Kitka, president of The Alaska Federation of Natives, or AFN, representing more than 140,000 Native peoples—about one-fifth of the state's population, commented,
     bThe governor’s budget appears divisive by design, pitting Alaskans against each other and against industry at a time when just the opposite is needed. We don’t understand how this budget fits with the governor’s proposed constitutional amendments or with his stated priorities. This is not the solution for a fiscally stable future for our state. AFN looks forward to continued conversations with other Alaskans about building a fair and balanced state budget and exploring the question of what kind of Alaska they want to live in. Alaskans have come together many times in the past. With leadership from Alaska legislators and Alaskans across the state, a sound fiscal plan leading to a strong economy can be achieved.”

The Nebraska Legislature passed a Missing Native American Women law that requires the State Patrol to conduct a study on missing Native women cases and identify steps that can be taken to deal effectively with the problem. The patrol also would collaborate with tribal and local law enforcement, along with state tribes and Indian organization, and the U.S. department of Justice on the issue ("Missing Native American Women bill passes in Legislature," NFIC. April 2019).

The Washington State legislature passed, and the governor signed, in March 2019, a bill expanding on-reservation voting services, by requiring county officials to place at least one voting drop box on any Indian reservation that requests it ("Washington Governor signs Native voting bill," NFIC, April 2019).

The South Dakota governor signed a pair of bills focused upon pipeline protests that allow officials to suite protestors who encourage violence for money damages and require pipeline companies to pay some of the extra policing expenses during protests. Indian nations organizations and the American Civil Liberties Union opposed the legislation on the grounds that it would stifle free expression ("South Dakota governor signs protest legislation over opposition from tribes," NFIC, April 2019).

The governor of North Dakota, noting that relations between the state and the tribe had recently been strained, announced in the January 4, 2018 State of the State Address, that the flags of the five tribal nations in Wyoming would be flown outside the governor's office, "in the spirit of mutual respect" ("Tribal flags placed in N.D. state Capitol," NFIC, January 2019).

In New Mexico, April 17, 2019, the Native American Voters Alliance hosted a meeting on the state legislative session, now that New Mexico has a more tribal friendly Democratic governor and a larger democratic presence in the legislature. Participating were state Senator Georgene Louis (D-Acoma), members of New Mexico tribes and Indian organizations.
     Senator Lewis reported, that in its recent session, the legislature had approved a number of infrastructure projects including repairs for To'Hajilee; for Acoma Pueblo: a community center, an outdoor running track, and a solar project; for the Fort Sill Apache: a water system; for Laguna Pueblo: a fire station; along with a power line for Casamero Lake and startup funding for a Navajo Code Talkers museum, among other projects of tribal interest. The legislature also passed Bill 149, whose Native American Student Needs Assessment requires tribes to be notified when a tribal youth is detained in a state correctional facility, to allow timely intervention to break the school to prison pipeline; and the Energy Transition Act, putting in motion actions for New Mexico to significantly reduce its carbon footprint by 2045.
     Meanwhile, Governor Lujan Grisham had responded to Judge Singleton's ruling in the Yazzie-(Governor) Martinez lawsuit, calling for fixing long-standing educational achievement gaps for American Indian and Hispanic students, by signing a multimillion dollar educational framework that integrates home culture and language into the curriculum. The governor also has acted to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day as a state holiday.
      Native participants made a number of proposals for legislative action. Navajo participants pressed the need for an amendment to the Energy Transition Act to avoid communities being left with contaminated lands, as has occurred in the past. Several attendees stressed, that with more than 75% of the state's tribal members living in urban areas, there was a need to directly include Urban Indian communities in the budget and program development, most notably for expansion of the Albuquerque American Indian Center to providing adequate social and cultural services and resources. Other expressed needs were for expanding renewable energy, initiating a dental therapy licensing program, Medicaid expansion, a fair minimum wage, and further reduction of small loan interest rates, beyond the interest rate cap just set by the legislature.
     In all there were seven Native Americans in the New Mexico legislature, the others being, representatives: Anthony Allison (Dine, D-Fruitland), Wonda Johnson (Dine-D-Gallup), Derrick Lente (D-Sandia); Patrick Roybal Caballero (Piro-Manso-Tiwa-Pueblo San Juan Guadalupe, D-Albuquerque); and Senators: Benny Shendo (D-Jemez) and John Pinto (Dine-McKinley-San Juan) [The longest serving state Senator in New Mexico history, who walked on late in the spring] (Coleen Keane, "NM opens new relationship with tribal communities," Navajo Times, May 9, 2019).

A proposed bill in Wyoming would establish a protocol for drilling - including the common horizontal drilling in fracking - that might encroach on burial sites on other than federal or tribal land in the state. The protocol would establish how Native American remains are to be treated, requiring on discovery that the county coroner would be notified, involving the state archeological team within 48 hours, including collaboration with the University of Wyoming, as well as with the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Historic Preservation offices on appropriate exhumation within 5 days. A penalty for noncompliance with the procedure of up to $750 and/or six months in jail was proposed. Some thought the penalty too low, pointing to the penalty for such a violation on federal land of $100,000 for a first offense (Heather Richards, "Wyoming Bill would establish protocol for protecting burials during oil drilling," NFIC, December 2018).

Vincent Schiling, "Two more states, Vermont and Maine are ditching Columbus Day for Indigenous Peoples Day: Both governors need only sign the approved legislation to initiate the October holiday change that many states and cities have already made nationwide," ICT, April 5, 2019,, reported, " Two state governors, Gov. Phil Scott in Vermont, and Gov. Janet Mills in Maine are poised to sign two sets of approved state legislation into law, recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day as a replacement for Columbus Day on the second Monday each October.
     The legislative move follows a series of acknowledgments over the years as former Vermont Goveror Shumlin had signed an executive proclamation to change the federal holiday in 2016, and the present Governor Phill Scott had issued further proclamations in 2017 and 2018. Governor Mills in Maine has previously said she would sign the legislation after the Democratic governor took office replacing former Republican Paul LaPage. Republican lawmakers in the state of Maine have continued to oppose changing the holiday."

By Samantha Pell, "Maine to become first state to prohibit Native American mascots in all public schools," The Washington Post, May 17, 2019,, reported, "Twenty years ago, Maulian Dana was watching a Maine high school basketball game between two teams called the 'Indians' and the 'Warriors.' Her gaze drifted toward the student sections, where she saw kids chanting and dancing with fake feathers and war paint on their bodies. It was the first time she saw things she knew as 'sacred and religious' to thePenobscot Nation being 'mocked and degraded.'
     Her 15-year-old self was angry and shocked, she said, but she turned her frustration into activism. Today Dana is a tribal ambassador of Penobscot Nation who spearheaded the drafting of a bill signed into law Thursday by Gov. Janet Mills (D) that prohibits the use of Native American mascots in all public schools, colleges and universities. Maine is the first state to pass such a law."
     "Ma Native American Mascot Ban--House Sponsors Needed By Feb. 1!," Cultural Survival, January 30, 2019,, reported, "It is clear that the use of Native American mascots harms children. Mascots based on stereotypical ideas of Native peoples breed cultural insensitivity and misunderstanding about Native American people and our history as a nation. Stereotypical Native American mascots have been shown to interfere with a school’s efforts to provide accurate information related to the history, culture, and Tribal sovereignty of American Indian Nations. Yet, about 38 schools in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts still currently use Native American mascots. This month, new bills prohibiting the use of Native American Mascots have been presented in both the Massachusetts State House and Senate this legislative session. As proposed, the legislation includes the following mandate:

'The board of elementary and secondary education shall promulgate regulations to ensure that no public school uses an athletic team name, logo, or mascot which names, refers to, represents, or is associated with Native Americans, including aspects of Native American cultures and specific Native American tribes. The board shall establish a date by which any school in violation of said regulations shall choose a new team name, logo, or mascot.'
     Sen. Joanne Comerford, Democrat for Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester is Senate sponsor. House sponsors are Rep. Tami Gouveia for 14th Middlesex District and Rep. Nika Elugardo for 15th Suffolk District. More information."

      Lee Allen, "Wildlife repository in Arizona gives new life to fallen animals for ceremonial or traditional use: Native American Fish and Wildlife Society partners with Arizona Game and Fish Department to help Arizona’s 22 tribes. Agencies hope to serve as a model for other state wildlife agencies," ICT, April 9, 2019,, reported, " The Native American Fish and Wildlife Society have partnered with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to give animals a second reason for their existence.
     Whether it’s the full hide of a fallen bear, the empty shell of a deceased tortoise or the antlers of deer or elk left on the forest floor — many items from animals are being put to new use in spiritual and ceremonial functions."
     "That multi-generational system of tradition has now been formalized with the creation of the Non-Bird Wildlife Repository, 'a program that allows the department to honor our state’s Native American traditions and at the same time further the appreciation of Arizona’s wildlife,' according to Jim deVos, the department’s assistant director for managing wildlife."
     b'We don’t handle road kill or don’t mobilize anyone to go out and shoot a particular item we get a request for, our compilation of critters is based on the opportunistic collection of items our field crews run across that might have a second use,' says Jon Cooley, Apache, Endangered Species Coordinator, Wildlife Management Division, Arizona Game and Fish Department.
     'Our overall wildlife management mission involves a lot of work in the outdoors where we run across dead animals. Normally, unless there’s a need for those items in connection with a legal case, we dispose of them rather than collect stuff endlessly with no purpose in mind.'
     Now there is a purpose that has evolved over the years. 'We network with Arizona’s 22 tribes quite a bit given the acreage of tribal lands in the state because even though these are sovereign nations who manage their own resources, wildlife doesn’t recognize any human-created boundaries. Over the years, we’ve developed personal relationships and an informal system where, if a tribe is looking for a specific item and we found one, we’d provide it,' says Cooley."

In Colorado, the 2019 Four Corners Wildland Fire Academy was held, March 20, by the BIA's Southern Ute Agency's Fire Management on the Southern Ute Reservation and the Los Pinos Fire District ("Agencies Team Up," Southern Ute Drum, March 29, 2019).

Mayor Tim Keller of Albuquerque, NM, on March 12, 2019, signed into law a City Council measure establishing a government to-government relationship between the city and adjacent tribes. Following the ordinance, the citiy's commission on Indian affairs expanded its membership from 5 to 9, to include one representative appointed by each of: Laguna, Sandia, Isleta and Santa Ana Pueblos, the All Pueblo Council of Governors, and the Navajo To'Hajiilee chapter. (Colleen Keane, "Mayor signs bill recognizing tribal sovereignty," Navajo Times, March 14, 2019).

Homeless Native people in Flagstaff, AZ, have been complaining that they are often beaten - sometimes the same person on multiple occasions - and profiled by police. Some say they have had a similar experience in other cities in the U.S. Many on the streets of Flagstaff have a drinking problem and propose that Navajo Nation establish a rehabilitation facility there (Krista Allen, "Homeless Natives in Flagstaff say they are profiled and beaten," Navajo Times, May 16, 2019).

Tensions increased, in May 2019, between the recently elected San Juan County Commission, of Utah, for the first time with a Navajo majority after a lawsuit forced redistricting, and many of the white residents of the county, after the sudden resignation of the county administrator and a divided commission contracting with an interim administrator from outside the county to smooth the transition, while a new administrator is sought (Cindy Yurth, "San Juan Co. feuds, tensions escalate," Navajo Times, May 9, 2019).

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Tribal Developments

The U.S. government shutdown had some serious impacts on Indian Nations in early 2016. As of early January, some tribes had to lay off tribal employees and reduce or shut down tribal services. For example, The Yomba Shoshone Tribe of Nevada receive all its income from the federal government. It had to furlough all 18 of its employees and could no longer provide healthcare, medicine or groceries to elders.
     On the expansive Navajo nation with its much larger population, the impact was affecting government services including transportation, where maintenance on the nation's more than 7000 miles of mostly unpaved roads was cut in half at a time of snow, ice and mud. That resulted in around half of the nation’s 356,000 citizens being unable to get to grocery stores and medical appointments, while many ranchers were unable to get hay and water to their stock, or had to risk dangerous roads to attempt to do so. With federal agencies unable to sign off on funding in matching fund programs, many projects, including construction, with materials piling up, and costs increased by the delays. Many employees had to move out of BIA buildings, which had to shut during the shutdown. Many federal employees on the Navajo Nation were furloughed or working without pay. They could apply for unemployment benefits, but that was much less than their normal take home pay, and would take time to acquire. By January 23, more than to days into the shutdown, the Navajo Nation Tribal Utility Authority and Navajo Transitional Energy Company (NTEC), among other entities, were attempting to assist furloughed employees who could not pay their bills. NTEC said it would provide fee coal to 3000 families. The Nation's President was working with others to collect donations, including a food drive, for those in need.
     However, under the Department of Interior's contingency plan for the shutdown, water, power, and health and safety - including responding to child abuse and law enforcement - were exempt from the shutdown, and Bureau of Indian Education schools were operating . At least as of January 10, Navajo Nation continued to provide IHS health care and emergency care, while emergency workers were still on the job. The Nation was able to find money elsewhere to continue to provide education scholarships. But the BIA Wildland Fire Management Office in Fort Defiance was shut down (but in the midst of a time of heavy snowfall major wildfire was unlikely).
      Nationally, the BIA announced that 2,295 of its 4,057 employees were furloughed, while 716 of the 1,762 employees retained on staff were exempt from furlough or were working without pay due to being 'funded by other than annual appropriations.'
      At Fort Bellknap, in Montana, 185 of the reservation's 359 employees were furloughed and tribal program spending was reduced, while the government remained functioning, as the shutdown extended.
     For the Chippewa in Salt Ste. Marie, the tribe was cut off from $100,000 a day for services to members, that as of the beginning of January it could temporarily replace out of other monies, but which were soon to run out forcing reduction and eventually closure of tribal services if the shutdown continued too long. The services included the tribal health clinic and food pantry. The tribe would also have to furlough employees. At the same time, on the Bois Forte Indian Reservation, in Northern Minnesota, the tribe imposed a hiring freeze, and was preparing to begin budget cuts. If the shutdown continued, tribal services would be forced to reduce to a bare minimum. Already, police officers on the reservation, employed by the federal government - not the tribe - were working without pay. By January 15, by that time having been cut off from over $1 million in federal funds, the tribe ran out of money,
     The shutdown caused curtailment of the U.S. Department of agriculture food program, that provides to 90,000 Native Americans. When food already supplied to tribes would run out, nothing more could be provided until the end of the shutdown, beyond what some provides might be able to purchase with their own funds.
     The shutdown also impacted urban Native people. For example, Native American Lifelines - medical and behavioral health clinics in Boston and Baltimore were forced to close.
     For more, see below in Research Notes, Mark Trahant, "Congressional hearing looks at the impact of shutdown on Indian Country," republished with author's permission from ICT, January 16, 2019, ( Debra Krol, "Government Shutdown: Tribes suffer job losses, bad roads, no healthcare access," ICT, January 6, 2019,; Arlyssa Becenti and Cindy Yurth, "Shutdown slows work, but services remain," Navajo Times, January 10, 2019; Ciny Yurth, "Tribe finds money to keep scholarships going," Navajo Times, January 24, 2019; Arlyssa Becenti, "O'Halleran: Shutdown hard to fix, easier to prevent," Navajo Times, January 24, 2019; Keerthi Vedentam, "Lawmakers, advocates say shutdown's impact hits tribes hardest," Navajo Times, January 17, 2019; Alan Blinder, "Effects of Shutdown Ripple Beyond Missing Paychecks," The New York Times, January 14, 2019; For Native Americans, Shutdown Cuts Lifelines Of Everyday Services," The New York Times, January 2, 2019; and "Fort Bellknap Reserve Furloughed half its workforce," NFIC, February, 2019).

     Rachel Lynch, "Why Are Cancer Rates Higher Among the Native American Communities?" Cultural Survival, January 28, 2019,, reported, " Nearly every human has been affected by cancer in one way or another. Whether it be through a firsthand cancer diagnosis or helping a family member or friend through their treatment almost everyone can say that cancer has been a part of their lives. However, one group of people who are affected by cancer at alarmingly higher rates are Native Americans. While most people are unaware, Native American Tribes are disproportionately affected by cancer and the number of those affected continue to grow. While there are different reasons for each individual, there is a a cycle involving impacts of colonial policies, operation of extractive industries on Indigenous lands, pollution of water sources, exposure to toxins like asbestos and uranium, lack of access to appropriate treatment, genetics, and proper documentation that barr Native American communities from beating cancer.
      Lack of Proper Documentation
     Native Americans are often mislabeled when they seek treatment, which has led to a major problem when it comes to proper documentation and statistics for Native American cancer rates. Data is often not disaggregated
. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one major roadblock to properly improving the health of Native American communities is the fact that many Native Americans and Alaskan Natives are misrepresented on their records. The CDC reported that many Native people who identify as Native Americans/Alaska Natives are represented on their files as a different race. Being able to connect a person to their race is called “linkage” and unfortunately it is reported that 30% of Native Americans/Alaska Natives are reported as another race at their time of death.
While some may think this is insignificant, it is an extremely crucial issue. Since there are so many disparities when it comes to Native American and cancer, researchers need all the information they can get to help Native American cancer patients. By documenting the incorrect information about patients, it is skewing data for Native communities and cancer research, including how those in the community might acquire it, remission rates, and what types of treatments might work best. With this in mind, more attention needs to be brought on proper documentation of Native American patients.
      Fly-tipping on Native Lands
     Fly-tipping, or the illegal dumping of waste on lands, is something that is all too common for Native American communities. It has been reported that many companies have been dumping waste materials on reservations for decades without the knowledge of those who live in the surrounding areas. Many of these materials also contain asbestos; an invisible, tasteless, and odorless tiny fiber that if inhaled can cause major health problems considering it is a human carcinogen
     When asbestos is inhaled it can stick to the lining of the lungs, and tissues of other internal organs where it may remain dormant for 10 to 50 years. After a prolonged latency period, asbestos fibers may cause tumors to form and inflammation to occur, leading to mesothelioma cancer or asbestosis. Mesothelioma has no known cure and is the most prevalent cancer caused by asbestos exposure. By living amongst harmful asbestos, many Tribal members are developing mesothelioma without knowledge as to how they have acquired it.
      Another way many Native Americans come in contact with asbestos and in turn develop lung cancer, is on the job. Mesothelioma is a common cancer amongst the many Native Americans that work in occupations where contact with asbestos is likely. Also, it has been found that lung cancer is the second leading cancer in both Native men and women, and their occupations play a role in this. Many of those who work in blue collar jobs are also bringing these harmful substances home on their clothing and causing second-hand asbestos exposure to their families. Women and children who develop this cancer are commonly affected by second-hand exposure.
     Lack of Access to Proper Healthcare Systems
     Congress contributes to the ways in which cancer affects Native American communities. While the government has signed Treaties with Native Nations, those treaties have not been upheld and government run healthcare facilities are notoriously underfunded
     Healthcare facilities such as the Indian Health Service (IHS) is one resource Native communities have access to on reservations, but since they are financed by the government, due to budget cuts, they are often with lackluster resources. This leads to subpar care in comparison to other facilities, limiting the proper attention many patients need. In turn, many Native people are forced to drive hours off the reservations in order to find the care they so desperately need.
      Statistically, due to the high levels of poverty of those living on reserved land, many Native Americans do not qualify for healthcare and some barely qualify for Medicaid. Native people also face stigma and discrimination. Reportedly, President Trump has suggested in order to resolve the financial and healthcare issues among Native American communities, that only working Native people should receive healthcare. This is extremely frustrating for communities that are working with underfunded healthcare programs and who are historically treated as inferior, and denied their self-determination as sovereign nations. Years of colonial oppression, discrimination, land theft, and mistreatment have made many Native American communities dependant on the federal government. Congress is obliged fulfill its obligation to fund Native healthcare systems and respect, protect and fulfill Native people's right to health.
      The Future
Many Native communities are fighting back against the uncontrollable disparities of their communities. To inform their people and others about issues when it comes to health and how cancer has affected their communities, conferences like the 2017 Spirit of the EAGLES National Conference are held to bring attention to issues like fly-tipping, healthcare funding, and proper documentation for future care. In doing so, there is hope to one day get proper care brought to their communities and to protect their lands and resources from future abuse and pollution."

Pauly Denetclaw, "Overcoming Stigma: The treatment and prevention of HIV in Indian Country," ICT, March 26, 2019,, reported, " Half of all new HIV cases occurred in only 48 counties in 2016 and 2017, Washington, D.C., and San Juan, Puerto Rico. A lot of those counties have higher populations of Native communities like Maricopa County, Arizona.
     According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “ In the 50 states and the District of Columbia, an estimated 3,600 American Indian/Alaska Natives had HIV in 2016 and 82% of them had received a diagnosis. Of those American Indian/Alaska Natives with HIV in 2015, 60% received HIV care, 43% were retained in care, and 48% had achieved viral suppression.”

hiv aian

The terms male-to-male sexual contact and male-to-male sexual contact and injection drug use are used in the CDC surveillance systems. They indicate the behaviors that transmit HIV infection, not how individuals self-identify in terms of their sexuality. (CDC Graph)."
     In agreement with President Trump's wishing to make ending the HIV epidemic a top priority, proposing the Indian Health service (IHS) in the 2020 budget receive $25 million to expand HIV and Hepatitis C screening and care, IHS is asking Congress to appropriate this funding to increase screening, community outreach and expansion of the use of PrEP, a medication that prevents HIV infection, to those considered “high risk.” Identified as people at “high risk” are those who undertake sex work, men having unprotected sex with men, people diagnosed with an STI within a year, users of intravenous drugs and transgender women.
     Beginning in 2018, IHS increased its HIV outreach to address the stigma of HIV with PrEP (Partnership, prevention, and treatment), and to have every one who needs it to receive testing and treatment.
      Current plans are for "increasing investments in geographic hotspots through our existing, effective programs, such as the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, as well as a new program through community health centers that will provide medicine to protect persons at highest risk from getting HIV.
     Using data to identify where HIV is spreading most rapidly and guide decision-making to address prevention, care and treatment needs at the local level.
     Providing funds for the creation of a local HIV HealthForce in these targeted areas to expand HIV prevention and treatment
     For more information, visit these sites:
     We R Native:
     Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / HIV and American Indians and Alaska Natives:
     HHS blog on HIV prevention and Treatment with the “Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America,” initiative:
     What is ‘Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America’? on,
     Indian Health Services - HIV/AIDS Statistics:"

The Centers of Disease Control and prevention reported, in early May 2019, that American Indian and Alaska Native women die of pregnancy related causes three times more often than white women, and for a number of years the discrepancy has been increasing, despite calls to improve health care. 60% of pregnancy deaths are preventable with better health care, communication and support, along with decent housing and transportation (Roni Caryn Rabin, "Huge Racial Disparities in Pregnancy Related Deaths are Growing," The New York Times, May 8, 2019).

Navajo Nation signed an agreement with Johns Hopkins University and its subcontractor, RTI-International Research Triangle Park, allowing data sharing among Navajo Nation's birth cohort study and the other 82 studies in the national birth cohort studies of the National Institute of Health, that examine the environmental impact (including of uranium and other heavy metals) on child cognitive development and birth outcomes. (Cindy Yurth, "Birth Cohort Study welcomes data-sharing agreement," Navajo Times, May 16, 2019).

     The Seattle based Urban Indian Health Institute released a study in December 2018, finding that numerous police departments across the United States are not adequately reporting cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women. The report's authors stated that in their search they had identified about 500 missing person and homicide cases in 71 cities. Actions have begun to be taken by the U.S. Congress (including the Savanna's Act reported above) and several states to improve data collection and communication (Mary Hudetz, "Health Institute Study: Weak reporting on missing, murdered women," NFIC, 2018).

StrongHearts Native Helpline, which gives culturally appropriate support for Native victims of violence, in its second year of operation at: (844)7NATIVE, has extended it hours of operation to 7:00 am to 10:00 pm, seven days a week in Indian Country and Alaska (StrongHearts Native Helpline Expands Operating Hours," NFIC, April 2019).

Red Lake Nation of Minnesota, in collaboration with other tribes in the state, and support from the city, is building a 110 unit affordable housing complex with social and cultural services on land Red Lake owned in the city of Minneapolis, in order to end, or at least reduce, Native homelessness in the City. The decision to undertake the project was made following a survey of the needs of its members in Minneapolis (John Eligon, "Tribal Nations Join Hands to Build Urban Shelters for Homeless Bretheren," New York Times, December 23, 2019).

Jodi Rave, "Survey finds few tribal governments allow press freedom," ICT, May 23, 2019,, found that only 3 tribes specifically allow their newspapers press freedom. Only 3 nations specifically have statutes or arrangements insuring an independent tribal press. The independent papers include the Grand Rounde, Smoke Signals and the Navajo Times. The result of tribal ownership of newspapers without ensuring journalistic independence is considerable censorship of what is published, both whether developments are reported and what is said about them. The survey found that, " 83% of respondents said stories about tribal government affairs often go unreported due to censorship."

Partnership with Native Americans ( and Preparedness Matters ( have developed and are distributing to Great Plains Nations, The Native Family Preparedness Manual, a culturally relevant guide on how to prepare for and respond to disasters ("Tribal Communities receive added support with Disaster Preparedness Handbook," NFIC, February 2019)

Vincent Schilling, "Newman’s Own Foundation forms Native American nutrition cohort, ICT, May 23, 2019,, reported, " Nine Native nonprofit organizations are among those receiving $4.3 million in nutrition-focused grants as part of the Native American Nutrition Cohort.
      The Newman’s Own Foundation, founded by the late actor and philanthropist Paul Newman, announced on May 8, the formation of a Native American Nutrition Cohort, comprised of nine nonprofit organizations. According to a foundation release, the group 'will focus on fresh food access and nutrition education in Native American communities around the country.'”

As described in the foundation release, the Newman’s Own Foundation is providing $1.5 million in grants over two years to 10 organizations serving the Native American community, and nine will participate in the Nutrition Cohort. It’s part of more than $4.3 million in nutrition grants awarded in the last year."

Emilee Martichenko, " Climate Refugees: Louisiana Tribe Fights For Sovereignty Over Resettlement As Island Disappears," Cultural Survival, March 29, 2019,, reported, "If you had taken a stroll along the the bayous of South Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana in 1955, the stunning 22,400 acres of Isle de Jean Charles is sure to have caught your eye. If you take this same walk through today’s post Andrew, Katrina, Gustav, and Ike coastline, the island will comprise a significantly smaller portion of your view, as it has been reduced to 320 acres.
     What has not changed since 1955, however, is the enduring spirit of life that the Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Tribe (IJC) has infused within the island since the early nineteenth century. For generations, the Tribe has lived in harmony with the abundant wildlife and rich biodiversity that characterize the island’s beauty. They are an integral part of the island’s ecosystem, just as the fish that swim through surrounding waters and the birds that glide along its gentle breeze.
     Tragically, decades of environmental degradation deem that Isle de Jean Charles is no longer a safely habitable landmass. The destruction wreaked upon the IJC Tribe by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Hurricane Isaac in 2012, and the multitude of equally devastating hurricanes in between has played no small part in deeply hindering the community’s social, economic, and spiritual livelihood. In 2009, following the wreckage of Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Ike, Chief Albert Naquin lamented to The Washington Post 'It's only a matter of time before the island's gone – one more good hurricane, and we'll be wiped out.' Deputy Chief Wenceslaus Billiot Jr. told The Smithsonian Magazine in 2018 that after 'every hurricane, someone leaves because their house gets blown away.'
      The Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Tribe reports that 98 percent of the island’s landmass has disappeared due to sea level rise, subsistence, and erosion as well as suffered under the effects of levee, oil and gas development. For years the IJC Tribe has witnessed a steady disintegration of their community as members leave the island to resettle in areas where they are not under immediate threat from coastal flooding and have greater access to the job market. The loss of land not only has forced migration, but also has fractured Tribal sovereignty, cultural traditions, and daily life amongst the community.
     The community on Isle de Jean Charles falls under what some have termed the first refugees of climate change in the United States. The European Parliamentary Research Service defines 'climate change refugees' as 'migrants who move due to natural disasters and climate change.' This title evolved from the broader 'environmental migration' definition recognized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Climate change refugees, however, remain outside the established terminology of both United States and international law.

María Cristina García, a refugee and immigrant history expert at Cornell University states, “the term refugee is defined very precisely in international law… In U.S. law, for example, refugees are defined as individuals persecuted because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular group, or political opinion.” Due to this rigid nomenclature García laments “nowhere does climate figure into it. It leaves this entire group of people without international protection or recognition.” Climate change refugees thus do not possess the status often needed to call upon the protection of international and domestic law.
     The history of the IJC Tribe dates back to the early 1800s with the matrimony of Jean Marie Naquin, a Frenchman, and Pauline Verdin, a Native American woman. Condemned by his family for pursuing this interracial marriage, Jean Marie Naquin and Pauline Verdin settled on Isle de Jean Charles along the bayous of South Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana in order to start a life together. While the number of families populating the island grew over the course of the nineteenth century, it was not formally recognized until 1910 when the state proclaimed it 'Isle á Jean Charles.'
     Over the past two centuries the Isle de Jean Charles band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Tribe has nourished the development of their community infrastructure and education. A church was erected on the island in the 1940s that included a designated school-teaching room for the island’s children. Until 1953 when a road was constructed in order to connect the island to the mainland, however, the Tribe’s youth paddled through water and discrimination to schools that offered education beyond the elementary level. This road, the only route on and off the island that does not require the usage of a boat, has been battered by years of flooding and erosion. It was refurbished by the parish for the last time in 2011 although water damage has since resumed its repeated siege against the renovations. The road often remains unnavigable on days when storms and other natural phenomenon catalyze intense flooding, leaving many residents worried that they will not be able to access hospitals and other critical amenities.
      Since 2002, the Isle de Jean Charles Resettlement Project has made tremendous strides in facilitating the community members’ process of relocation to a safer region. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded the Tribe $48 million in grant funds from the National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC). This grant enabled the Tribe to develop a detailed resettlement proposal and a working relationship with the state of Louisiana in order to execute a successful relocation process and guarantee that the Isle de Jean Charles will remain preserved under the stewardship of the community. The grant was a major victory for the community and climate change refugees alike as it represented tangible evidence that the government was beginning to recognize long-term threats that climate change refugees face and their efforts to combat the resulting detrimental effects.
      Yet following the award of the grant and efforts to institute the Isle de Jean Charles Resettlement Project, the IJC Tribe believes that the state is not respecting the Tribe’s rights and role within their partnership nor adopting protocol that adheres to the proposal’s meticulously detailed instructions. In a press release from January 15, 2019, the Tribe publicly denounced the state’s abuse of their power, stating 'state planners have steadily erased our role as leaders of the resettlement process, excluded our Tribal leadership from decision-making” and “disregarded Tribal protocols during community engagement activities.'
      The state’s violation of the IJC Tribe’s role as primary arbitrator in the Isle de Jean Charles Resettlement project threatens the Tribe’s sovereignty, right to self-determination, and successful physical and cultural integration into a new region. Should the state continue to progress with its exclusionary actions, it will hinder future efforts to collaborate with climate change refugees both internally and nationwide.
      The IJC Tribe also faces the prospect of losing domain over Isle de Jean Charles once resettlement is implemented. Pat Forbes, the executive director of Louisiana’s Office of Community Development (OCD), responded to the notion of continuous tribal autonomy over the island, stating the community’s claim 'is way beyond anything HUD has ever even thought about. It would be unheard of to allow the property to be anything but green space… public green space.' However, when the HUD awarded the grant in 2016, Tribal stewardship over the island was a crucial component of the proposal.
      The Global Report on Internal Displacement reveals that in 2017, 18 million people across 135 countries and territories were internally displaced by weather-related disasters. Furthermore, the IOM reports that the number of environmental migrants is projected to increase to 200 million by 2050. In the United States, the Natural Resources Committee warns that 13 million Americans face the prospect of becoming climate change refugees by 2100. If sufficient action is not taken to remedy rising sea level, implement beneficial, non-harmful infrastructure, and foster collaborative relationships between climate change refugees and governmental agencies, the IJC Tribe, communities in the United States, and communities across the globe face the imminent danger of displacement and cultural decline.
     The IJC Tribe is forced to let go of more than 200 years of ancestral land that contains more than 200 years of cultural history. They have raised children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren on this island. They will leave behind a cemetery of buried family members when they migrate.
      The Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Tribe has not stopped fighting for the protection and prosperity of their community. They intend to nurture their new settlement with museums, gardens, and a tribal community center that will unite members in shared cultural events and celebrations.
      Resettlement, if conducted properly and in a manner that respects the Tribe’s desires as stated in the grant proposal, also offers a chance at reunification. There is hope that the hundreds of Tribal members who have already left the island will reconnect on the Tribe’s new land and experience a rebirth of cultural tradition and communal solidarity."

Vincent Schilling, "Bay Mills Indian Community first tribe in Michigan to legalize marijuana: Tribal members can petition tribal courts to remove any previous marijuana-related offenses — while other tribes are expressing interest Bay Mills’ methodologies," ICT, April 17, 2019,, reported, "In November 2018, Michigan voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state with a 55 percent margin. Wishing to provide the same laws to tribal citizens, the Bay Mills Indian Community legalized the possession, use and cultivation of marijuana for adults over the age of 21, becoming the first Native tribal community in the state to legalize marijuana on the reservation."

Describing a situation that may be similar for Native allottees elsewhere, Etta Arviso, Navajo, with an allotment outside the boundaries of the Navajo reservation wrote in "Navajo, U.S. government fail thousands of allottees," Navajo Times, May 9, 2019, that Dine people with one of the 30,000 allotments outside of the Navajo reservation boundary are in limbo, having great difficulty getting issues addressed. State and local governments tend to think that they are taken care of by Navajo Nation, but they are on private land, while Navajo Nation and the BIA focus on reservation issues. Also, the BIA has far less authority to act off reservation than on.

The Navajo Nation in 2019 is able to house more prisoners for longer than at any time since 1992 thanks to new jails being built in Crown Point, Tuba City, Chinle and Kayenta with $150 million federal stimulus dollars, authorized in response to the Great Recession. The new jails replace smaller, overcrowded and deteriorated ones, that some said were worse than in Third World Counties, but are still not sufficient to house all prisoners, and the old jail in Window Rock is still quite substandard and can only be used to house prisoners up to eight hours until they can be sent to other facilities. At least the Nation's correction officials no longer have to decide each day which prisoners to release because not all could be housed. An additional problem is that the BIA only funds 40% of the costs of operating and maintaining the jails, straining the finances of the Nation, and causing a reduction in the jails use (Bill Donovan, "New jails helping, but more needed," Navajo Times, April 25, 2019).

Preliminary to the Navajo Nation Council deciding whether the Nation should purchase the Navajo Generating Station, which it declined to do, the council set up a series of town hall meetings around the nation to obtain citizen input on the issue ("Town halls set on possible purchase of NGS," Navajo Times, February 2019).

A bill that would allow Navajo Nation restaurants to serve liquor was voted down at the end of December 2018 (Arlyssa Becenti, "Liquor sales in restaurants voted down," Navajo Times, December 3, 2019).

The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NUTA) was working on Project Light Up Navajo, in April 2019, with the help of 116 volunteers from 24 cities, to bring electric power to the homes of at least 300 of almost 15,000 Dine who are not connected to the electric grid (Arlyssa Becenti, "Volunteers hook up homes," Navajo Times, April 4, 2019).

The Navajo Nation opened the Dr. Guy Gorman Care Center - a nursing home - at Chinle, AZ around the end of December 2019 (Cindy Yurth, "New nursing home a big step up," Navajo Times, December 20, 2019).

Pojoaque Pueblo in New Mexico is monitoring its lands from above under a partnership with Wildflower International, of Santa Fe, NM ( using unmanned aerial systems to keep track of its bison heards, map cultural sites, improve fire control and guide search and rescue ("Partnership aims to help New Mexico tribe monitor its land," NFIC, January 2019).

In accordance with the Southern Ute Tribe of Colorado's efforts to bring back traditional inclusive participation, prior to Council Action on a proposed new code for leasing residential, agricultural and business property, the tribe held a morning and an afternoon membership meeting to inform tribal members and receive their input on the matter. The different timing of the meetings was to allow people with different schedules to participate. Also discussed at the meetings was a proposal for an environmental review process, that would allow the council to analyze the environmental and cultural impacts of proposed projects before deciding whether or not to approve them (McKayla Lee, "Codes, policies on the table for tribal comment," Southern Ute Drum, February 1, 2019).

The Southern Ute Tribe, in March 2019, received a grant of $391,425 for victims assistance from the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs Office of Victims Services, part of $5.7 million being awarded to tribes for that purpose ("Justice Department awards over $300,000 to Tribe," Southern Ute Drum, March 29, 2019).

Frank Hopper, "Makah one step closer to hunting whales: Animal rights extremists continue to oppose it," ICT, May 9, 2019,, reported, " National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration support whaling as a spiritual rite for the Makah. Revitalizing that tradition has already brought them healing and growth.
     After 25 years of legal maneuvering, the Makah are now one year away from resuming a tradition central to their culture and identity, the hunting of gray whales. On April 5, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration submitted a proposal to the federal government that would allow the Makah to harvest an average of two gray whales per year for the next 10 years.
     If the proposal survives review by a federal judge
this summer and a subsequent final decision by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the tribe will resume their treaty-protected right to hunt gray whales as soon as spring 2020."

Native Alaskan Tribes in Southeast Alaska met in Juneau to consider establishing tribal courts. The Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska has a tribal court in Juneau, founded in 2007. Its jurisdiction has expanded from handling child custody hearings to encompass divorce, domestic violence and other cases ("Some Alaska Native tribes in Southeast seek to establish tribal courts," Anchorage Daily News, December 23, 2018,

Little League baseball added to its "Operating Policy, Code 5, in January 20q9,, " Synopsis: Updates number 5 in the Code to address compliance with federal, state, and local laws, as well as the use of racially insensitive, derogatory, or discriminatory marks or words.
5. Little League is committed to compliance with all federal, state, and local laws and requires all of its chartered leagues to do the same. It is our policy to recruit, hire, train, and promote individuals, as well as to administer any and all personnel actions, without regard to race, color, religion, age sex, sexual orientation, national origin and ancestry, marital status, status as a disabled or Vietnam Era Veteran, or status as a qualified handicapped individual, in accordance with applicable law. Furthermore, Little League prohibits the use of team names, mascots, nicknames or logos that are racially insensitive, derogatory or discriminatory in nature. Little League requires all chartered local league programs, volunteers as well as regular employees to comply with the policies outline above. Disciplinary action to address violations of the policies outlined above will be determined in the sole discretion of either the Charter Committee or Little League management, as applicable."
     The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) confirmed that "use of racially insensitive, derogatory, or discriminatory marks or words" is inclusive of those relating to Native Americans (

Debora Juarez (Blackfeet) became the first Native person to be elected to the Seattle City Council, in its 150 year history.
      Other Native candidates for local office in Washington State include: Carrie Blackwood, Chicana, is a Democratic Party candidate for state Senate from the 40th Legislative District. Ashley Brown, Nooksack, is unopposed for a position on the City Council in Everson. Jessie Deardorff, Lummi, is unopposed for the school board in Ferndale, near the Lummi Reservation. Seattle School Board member Zachary DeWolf, Chippewa Cree, is one of six candidates for Seattle City Council District 3. Katherine Festa, Haida, is one of three candidates for City Council Position 7 in Federal Way, a Seattle suburb located within the boundaries of the Puyallup Reservation. Festa is a housing and outreach coordinator for the King County Department of Community and Human Services. Chandra Hampson, Winnebago/White Earth Chippewa, is one of three candidates for Seattle School Board, District 3. Meghan Jernigan. Choctaw, is challenging the incumbent for the School Board District 1 position in Shoreline, a suburb of Seattle. Cindy Webster-Martinson, Suquamish, has two challengers in her bid for reelection to the North Kitsap School Board. She is the first Native American elected to non-tribal office in Kitsap County. Steve Oliver, Lummi, is unopposed for a fourth term as Whatcom County treasurer. Christopher Peguero, Menominee, is one of seven candidates for Seattle City Council, District 2. Jenny Slagle, Yakama, is one of three candidates for Spokane School Board, Position 2. Kimber LyAnn Starr, Cherokee, is one of three candidates for City Council Position 4 in Fircrest, a Tacoma suburb. Chris Stearns, Navajo, is unopposed for a position on the City Council in Auburn. He is former chairman of the Washington State Gambling Commission and the Seattle Human Rights Commission. Teresa Taylor, Lummi, has one challenger in her bid for a second term on the Ferndale City Council. Edmonds School Board president Diana White, Potawatomi, is one of two candidates for City Council Position 6 in Edmonds. Two Swinomish women are candidates for the same school board position in La Conner, across the channel from the Swinomish Reservation: incumbent Janie Beasley, and Marlys Baker, community health representative for the Swinomish Tribe’s health department.

      Among those currently serving in Washington are State Senator John McCoy, Tulalip, Representative Jeff Morris, Tsimshian; and Representative Debra Lekanoff, Tlingit/Aleut. Denise Juneau, Mandan Hidatsa, is superintendent of Seattle Public Schools. She was formerly Montana’s superintendent of public instruction and ran unsuccessfully in 2014 for Congress in Montana. Maia Bellon, Mescalero Apache, is the director of the state’s Department of Ecology, the first Native American to serve in a cabinet-level position in Washington. (Richard Walker, "More Native candidates are running for local office — and winning — in Washington state," ICT, June 13, 2019,

In Rapid City, SD, a record number of Indian women ran in the June municipal elections along with one Native man, but all lost by sizable margins. Running were: for mayor, Lance Lehmann (Rosebud Sioux); for alderman: Natalie Means (Cheyenne River), Stephanie Savoy (Crow Creek Sioux Tribe), Cante Hart (Rosebud Sioux), and Ramona Herrington (Oglala Sioux) (Matthee Guerry, "Native Americna women set record in Rapid City Election," NFIC, April 2019; and "2019 Municipal and School Board Election Results," NewsCener1, June 4, 2019, ).

In New Mexico, Kara Bobroff (Navajo/Lakota) was appointed Deputy Secretary of Public Education, in January 2019 ("NM governor appoints Ramah native to education post," Navajo Times, January 31, 2019).

Joe England, Chief Judge of the Yavapai-Apache Nation has been chosen to serve as the Chief Executive of the Arizona State Bar Association ("Tribaljudge picked as CEO of state bar of Arizona," NFIC, December 2018)

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Economic Developments

The Navajo Nation council voted, in March 2019, not to purchase the Navajo Generating Station, and is considering increasing the nation's development of renewable energy (Krista Allen, "Council vote kills NTEC effort to buy NGS," and Krista Allen, "Door opened for renewable energy, sponsor says," Navajo Times, March 28, 2019).
      The closing of the Navajo Mine and the Navajo Generating Station are having a variety of impacts on Navajos and Hopis. The ceasing of the global warming and cancer and other health problems from burning large quantities of coal, and the ending taking of huge quantities of scarce water, causing subsidence’s and threatening area water supplies is a huge human and environmental benefit, as is an ending of the polluting aspects of mining, including its poisoning of water.
     The closing brings a loss of jobs and income from the operations to both nations, which is one of the main reasons that the Navajo nation's proposed budget for 2019 was $5 million less than in 2018, at $167 million. The impact on the budget would have been worse, were it not for the investments made by the Nation in its Permanent Fund, beginning in 1985, intended to build up monies to assist the nation in hard times.
     As many Hopi and Dine households have been keeping warm and cooking by burning coal, and wood - now in increasingly short supply - the loss of an inexpensive coal source is a problem, though stopping the poisonous burning is a boon for the health of the households and of others around them, as well as for the environment. Two developments were moving to ameliorate the heating problem. The forest service announced it would supply wood (though financing for that still needed to be organized), while a number of efforts are underway at providing efficient stoves, and in some cases cooling, and weatherization of homes to low income tribal members impacted by the loss of coal and shortage of wood. Among those involved in the efforts are EPA's Burn Wise Program:, the Southwest Indian Foundation:, Red Feather Development Group:, and in collaboration with Red Feather, Daikin North America Manufacturing, which manufactures efficient heating and cooling units (Morgan Miles Craft, "Coal legacy strains Dine, Hopi communities," Navajo Times, April 25, 2019; Alyssa Becenti, "Branch Chiefs Expect Scaled Down Budgets," Navajo Times, June 6, 2019; and Rima Krisst,"We're in the future now: Permanent Fund can replace NGS revenue," Navajo Times, February 14, 2019).

"News Release, 24th Navajo Nation Council - Office of the Speaker , "Uranium mine remediation contracts over a five-year period valued at up to $220 million for sites on or near the Navajo Nation to be awarded," in ICT, April 25, 2019,, stated, " The Navajo Nation Council leadership commends the announcement by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, Sen. Martin Heinrich, Rep. Ben Ray Luja´n, and the Environmental Protection Agency to award uranium mine remediation contracts over a five-year period valued at up to $220 million for sites on or near the Navajo Nation. EPA Region 9 is soliciting proposals exclusively from small businesses to address abandoned mines response and construction services.
     In January, the Navajo Nation Council Naabik’i´ya´ti’ Committee passed resolutions NABIJA-04-19 and NABIJA-03-19, both of which identify radiation and uranium exposure issues as top priorities of the nation in the states of New Mexico and Arizona.
     'The Navajo Nation and the Navajo people sacrificed greatly to add to the economy of the Atomic Age,' stated Delegate Daniel Tso (Baca/Prewitt, Casamero Lake, Counselor, Littlewater, Ojo Encino, Pueblo Pintado, Torreon, Whitehorse Lake), chair of the Council’s Health, Education, and Human Services Committee. 'Our New Mexico Congressional leaders greatly understand the human, water, and environmental impacts of uranium mining. I extend much gratitude to our leaders for opening this opportunity to small businesses.'
      'The Resources and Development Committee identified the clean-up of the Nation’s hundreds of abandoned uranium mines as a top priority recently,' said Delegate Rickie Nez (Nenahnezad, Newcomb, San Juan, T’iis Tsoh Sikaad, Tse’Daa’Kaan, Upper Fruitland), who chairs the committee. 'As a Navajo New Mexico citizen, I am very grateful for our congressional delegation’s leadership on this top priority of the Nation.'
     'The leadership of Senator Udall, Senator Heinrich, and Representative Luja´n on uranium issues is valued by the Council and the Navajo people,' stated Council Speaker Seth Damon (Ba´a´ha´a´li´, Chichiltah, Manuelito, Tse´ Lichi´i´’, Rock Springs, Tsayatoh). 'They have fought to right the tainted legacy of uranium mining on Navajo, accelerate the rate of mine clean up, and expand the eligibility of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act for the benefit of Navajo citizens. Working together, we can accomplish great things and I look forward to continuing to resolve uranium issues for the benefit of our mutual citizens.'
     Proposals are due May 28, 2019. Please visit, click 'Public Opportunities,' and search for Reference Number 68HE0918R0014 to obtain the Request for Proposals."

Rhino Health announced, in December 2018, that it would open a glove factory on the Navajo Nation, near the Fire Rock Casino in New Mexico. Rhino Health CEO Mark Lee said he hoped to open 10 more factories in the area (Arlyssa Becenti, "Glove Factory announcement is milestone for staffer," Navajo Times, December 20, 2019).
     During 2018, two cosmetic companies owned by Dine women were opened, highlighting Navajo culture and giving back to their communities (Pauly Denetclaw, "A year of gains for Navajo women," Navajo Times, December 27, 2019).
     The Navajo Nation's Nahata Dziil Chapter, in Arizona, opened a new $11 million shopping center with a Bashas Supermarket, a Pizza Edge and an automatic laundry, saving a drive of about 45 minutes for groceries in Gallop, NM (Cindy Yurth and Arlyssa Becenti, " Nahata Dziil residents celebrate new shopping Center," Navajo Times, April 4, 2019).

Richard Walker, "Many tribes say billion-dollar cannabis business is a gateway to economic development," ICT, February 27, 2019,, reported, " Las Vegas Paiute Tribe’s NuWu Cannabis Marketplace is the ‘Largest Marijuana Store on the Planet’ and since 2014, consumers spent $2.95 billion on cannabis in Washington.
     The way that Ely Shoshone Tribe Chairwoman Diane Buckner sees it, cannabis is indeed a gateway to economic development, health programs, housing, and education. 'We’re located three to four hours from any major area,' Buckner said. 'So this is huge for us.'
      Ely Shoshone is one of a growing number of indigenous nations that are getting into the cannabis market, which is expanding as an increasing number of states legalize cannabis for recreational and/or medical use.
     For isolated tribes like Ely Shoshone, located in the region of Ely, Nevada, cannabis is providing the seed money for economic development in the same way that gaming is doing for tribes elsewhere
. Customers come from as far away as Elko and Salt Lake City, a three- to four-hour drive away, Buckner said."
     The Oneida Nation of Wisconsin has filled the paperwork to begin a piolet hemp production program to lay the foundation for a future commercial enterprise (Christopher Johnson, "Oneida Nation to enter hemp production in piolet program," NFIC, March 2019).

Leslie Logan, "Panel rules in favor of New York; Seneca Must pay $200 Million compact decision: Panel rules casino compact dispute in state’s favor. Ruling is binding and final without any prospect for appeal," ICT, January 16, 2019,, reported, "On January 8, the Seneca Nation was dealt a decisive blow when it received a much- anticipated arbitration ruling regarding the casino compact dispute with New York state. A three-member arbitration panel ruled in favor of the state, requiring the Seneca Nation to resume revenue sharing payments and make back payments totaling some $200 million."
     The Seneca had argued that since their compact with New York State made no mention of revenue sharing payments to the state after the 14th year, it did not have to make any payments after that. The arbitration panel, by a 2-1 vote, upheld the state contention that revenue sharing was to continue indefinitely, as long as the compact was in force.
     The Oneida Nation of New York, in January 2019, was preparing to introduce sports betting at their casinos ("Oneida Nation prepares to add sports betting at their casinos," NFIC, January 2019).
      The Aguinnah Wampanagos of Massachusetts were expecting to begin construction of their 10,000 square foot casino in March 2019 ("Martha's Vineyard gambling hall construction to begin," NFIC, March 2019).
      The Seminole Nation held its first unveiling of the still major $1.5 million remodeling Hard Rock Cafe casino and resort in Hollywood, FL, in November (Sandra Hale Schulman. "Seminoles Unveil New Hard Rock Cafe Prototype," NFIC, December 2018).

Ricardo Lopez, "How one of America’s smallest Indian tribes bounced back from the brink of dying out: The survival of the Augustine Band dates to one woman in the 1990s. Now, there are a dozen members, a casino, a solar farm and, soon, an organic farm," ICT, May 3, 2019,, reported that Amanda Vance, the 32-year-old tribal chair of the Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians, " leads a tribe of 12 — seven adults and five children — that, 30 years ago, was in danger of vanishing after its enrollment dwindled to just one person by the mid-1980s. Her mother almost single-handedly rebuilt the tribe, transforming its barren 500 acres of land on the edge of the eastern Coachella Valley from a popular site for illegal dumping to an expanding reservation that employs more than 400 people through its gaming commission, tribal government and the popular Augustine Casino, a no-frills neighborhood spot frequented by farmworkers and snowbirds.
      In a move toward self-sufficiency, Martin also led the planning of a 3-megawatt solar farm that opened in 2008, the first solar project of its kind by a Southern California tribe approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The renewable energy project helps power the 30,000-square-foot casino, which features 800 slot machines and eight card tables." The nation was also preparing to open a 33-acre organic farm, Temalpakh, with a dedicated farmer's market and education building to showcase sustainable organic farming practices while providing vegetables and other crops for the community.
     The Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians numbered several thousand members living in 22 villages in the mid-Nineteenth Century. This including Cahuilla Village, recognized as the Augustine reservation by Congress in 1891. The nation's population was decimated by diseases brought by white settlers, shrinking to 11 members by 1951. While tribal members continued to have children, many of them left, until three was only one enrolled member, who had four children before her death in 1987. One of them, Mary Anne Martin, with the aid of her brothers reestablished the nation in 1988, forming a tribal council and setting out an economic development plan, with the aid of knowledgeable advisors. That led to a compact with the state and the opening of the Augustine Casino in 2002. It was a modest gaming operation, that has since expanded to become one of Coachella’s largest employers. Part of the casino's success is its low food and drink prices. It is said that another is the tribe’s generosity to its employees. The casino offers a company-matched 401(k) retirement plan, as well as up to six weeks of paid time off for employees who have been employed for at least six years. The casino also raised the minimum wage for its non-tipped front-line employees to $13 per hour in 2018, two years prior to California’s phased-in minimum-wage increases.

Richard Walker, "A small matter of Indian trust - Issues are resolved regarding a .79 acre of trust land," ICT, May 23, 2019,, reported, " The Quinault Nation is investing about $750,000 in redeveloping the site and is opening a Quinault Nation Smoke Shop, and a convenience store.
     A Native American family long hampered in their efforts to develop their patch of Indian trust land in the city of Bremerton, Washington, is getting some economic development help from the Quinault Nation

The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma has launched the Cherokee Nation to promote its lands as a place for film making ("Cherokee Nation being marketed as a film destination," NFIC, February 2019).

The Native village of Saint George, on Saint George Island, AK, home to 60 Aleut people and 350 reindeer, was planning, in May 2019, to open a commercial reindeer processing plant, the idea of pastor John Honan, to raise the low income community's economy (Rachel, D'oro, "Native village eyes reindeer plant as potential economic boost," NFIC, May 2019).

Taos Pueblo of New Mexico, in February 2019, was building a new travel center at U.S. 64 and Hail Creek Rd., and will relocate its smoke shop currently at that site ("Taos Pueblo announces its Hail Creek Travel Center slated for a fall 2019 opening," NFIC, February 2019).

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Education and Culture

Debra Kol, "Arizona State, Cronkite Journalism debuts two new Native education initiatives: Journalism professorship explores Native American media coverage. New Online master’s degree in Indigenous education," ITC, February 6, 2019, jHOe7IJXqkmRXcTmeGbBiw/OVaz7b3C-kW0eA5RgEEPgQ/ICT_E-Weekly_Newsletter_Feb_6_2019.pdf, "Arizona State University has announced two new programs in its Southwest Borderlands Initiative to include a program-specific professor, who will focus on Native journalism research and student recruitment, and an online master’s degree program in Indigenous education, which will allow tribal citizens to obtain a graduate education degree and remain home."

The American Indian Graduate Center, (AIGC at: of Albuquerque, NM, has created a new logo and tag line, "The Center for Native Scholarships," and has entered a partnership with Salish Kootenai College to promoter their educational programs. Two new programs designed in collaboration with Wells Fargo provide college preparatory curricula and financial wellness education. AIGC also is offering new scholarships stemming from partnerships with AMERIND Risk, California Nations Gaming Association, American Indian Business Leaders, and Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, among others ("American Indian Graduate Center launches new brand, new partnerships," NFIC, February2019).

Dina Horwedel, [email protected], 303-430-5350, "American Indian College Fund Publishes Report on Higher Education Equity Initiative for Native Americans," American Indian College Fund, February 5, 2019, via E-mail, stated, "Last spring after a parent attending a college tour called campus police with concerns about two Native Americans in the group, the American Indian College Fund knew it had to respond. The College Fund convened a group of national higher education experts and Native students to address the social issues Native Americans face on campus. Today the College Fund published Creating Visibility and Healthy Learning Environments for Native Americans in Higher Education, the report from that convening, as a tool for higher education institutions to advance the visibility of Native American students at their institutions and to ensure that Native history, achievements, and perspectives are respected.
      Creating Visibility and Healthy Learning Environments for Native Americans in Higher Education highlights steps institutions can take with recruiting, financial aid, student orientation, recognition of Native lands, curriculum creation, establishment of meeting places for Native people, work with local tribes, and more.
     The report was crafted at the Indigenous Higher Education Equity Initiative (IHEEI) in Denver, Colorado in August 2018, hosted by the College Fund in cooperation with leadership from Colorado State University. Leadership, faculty, and staff from tribal colleges and universities; public and private mainstream colleges and universities; non-profit organizations; education foundations, institutes, and associations; and Native college students created a scalable plan for higher education institutions to make college campuses safer and more welcoming to Native people.
     Currently American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIAN) face a college access and completion crisis. Only 14% of AIAN people age 25 and older have a college degree--less than half of that of other groups in the United States
. The College Fund believes that colleges and universities can use the Creating Visibility and Healthy Learning Environments for Native Americans in Higher Education report as a guide, helping them to make campuses welcoming spaces for Native students. These efforts, along with financial access to college and tools for academic and social success, can increase the number of Native Americans with a college degree, resulting in increased opportunities for graduates, their families, and communities.
     To download your copy of Creating Visibility and Healthy Learning Environments for Native Americans in Higher Education, please visit our website. You can also request a printed copy by sending an email to [email protected]."
      About the American Indian College Fund
Founded in 1989, the American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 30 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer" and provided 5,896 scholarships last year totaling $7.65 million to American Indian students, with more than 131,000 scholarships and community support totaling over $200 million since its inception. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation’s top 100 charities named to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit"

The University of Wisconsin System announced, April 6, 2019, that it is developing a new policy of consultation with the state's tribes, modeled on that of the Arizona Board of Regents, on issues such a land use, education policy and research ("University of Wisconsin System to create tribal consultation policy," NFIC, May 2019).

Dine College has been granted $1 million by state of Arizona to fund developmental education at the college to deal with the necessity of providing remedial education to many entering students (Bill Donovan, "Dine College gets $1 million for remedial ed," Navajo Times, May 30, 2019).

Annie Waldman and Erica L. Green, "Native Students on Montana Reservation, " The New York Times, January 4, 2019,, (This article is a collaboration between ProPublica and The New York Times), reported, " A year and a half after receiving a detailed complaint from tribal leaders, the Education Department plans to investigate their accusations that the Wolf Point School District in Montana discriminates against Native American students."
     The December 28, 2018 letter from the tribal executive board including members of the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes was sent hours after The New York Times and ProPublica published an investigation into racial inequities in the district. More than three quarters of the students in the Wolf Point District are Native American or of mixed-race.
     The complaint alleges that Wolf Point schools discipline Native students more harshly than white students, shunt them into remedial programs without appropriate cause, and deny them special education evaluations and services. A parent also alleged that the district failed to respond to an accusation that a Native student was racially harassed. During the seven years leading up to the sending of the letter, two Native students at the high school committed suicide, following public rebukes by district administrators. The Office for Civil Rights was already looking into a complaint that the Wolf Point district failed to provide an eligible student with special education services. Previously, in June 2017, the tribal executive board filed a 46-page complaint (available at: setting forth dozens of instances where Wolf Point schools provided limited academic opportunities and social support to Native students. ProPublica and The Times found that Native students in Wolf Point were twice as likely to receive at least one suspension compared with their white peers, while white students were more than 10 times as likely to take at least one advanced placement course as Native students. Interviewed, students, staff and parents said Wolf Point’s schools place Native children in a poorly funded, understaffed program for remedial and truant students. Native students stated they were dropped from sports teams after giving birth, while a white student was allowed to continue to participate
     The Education Department's taking investigating case is an exception of its policy under Secretary Betsy DeVos of ceasing to investigate complaints of systemic discrimination by schools and colleges, and concentrating on mistreatment of individuals. Under Ms. DeVos tenure, the department had dropped more than 1,200 civil rights investigations begun under the Obama administration."
     " Nationwide, more than 90 percent of Native students attend integrated public schools, near or on reservations, that have historically restricted tribal influence over curriculum, funding and staffing. Native American students have some of the worst academic outcomes in public schools: They score lower than nearly all other demographic groups on national tests, and less than three-fourths of Native students graduate from high school."
     See also, Erica L. Green and Annie Waldman, " ‘I Feel Invisible’: Native Students Languish in Public Schools: At Wolf Point High School in rural Montana, Native American students face the same neglect Native students across the U.S. do as they navigate a school system that has failed American Indians," The New York Times, December 28, 2018, This article was reported and written in a collaboration with ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative journalism organization, In addition to its reporting about problems at Wolf Point in particular, the article stated that at schools with Wolf Point problems, " The population is also among the most at risk: Underachievement and limited emotional support at school can contribute to a number of negative outcomes for Native youths — even suicide. Among people 18 to 24, Native Americans have the highest rate of suicide in the nation: 23 per 100,000, compared with 15 per 100,000 among white youths."
     " In public schools, white students are twice as likely as Native students to take at least one advanced placement course, and Native students are more than twice as likely to be suspended, according to an analysis of federal civil rights data conducted by ProPublica and The New York Times. Native students also score lower than nearly all other demographic groups on national tests, and only 72 percent of Native students graduate, the lowest of any demographic group."
     " Since passage of the Indian Education Act in 1972, Congress has tried to give tribes more resources and responsibility for educating their children. But most schools that serve Native youths remain under the authority of states and municipalities, which have historically rejected tribal input and insisted on control over curriculum, funding and staffing."

      Erica L. Green and Annie Waldman, "A Second Chance for Prisoners, and Their Warden: As a school board member in Wolf Point, Mont., Ron Jackson couldn’t help struggling Native American students as much as he hoped. Now some of them are his inmates," The New York Times, December 28, 2018, This article was reported and written in a collaboration with ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative journalism organization,, reported, " As Mr. Jackson, the warden of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation adult correctional facility, patrols the cells, he sees Native American inmates who might be leading productive lives on the outside if they had graduated from high school. And Mr. Jackson, a member of the Assiniboine tribe, says he feels partly responsible.
      Before becoming warden, he served on the Wolf Point school board for 15 years, 10 as its chairman. He pushed to curb discrimination in the town’s schools against Native Americans, who make up more than half of students but less than one-fifth of the staff. He fought for more reading instruction and other support for Native children and challenged decisions to expel them. But his efforts mostly fell flat as the white majority on the board outvoted or ignored him.
      Now he has been meeting some of those dropouts as adults on the other end of the school-to-prison pipeline. 'I still see the effects of our schools,” he said. 'We got grandparents 70, 80 years old, can’t read and write because they went to these schools. Their kids are doing the same thing; they don’t care if they go to school.'"
     At the correctional facility in Poplar, 20 miles from Wolf Point, usually housing about 70 inmates, " Mr. Jackson has shifted its focus from punishment to rehabilitation and education."
     "One of his first acts as warden after being appointed by the tribal executive board in 2016 was to gather the inmates in a circle and lead them in a prayer for redemption. He also allowed prisoners to travel overnight to powwows and other Native ceremonies. Although many of them struggle with substance abuse, they all passed drug tests on their return. This year, Mr. Jackson introduced a G.E.D. program to help inmates earn diplomas.
      Inmates point to the failures of Wolf Point’s schools at key moments in their youths." Their frustrations with and at school led them to act out eventually leading to jail time. Many just wanted an education. In the prison, unlike at school, Native inmates are supported by a sense of tribal community, with traditional and spiritual ceremonies and celebration of family lineage. Transformative service are offered, including substance abuse counseling, mental health evaluations, and a women's center offering parenting groups, as well as domestic violence counseling for men and women.

The Albuquerque Public Schools (APS), January 24, 2019, hosted its first Native American Open Community Forum after complaints concerning an incident at Cibola High School, in which a student used racial slurs in verbally attacking an Indian student, which Native parents said was one of many that APS had failed to address. APS had issued a general apology, but parents had requested further action. Some 70 parents and community members, mostly tribal members, attended. Among the proposals from parents were for the schools to actively counter racism - including renaming schools that carry the names of those involved in genocide of Natives; to include Native history in the American history curriculum; for students to be provided with lists of books by Native authors; and to be given some understanding of Native cultures, especially of Indigenous communities in the area ("Colleen Kean, "Parents call for APS overhaul at first community forum," Navajo Times, January 3, 2019).
     The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission held a hearing in Albuquerque on issues at APS, March 12, 2019, at which some parents and students said that APS still had a great deal to do to make Native students feel welcomed and valued (Colleen Keane, "Native students 'fogotten' and 'invisible' in ABQ schools, parents tell HRC," Navajo Times, March 28, 2019).

     Vincent Schilling, "An eagle feather? When representation of a Native Nation gets in the way of graduation: Across Turtle Island, it is a mixed bag on whether Native students can wear traditional items like eagle feathers, moccasins or beads when walking to receive their diplomas," ICT, May 23, 2019,, reported, "In 2011, Mykillie Driver, Assiniboine/Lakota Sioux, a student at Reynold’s High School was looking forward to wearing an eagle feather in her graduation cap. She consulted with elders and worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure she had adequate documentation.
      When she checked with the school, the vice principal said wearing adornments of any kind was against school policy. When she asked for a copy of the policy, Driver said she was met with hostility." It was only after she wrote a range of officials in the school district, the mayor’s office, the local school board and the Oregon Department of Education that she was given permission to wear an Eagle Feather.
      Barriers to wearing any tribal regalia at graduations have long existed across the U.S. It would appear to be a first amendment right. But following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, it is likely a school only needs to give a rational reason for limiting this right. Examples of denials include two from Alabama in 2013. In the first instance, an Escambia Academy High School student was told she would be denied her diploma if she wore an eagle feather in her graduation cap. In the second, a member of the Poarch Creek Band of Indians was notified that for having worn an eagle feather at graduation she would have to pay a fine of $1000 to receive her diploma and transcript of her grades. A public outcry later brought Escambia to change its policy. There have been similar cases around the U.S. In one California case, the school relented, in the face of a threatened lawsuit.
      There have been a number of policy changes on the issue. Some schools and schoolboards have issued policies allowing Indian regalia. Both North Dakota and Montana have passed statutes permitting Native regalia at graduation.

In California, Gregg Castro and others have been struggling to have a true history of California's development taught in the state's schools giving an accurate story of the repression and genocide of California Indians and their contributions to the state. They initiated the California Indian History Curriculum Coalition. In 2017 California Assembly Bill passed requiring the state's Instructional Quality Commission that would be required "to develop, and the state board to adopt, modify, or revise, a model curriculum in Native American studies.” “ with participation from federally recognized Native American tribes located in California, California Native American tribes, faculty of Native American studies programs at universities and colleges with Native American studies programs, and a group of representatives of local educational agencies, a majority of whom are kindergarten to grade 12, inclusive, teachers who have relevant experiences or education backgrounds in the study and teaching of Native American studies.” It will take about three years to put new curricula into California's 1000 school districts, especially as the history varies from location to location. A brief history of the long road to passing and beginning to apply the legislation is in Allison Herrera, "Indigenous educators fight for an accurate history of California," ICT, May 2, 2019,
     Lisa J. Ellwood, "U.S. Department of Education begins investigation into discrimination against Native students in Montana’s Wolf Point School District: Native students and parents in Wolf Point School District will speak with U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights’ investigators this coming week," ICT, April 17, 2019,, reported, " After years of documented instances of anti-Native racism — including the use of racial slurs and harmful stereotypes by white administrators, faculty, and staff — in a school where 94 percent of Native students are below proficiency in reading, compared to 49 percent of white students, the U.S. Department of Education is starting an investigation into discrimination against Native students in Montana’s Wolf Point School District."

Wings of America, based in Santa Fe New Mexico, for 30 years has been encouraging to embrace running as a cultural tradition, a personal hobby, and as a vehicle for dispelling negative stereotypes of Native people ("Story Hinkley, "Wings of America encourages young Native Americans to embrace running and shake off negative labels," The Christian Science Monitor Weekly, March 11, 2019).

The Southern Ute Tribe of Colorado's Montessori Academy, and for adults the SunUte program, have adopted a proven program for students to learn Ute, that helps learning language by combining it with confidence building physical activity, the Nexus Guardian Art program. The program is a "ninja" team building gymnastics practice developed by Great Owl Lightning of the Canadian Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation. Nexus Guardian Art is based in Fremont, CA, By combining teambuilding interactive physical activity with immersion language learning, there is a greater rate of language retention then immersion without the physical activity (Jeremy Wade Shockley, "Ute language immersion through Guardian Art," Southern Ute Drum, March 29, 2019).

Daniel Ward (interviewing Brandon Locke and Victor Santos), "Alaska’s First and Second," Language Magazine, May 16, 2019,, discussed " how Anchorage School District is leading the revitalization of the U.S.’ second-most widely spoken native language, Yup’ik, through an innovative dual-language program." Yup’ik is the second-most widely spoken Indigenous language in the U.S., having "the second-greatest number of speakers (19,750) after Navajo, which has close to 170,000 speakers."
     " in 2014, Alaska passed House Bill 216, legally recognizing Alaska’s 20 Indigenous languages as official languages of Alaska, along with English. Seen at the time as primarily a symbolic statement, HB 216 turned out to be a monumental step toward elevating the status of Alaska Native languages and bringing attention to the urgent need to address language loss, reversing the results of a similar movement in the 1990s that culminated in English being named the official language of Alaska."
      One of the "reasons for selecting Yup’ik in Anchorage, namely the newly established preschool pipeline for ages zero to five through both the Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) and the Cook Inlet Native Head Start (CINHS).
     In fact, one of the strengths of this new program is the various partnerships that have been built into the grant, each supporting different components and expected outcomes. 'In essence, we have created a Yup’ik Immersion Consortium.'” The program is open to any K–1 student in the district. "Science and social studies are also taught in Yup’ik in our DLI program, which means that our Yup’ik teaching team had to translate and adapt existing board-approved curricula into Yup’ik, since we teach the district curriculum in our immersion programs, albeit in the immersion languages." A strong point of the program has been the development of vocabulary flash cards. If I student has to wait somewhere, s/he can work with the cards

The Dine Council of Elders for Peace initiated a program of traditional story telling in Gallop, NM to keep Navajo young people in New Mexico and Arizona engaged in learning and speaking their language ("Program uses story telling events to save Navajo language," NFIC, February 2019).

Vincent Schilling, "Billy Mills’ Dreamstarter grantee using $10K for ‘Tipi Builder’ Lakota language video game," ICT, April 15, 2019,, reported, "In March of 2019, Carl Petersen was one of ten recipients of a $10,000 Dreamstarter grants offered by Running Strong for American Indian Youth. The Dreamstarter grants and grant program were started by Gold medal Olympian Billy Mills, co-founder of the non-profit organization that, according to their website, 'Running Strong helps American Indian people meet their immediate survival needs while creating opportunities for self-sufficiency and self-esteem in American Indian youth.'
     According to Dakota State University, an initial game idea from a class at DSU. “Tipi Builder,” a 3D game about putting a traditional Lakota Tipi together with instructions available in the Lakota language, explained Petersen. The idea was inspired by his own experience in learning the Lakota language."


"This summer Indian Country Today will open a newsroom in Phoenix at the Walter Cronkite School at Arizona State University," ICT, April 4, 2019,, reported, " Indian Country Today is on the move. It has a new legal framework — and soon will have a new newsroom and partnership with Arizona State University.
     Last month the news organization officially incorporated as Indian Country Today, LLC., a non-profit news company, owned by the non-profit arm of the National Congress of American Indians. The new legal structure codifies the news organization’s independent course.
     This summer Indian Country Today will open a newsroom in Phoenix at the Walter Cronkite School at Arizona State University. Indian Country Today will maintain a Washington newsroom for its digital operations."
      The goal is create a national Native TV news program. U.S. Act

Vincent Schilling, "FBI seeking to repatriate thousands of Native artifacts 'collected’ by Christian missionary," ICT, March 20, 2019,, " Recovery of Native cultural artifacts is the largest single discovery of cultural property in FBI history. Christian missionary had used a skull as a fruit bowl and adorned skeletons
     According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s website, an official operation by the FBI—which led to the discovery of over 7,000 seized artifacts— has resulted in the FBI reaching out to the 573 federally-recognized Native American tribes in the United States in an attempt to find the proper home and legal repatriation of thousands of culturally-significant items.
     The discovery has been the subject of ongoing investigations for years in which a 91-year-old Christian missionary by the name of Donald C. Miller, who lived in Indiana, had run an amateur museum of sorts out of his farmhouse."

As an increasing number of films by Native film makers are being shown at major film festivals, Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People, a series of short films that has won an Emmy Award for documentary films, has been invited to be shown at number of major film festivals in 2019 ("Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People," NFIC, March 2019).

Joy Harjo (Muscogee) became the first Native American to become United States Poet Laureate in 2019 ("Joy Harjo ," Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, June 21, 2019,

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International Developments

International Organization Developments

The 18 th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) was held 22 April – 3 May 2019 at the United Nations Headquarters, New York, with the theme: “Traditional knowledge: Generation, transmission and protection.” Reports of and on the forum including side events are available at:
     Some of the available reports include, "Compilation of information received from United Nations system entities and other intergovernmental bodies on progress in the implementation of the recommendations of the Permanent Forum and the system-wide action plan for ensuring a coherent approach to achieving the ends of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples" (; " Update on indigenous peoples and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development" (; " Update on the activities of the members of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the Indigenous Peoples and Development Branch" (; " Traditional knowledge: generation, transmission and protection"; "Update on the promotion and application of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples" (; " Study on tuberculosis and indigenous peoples," by Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine, member of the Forum (; and numerous Responses to the questionnaire submitted by the UN System.
     The Report on the 18th UNPFII Session is at:

" President of the UN General Assembly Informal Interactive Hearing with Indigenous Peoples,"," reported, "On Thursday 25 April 2019, the President of the General Assembly, H.E. Ms Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, conducted the second of three (2018, 2019, 2020) informal interactive hearings to reflect on possible further measures necessary to enhance the participation of indigenous peoples’ representatives and institutions in relevant United Nations meetings on issues affecting them. This hearing was requested by the General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/71/321 and was open to indigenous participants accredited to attend the 2019 session of the Permanent Forum."
Report of the International expert group meeting on the theme “Conservation and the rights of indigenous peoples, ” held in Nairobi from 23 to 25 January 2019, is below in research notes. or may be accessed at: .
      International Indian Treaty Council, "Un Human Rights Committee Questions the United States About Its Implementation of The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Including Protections for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," Cultural Survival, April 10, 2019,, reported, "On April 2nd, 2019, the United Nations (UN) Committee on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR) presented a list of questions to the United States of America (US) about its implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The CCPR is the UN Treaty monitoring body that reviews compliance with the Covenant by the States which have ratified it, including the United States, based on their submission of periodic reports every 4-6 years. For its upcoming country review, the US is being asked to respond to specific questions presented by the CCPR in advance addressing a range of issues and rights addressed by the Covenant. The US now has one year to submit a report that includes responses to these questions.
      In preparation for this UN human rights review of the US, the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) organized a coordinated submission with issues and questions from Indigenous Peoples to the CCPR on January 19, 2019. The Sicangu (Rosebud) Treaty Council, Venetie Tribal Government (Arctic Village and Venetie, Alaska), Chickaloon Native Village (Alaska), Shishmaref Native Village (Alaska), Nation of Hawai‘i, Association on American Indian Affairs, United Confederation of Taino People, Lakota Law Project, Indigenous World Association, Laguna-Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment, Sixth World Solutions, Huy (Indigenous Prisoners’ Rights Advocacy), the University of Arizona Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program, the National Indian Child Welfare Association and the Indigenous Rights Center (Albuquerque, New Mexico) were co-submitters. The National Congress of America Indians, Native American Rights Fund, National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, and the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission also contributed to the submission.
      The Indigenous Peoples’ coordinated submission addressed a wide range of critical issues impacting the rights of Indigenous Peoples and Tribal Nations whose traditional homelands are within what is commonly considered to be the political boundaries of the US. The submission addressed US failures to implement and uphold Treaty rights, decolonization processes, Free Prior and Informed Consent regarding development, environmental protection, equality in criminal justice, voting rights and political participation, cultural rights and sacred areas, protection for civilians from unjustified force by law enforcement, and subsistence rights. It presented questions about missing and murdered Indigenous women, high rates of gender-based violence and trafficking, lack of accountability for inter-generational impacts of US boarding schools and continued disproportionate levels of removal of Indigenous children from their families and communities.
      The final list of questions presented by the CCPR to the United States contains a specific paragraph regarding the rights of Indigenous Peoples, and also includes a number of concerns submitted by Indigenous Peoples, such as voting rights, political participation, criminal justice inequalities and clean water, in the general list of questions. IITC’s Executive Director Andrea Carmen, Yaqui Nation, noted with appreciation that in its list of questions addressing the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the CCPR expanded the questions in its 2014 US review beyond the issues of freedom of religion and protection of sacred areas to also include questions about redress for past resource appropriations. She observed that 'the CCPR calls on the US to explain the steps it is taking to protect Indigenous Peoples’ traditional ways of life as well as their sacred areas. This can be interpreted very broadly to include cultural practices, languages, access to lands and resources, subsistence practices as well as the exercise of political sovereignty, among others.' Andrea expressed IITC’s disappointment that once again the CCPR did not specifically address issues raised in the Indigenous submission addressing ICCPR Article 1 which affirms the rights of all Peoples to Self-Determination and Means of Subsistence. However, she observed that “some of the questions submitted under the Article 1 rights by Indigenous co-submitters can be addressed under the questions on redress, traditional ways of life and political participation”.
     Frank Ettawageshik, former Chairman of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and current Executive Director of United Tribes of Michigan, contributed to the submission, addressing the impacts of gas pipelines on subsistence rights in his region. He commented on the contributions that participation in this and other international processes can make in upholding the rights of Indigenous Peoples at home, stating: “The ICCPR process provides an international venue to shed light on the struggle to hold the US and other States accountable to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other international agreements. During the upcoming review of the United States, we believe that seeing how the US answers the recently released compilation of questions will assist Indigenous Peoples in our efforts. Specifically, we will look for the US responses to questions regarding the protection of traditional ways of life and sacred areas, and the protection and safety of Indigenous women”.
     Laguna Pueblo attorney June Lorenzo, representing the Laguna-Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment (LACSE) developed the section of the submission addressing continued threats to Indigenous Peoples’ sacred areas. She commented on the CCPR’s renewed call on the US to protect sacred areas and to report on US implementation of the previous recommendations it made to the US in 2012 in this regard: “The CCPR has once again reminded the US that its obligations under the Covenant include incorporating it into domestic law at all levels. Indigenous Peoples must engage with all levels of government to protect sacred areas, so this is critical. The question of redress is key to the realization of human rights in the USA, especially using the standards contained in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous peoples have been seeking redress on the ground in cases such as the San Francisco Peaks, Mt. Taylor, the Grand Canyon, Chaco Canyon and other sacred places for years. This issue of vital importance addresses the fundamental rights protected and affirmed by Article 27 of the ICCPR. The US, as a State Party to the Covenant, is legally bound to uphold these rights”.
     The Nation of Hawai’i contributed to the Indigenous Peoples’ submission requesting that the CCPR ask the US to explain what they are doing to support the reconciliation process mandated in U.S. Public Law 103-150, the Hawai’ian Apology Resolution adopted by the US Congress in 1993 as a result of the US overthrow of the Hawai’ian Nation’s sovereign government in 1883 in violation of their Treaty of Peace and Friendship. “The Committee did not ask the US to respond directly about the situation of Hawai’i, as we had recommended,” commented Pu’uhonua “Bumpy” Kanahele, Nation of Hawai’i Head of State. However, the Nation of Hawai’i is encouraged by the Committee’s request that the US provide information on the extent to and manner in which the Covenant has been incorporated into domestic law at the local, state and federal level, and that the US clarify its current legal position on the scope of applicability of the Covenant with respect to individuals under its jurisdiction but outside its territory. The Committee also asked the US to address what it is doing to provide redress to Indigenous Peoples impacted by development, to protect our traditional ways of life, and to consult with us to obtain our Free Prior and Informed Consent. These questions are applicable to Hawai’i and to other Indigenous Peoples impacted by US colonization and Treaty violations. They also provide an opportunity for the US to consider practical solutions.”
      List of Issues and Questions for the periodic review by the United Nations Human Rights Committee of the United States of America as a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights" is available at:
      For more information about this process and the next steps contact Andrea Carmen, IITC’s Executive Director at [email protected] or via phone: + (520) 273-6003 (cell), +(520) 833-9797.

"4th International Indigenous Peoples Corn Conference Takes Place in Tlaxcala, Mexico," Cultural Survival, March 29, 2019,, reported, " The 4th International Indigenous Peoples Corn Conference, 'For Our Ancestral Rights, We Protect and Guarantee Our Food Sovereignty and That of Our Future Generations,' took place on March 7 - 8, 2019, in the community of Vicente Guerrero, Tlaxcala, Mexico.
     Over 75 participants from different Indigenous communities from the Americas shared their experiences, challenges, and solutions about living with and cultivating corn.
     'We are like a corn husked and watered on all sides, we are all a variety of corn,' stated Carmen Lozano. Elder Duane ‘Chili’ Yazzie (Diné) commented, 'We come from four worlds, this is the fourth world and we are four peoples. The blacks take care of the water, the blue ones the air, the white ones the fire and we, the dark ones, take care of the earth. Corn is a must to live.The first woman was given corn, a symbol of fertility. As the first people, we feel the pain of Mother Earth.'
     Maize and Indigenous communities have a mutual relationship dependent on each other and have evolved together. Maize has been a main food staple that has sustained Indigenous cultures, and for that reason Indigenous Peoples consider it a sacred plant that contains knowledge and history and should not be commodified. The corn grows in the diverse conditions and latitudes, as participants noted, in the arid, rainy, mountainous zones, in low and high altitude.
     Indigenous Peoples are faced with numerous challenges. Sebastián (P’urépecha) from Michoacán, Mexico, linked the challenges to Indigenous teachings, 'The evil spirit should not exist, but we made it present. The good spirit connects us with the cosmos and the earth. We have lost and the good spirit is absent, that is why there are so many problems and diseases.' Indigenous territories are being threatened by megaprojects and the policies that benefit corporations, climate change affects food systems, making crops more vulnerable and leading to the abandonment of the countryside. Genetically modified corn and the laws that promote its cultivation are one of the main threats which undermine Indigenous knowledge about corn. The dispossession of land and water from communities to supply extractive megaprojects such as mining, oil, and transport projects, puts communities at risk.
     In spite of the diverse problems, various strategies are being carried out at local and international levels. At the local level, communities are asserting and maintaining their traditional knowledge and their forms of production. They are recovering lost knowledge and applying new productive strategies to fertilize land and use natural pest control. Fairs where Indigenous communities travel to exchange heritage seeds are an example of how this knowledge is being revitalized. The daily work in the field is the most arduous, to conserve the corn you have to sow it, care for it, and harvest it. Indigenous and campesino communities carry out this work every day, despite low prices of corn and the loss of harvests due to climate change. To strengthen all community work, at the international level, organizations and individuals are advocating for international policies to protect maize, Indigenous rights, and lands. There has been much joint work and conferences such as this one held in Tlaxcala, pay tribute to efforts to protect corn diversity.
     During the conference, the participation of young people was of great importance, making it clear that youth are actively participating in their communities, using their institutional education, and are reconnecting to traditional knowledge of their communities in search of solutions to today’s problems. Contrary to what adults may think, youth are interested in participating more actively. As Jesús Campeche stated, 'Young people are not choosing to leave their communities, they are being forced out for various reasons. Young people are the future but they need the elders to teach them how to do it.'
     The conference was a space where communities from the North and South of the continent, speaking different languages ??and living different ways of life, could unite and share their experiences. Those gathered at the event will return to home communities to share what they have learned with the firm decision to continue fighting to conserve Indigenous corn.
     The Integral Rural Development Project Vicente Guerrero served as host of the conference. Sponsors included the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC), the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples for Food Sovereignty in Mexico (APISA), and Cultural Survival served as a co-sponsor along with the Alliance of North American Indigenous Food Sovereignty (NAFSA), Alliance Milpa and the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples on Food Sovereignty, Traditional Knowledge and Climate Change."
     "2019 Is International Year Of Indigenous Languages: Indigenous Languages Matter!" Cultural Survival, January 2, 2019,, reported, Around the world a substantial amount of languages are disappearing, and among these, many Indigenous languages are in danger. In 2016, the UN General Assembly, on a recommendation from the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, proclaimed 2019 to be the International Year of Indigenous Languages (detail at:"

Regional and Country Developments

In Canada, while Coastal GasLink, has signed agreements on the project with all 20 of the elected councils representing First Nations people along the route of the 416-mile, 6.2 billion Canadian dollar pipeline to carry gas extracted from the Dawson Creek area of British Columbia to the liquefied natural gas export terminal in Kitimat, BC, the traditional chiefs and many of the First Nation clans oppose the Pipe line. Those among the Wet’suwet’en people who opposed the Pipeline set up blockades, which the Royal Mounted Police, supported by provincial supreme court order, struggled with the demonstrators to remove, in January 2019 (‘The Nation Has Stood Up’: Indigenous Clans in Canada Battle Pipeline Project," The New York Times, January 27, 2019,

Haida film maker Tamar Bell stated to Stephen Sachs, May 31, 2019, that following changes led by traditionals in a number of Canadian First nation governments, First Nations that previously supported oil or gas pipelines changed to opposing them.

Jorge Barrera, "National inquiry calls murders and disappearances of Indigenous women a 'Canadian genocide, '" CBC News, · May 31, 2019,, " The thousands of Indigenous women and girls who were murdered or disappeared across the country in recent decades are victims of a "Canadian genocide," says the final report of the national inquiry created to probe the ongoing tragedy.
     The report, obtained by CBC News and verified by sources, concludes that a genocide driven by the disproportionate level of violence faced by Indigenous women and girls occurred in Canada through "state actions and inactions rooted in colonialism and colonial ideologies."
     "The report runs to over 1,200 pages and includes more than 230 recommendations. It's being released at a ceremony Monday at the Museum of History in Gatineau, Que. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and cabinet ministers, Indigenous leaders and family members of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls are expected to attend."
     " Some estimates have suggested roughly 4,000 Indigenous women have been murdered or have disappeared over the past few decades.
     The inquiry report said the true number may be impossible to establish."
      The report and a supplemental report specific for Quebec may be accessed via:
     Vincent Schilling, "The national MMIW report’s use of the word genocide sparks an international debate: Prime Minister Trudeau accepts it, Globe and Mail and Toronto Star editorials reject it, an Indigenous journalist resigns and human rights organizations look to investigate Canada," ICT, June 8, 2019,, reported, "On June 3, Canada’s National Inquiry on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women released an extensive and long-awaited final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls."
     A key finding in the report was, “The significant persistent and deliberate pattern of systemic racial and gendered human and Indigenous rights violations and abuses — perpetuated historically and maintained today by the Canadian state — designed to displace Indigenous peoples from their lands, social structures, and governance; and to eradicate their existence as nations, communities, families, and individuals, is the cause of the disappearances, murders and violence experienced by Indigenous women, girls, 2SLGBTQQIA (Two Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual) people … and this is genocide
      Prime Minister Trudeau, stated, "We accept the findings of the commissioners that it was genocide, but our focus is going to be, as it must be, on the families, on the communities that have suffered such loss, on the systems that have repeatedly failed indigenous women and girls across this country." A day later, editorials in the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star seriously questioned the calling the deaths "genocide." In response to the editorials, Indigenous journalist, Alicia Elliott announced her resignation from contributing to the Globe and Mail.

Jim Bronskill, "'Colonial model of policing' fails many Indigenous communities, study finds: Study finds crime rates in First Nations communities often exceed those elsewhere in Canada," CBC, The Canadian Press, April 23, 2019,, reported, " Many Indigenous communities lack policing services that meet their safety and security needs despite long-standing efforts to remedy the shortcomings, a federally commissioned report says.
     Instead, they're stuck with a colonial policing model that overlooks Indigenous cultural traditions and fails to create the bonds of trust needed for successful police work, the report concludes
     Public Safety Canada asked the Council of Canadian Academies to assess the role of police services in First Nations and Inuit communities with the aim of identifying promising approaches. The non-profit council assembled a panel of 11 experts from disciplines including law, criminology, mental health and policing, and headed by Kimberly Murray, the former executive director of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission."

"Trudeau’s Commitment to Indigenous Groups Tested by Minister’s Resignation," The New York Times, February 14, 2019,, reported, "For a Canadian prime minister who has tied his legacy to improving the state of Indigenous people in the country, the Valentine’s Day photo would seem a picture-perfect re-election campaign poster: Justin Trudeau’s face cupped in the hands of his justice minister and attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould.
      Ms. Wilson-Raybould was a powerful regional chief of First Nations on Canada’s west coast, an advocate for Indigenous rights and a lawyer. The photo of her and Mr. Trudeau was confirmation that a new postcolonial Canada was being built.
     A year later, Ms. Wilson-Raybould has resigned from Mr. Trudeau’s cabinet, after being moved from the post of justice minister to minister of veteran’s affairs, widely considered less influential. And now Mr. Trudeau is under attack from Indigenous groups, who say her treatment raises questions about his commitment to righting the wrongs of the past

" AFN National Chief Bellegarde Says Newly Passed Legislation will Help Build Stronger and Healthier First Nations," Assembly of First Nations, June 20, 2019,, "Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today welcomes the passing of two new pieces of federal legislation passed in the House of Commons today. The Indigenous Languages Act, Bill C-91 and An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, Bill C-92 are expected to receive Royal Assent in the Senate tomorrow, on National Indigenous Peoples Day.
     'Today we have made history and arrive at a turning point in our work to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen our languages,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. 'Language is life and central to our identities and cultures. We know that when states uphold Indigenous languages their likelihood of survival increases. This is why we pushed for The Indigenous Languages Act, and it’s why I’m so proud we now have the federal government’s full support for this work. Today we celebrate the work of our language champions who worked with Canada to create this legislation that will help ensure our children grow strong in their language and stronger in life, confident and proud in their identities and connected to their nations. This is an example of reconciliation in action and a meaningful way to mark 2019, the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages.'
     On February 5, 2019, Bill C-91, an Act respecting Indigenous languages, was tabled in the House of Commons with the objective to protect, promote, revitalize and strengthen Indigenous languages in Canada. The initiative to co-develop legislation with the AFN and other national Indigenous organizations was announced by Prime Minister Trudeau at an AFN Assembly in December 2016.
      Bill C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, was introduced in the House of Commons in February 2019. It was developed with direction from AFN Chiefs-in-Assembly and input by the AFN legislative working group which is comprised of technicians and experts from across the country drawing on years of advocacy and direction.
     'Bill C-92 puts First Nations children first and is a major step in the right direction to address decades of failures that resulted in far too many of our children being torn from their families,' said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. 'The goal with this legislation is to apply laws, policies and values to systems designed and implemented by First Nations for First Nations with the focus on providing every opportunity for our children to grow up feeling valued and connected to their families, cultures and nations. No one piece of legislation will fix the drastic and long-lasting impacts of a broken system, but with First Nations jurisdiction paramount we have a solid base for change. I urge all provinces and territories to work directly with First Nations on the implementation of this legislation.'
      The Act to Respect First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families affirms First Nations jurisdiction and creates space for First Nations laws and practices regarding their families. It respects rights in the context of implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is the minimum international standard for the survival and dignity of Indigenous peoples. It sets out key principles that will prevent children from being removed from their homes unnecessarily, promotes children staying in their communities and nations and ensures the best interests of the child principle is understood and applied with a First Nations lens for our children and families."

Raphael Minder and Elisabeth Malkin,"Mexican Call for Conquest Apology Ruffles Feathers in Spain, and Mexico," The New York Times, March 27, 2019,, reported, " Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, surely knew that he was wading into fraught territory when he wrote to King Felipe VI of Spain and Pope Francis with a request rooted in history.
      As the 500th anniversary of the 1521 Spanish conquest of the Aztecs nears, Mr. López Obrador proposed that the two men ask forgiveness for the abuses inflicted on the indigenous peoples of Mexico.
     What he may not have expected was the blowback his proposal received — on both sides of the Atlantic."
     "Zapotec Advocate For Muxe And Lgbtq Rights Murdered In Mexico," Cultural survival, March 01, 2019,, reported, "

On February 9, 2019, Óscar Cazorla, 62, was found murdered in his home in Juchitán de Zaragoza, Oaxaca, Mexico.

     Cazorla was an Indigenous Zapotec activist and an advocate for Muxe and LGBTQ rights
. He self-identified as Muxe, a non-binary third gender originating within Zapotec culture in the region of Istmo de Tehuantepec in Oaxaca, Mexico. Muxes combine roles typically assigned to both males and females in Zapotec society.
     While Western society has categorical terms that could loosely equate with the concept of Muxe, Lukas Avendaño, an active member of the Muxe community in Juchitán told the BBC that “‘Muxe’ is a Zapotec term and it can’t be understood without knowing more about their culture.”

     Muxes live throughout the Istmo de Tehuantepec region, however, Juchitán is historically regarded as a safe haven for Muxe culture and self-expression. Fernando Noé Díaz, a primary school teacher in Juchitán, commented on the general sentiment the citizens of the municipality feel towards Muxes. He notes “I guess Muxes are so respected because they are more a social gender rather than a sexual one. They have an important role in the community.”

     While Muxes are both inherent and revered members of Zapotec culture, they still confront nonacceptance and persecution from those opposed to gender diversity and nonconformity to a binary structure of gender. Óscar Cazorla fought to maintain and and raise awareness of Muxe culture. He was a founding member of Las Auténticas Intrépidas Buscadoras del Peligroor “The Authentic Intrepid Seekers of Danger,” a Muxe- run group created in 1976 to foster solidarity amongst the Muxe community and celebrate sexual diversity.

     As an Indigenous person, a human rights activist, and member of the LGBTQ community, Óscar Cazorla existed in an intersection of targeted identities. Indigenous Peoples, human rights activists, environmental defenders, and members of the LGBTQ community remain targets of hate crime both within Mexico and throughout the globe. The Mexican office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reports that there were 13 registered murders of human rights defenders in Mexico in 2018. Since the start of 2019, there have been five additional murders of human rights advocates, including that of Óscar Cazorla.

The International Trans Fund (ITF), in their Trans Murder Monitoring Project, reveals that from October 1, 2017 until September 30, 2018 there were “369 reported murders of trans and gender-diverse people” worldwide with 71 of these murders taking place in Mexico. ITF also reports that there have been five unresolved assassinations of Muxe community members in the last 15 years.

      Since the death of Cazorla, CENCOS, a Mexican-based human rights advocacy group, has reported the deaths of two more human rights defenders. Journalist Reynaldo López Salas was murdered on February 16, 2019 and Indigenous rights activist and community radio founder Samir Flores Soberanes was murdered on February 20, 2019.
     The murder of Óscar Cazorla is a tragic loss for the Zapotec Muxe community and human rights activists alike. Cultural Survival laments his death and stands in solidarity with his family and friends demanding for an investigation into his death. Óscar Cazorla’s legacy will continue to inspire change."
     "Assassination of Indigenous Environmental Defender And Community Radio Founder Sparks Outrage in Mexico, Cultural Surviaval, March 01, 2019,, reported, " Samir Flores Soberanes, Indigenous rights and environmental defender from the Nahua community of Amilcingo, Morelos, Mexico, was shot four times in the head on February 20, 2019. The murder occurred just one day before a community referendum on a thermal-electric project pushed by the Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a leftist-populist who took office in December of 2018.

     Samir Flores Soberanes was a well-known and deeply respected leader in his community, where he had co-founded the community radio station 'Amiltzinko' in 2014. Through his platform at the radio station, and as a member of the Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra y el Agua (FPFTA),Samir was a high-profile organizer for land rights and autonomy of the Nahuatl community in the face of externally-imposed development project, Proyecto Integral Morelos. “Samir was an example to all of us for his activism and hard work, promoting the autonomy of Amilcingo and the defense of our territory against the Proyecto Integral Morelos. He had been threatened on various occasions, beginning in 2012,” stated the National Indigenous Congress in a press release.

     A multi-faceted project initiated in 2010, Proyecto Integral Morelos includes two thermoelectric plants located in Huexca, Morelos, licensed to Spanish company ABENGOA; a 160km natural gas line passing through 60 communities in Tlaxcala, Puebla, and Morelos, licensed to Spanish companies ELECNOR and ANAGAS and Italian company BONATTI; 20 km of power lines; and an aqueduct bringing 50 million liters of water daily for use by the thermoelectric plant. The project also involves the construction of highways and train routes to improved access to the plants.

      Since the early stages of the project, the communities affected have advocated for their right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent. But community members recount company representatives knocking on doors, visiting each home individually and saying, 'If you are not going to accept the project, you should know that your neighbor already did. Do you want it, or don’t you? If you don’t we’ll call in the army.'

      Samir’s community of Amilcingo, located on the outskirts of the Popocatépetl Volcano, was the site of an initial phase of the gas line, which is now installed under their farmlands, running through areas marked as high risk for earthquakes and volcanic activity. The community fears the frequent tremors and threat of lava flow make their lands an unsafe location for miles of delicate underground gas pipelines. “This is a ticking time bomb. If we’re trying to escape from the lava on one side, over here we’ll be facing explosions of natural gas,” explained a member of FPFTA to

     The community’s food sovereignty is also at risk. Agricultural production of corn, amaranth, sorghum, squash, yams, and peanuts are the center of the community’s diet and economy, but in recent years crops have already started to fail. With the nearby Cuautla River destined as a dumping site for industrial waste water, combined with the deviation of ground water for industrial use, farmers are deeply concerned as their livelihoods and lifeways depend on the land

      After the community brought complaints to the National Human Rights Commission, the case was decided in their favor. The community should have been consulted before the gas line was installed, respecting their right to self-determination and Free, Prior and Informed Consent. Yet, President López Obrador, following in the footsteps of previous administrations, continues to argue that the Proyecto Integral Morelos is legal and will bring positive development to the surrounding communities.

     The day before his assassination, Samir Flores Soberanes and his neighbors in Amilcingo attended an informational forum organized by Hugo Erik Flores, a local delegate of the López Obrador administration. According to the National Indigenous Congress, at that meeting Samir and his colleagues questioned the veracity of statements by the federal government regarding the benefits of the project.

     On February 10, Samir attended a protest in Cuautla where President López Obrador spoke in favor of the proposed project, and criticized the “radical left” as conservatives who are opposed to development. The next day, the FDFTA issued an open letter in response to López Obrador sharing the concern that his declarations in support of the thermoelectric project were inflammatory in an already tense and hostile situation that has been created between neighbors by the imposition of the Proyecto Integral Morelos. The letter invited him to reconsider his position and sit down to dialogue.

     Within 10 days, Samir Flores was murdered.

     Amilcingo has organized to boycott the consultation on the project that was scheduled for February 22-24. FDFTA declared, “Mr. López Obrador, thousands of people trust you to improve the conditions of our country, we warned you that this could happen, and you chose not to listen to us. Today no one can bring our compañero back. We demand justice for Samir and for all of the communities who have been affected by the Proyecto Integral Morelos. We can not engage in a legitimate consultation while our community members are being assasinated.”
     Cultural Survival stands in solidarity with the friends, family, and colleagues of Samir Flores Soberanes at Radio Comunitaria Amiltzinko in denouncing this violent act and demanding an immediate and impartial investigation into his death. We reiterate the right to self-determination of Indigenous Peoples and call on Mexican authorities to cease any attempt to move forward on the Proyecto Integral Morelos until a legitimate process of Free, Prior and Informed Consent is conducted in a climate free of violence and intimidation."

"Cultural Survival Releases Report On Indigenous Radio Broadcasting In Mexico," Cultural Survival, January 30, 2019,, reported, “'Indigenous Peoples have the right to establish their own media in their own languages and to have access to all forms of non-Indigenous media without discrimination.' --UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Article 16.
     On January 30, 2019, Cultural Survival released a report on the situation of Indigenous radio broadcasting in Mexico. A study was conducted to obtain indicators on Indigenous Peoples’ right to communication in Mexico and to find out how many Indigenous communities operate radio stations, how many concessions were granted to Indigenous communities since the passage of the Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law in 2014, and to obtain data on the different organizational models, in addition to the needs and challenges that Indigenous communities face in operating a radio station.
     There are approximately 370 million Indigenous people in the world, belonging to 5,000 different groups, in 90 countries worldwide. According to many linguists, half of the world’s 7,000 languages will be gone in the next century, and Indigenous languages are at the forefront of those going silent. While documentation is undeniably important, creating fluency is essential. And this is where community-controlled Indigenous media, especially community radio, comes in. Radio instills cultural and language pride in younger generations, solidifying the fact that their language is relevant, living, and useful. In addition to language revitalization, Indigenous media is a powerful means of providing access to information and to decolonize, a means of building Indigenous pride, and a means of creating their own image, own news, own histories of resilience and resistance as a people. Community radio stations have become a platform to organize communities around a specific issue and as a result being able to influence policies and legislation that affect Indigenous Peoples and to hold governments accountable.

     According to the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples (CDI), in 2015, 12,025,947 Indigenous people lived in Mexico. The National Institute of Indigenous Languages ??(INALI) points out that 68 Indigenous languages ??are spoken in Mexico with 364 variants, belonging to 11 linguistic families, which makes it one of the most diverse countries in the world.
      Indigenous communities around the globe are asserting their right to their own media as their cultures, needs and aspirations are not reflected or included in the mainstream media. Cultural Survival is aware of 1600 Indigenous radio stations that are broadcasting to revitalize, strengthen, educate, and engage their communities globally and tries to distribute radio programs to them. Cultural Survival’s experience with community radio stations over the past thirteen years has identified five primary contributions of radio. Indigenous-led community radio supports successful revitalization and promotion of Indigenous languages, serves as a source of alternative media for broadcasting, builds awareness of Indigenous rights, promotes the self-determination of Indigenous communities, and builds different community capacities in community dialogue, organization, participation, and advocacy.
     Radio is one of the most accessible platforms for Indigenous Peoples and has resulted in an active community radio movement. For many Indigenous Peoples, the low cost of radio makes it the ideal tool for defending their cultures, lands, natural resources, and rights, as well as encouraging the participation of women in building gender equality. Even in very poor communities lacking electricity, many people can afford a small battery-powered radio. High levels of illiteracy in many Indigenous communities prevent people from accessing information from print sources. And in many remote areas, Indigenous people, women, especially elders, may only speak one language, meaning that important messages broadcast in other languages in the mainstream media often do not reach this population. Radio provides Indigenous communities with access to programming in their own languages and serves as a voice that promotes their cultures, traditions, and belief systems as well as encourages community engagement.
      Many countries in Latin America have recognized the right of Indigenous Peoples to their own media. In several country legislations States have committed to assign frequencies to Indigenous communities, however, it has not been implemented. In Mexico, the Constitutional Telecommunications Reform of 2013, the Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law of July 2014, and the Federal Institute of Telecommunications General Guidelines for the granting of the concessions referred to in Title Four of the Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law of July 2015, all guarantee Indigenous people the right to radio broadcasting. However, few licenses have actually been granted. Both licensed and unlicensed Indigenous radio stations currently operate in Mexico. For some communities, the action of taking to the airwaves without asking the State for authorization is linked to community organizing which seeks to broaden autonomy and self-determination, defense of Indigenous lands, including airspace, which includes the radio frequency spectrum.
     In 2018, Cultural Survival conducted 20 interviews with radio broadcasters in Mexico. Three of them were organizations and not actual stations and were not considered for statistical purposes. Of the 17 stations that we considered for the systematization of our data, 6 were licensed and 11 were not licensed. The radio stations that participated in the study were located mostly in the states of Oaxaca and Michoacán, in rural or semi-urban communities.
      In the Register of Granted Social Concessions of the Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT), the total amount of community broadcast licenses in Mexico is 50 with only 7 going to Indigenous stations. There are also 3 other stations with another type of concession (social use) that for the purposes of our study are considered 'concessioned' and Indigenous. In the Cultural Survival database, we have identified 20 more operating that do not have an operating licence and in the AMARC database there are 3 more. We conclude that in Mexico there are approximately 73 community stations present mainly in the states of Oaxaca (23), Michoacán (14), State of Mexico (6), Morelos (4), Chiapas (3), Sonora (3), Guerrero (3), Mexico City (3), Jalisco (2) and Baja California Sur (2).

3 types

      Indigenous radio broadcasting operates in several states in Mexico. However, Cultural Survival’s study found that there are Indigenous communities, for example in Tabasco, Tlaxcala, Durango, Tamaulipas that do not have a radio station in their languages, and much less media managed and operated by them. The states of the north, northwest and northeast where the Yaqui, May, Rarámuri, Oobe, Wixárica and other populations live do not have any Indigenous media.

unlisc and lisc

 Licensed Indigenous Radios Stations in orange, Unlicensed Indigenous Radios Stations in red.
      Cultural Survival found that Indigenous radio stations are mainly supported by the collaborative work of the people of the community, who do not receive any compensation for the time and effort invested. In the long run, this can become a weakness for sustainability since young people must search for employment. The economic sustainability of the stations requires strategies that will make them sustainable technically and personnel-wise. It is necessary to develop capacity in the staff of Indigenous radio stations to improve the technical and broadcast quality, to train Indigenous radio broadcasters in community journalism, and to create and promote related careers in universities and community spaces.

      Read the full report here in Spanish at:óstico-La%20Radiodifusión%20Ind%C3%ADgena%20en%20México%20version%202.pdf. Read the synopsis here in English at:óstico-La%20Radiodifusión%20Ind%C3%ADgena%20en%20México%20version%202.pdf. For more information, contact: Maru Chávez Fonseca [email protected]."

María Recinos y Diana Pastor, "Obstacles And Challenges Of Political Participation Of Women In Guatemala," Cultura; Sirvival, reposted from EntreMundos, May 29, 2019,, reported, "According to data from the National Registry of Persons in Guatemala (RENAP) in the year 2018, women represented 49.94% of the 19,658,562 people living in Guatemala. However, this rate is not reflected in the number of women running for public office at the national, regional and local level in this election, and even less so in the number of women who currently occupy these positions. One only needs to consult the political history of the country to realize the situation: since the founding of Guatemala as a republic in 1847 and the start of presidential elections, never has there been a woman in that office; the number of men in Congress far exceeds that of women (20% of the seats are occupied by women) and the number of female mayors can be counted on two hands.
     The freedom of women to participate in elections is relatively new. With the end of the internal armed conflict, the majority of social organizations (including women’s organizations) focused their efforts on the peace agenda and the fight for the inclusion and recognition of human rights as a condition that would be conducive to the exercise of citizenship. The right to vote had already been declared in the Constitution of Guatemala many years before, in 1965, but twenty years would have to pass before universal citizenship, both for men and women, was declared in the Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala. Before that, women were excluded from the life of a citizen and thus any type of participation in politics.

     Today, it begs the question: what advances have been made in the participation of women in Guatemalan politics? As we mentioned previously, the participation of women in this realm is in precarious conditions and faces particular challenges, unique to a Guatemalan culture framed in the patriarchy. In the electoral context, the matter is not openly addressed, as the structural problems of the political system face today a profound crisis that entails a reduction in political spaces where women can make an impact and propose and advance ideas to fight for their rights and achieve their wellbeing.

     Virginia Oroxom, a female leader in Quetzaltenango, notes that 'one of the limiting factors is that machismo is still persistent in our society and manifested in the minimal support that families have towards the participation of women and low level of access to education that they have.' Women face diverse obstacles; one of them is the lack of confidence that they have in themselves to participate in political activities, including running for political office. Women participate frequently when they have reached leadership positions where they are noted for being empowered women, capable and experienced in getting involved in the spaces where decisions benefitting women can be made.

     However, there are still difficulties, even for women with more developed political participation. As Juana Chic Castro, leader of the Network of Women of Santa María Chiquimula Totonicapán, notes: '…many of my fellows and I have had the opportunity to be educated and trained, and our role as leaders has helped the community to have a presence in certain spaces.' However, the authorities do not take them into account as they are not conscious of the role that a woman can play in an election.

     Elvia Choxom is a member of the Union of Quetzaltecan Workers (UTQ), in Quetzaltenango, and agrees with Castro. 'We, as leaders, are empowered politically, however we are not immersed in elections nor do we fit into those spaces, though we have the basic grassroots organization needed to be involved with or form part of a list of candidates, and we have experience in women’s groups because we know the needs of our community, which would allow us to make an impact on the political level. Many of the authorities that are representing us do not know what we need, and I believe that we as a people ought to demand that those who represent us be known for the work that they have done in the communities. In general, many women distrust politics, and it is because of this that they are excluded from participating and not taken into consideration in decision-making.'

     It is important to mention that in additions to the previously mentioned factors, there are other disadvantages that women face in elections, as they face frequent aggressions in their personal lives. For example, during this current electoral cycle, one of the former candidates for the presidency was recriminated frequently for “her past, regarding her multiple marriages” and another was constantly deemed 'ugly' as if these were valid arguments to refute their ability to occupy such an office in Guatemala.

     Another case that can be mentioned is that of a candidate running for the mayor of a certain municipality, about whom personal private material was distributed on social media. This type of aggressions that go directly against the integrity of women discourage many to participate, as they prefer to not expose themselves to the public eye. Truly, it is difficult to regulate comments that are made about women who participate in politics, above all in this era of social media explosion, though this tendency to denigrate them for being women can bring greater consequences, as in the case of the councilwoman Juana Quispe from Bolivia, who received threats and attacks for fulfilling her duties and was then assassinated in 2012.

     If we add to the above the fact that women play multiple roles in society, we find ourselves with a level of female participation that still remains fragile. However, the entire outlook is not bleak: more and more women turn out to vote at the polls and many of them participate in electoral committees or as vote collectors and election observers, which is promising. However, women still have enormous challenges to face in order to participate, exercise their rights and ensure that they be respected. The participation of women promotes an equitable and inclusive culture that contributes to and improves living conditions, such that, in order to have active participation it is necessary that they work together and put their knowledge in practice so as to have a role in the development process."

"Mayan Language Activist Murdered in Guatemala, Two Months Into Celebration Of International Year Of Indigenous Languages," Cultural Survival, March 1, 2019,, reported, " Just two months into the International Year of Indigenous Languages, Maya Ch'orti' linguist Saturnino Ramírez Interiano was assassinated in Chiquimula, Guatemala on February 13, 2019. He was an linguist, educator, and active proponent of the history and culture of the Indigenous Ch’orti’ Peoples. "He was dedicated to the revitalization of the Ch'orti' language and culture, and always pushed community leaders in the region to maintain this valuable ancestral resource that is part of our identity," shared a colleague.

     Saturnino Ramírez Interiano worked for over 10 years as director at the Academy of Mayan Languages of Guatemala in Chiquimula, Guatemala. The Ch’orti’ are an Indigenous Peoples that reside in the Chiquimula and Zacapa departments of Guatemala and in bordering communities in Honduras. They have suffered from a history of colonization, persecution, land loss, and political discrimination. As an Indigenous advocate for Ch’orti’ culture, Saturnino Ramírez Interiano frequently traveled throughout the Ch’orti’ region to teach classes on the Ch’orti’ language and history.

     The mission of the Academy of Mayan Languages of Guatemala is to revitalize and promote the use of Mayan Languages throughout the public and private spheres contributing to building a more diverse state. Saturnino Ramírez Interiano was a key actor who was a link between Indigenous communities, the government, and the public. His death showcases the deep racism that plagues Guatemala.

      In recent years, violence against human rights defenders in Guatemala has significantly increased. The Worldwide Movement for Human Rights (fidh) reports that in 2018, 26 human rights defenders were murdered, the majority of them Indigenous. UDEFEGUA reported 493 attacks against human rights defenders in Guatemala in 2017.

     Community groups, advocacy organizations, and UN mechanisms have repeatedly voiced concerns over these killings, which they fear is one component of a mounting human rights crisis across Guatemala. After a particularly brutal month in May/June of 2018 in which seven human rights defenders were murdered, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples condemned Guatemalan government in an op-ed in the Washington Post, calling the assassinations and the government’s failure to investigate and bring justice as evidence of institutionalized racism against Guatemala’s Indigenous Peoples. The UN has also called out Guatemala in the past for its criminalization and imprisonment of human rights defenders. Guatemala has received 17 recommendations from UN member states through the Universal Periodic Review system to combat this wave of violence; for example, in 2012, Australia recommended Guatemala to:

'Ensure effective and independent investigations into all reports of extrajudicial executions and ensure that reports of killings, threats, attacks and acts of intimidation against human rights defenders and journalists are thoroughly and promptly investigated and those responsible brought to justice'

      Often times, murders of Indigenous activists are not featured in mainstream news or media outlets, despite Indigenous activists constituting 40 percent of environmental activists murdered worldwide last year.
     Saturnino Ramírez Interiano is another deplorable casualty in this mounting list. His compassionate and peaceful efforts to revitalize the Ch’orti’ language and culture were tragically met with violent opposition. The Ch’orti’ and surrounding Mayan communities deeply feel the impact of his death and grieve for the loss of such a dedicated educator.
     Cultural Survival stands in solidarity with the family, friends, and colleagues of Saturnino at the Academy of Mayan Languages of Guatemala, who have called for an investigation of the crime. May Saturnino Ramírez Interiano’s memory continue to survive and flourish with the prosperity of the Ch’orti’ language and culture."

Rossy Gonzalez, "Thelma Cabrera Aspires to Be The First Indigenous Woman President of Guatemala," Cultural Survival, June 12, 2019,, reported, "' My name is Thelma Cabrera Pérez, I am a defender of the rights of Indigenous Peoples and of Mother Earth, I was elected by an assembly of communities to be a candidate for president,' says Cabrera.
     Thelma Cabrera Pérez de Sánchez (Maya Mam) is 48 and originally from the department of Retalhuleu. She is a descendant of a campesino family and has been a defender of human and Indigenous Peoples’ rights for more than 25 years.
     Cabrera for many years has been an active member of the Peasant Development Committee (CODECA) and the Movement for the Liberation of Peoples (MLP), important organizations of Indigenous campesinos who have repeatedly requested the resignation of the current president of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales, whom they accuse of perpetuating corruption. In addition to promoting rural development through social participation, CODECA works towards inclusive and participatory processes for social transformation, peace, and democracy. Started in 1992, CODECA was born from a need for people to live with dignity and cultivate their land. Ninety-five percent of CODECA member families are campesinos that work as laborers on farms or migrate in search of work in different places. The Movement for the Liberation of Peoples (MLP) emerged as a political instrument of CODECA who proclaimed and elected Thelma Cabrera as a candidate for president of Guatemala.
     What motivated Cabrera and how was she chosen to be the representative of Indigenous communities? 'For many years we have been living our realities and this has made us define and trace our path towards the process of popular and plurinational constituent assembly, before a failed state. As peoples, we organize to defend our collective and individual rights, but we are criminalized, imprisoned, and murdered. That was the reason why I was chosen for this mission. I was elected in assembly for president by the Movement for the Liberation of the Peoples. There were several consultations, there were many proposals and debates from various communities, and the final decision was that I become the candidate for the presidency' says Cabrera.
     Once Cabera had complied with the community process for her candidacy, she had to comply with the regulations established by the government and the Supreme Electoral Tribunal of Guatemala, which she did without any obstacles. Cabrera is a freely exercising her candidacy since Article 136 of the Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala indicates that: 'The rights and duties of citizens are: b) To elect and be elected; d) Opting for public office,' and Article 212 of the Electoral Law and Political Parties on the Nomination and Registration of Candidates indicates that, 'Legally recognized political parties may nominate and register candidates for all positions of popular election.'
     For Cabrera, as an Indigenous Mayan woman, she has lived in a country dominated by capitalism, oligarchy, corruption, patriarchy, and, above all, discrimination. The government has been run by the wealthy, so much so that currently, Indigenous women have less than a third of representation in the government. Machismo and stereotypes take precedence in the country claiming that "illiterate Indians" are not capable of governing a country. The Movement for the Liberation of Peoples during its campaign stated that within its plan, its priority is to focus on health, education, community media and recovery of privatized public services such as electricity, in order to provide collective well-being for Indigenous communities.
      Cabrera is in competition with twenty one (21) candidates among those are: Alejandro Giammattei of the VALUE party; José Luis Chea Urruela from the PRODUCTIVIDAD Y TRABAJO party; Sandra Torres of the UNIDAD NACIONAL DE LA ESPERANZA party; Pablo Ceto of the REVOLUTIONARY UNITY GUATEMALTECA party; and Benito Morales of the CONVERGENCIA party. With so many opponents how can Cabrera win the presidency? 'Our sisters have arrived at the moment when the people have to choose dignity. I call for reflection in order to recover our lands, territories, and waters. Because the people are the ones who are going to govern and are going to have to participate, it is not just Thelma Cabrera. I did not ask for any position but it is the people that chose me and with my people I have to be, with my people I have to go, with my people I have to consult, propose, and agree,' says Cabrera.
     Cabrera has a strong and clear message for women and Indigenous communities around the world. 'That all the peoples in each country of the world, self-determine the good living for our future and the future of our sons and daughters. We deserve a life with dignity, and all people have the right to access Mother Earth, to decent health, education, food, life without violence. All people have the right to live where there is harmony between peoples and different sectors, where there is access to decent roads, where there are towns and territories, not pollution. Let's move forward, we have to make these structural changes for the good of our peoples.'
      General elections will be held in Guatemala on June 16, 2019, to elect the president and representatives to Congress, with a second round of the presidential elections to be held on August 11, 2019, if no candidate wins a majority in the first round."

Guatemala, in May 2019, was in danger of losing its international panel of investigators working with Guatemalan prosecutor to fight wide-spread corruption in high places, as the only candidate for President of the country who supports keeping the international panel, Thelma Aldana, was disqualified from running by a court ruling, May 16 (Elisabeth Malkin, "Latin America Risks Losing Potent Weapon Against Corruption," The New York Times, May 19, 2019).

"Costa Rica Must Implement Land Rights for Indigenous Peoples in Wake Of Leader's Murder," Cultural Survival, April 23, 2019,, reported, "On the evening of March 18, 2019, Indigenous leader Sergio Rojas Ortiz was assassinated in his residence in Salitre de Buenos Aires, part of the Puntarenas province, after being shot multiple times.
      Rojas was a member of the Uniwak clan, part of the Bribri community, one of the eight Indigenous Peoples that are recognized in Costa Rica. He was one of the most important and well-known Indigenous leaders in the region, and was a member of the National Front of Indigenous Peoples (Frente Nacional de Pueblos Indígenas - FRENAPI), the Council for the Defenders of Mother Earth (Autoridades Propias Defensoras de la Madre Tierra), and the Association for the Development of the Salitre People (Asociación para el Desarrollo del Pueblo de Salitre).

      Authorities have not yet established the causes for or mastermind behind the homicide, but the crime is deeply concerning given that it occurred only hours after Rojas Ortiz, along with two neighbors, went to the state prosecutor to report a series of threats that members of the Salitre community had been receiving with regard to a land dispute concerning Indigenous territories.

      Three United Nations’ experts, including Michel Forst (Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders) Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples) and Agnes Callamard (Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions), issued a joint statement with the following message to the Costa Rican government: 'We demand that the Costa Rican authorities thoroughly investigate the situation in order to identify those who are responsible for this vile crime and ensure that they face legal consequences... The Costa Rican authorities must immediately provide culturally appropriate protection to members of indigenous peoples who are at risk simply for defending their rights.'

     Reacting to the murder, Costa Rican president Carlos Alvarado Quesada condemned the crime, labelling it 'A tragic day for the Bribri People, for all our indigenous communities, and for all of Costa Rica. ' Costa Rica has formed a special investigative unit in order to uncover the details of the crime and identify those who are responsible. But the homicide has rightly exposed some of the state’s negligence toward implementing Indigenous rights. Before the tragedy, the Inter-American Commision for Human Rights (IACHR), in accordance with 2015 Resolution #6, had granted the Teribe and Bribri peoples of Salitre 'precautionary measures,' which oblige the Costa Rican government to protect the safety of these at risk communities, including Sergio Rojas. The resolution established: 'It is necessary that the police are present in the Salitre Indigenous Territory, and that they set up control points and increase patrolling of the area until the Costa Rican government can legally regain control of these indigenous lands.' Yet since that was granted, the IACHR has received many complaints from members of the Salitre community, arguing that the Costa Rican state has failed to implement the precautionary measures according to protocols established in consultation with the Bribri and Teribe communities. Dualok Rojas Ortiz, the victim’s brother, claims that Sergio had not had protection for over a year and a half, and in fact had chosen to live apart from his family due to threats and concerns for their safety.

     The murder of an Indigenous leader is a tragedy of major proportions; it is a terrible setback in Indigenous Peoples’ struggle to maintain their autonomy and human rights, and as Sergio Rojas was shot at close range in the safety of his home and in the middle of the night; the conditions of his death has raised feelings of anxiety, vulnerability, and uncertainty among Indigenous communities. But the murder also stands to deter other human rights and environmental defenders from taking a stand to protect their rights and their lands as had been the life’s work of Sergio Rojas.

      At the root of the conflict that Sergio Rojas dedicated his life to is the failure of the Costa Rican state to legislate in favor of Indigenous autonomy over their lands. Following Rojas’ murder, the IACHR shared the following in a press release: 'The IACHR stresses the territory’s importance for the physical and cultural survival of indigenous peoples...States’ failure to identify and effectively demarcate indigenous land can create an atmosphere of permanent uncertainty, which affects the group’s social harmony.'
     In 1982, Costa Rica took a positive step in designating 24 Indigenous reserves legally titled to the Indigenous communities who have called the lands home for generations. But the since that time, the State failed to give the Indigenouos Peoples full autonomy to administer these lands, meaning that non-Indigenouos settlers who were on the land at the time the reserves were created have never been removed. Failure to compensate these settlers for their land in exchange for eviction has led to about 60 percent of Indigenouos reserves being occupied by non-Indigenous settlers, and which is a source of extreme social conflict. For decades, Costa Rica's eight Indigenous groups have pressed for the passage of Bill 14352, known as the Indigenous Autonomy Law, whichwould give Indigenous communities in the country's 24 reserves full power of governance over their land rather than leaving this jurisdiction under control of central government institutions. The law would also enable Indigenous communities to recover land within the Indigenous territories where non-Indigenous settlers occupy and would provide the government with a path toward resolving the case of the Salitre Indigenous Reserve. However, in 25 years, the government of Costa Rica has shown no political will to pass that law.
     Meanwhile, a Protocol was established in 2017 between Indigenous communities and government institutions of Costa Rica to implement demarcation and recuperation of Indigenous territories. The protocols also laid out step by step details on the implementation of security measures that were needed to provide effective and culturally appropriate protection for the targeted Indigenous communities as ordered by the Inter-American Commission on Human rights in 2015. Sergio Rojas himself lead the negotiations and signed the Protocol on behalf of the community of Salitre. Yet in the past four years, community organizations report this Protocol was all but ignored by Costa Rican government officials. This lack of implementation of this agreed upon Protocol for conflict mediation and safety measures is precisely what allowed for the conditions that lead to the death of Sergio Rojas.

      Just months before Sergio Rojas’ death, in a report to the UN’s Universal Periodic Review of Costa Rica in October 2018, Cultural Survival had warned 'Colonization of Indigenous territories by non-indigenous individuals is a troublesome phenomenon that has not yet been solved in Costa Rica. Such colonization efforts are even more concerning when they involve the use of violence. This violence is especially concerning in the context of the Costa Rican government, which fails to provide clear judicial, political, or administrative processes for evicting non-indigenous people from these colonized Indigenous territories.' Read Cultural Survivals report on Indigenous rights violations in Costa Rica, submitted to the 3rd cycle of the Universal Periodic Review at:

     In the wake of Sergio Rojas’ death, Cultural Survival stands in solidarity with the Indigenous communities of Costa Rica in their efforts seeking autonomy over their territories. We joins their call to implement safety measures and land demarcation in accordance with the 2017 Protocol signed by Indigenous communities and the government, and call on Costa Rica to fully investigate the murder of Sergio Rojas and hold to account those responsible."

Costa Rica named Guillermo Rodriuez, Bribri, Ambassador to Bolivia, in November 2018 (Costa Rica: Indigenous Ambassador Named to Bolivia, Cultural Survival Quarterly, March 2019).

Hanna Wallis, "2018 Was The Deadliest Year In Decades For Indigenous Leaders In Colombia," Cultural Survival, January 29, 2019,, reported, " Indigenous communities in Colombia are continuing to suffer an accelerating wave of violence as murders against social leaders carry on un-checked. Last year, 164 community organizers and human rights defenders were assassinated, making 2018 the bloodiest year on record. The trend only appears to be getting worse; already, nine leaders have lost their lives during the first two weeks of the new year. Despite mass popular outcry using the hashtag #NosEstanMatando (#TheyAreKillingUs), the right-wing government of Iván Duque, in office as of July, has done little to intervene.
      Communities in the southwestern state of Cauca have seen the worst of the killings— 54 in 2018, the highest number of any state in the country. The region has always been a hot zone of Colombia’s half century of armed conflict, but it is also the site of the largest and strongest Indigenous movement, the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC). Formed in 1974, their advanced community organizing has successfully recovered hundreds of thousands of hectares of ancestral land and broken international ground for Indigenous rights. For leaders in Cauca, the latest pattern of sweeping murders belongs to a long trajectory of systematic, violent opposition to their collective resistance.

      Most murders have happened in the northern corridor of the department where the Indigenous movement has the greatest power. Armed networks have proliferated through the area, in part as a result of Colombia’s 2016 peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Factions that broke away from the peace process formed their own guerrilla groups while emboldened paramilitaries swept into the region to block implementation. The majority of the assassinations in the north of Cauca can be traced to these paramilitary groups, which have explicitly declared their objective of taking out Indigenous leadership. Around Christmas, the Aguilas Negras, or Black Eagles distributed pamphlets in the region placing a bounty of five million pesos, around $1,700, for any Indigenous governors and around $1,000 for any member of the unarmed Indigenous defense force, the Guardia Indígena.
     On January 11, Rubén Velasco, the governor of the Indigenous reserve of Tacueyó, suffered a spray of gunfire as he exited his house, only surviving because he wears a bullet-proof vest under his clothing at all times. During the following weeks, he has narrowly survived another two assassination attempts. The incidents have sent a fresh shudder of fear through communities in the north, who remain traumatized from other recent killings. Just a week before the first attempt at Velasco’s life, a different Indigenous governor, Edwin Dagua Ipía (pictured in top photo), was murdered in broad daylight. His death belonged to the bloodiest week of the year in the area, when ten leaders were killed in a period of just eight days. Thousands of people attended Dagua’s funeral, or ' siembra,' 'planting,' as Nasa people call it.
     Foreign leaders have publicly decried the uninterrupted violence. In July, 2018, the head of the UN mission in Colombia spoke out about the killings during an interview with W Radio. His response followed the publication of a report by several organizations, including the European Center for Human and Constitutional Rights, that revealed the systematic failures of the Colombian government to offer protection. Despite this international condemnation, however, most efforts to stop the murders have fallen on local organizing without robust financial support or state resources. The Indigenous movement in Cauca has declared its commitment to continue pushing against the forces of violence as it has done for decades.

     They published the following statement in December, 'We reject armed groups, who don’t understand that our thinking is the seed of life and harmony, that we fight tirelessly against their systematic aggression, their extermination of words, of mother earth. We invite all of those combatants who stubbornly stay on the path of war to plant real peace from their hearts so that alongside our process, we can construct hope for a new world. Given the incapacities of official institutions, we will secure our autonomy of territorial government, of human rights and of peace, with the objective of continuing to weave our dream of WËT WËT FXI’ZENXI (living well) for the whole Colombian Nation.'"

Columbia expanded three Indigenous reserves, in December 2019, in its Amazon region, Puerto Cordodba, Comeyafu and Caramaritagua, protecting 13 Indigenous communities and an additional 113,103 acres of Amazon forest (Columbia Amazon Reserves Expanded, Cultural Survival Quarterly, March 2019).

"Venezuelan army opens fire on Pemon tribe, Venezuela," Survival International, March 1, 2019,, reported, " Soldiers have opened fire on a group of Pemon Indians, killing a woman and wounding at least 25 people. Four more Pemon have since died from wounds sustained in the attack. It is reported that some Pemon have been arrested and detained by the authorities.
     The shooting took place on 22 February near the border with Brazil. The Pemon of Kumarakapay community (also known as San Francisco de Yuruaní) had set up a road blockade to prevent army troops from reaching the frontier. President Maduro had ordered the border closed to prevent humanitarian aid from Brazil entering the country.
      Hundreds of Pemon families have sought refuge in the surrounding forest and hills. A Pemon leader managed to send out a recording as she fled declaring: 'This is a war taking place here. They have orders to shoot anyone. Persecution of the capitanes generales [council of Pemon leaders] has started. They came through my community shooting with rifles.'
      In response to a petition from the Venezuelan NGO Foro Penal, the Organization of American States has written to the Venezuelan government expressing its grave concern at the situation and requesting that it uphold the rights, and guarantee the safety, of the Pemon people.
      There has been tension in the last months between Pemon and the army in response to the increasing militarization of their territory. Last December a Pemon man was shot dead and two Pemon wounded by military counterintelligence troops in an operation to clear illegal goldminers from the area. The operation was to pave the way for the huge Arco Minero Orinoco (Orinoco Mining Arch) project, which would see Pemon and other indigenous territories opened up to large scale mining. Many indigenous communities are deeply opposed to the project, having already suffered the devastating impacts of large- and small-scale mining.
     The Pemon people of Venezuela number over 30,000 and live mainly on the Gran Sabana (a spectacular highland area of natural savanna), and in the Upper Caroní basin and lowland Imataca rainforest. There are also several thousand Pemon in neighbouring Guyana and Brazil, where they are often known as Arekuna and Taulepang.
     Much of the Gran Sabana lies within the Canaima National Park, an area of 2.4 million hectares, created in June 1962 to protect this unique area. It was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site in January 1994.
     For the Pemon, the spectacular flat topped mountains, and waterfalls like the Angel Falls, the highest in the world, are sacred. Many of the plants that grow on top of the mountains are found nowhere else on earth. Biologically diverse, the park also contains a number of endangered species, such as giant anteaters, giant otters and jaguars.
     The Pemon cultivate manioc and other root crops like sweet potatoes and yams. Bananas, plantains and pineapples are also grown. This is supplemented by hunting and fishing. Palm trees provide housing materials and fruit. Some Pemon villages on the savanna have set up small scale tourism to earn a cash income.
      Pemon lands have been targeted by successive Venezuelan governments for mining and logging, and small-scale goldminers have operated illegally here for years, all of which has had a devastating impact on the environment.
     In the 1990s, with support from Survival, the Pemon opposed the building of a huge electricity line and pylons which cut through the heart of their territory to take electricity to Brazil. Despite a vigorous campaign the government pushed the project through."

"President Bolsonaro 'declares war' on Brazil's indigenous peoples - Survival responds," Survival Inernational, January 3, 2019,, reported, " Jair Bolsonaro has started his Presidency in the worst possible way for the indigenous peoples of Brazil. Taking responsibility for indigenous land demarcation away from FUNAI, the Indian affairs department, and giving it to the Agriculture Ministry is virtually a declaration of open warfare against Brazil’s tribal peoples.
      Tereza Cristina, the new head of the Ministry, has long opposed tribal land rights, and championed the expansion of agriculture into indigenous territories. This is an assault on the rights, lives and livelihoods of Brazil’s first peoples – if their lands are not protected, they face genocide, and whole uncontacted tribes could be wiped out.
     This onslaught on Brazil’s first peoples attacks the heart and soul of the Brazilian nation.
      The theft of indigenous territories also sets the stage for environmental catastrophe. Tribal peoples are the best conservationists and guardians of the natural world and evidence proves they manage their environment and its wildlife better than anyone else.
      Indigenous people are already resisting. The Aruak, Baniwa and Apurinã tribes have said: 'We don’t want to be wiped out by this government’s actions. Our lands play a vital role in maintaining biodiversity. We are people, human beings, we have blood like you do, Mr President, we’re born, we grow… and then we die on our sacred land, like any person on Earth. We’re ready for dialogue, but we’re also ready to defend ourselves.'
     Sonia Guajajara, an indigenous leader and vice presidential candidate in the 2018 election, has said: 'We will resist. If we’re the first people to be attacked, we’ll also be the first to react.'
      APIB, the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil, says: 'We have the right to exist. We won’t retreat. We’ll denounce this government around the world.'
     Survival Director Stephen Corry said today: 'Survival International has stood in solidarity with Brazil’s indigenous peoples for 50 years – for their survival, for the protection of Brazil’s most biodiverse territories, for the health of our planet and for all humanity. We will continue to campaign passionately for their lives and lands to be fully respected and defended.'”

Antonio A R Ioris, "Indigenous Peoples Are Collapsing Under Agribusiness Frontiers in Brazil," Cultural Survival, December 20, 2018,, reported, "' …we know that we are going and we want to be killed and buried with our ancestors here where we are today, so we ask the Government and the Federal Justice not to decree our eviction/expulsion, but we request to decree our collective death and to bury us everybody here. We ask, once and for all, to decree our decimation and total extinction, in addition to sending several tractors to dig a large hole to throw and bury our bodies.”
     -Letter Guarani-Kaiowá of Pyelito Kue
      What to do and what to say when the world is collapsing into social, cultural and ecological catastrophe? How to react to problems that seemed to belong to history books, but which constantly re-emerges in even more threatening and devastating ways? How to prevent further grabbing and commodification of ancestral lands and shared resources? These are not rhetorical questions, but reverberations of a daily struggle. I am sure that many readers have heard about the Guarani First Nation of South America, which could include, for example, narratives about the imposing architecture and a complex society managed by Jesuit priests in the centre of the continent in the 18th century. Some may also be informed about the ongoing violence against the Kaiowá, one of the Guarani peoples, in the Brazilian state of Southern Mato Grosso (considered the Gaza Strip of Brazil). But few will be fully aware of the scale of land rights violations, systematic killing of adults and children, ferocious discrimination against people living in precarious settlements along the roads or in the periphery of the cities, widespread suicides of youngsters and teenagers, serious levels of food insecurity, and the hideous association between large-scale landowners, politicians and law officers. If you think that you know about the Kaiowá/Guarani, it is quite possible that you need to think again. It is worse, much worse. There is no other way to describe the situation of the Kaiowá under the advance of soybean and sugarcane production (among other crops) than genocide.
     Many authors rightly propose a broader, more sociological understanding of genocidal practices than just the physical elimination of a determinate group of people, but including also cultural destruction, social death and ecological devastation (ecocide). This is extremely relevant here. The Kaiowá/Guarani have been suffering from the convergence of all those genocidal processes, aggravated by the political arrogance of export-based agribusiness farmers, national and international land-grabbing investors, and the dishonest movements of a powerful regional elite (who have been illegally appropriating land from Indigenous people for several decades). Recurrent violence against the legitimate land proprietors –Indigenous people – is in direct breach of the elementary principles of the Brazilian constitution (articles 231 and 232, in particular), but the local judges, civil servants and politicians have firmly decided against the Kaiowá. This tendency in favour of the most powerful has correspondence with the wider problem of non-consensual expropriation of Indigenous people’s lands around the world. Basic elements to justice, such as the native people’s inherent domain over their territories, the international principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and the International Labour Organization’s 169 Convention, signed by Brazil, have been overlooked in the case of the Kaiowá. Those violations are rationalised on the grounds of the benefits of agribusiness, the need to accept the costs of development and lack of merit of Indigenous Peoples (as it is often the case, the blame is on the victim for their own misfortune).
     We neither need to revisit the tragic pages of colonial history when thousands of Indigenous Peoples were exterminated because of the European invasion, nor discuss the mass killing during the Paraguay War (1864-1870), the bloodiest in the continent and that took place right in the middle of the Guarani territory. The recent history of Brazil suffices to demonstrate power inequalities and the application of brutal force validated by various legal subterfuges. The Brazilian legislation in the second half of the 19th century clearly guarantee the user rights of Indigenous Peoples, but that did not prevent the concession of millions of hectares of Guarani land to the Matte Larangeira company, which explored the native mate herb (erva-mate) through the scandalous, but tolerated, enslavement of Indigenous people. After 1920, large farms were opened by migrants attracted to the region from the south of Brazil in the context of the new economic frontier promoted by the national government. The Kaiowá were violently forced to leave their land and witnessed the cutting of the forests that give them their name (‘people of the forest’). A small number of reserves were created by the newly established, and highly inefficient and corrupt, Indian Protection Service (SPI), what generated a range of new problems due to the agglomeration of different groups and families in very small areas. It led to a common exploitation of Indigenous labour, drastic change of traditions and the degradation of communities. A more recent phase initiated in the 1950s with the intensification of commercial agriculture and, after the 1990s, the exponential growth of plantation farms. The region where most Kaiowá live in Southern Mato Grosso is well known for its excellent, red soils – it is claimed by the Kaiowá/Guarani that it is red because it contains their own blood – which were pursued and appropriated by large-scale landowners and all the usual transnational corporations.
      It is crucial to engage with Indigenous people and reflect with them upon their current situation, the causes of their unhappy fate and the reasons for precluding the possibility of politico-economic recognition and a decent future (as any other South American or global citizen). We have tried to do exactly that through a growing collaboration between Cardiff University and the Federal University of Great Dourados (UFGD) in Brazil, in particular its Department of Geography and the Intercultural Indigenous College (FAIND). See this relevant statement collected from a Kaiowá during fieldwork in Brazil in August 2018: 'Agriculture was a pleasure before the arrival of the karai [non-Indigenous people]; now it is a pain… Today everything is paid, we have to pay for boreholes, to have water, to maintain the river. We have been exploited and they continue to exploit us… But Indian is not the problem, we are the solution.'
      This powerful trend of land privatisation and nature commodification, aggravated in recent years by global market pressures, has caused the expropriation of most of their remaining areas, ignoring not only their ancestors’ legitimate rights over the land, but the vital association between Kaiowá’s identity, culture, religion, livelihood and the land where they were born and their relatives were buried. It is essential in the life of the Kaiowá the regular interaction with other family members and the constant movement in the region, which plays a role in both the production of space and in the affirmation of socio-cultural norms and values. Land had never been a private property with titles and fences; life was not centred around the individual, but the family; agriculture was part of their cosmology, not the cultivation of genetically modified crops for the global market. In the words of a resident in the Indigenous Reserve Panambizinho, interviewed in 2018: 'Agriculture practices [by Indigenous people] may change, but the spirituality remains, it is inside us, we continue to believe in the spirits. We drink from the spring of spirituality, appreciate its value. The seed of maize has a soul, but transgenic maize is poisonous.'
      The application of violence and the containment in unwanted areas have only reinforced the bitter sense of genocide. It has been a regular experience of social, ecological, cultural and physical death. Between 2003 and 2016, there were 1,009 murders of Indigenous people in Brazil and 44% of the total (444 homicides) happened in Southern Mato Grosso and the great majority involved Kaiowá (data from the Indigenist Missionary Council - CIMI). However, it is difficult to find effective allies. During the first visit of Pope John Paul II to Brazil, the Guarani leader Marçal de Souza Tupã-Y denounced the long-standing practice of expropriating land and massacring Indigenous Peoples. After several unsuccessful attempts by farmers to bribe and quieten Marçal, he was murdered on 25/Nov/1983, three years after meeting the pope (nobody, as always, was held responsible or punished for the crime). The general feeling is among many Indigenous people now is bitterness and desperation. A long-term consequence of the formation of inadequately small reserves by the SPI is the incredibly high levels of suicide (555 between 2001 and 2011, in a population of around 30,000, according to CIMI). Out of the eight million hectares originally occupied by the Kaiowá and other Guarani, they are now left with around 50,000 hectares to accommodate more than 52,000 people spread in the reserves, roadside encampments and in reconquered areas. At least 88 areas were targeted by Indigenous people who claim that they are the legitimate owners, but the formal recognition of their rights has been barred by prejudice, with more setbacks than triumphs.
      Indigenous people have reacted according to their means (it must be noted that they operate as a network, but with no central coordination, as in the case of the Brazilian landless movement MST) and formed some limited, but important alliances with national and international organisations, universities and churches. Progress is slow and patchy. The municipal and state levels of government and the local judiciary almost never do anything in favour of Indigenous groups, leaving any small concession in the hands of the federal government, the parliament and the upper judiciary. Even so, the agencies of the national state are often driven to provide some kind of satisfaction only after a large-scale tragedy is reported by the international media. And the bad news keep on pouring: 'High murder rates blight Brazil's Indigenous communities” ( BBC, 28/Feb/2014); 'Brazil Indigenous leader's killing raises tension' ( BBC, 3/Sep/2015); 'Dispute turns deadly as Indigenous Brazilians try to 'retake' ancestral land' ( The Guardian, 14/Jul/2016); 'The Guaraní Kaiowà people could soon be wiped out” ( Lifegate, 20/Apr/2017); “Au Brésil, une manifestation d’Indiens tourne à l’affrontement avec la police” ( Le Monde, 26/Apr/2017). The New York Times reported on 29/May/2017:

     'In August 2015, some of the Guarani-Kaiowa decided to reoccupy part of their territory. They camped on land owned by ranchers. The landholders had other plans: According to reports, they hired armed militias to try to drive the tribe out. Semião Vilhalva, a tribal leader, was shot and killed. There were accounts of torture, rape and child abduction. Less than a year later, another attack killed a Guarani-Kaiowa leader and nine people were shot. Five local farmers were detained for taking part in the raid but were released after a few months

     Public outrage gradually soared across the world and on 24/Nov/2016, the European Parliament approved a resolution that strongly condemned 'the violence perpetrated against the Indigenous communities of Brazil', deplored 'the poverty and human rights situation of the Guarani-Kaiowá population in Mato Grosso do Sul', reminding 'the Brazilian authorities of their obligation to observe international human rights standards with respect to Indigenous Peoples' and, among other things, expressed 'concern about the proposed constitutional amendment 215/2000 (PEC 215), to which Brazilian Indigenous Peoples are fiercely opposed, given that, if approved, it will threaten Indigenous land rights by making it possible for anti-Indian interests related to the agro-business, timber, mining and energy industries to block the new Indigenous territories from being recognised'. PEC 215 is a canny manoeuvre by the Brazilian parliament to stop the creation of new Indigenous reserves (which would become an exclusive prerogative of the agribusiness-dominated congress). Another extremely controversial measure, adopted by the Supreme Federal Court and now under analysis in the same parliament, is the “marco temporal” (arbitrary cut-off date for land claims). The intention is to restrict legal rights to claim traditional territories to land physically occupied on 05/Oct/1988 (the date of approval of the current constitution). This would have terrible consequences for most Kaiowá, who were forced from their ancestral lands.
      Since 2003, at least 15 territories are to be returned to the Kaiowá, which have been demarcated and officially approved by government agencies, but the process is repeatedly frustrated because of endless court appeals by the farmers. One appalling consequence is that large groups of Kaiowá continue to live at the side of motorways and with no other choice than the legitimate occupation of their land, lost to the agribusiness. The coordinated mobilisation to reoccupy their legitimate land is described as retomada, that is the retaking of their legitimate areas expropriated in the process of regional development (see Pictures 1, 2 and 3). They mobilise their traditions and culture to fight back. As argued by an elderly, “To be a Kaiowá is our first weapon to get our lands back, but I know that it is a long and complex process. We have been living for 100 years [in the reserve], but we still have a memory of our past.” Sadly, this desperate attempt to regain control of the land of their family inevitably results in new rounds of violence, expulsion and murder. There are no limits to the escalation of violence and in 2016, just a few days after the departure of the United Nations Rapporteur, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, shots were fired by gunmen and hit the rezador (shaman) Isael Reginaldo in the municipality Coronel Sapucaia.
      The agribusiness sector in Brazil, which includes a broad coalition between landowners, conservative politicians, banks, industries and transnational corporations, represents one of the most perverse political forces in the country. Because of the erosion of the industrial sector and the accumulation of policy mistakes, agribusiness has become a key macroeconomic player and increasingly responsible for commodity exports. In that sense, it has hijacked the political debate and forced the approval of friendly, although highly questionable, policies and legislation, as in the case of the new forest code, changes in labour regulation and the attraction of international investment funds. Agribusiness has been naturalised and situated above party disputes, as something that is supposedly intrinsically beneficial to the country and any obstacle, including the rights of Indigenous groups, must be removed, at any cost. The deification of agribusiness and the systematic disregard for mounting social and ecological impacts has been fuelled by the confluence of the opportunism of right-wing groups (with manifestation of neo-fascism and open racism) and the betrayal of populist-bureaucratic left-wing politicians of PT (Labours’ Party). PT governed the country between 2003 and 2016, with uneven results, but a strong alliance with the financial system and the agribusiness sector. The bonfire of the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro, on 02 Sep 2018, offers a sinister metaphor of the low quality of the Brazilian democracy and the neglect of public culture and social justice. It reproduced the violence against Indigenous groups on 21/Apr/2000, in the very site where the Portuguese arrived in the country, during the commemoration of five centuries of Brazilian history.
      Agribusiness is bad enough in the rest of Brazil, but in areas of agricultural frontier, as in the case of Southern Mato Grosso, it gives rise to even higher levels of speculation, dispossession of common land and wide-ranging brutality. Frontier-making creates favourable conditions for the arrival of unscrupulous individuals in search of rapid enrichment and prepared to accept spurious economic and political practices. The recipe for serious conflict is there: on the one hand, adventurers and mercenaries reinvented as ‘agri-food producers’ (the euphemism of agribusiness farmers) and, on the other, native peoples who have been living in the region for many generations and have a different relation with land and society. The Kaiowá/Guarani have a profoundly qualitative involvement with land, nature and life, beyond the reductionist treatment of land as commodity and agriculture as business. Their identity and social experience is directly influenced by the place where the family lived and where relatives were laid to rest. Their culture is marked by the utopic search for the imperishable and virtuous land, although their daily experience is now shaped by fear, aggression, racism and violation of the most basic human rights. The Kaiowá/Guarani feel particularly demoralised when, as it happens quite often, a relative is murdered and the body disappears. According to their religious beliefs, violent deaths without a body to burry is dangerous, because any person has two souls and the bad one (angue) will remain like a spectrum, threatening those alive. They also have an elaborated narrative about the end of the world, what some Kaiowá now associate with the sea of sugarcane and soybean they see before them… but what will the rest of society do to avoid the end of our shared world?"

"Missionary investigated over 'entering land of uncontacted tribe,'" Survival International, January 21, 2019,, reported, " An American missionary is being questioned by Brazilian authorities after he allegedly entered the territory of an uncontacted tribe.
     Steve Campbell, a missionary with the Greene Baptist Church in Maine, was reportedly questioned by officials from FUNAI, the Brazilian government’s Indigenous Affairs Department, amid reports that he could be tried for genocide.
     Mr Campbell is reported in the Brazilian press to have entered the territory of the Hi-Merima tribe, using a local guide who had participated in a recent FUNAI expedition.
     He reportedly visited tribal camps that FUNAI had located as part of their work to monitor the uncontacted tribe’s territory.
     The news comes just two months after another missionary, John Allen Chau, was killed by members of the uncontacted Sentinelese tribe after landing on their Indian Ocean island to convert them to Christianity.
     Mr Campbell has allegedly defended his actions by maintaining that he was teaching members of a neighboring tribe, the Jamamadi, how to use GPS, and that entering the territory of the Hi-Merima Indians was the only way to reach his destination.
      President Bolsonaro’s appointment of an evangelical preacher, Damares Alves, as the new minister in charge of indigenous affairs is likely to encourage other missionaries to attempt to contact uncontacted tribes.
      Uncontacted tribes are the most vulnerable peoples on the planet. Whole populations are being wiped out by violence from outsiders who steal their land and resources, and by diseases like the flu and measles to which they have no resistance.
     Stephen Corry, Survival International Director, said today: 'Fundamentalist Christian American missionaries must be stopped from this primitive urge to contact previously uncontacted tribes. It may lead to the martyrdom they seek, but it always ends up killing tribespeople.'”

"Brazil launches operation to save surviving members of uncontacted tribe," Survival International, December 19, 2018,, reported, " Brazilian authorities have completed a rare ground operation to protect an uncontacted tribe from violent ranchers in a region of the Amazon with the highest rate of illegal deforestation in the country.
     But there are growing fears that unless the remaining steps in the land protection process for the tribe are completed quickly, the territory will never be secured
     Agents from Brazil’s indigenous affairs department FUNAI, Environment Ministry special agents and police officers were dispatched to remove the illegal ranchers – many of whom are armed – from the Kawahiva indigenous territory known as Rio Pardo, in Mato Grosso State.
     The operation took place 7th-14th December. Details of the operation were released yesterday by FUNAI, the Brazilian government’s Indigenous affairs department.
     The Kawahiva’s territory lies near the town of Colniza, one of the most violent areas in Brazil. 90% of Colniza’s income is from illegal logging. The Kawahiva are nomadic hunter-gatherers, living on the run to flee the invasions of their forest home.
     The remaining members of the tribe are survivors of genocidal violence by invaders exploiting the area’s natural resources. It’s likely the tribe avoids contact with mainstream society due to these attacks, as well as the fear of disease brought in by outsiders. Proper protection of their land is the only way to ensure their right to choose not to make contact with the outside world is respected.
      But President-elect Jair Bolsonaro has pledged not to protect any more indigenous land, and campaigners fear that unless the Kawahiva’s reserve is fully protected before he takes office, the process will never be completed.
     The Kawahiva became well known in October 2015, when Survival International released footage of a chance encounter with members of the tribe filmed by FUNAI. These images remain some of the most astonishing footage ever seen of uncontacted people.
     The Kawahiva were caught on camera in a chance encounter with FUNAI agents. This is some of the clearest footage ever captured of uncontacted people.
     The process of securing their land began some years ago when the existence of the Kawahiva was confirmed, and the government began to map out their territory for their exclusive use, as is required by national and international law. However, this soon came to a stand-still, leaving the Kawahiva exposed to genocide and extinction.
     Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples, then led a successful campaign to demarcate and protect the territory. Fronted by Oscar-winning actor Mark Rylance and backed by supporters in over 100 countries, Minister Eugênio Aragão signed the initial decree creating the protected territory for the tribe into law on April 19th 2016.

     As part of their global campaign to ensure the protection of the Kawahiva’s land, Survival released a short film narrated by Mark Rylance, who spearheaded the campaign.
     In the intervening years, councilors from Colniza have lobbied the Minister of Justice to drastically reduce the size of the Rio Pardo indigenous territory, to allow more loggers, ranchers and soy farmers to move in. However, two years after the decree was signed, the authorities have now removed the invader.
     Jair Candor heads the FUNAI team which, supported by public prosecutors and others, is working to protect the Kawahiva territory. He told Survival: 'I am so happy, this is my dream. We’ve put in the work and now we’ll reap the rewards… It’s important that people know that we are not the only humans on this Earth – the Kawahiva and other uncontacted tribes are out there, in their forests. We must protect their forest. It’s the only way they’ll survive.'
     Stephen Corry, Director of Survival International, said today: “This operation proves that public campaigns can make a real difference in the struggle to halt the ongoing genocide of uncontacted peoples. The recent video of the Last of his Tribe shows how genocides can end – with just one survivor of an entire people. The Kawahiva have experienced terrible trauma in recent decades, but some still survive, and we’re determined they won’t share the fate of so many tribal peoples in the past. If their land is protected they can thrive, like the Sentinelese in the Andaman Islands. But they’re going to need all the help they can get to see the legal process to protect their land completed.”
     Notes to editors:
      Uncontacted tribes:
     - There are more than one hundred uncontacted tribes around the world. They’re tribal peoples who don’t have peaceful contact with anyone from the outside world.
     - Uncontacted tribes aren’t primitive relics of a remote past. They are our contemporaries and a vital part of humankind’s diversity. They are aware of the outside world, and may engage sporadically with contacted tribes nearby.
     - There’s irrefutable evidence that their tribal territories are the best barrier to deforestation, particularly in the Amazon rainforest.
     - Uncontacted tribes are the most vulnerable peoples on the planet. Whole populations are being wiped out by violence from outsiders who steal their land and resources, and by diseases like the flu and measles to which they have no resistance.
     - It is not uncommon for 90% of the population to be wiped out following initial contact."

"Ayoreo indigenous people in Paraguay celebrate land victory," Survival International, April 1, 2019,, reported, " The Ayoreo-Totobiegosode, an indigenous people in the heart of South America, has finally secured a key part of its territory after a 26 year struggle.

Ayoreo leaders received the ownership papers to 18,000 hectares of their ancestral land.

Some of their relatives remain uncontacted, and have been seen in this area. They are the last uncontacted indigenous people in the Americas outside of the Amazon, and live in the heart of the Paraguayan Gran Chaco, the forest with the fastest rates of deforestation in the world.
     Since the 1970s, Survival has campaigned for the return of the Ayoreo’s land. In 1993 they formally claimed title to an area of 550,000 hectares, a small part of their original lands.
      Much of their territory was sold to companies that have deforested the territory to make way for cattle. These include a Brazilian ranching enterprise and a Paraguayan subsidiary of Spanish construction company Grupo San José .
      Since 1969 many previously-uncontacted Ayoreo have been forced out of the forest. The fundamentalist American missionary group New Tribes Mission (now Ethnos360) helped organise ‘manhunts’ in which large groups of uncontacted Ayoreo were forcibly brought out of the forest. Many died in these violent confrontations, or as a result of diseases to which they had no immunity.
     It is unknown how many members of the Ayoreo currently live in the forest, rejecting contact with outsiders. They rely on hunting and gathering, and travel vast distances by foot to evade the burning and clearing of their land. In 2004 a group came out of the forest, seeking refuge from bulldozers which had destroyed their village and gardens.
      The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights – the continent’s human rights body – has demanded the Paraguayan state take steps to halt deforestation on the Ayoreo’s land and protect their uncontacted relatives from forced contact."

Lisa J. Ellwood, "Europeans acknowledge Native American holocaust with series of events: Week-long series of Native American holocaust events taking place in Switzerland for Holocaust Remembrance 2019," ICT, January 30, 2019,, reported, "Every year the Associazione Ticinese Degli Insegnanti Distoria which translates as the Swiss Association of History Teachers, dedicates the European International Holocaust Remembrance Day or Day of Memory (as it is often referred to in Europe) to a different case of genocide. This year their focus is on Indigenous genocide in North America."

Milan Schreuer, "Belgium Apologizes for Kidnapping Children From African Colonies," The New York Times, April 4, 2019,, reported, "Belgium apologized on Thursday for the kidnapping, segregation, deportation and forced adoption of thousands of children born to mixed-race couples during its colonial rule of Burundi, Congo and Rwanda.
     The apology is the first time that Belgium has recognized any responsibility for what historians say was the immense harm the country inflicted on the Central African nations, which it colonized for eight decades. Prime Minister Charles Michel offered the apology on Thursday afternoon in front of a plenary session of Parliament, which was attended by dozens of people of mixed race in the visitors gallery."

ICG, Jean-Hervé Jezequel, Director, Sahel Project, "Central Mali: Putting a Stop to Ethnic Cleansing," Q&A / Africa 25 March 2019,, commented, " An attack against Fulani communities in the Mopti region on 23 March killed at least 134 people, the latest episode in a series of violent intercommunal clashes. In this Q&A, our Sahel Project Director Jean-Hervé Jézéquel calls on the Malian authorities to curb the spiral of ethnic cleansing.
      What’s new?
     On 23 March 2019 – just as the UN Security Council was beginning an official visit to Mali – 100 armed men attacked the village of Ogossagou-Peul, about a dozen kilometres from the town of Bankass (population 30,000), in the country’s centre. The inhabitants of this village are nearly all members of the Fulani community, which comprises many herders but also sedentary farmers. The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) initially reported that at least 134 civilians were killed, including women and children. The situation remains confused and the death toll could rise. Other villages with a Fulani majority near Ogossagou have been threatened and some have reportedly been attacked.
     This massacre took place in the context of a worrying upsurge in intercommunal violence in central Mali in recent months
. On 1 January 2019, a similar attack targeted Koulogon, another village in the Bankass district, leaving at least 37 Fulanis dead, including women and children. The violence is affecting mainly Fulani civilians in the region. Other ethnic groups, especially the Dogon and Bambara, have also been hit by violent attacks. These have so far happened on a lesser scale but they have been fuelling a cycle of reprisals. Two weeks before the Ogossagou attack, suspected armed Fulanis targeted at least two Dogon villages in the region.
      Intercommunal violence is no longer confined to the Mopti region and now threatens the stability of Mali as well as neighbouring Burkina Faso.
      Who is responsible for the attack and what are their motives?
      The identity of those responsible for the attacks has not yet been established, but the finger is being pointed at the Dozos (the alternative spelling Donsos is sometimes used) armed groups present in several districts of the Mopti and Ségou regions. In Bankass, one of the Mopti region’s eight districts, they mainly recruit from the Dogon community, who are predominantly sedentary farmers. In late 2016, many Dozos joined together to form Dan an Amassagou (“Hunters who Trust in God” in the Dogon language), an organisation that has both a political and a military wing.
     Originally, Dozos were hunting associations responsible for managing the bush around their villages. Current groups of Dozos have, to a large extent, become paramilitary groups equipped with weapons of war. They have established bases in towns and villages in full view of the Malian authorities. They say they need to organise to protect their communities given that the Malian security forces are unable to hold back the growth of jihadist groups.
     The Dozos often accuse their Fulani neighbours of supporting the jihadists, especially the Katibat Macina, which has strong roots in other districts of the Mopti region. But tensions between local communities go back a long way and stem in part from rivalries between herders and farmers and struggles for local power and especially access to land. The availability of weapons of war and the pretext of fighting jihadist groups have opened the floodgates to a level of ethnic-based violence that is without precedent in the region. One of the main issues at stake is the control over agricultural land and pastures.
     The commanders of Dan an Amassagou reportedly decided, at a meeting on 13 March, to force out the Fulani communities from the area between Bandiagara and Bankass (located less than 30km away from each other). This meeting allegedly followed attacks on two Dogon villages in the Bandiagara region, in the course of which the assailants burned granaries and executed at least one person close to the Dozos. It is difficult to verify this information, but Dan an Amassagou announced on 20 March that it would conduct security patrols in the area.
      Why haven’t the Malian and international forces present in Mopti intervened?
     The Dozos have an ambiguous relationship with the Malian security forces. In 2016, when the Dozos were organising to defend their communities, some of the area’s political and military authorities tolerated and even encouraged their development in the hope that they would help to fight jihadist groups in the rural areas of central Mali where the state is weak. These groups’ activities then overwhelmed the political and military authorities. The Dozos quickly took advantage of the balance of power to settle scores and consolidate their influence on local affairs. The army has made a few attempts to disarm Dozo groups, especially in July 2018, but these measures have provoked a lot of resistance and anger among Dozos, who are supported by some sectors of the population. Malian security forces, already under pressure due to jihadist groups’ activity in the country’s centre, now fear confrontation with Dozo groups, who have so far supplied intelligence to the army and officially share the same enemy. In reality, the Dozos have attacked unarmed civilians more often than jihadist groups, except for a few direct clashes with the latter, such as recently in the Djenné region of the Niger Delta in central Mali.
      International forces are also active in the country’s centre, but MINUSMA has concentrated its resources on Mopti and its mobility is compromised by security rules and a lack of resources. Meanwhile, the French military Operation Barkhane has an anti-terrorist mandate and focuses on combatting jihadists rather than protecting civilians. Some communities in Mopti find this hierarchy of priorities incomprehensible, saying that in their experience, the Dozos terrorise the civilian population more than the jihadists do. While the latter have targeted civilians, they have never, in this region, carried out massacres on the scale of the killings in Ogossagou and Koulogon. Many Fulani intellectuals interviewed by Crisis Group in recent months said their community does not enjoy the same level of protection as others because many political and security actors, including among international partners, believe they have close links with the jihadists. The more these communities feel stigmatised, the more they might be tempted into turning to jihadist groups for support.

Was this an isolated event? Does the current violence reflect attempts to organise ethnic cleansing?
     The Ogossagou massacre was anything but an isolated event. Fulani civilians have now been targeted for several years in central Mali and more recently in Burkina Faso. In 2016, a Crisis Group report raised concerns about the violence suffered by the Fulani communities in central Mali. In May 2012, a land dispute led to the massacre of at least sixteen Fulani pastoralists by Dogon farmers in Sari, Koro district, near Bankass. This episode, which remains unpunished, was instrumental in encouraging Fulani nomads to arm themselves in the following months; some of them joined jihadist groups. Several reports, including by Human Rights Watch, have accused Malian security forces of arbitrary arrests and alleged extrajudicial killings of Fulanis suspected of complicity with the jihadists.
      In recent months, the incidence of massacres has increased rapidly. Violence is now taking place on a different scale and the nature of these attacks is no longer in doubt. The aim is not just to kill young men in order to steal their herds or stop them from joining jihadist groups. By killing women and young children and by burning down homes and granaries, the attackers are trying to terrorise the civilian population and force a particular community, the Fulanis, to leave the area. This violence qualifies as ethnic cleansing, an unprecedented crime in this region of Mali.
     There is a danger of recurring violence and this may further encourage the various communities to align themselves with the side that claims to be their protector. Fulani communities do not naturally align with the jihadists of Katibat Macina, however. In his first announcements as jihadist chief, Katibat Macina’s leader Amadou Koufa, who was also one of the founders of the jihadist coalition Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM), expressed extreme reluctance to defend the Fulani cause. Such a position could indeed prejudice his insurrectional objectives and interests much broader than those of any single ethnic group. As from December 2018, however, under pressure from his own combatants, whose families were victims of violence, and no doubt also following a strategic discussion among the GSIM command, Koufa presented himself as the standard-bearer for Fulani communities in the Sahel under the banner of jihad. Events like those at Ogossagou can only incite young Fulanis, disoriented and furious at the violence suffered by their families, to rally to this call.
     Finally, the violence against Fulani civilians has spread beyond central Mali. In July 2018, a Crisis Group report described how nomadic Fulani communities along the Mali-Niger border had become the collateral victims of the war between French forces in Operation Barkhane and the region’s jihadist groups. More recently, collective violence has hit Fulani communities in Burkina Faso: on 23 March, the day of the Koulongo massacre in Mali, Koglweogo self-defence groups, which have similarities with the Dozos in Mali, killed about 100 Fulani civilians in Yirgou, 200km to the north of Ouagadougou. A recent report by the Burkinabe Human and Peoples’ Rights Movement (MBDHP) documented the arbitrary killings of several dozen Fulanis by Burkinabe security forces in the Kain region, close to Bankass in Mali, in February 2019. In central Sahel, there are fears that the jihadists are no longer the only group guilty of terrorising the civilian population.
      How to stop the violence spreading?
     The government seems to have realised the significance of the massacre. On the day after the event, it convened an extraordinary council to announce a reorganisation of the army’s high command and the dissolution of Dan an Amassagou. It is crucial and urgent to enforce this measure on the ground. The government must disarm the groups implicated in the recent massacres. Their impunity in recent years has been instrumental in the rising tide of violence. In the coming months, the judiciary must also play its role. It must send a strong signal by identifying, arresting and punishing the main perpetrators of these atrocities. After months of equivocation that has allowed these groups to consolidate their position, the Malian security forces might, however, find it difficult to reassert their control over the area. According to unverified reports, Dan an Amassagou’s military commander, Youssouf Toloba, has refused to dissolve his group.
     The international community can support the Malian government’s efforts to restore order in Bankass, Koro and Bandiagara districts, which are the most affected by the recent violence. In the first instance, this is the responsibility of the MINUSMA, which has a mandate to protect the civilian population and provide advice and support to the government. Provided that the Malian authorities agree, it could, in the weeks to come, establish a base in Bankass with a strong police presence and a military contingent that includes a rapid reaction force (as in Mopti).
     Intercommunal mediation initiatives will also be necessary in the near future, but they must not hinder either the judiciary’s work or the dissolution of the armed groups implicated in the massacres. Mediation with the Dozos has already been tried a few months ago. In September 2018, Dan an Amassagou’s military commander signed a unilateral ceasefire agreement before suddenly breaking it two months later. If such mediation is to resume, all relevant communities must be represented, contrary to what happened in 2018. Reconciliation between communities will remain a dead letter unless the authorities get more involved in resolving land conflicts, one of the main triggers for recent violence. In particular, the state should recover its capacity to regulate land conflicts in a peaceful way that is acceptable to all. This is a crucial issue and undoubtedly more important than reactivating the development projects that sometimes exacerbate pre-existing land conflicts.
     Beyond central Mali, all actors involved in the struggle against jihadist groups, including Sahelian countries and international forces, must learn lessons from the recent intercommunal violence and avoid involving ethnic-based non-state groups in their counter-insurgency strategies
. At best, this only leads to Pyrrhic victories. It may weaken or contain jihadist groups but undermines the state’s legitimacy and fuels dangerous intercommunal resentments. Sahelian countries and especially their international partners must also accept that the jihadists are not the only and not even necessarily the main threat to the security of the population.
     Finally, a specific effort should be made to reach out to the Fulani communities affected by the violence in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. The sub-region’s governments should publicly condemn all attempts to stigmatise and attack these communities because of their alleged association with the jihadist cause, including when national security forces are responsible. Meanwhile, Western forces involved in the Sahel should urgently review their concept of a “pan-Fulani jihad”. Fulani communities, nomadic or otherwise, are not natural supporters of the jihadist cause. They only become so when policies stigmatise them or generate unacceptable levels of violence against them. Helping to protect these communities is the best way to avoid them turning to the most radical groups for support."

Inter-group fighting in the Congo, much of it amongst Indigenous groups, has remained serious, directly causing a great many deaths, injuries and dislocations of people, while making it impossible to control a most serious and expanding Ebola epidemic, that could spread to other nations. U.N. investigators reported, in March 2019, that in one instance, villagers of the Batenda ethnic group attacked a Banunu community, killing at least 535 - and perhaps as many as 900 - people. As of January, some 19,000 people were believed to have fled the violence, about 16,000 crossing into the Republic of Congo (Nick Cummings Bruce, "Congo Report by U.N, Team Cites Carnage," The New York Times, March 13, 2019).

Nick Cumming-Bruce, "Hundreds of Thousands Flee Congo Violence, in Region Afflicted by Ebola," The New York Times, June 18, 2019,, reported, " Hundreds of thousands of people have fled an explosion of ethnic violence in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo in the past two weeks, the United Nations said on Tuesday, creating a new humanitarian emergency in a region where international agencies are struggling to control an outbreak of Ebola.
The United Nations refugee agency said more than 300,000 people had fled in the face of large-scale clashes between two ethnic groups, the Hema and the Lendu, in Ituri province, which borders Uganda and South Sudan. But officials said that the estimate was conservative."
     A South African Court affirmed, in December 2018, the right of the Umgundundovi community to free, prior, and informed consent in its battle, since 2007, to stop a titanium mine from being opened in it territory ("South Africa: Historic Court Victory Affirms FPIC, Cultural Survival Quarterly, March 2019).

Austin Ramzy, "China Targets Prominent Uighur Intellectuals to Erase an Ethnic Identity," The New York Times, January 5, 2019,, reported, "As a writer and magazine editor, Qurban Mamut promoted the culture and history of his people, the Uighurs, and that of other Turkic minority groups who live in far western China. He did so within the strict confines of censorship imposed by the Chinese authorities, who are ever wary of ethnic separatism and Islamic extremism among the predominantly Muslim peoples of the region."
     "Then last year, the red line moved. Suddenly, Mr. Mamut and more than a hundred other Uighur intellectuals who had successfully navigated the worlds of academia, art and journalism became the latest targets of a sweeping crackdown in the region of Xinjiang that has ensnared as many as one million Muslims in indoctrination camps.
      The mass detention of some of China’s most accomplished Uighurs has become an alarming symbol of the Communist Party’s most intense social-engineering drive in decades, according to scholars, human rights advocates and exiled Uighurs."

"“Disaster” as Indian Supreme Court orders eviction of “8 million” tribespeople," Survival International,

February 21, 2019,", reported, " India’s Supreme Court has ordered the eviction of up to 8 million tribal and other forest-dwelling people, in what campaigners have described as 'an unprecedented disaster,' and 'the biggest mass eviction in the name of conservation, ever.'
     The ruling is in response to requests by Indian conservation groups to declare invalid the Forest Rights Act, which gives forest-dwelling people rights to their ancestral lands, including in protected areas. The groups had also demanded that where tribespeople had tried and failed to secure their rights under the Act, they should be evicted.
     The groups reportedly include Wildlife First, Wildlife Trust of India, the Nature Conservation Society, the Tiger Research and Conservation Trust and the Bombay Natural History Society
     In an extraordinary move, t he national government failed to appear in court to defend the tribespeople’s rights, and the Court therefore ruled in favor of the evictions, which it decreed should be completed by July 27.
     The order affects more than 1.1 million households, with experts estimating this could mean more than 8 million individuals will now be evicted – and the number is likely to rise, as some states have not provided details as to how many will be affected.
     Survival International’s Director Stephen Corry said today: 'This judgement is a death sentence for millions of tribal people in India, land theft on an epic scale, and a monumental injustice.
      'It will lead to wholesale misery, impoverishment, disease and death, an urgent humanitarian crisis, and it will do nothing to save the forests which these tribespeople have protected for generations.
     'Will the big conservation organizations like WWF and WCS condemn this ruling and pledge to fight it, or will they be complicit in the biggest mass eviction in the name of conservation, ever?.”

Ben Farmer, "Pakistan’s Tribal Areas Are Still Waiting for Justice as Army Tightens Grip," The New York Times, June 11, 2019,, reported, " With the Pakistani military’s crackdown on protesters in the northwestern tribal belt in recent days, the security forces have asserted themselves as the true masters of justice in the region."
     "But this is the year things were supposed to be different in the tribal belt, which has waited for something other than summary justice for decades and was promised it would finally happen.
     Pakistan voted last year to merge those borderlands, once known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, into the country’s political and legal mainstream. At a stroke, the move assigned the region’s five million residents — the vast majority of them from the ethnic Pashtun minority — the same constitutional rights as other Pakistanis, including access to the national civilian justice system.
     Before, it had been run under a harsh frontier code set up long ago by British colonial masters, who put each tribal region under the near-complete power of a single governor. Residents were denied basic rights like access to lawyers or normal trials, and collective punishment for the crimes of an individual was common."

Dev Kumar Sunuwar, "Historic National Consultation on Indigenous Broadcasting Takes Place in Nepal, Cultural Survival, June 13, 2019,, reported, "At one time media in Nepal were criticized for ignoring the voices, participation and access of Indigenous Peoples . The Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (ACORAB)—an umbrella organization of community radio stations in Nepal, AMARC-Asia Pacific, UNESCO and UNDP Nepal recently jointly organized a national consultation on the state of Indigenous broadcasting to best address the concerns of Indigenous peoples in community radio.
      Representatives from over 175 community radio stations from across country participated in a 2-day historic event, The National Consultation for Promoting Plurality and Diversity of Indigenous Peoples in Community Radio, organized in Dhankuta, in eastern Nepal on May 24 -25, 2019. The event was concluded by adopting a 6-point declaration and an action plan for promoting Indigenous Peoples increased access to community radio.
     The declaration reads, 'A code of conduct for Indigenous broadcasting will be prepared, at least 36 percent (proportionate to their population) programs in Indigenous languages and issues will be produced, meaningful participation of Indigenous Peoples will be ensured in the board and radio staffing, and more importantly a baseline survey will be conducted by adopting a strategic action plan to ensure inclusiveness and ownership of Indigenous Peoples in community radio.'
     Limited access to information is a key challenge that Indigenous Peoples in Nepal face in making informed choices. The community radio stations that reach across local areas undoubtedly can promote voices and participation of Indigenous Peoples in public discourse at the local and national levels.
     'Community radio stations across the world have an important role, not only for raising awareness, but also for promoting social diversity,' says Suman Basnet, regional director of AMARC-AP, adding, 'the declaration and action plan adopted during the event, and the event itself is a way forward towards reflecting diversity and bringing positive change.'
      Indigenous Peoples in Nepal have long been voicing their underrepresentation in media, including in community radio. As a result, Indigenous Peoples at radio stations are not always properly and positively portrayed. The media in Nepal has been criticized for not being accountable towards Indigenous Peoples, as radio stations had very little content on local issues and Indigenous interest and thus were strongly demanding newsroom diversity to bring in the voices and participation of Indigenous communities, as well as to ensure more Indigenous-sensitive coverage.
     Language determines the relevance of information to Indigenous Peoples. The sad fact is that most of the content in FM radio in Nepal is available only in Nepali, which is not spoken by many Indigenous people. ACORAB however claims that community radio in Nepal does produce programs into over 70 different languages spoken in Nepal.
     'Despite shortcomings, radio is still the preferred medium in Nepal in terms of reliability of information,” says Subash Khatiwada, chairperson of ACORAB. “The aim of this event is to ensure greater participaiton by bringing marginalized communities to be part of radio boards, by increasing their access to information, so stations become an inclusive voice and promote the participation of Indigenous Peoples.'
     As of July 2017, government licensed as many as 740 FM radio stations and some 350 FM radio stations owned and operated by NGOs, which claim to be community oriented and are members of AMARC. Radio stations especially FM, reach large parts of the country, and yet despite the presence of high numbers of community radio stations in Nepal, Indigenous Peoples’ issues are inadequately covered and often politicized. Local news and programming related to Indigenous Peoples is limited. These challenges are starting to be addressed to better serve Indigenous Peoples with this event and with the honest implementation of the 6-point declaration and action plan."

Mike Ives and Saw Nang, "Myanmar Vows to ‘Crush’ Insurgents Who Attacked Police Stations," The New York Times, January 8, 2019,, reported, " Myanmar says its army will 'crush' an insurgent group that attacked four police stations in a western border region last week, the latest escalation in a tangle of slow-burning civil wars between the government and armed ethnic insurgencies.
      The attacks Friday in the western state of Rakhine came less than three weeks after the government declared a temporary suspension of military operations against other armed groups in parts of the country’s north and east. Analysts see a familiar pattern, in which halting progress toward peace in one part of Myanmar is undercut by flaring violence in another.
     The attacks on the police stations, carried out by an armed group called the Arakan Army, are part of a monthlong insurgency that has displaced thousands of civilians in Rakhine State. The campaign has 'added another complicated level of complexity onto an already complicated situation, and revealed the depths of a Rakhine nationalism which has not been well understood since 2012,' said David Scott Mathieson, an independent political analyst in Myanmar."

ICG, "Fire and Ice: Conflict and Drugs in Myanmar’s Shan State," Report  299 / Asia 8 January 2019,, commented, " Civil strife has turned Myanmar’s Shan State into a crystal methamphetamine hub. The richer the traffickers get, the harder the underlying conflicts will be to resolve. Instead of targeting minor offenders, the military should root out corruption, including among top brass, and disarm complicit paramilitaries.
      What’s new? Shan State has long been a centre of conflict and illicit drug production – initially heroin, then methamphetamine tablets. Good infrastructure, proximity to precursor supplies from China and safe haven provided by pro-government militias and in rebel-held enclaves have also made it a major global source of high purity crystal meth.
      Why does it matter? Drug production and profits are now so vast that they dwarf the formal sector of Shan State and are at the centre of its political economy. This greatly complicates efforts to resolve the area’s ethnic conflicts and undermines the prospects for better governance and inclusive economic growth in the state.
      What should be done? The government should redouble its drug control and anti-corruption efforts, focusing on major players in the drug trade. Education and harm reduction should replace criminal penalties for low level offenders. The military should reform – and ultimately disband – militias and other pro-government paramilitary forces and pursue a comprehensive peace settlement for the state.
     Executive Summary

Myanmar’s Shan State has emerged as one of the largest global centres for the production of crystal
     methamphetamine (“ice”). Large quantities of the drug, with a street value of tens of billions of dollars, are seized each year in Myanmar, neighbouring countries and across the Asia-Pacific. Production takes place in safe havens in Shan State held by militias and other paramilitary units allied with the Myanmar military, as well as in enclaves controlled by non-state armed groups. The trade in ice, along with amphetamine tablets and heroin, has become so large and profitable that it dwarfs the formal economy of Shan State, lies at the heart of its political economy, fuels criminality and corruption and hinders efforts to end the state’s long-running ethnic conflicts. Myanmar’s government should stop prosecuting users and small-scale sellers and work with its neighbours to disrupt the major networks and groups profiting from the trade. The military should better constrain pro-government militias and paramilitaries involved in the drugs trade, with an eye to their eventual demobilisation.

The growing drugs trade in Shan State is in part a legacy of the area’s ethnic conflicts. For decades, the
     Myanmar military has struck ceasefire deals with armed groups and established pro-government militias. Such groups act semi-autonomously and enjoy considerable leeway to pursue criminal activities. Indeed, conditions in parts of Shan State are ideal for large-scale drug production, which requires a kind of predictable insecurity: production facilities can be hidden from law enforcement and other prying eyes but insulated from disruptive violence.
     But if the drugs trade is partly a symptom of Shan State’s conflicts, it is also an obstacle to sustainably ending them. The trade, which now dwarfs legitimate business activities, creates a political economy inimical to peace and security. It generates revenue for armed groups of all stripes. Militias and other armed actors that control areas of production and trafficking routes have a disincentive to demobilise, given that weapons, territorial control and the absence of state institutions are essential to those revenues. The trade attracts transnational criminal groups and requires bribing officials for protection, support or to turn a blind eye, which allows a culture of payoffs and graft to flourish and adds to the grievances of ethnic minority communities that underpin the seventy-year old civil war. Myanmar’s military, which has ultimate authority over militias and paramilitaries and profits from their activities, can only justify the existence of such groups in the context of the broader ethnic conflict in the state – so the military also has less incentive to end that conflict.
      Tackling the drug trade presents a complex policy challenge involving security, law enforcement, political and public health aspects. An integrated approach that addresses all of these areas will be needed to effectively address it:
     Myanmar’s government should redouble its drug control efforts, ending prosecutions of small-time dealers and users and refocusing on organised crime and corruption associated with the trade. The president should instruct and empower the Anti-Corruption Commission to prioritise this.
     At the community level, the government should focus more on education and harm reduction, in line with its February 2018 National Drug Control Policy. It should work with relevant donors and international agencies to invest in education and harm reduction initiatives geared specifically toward the particular dangers of crystal meth use. Although crystal meth is currently not widely used in Myanmar, that is likely to change given the huge scale of production.

     Myanmar’s military should rethink the conflict management approaches it has employed for decades. In particular, it should exert greater control over – and ultimately disarm and disband – allied militias and paramilitary forces that are among the key players in the drug business. The impunity that these groups enjoy, and the requirement that they mostly fund themselves, has pushed them to engage in lucrative illicit activities.
     The military should also investigate and take concerted action to end drug-related corruption within its ranks, focusing on senior officers who facilitate or turn a blind eye to the trade.
     b ???Myanmar’s neighbours should stop illicit flows of precursors, the chemicals used to manufacture drugs, into Shan State. As the main source of such chemicals, China has a particular responsibility to end this trade taking place illegally across its south-western border. It should also use its influence over the Wa and Mongla armed groups controlling enclaves on the Chinese border to end their involvement in the drug trade and other criminal activities.
     Targeting the major players in the drug trade will not be easy and comes with risks of pushback, perhaps violent, from those involved. But the alternative – allowing parts of Shan State to continue to be a safe haven for this large-scale criminal enterprise – will see closer links between local armed actors, corrupt officials in Myanmar and the region, and transnational criminal organisations. The more such a system becomes entrenched, and the greater the profits it generates, the harder it will be to dislodge and the longer conflicts in that area are likely to persist. The people of Shan State, and Myanmar as a whole, will pay the highest price

Mike Ives and Saw Nang, "Myanmar Vows to ‘Crush’ Insurgents Who Attacked Police Stations, The New York Times, January 8, 2019,, reported, " Myanmar says its army will 'crush' an insurgent group that attacked four police stations in a western border region last week, the latest escalation in a tangle of slow-burning civil wars between the government and armed ethnic insurgencies.
      The attacks Friday in the western state of Rakhine came less than three weeks after the government declared a temporary suspension of military operations against other armed groups in parts of the country’s north and east. Analysts see a familiar pattern, in which halting progress toward peace in one part of Myanmar is undercut by flaring violence in another.
     The attacks on the police stations, carried out by an armed group called the Arakan Army, are part of a monthlong insurgency that has displaced thousands of civilians in Rakhine State. The campaign has 'added another complicated level of complexity onto an already complicated situation, and revealed the depths of a Rakhine nationalism which has not been well understood since 2012,' said David Scott Mathieson, an independent political analyst in Myanmar."

ICG, "A New Dimension of Violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State," Briefing  154 / Asia 24 January 2019,, commented, " Ethnic Rakhine insurgents have attacked four police stations in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, provoking a military counteroffensive. Escalation could imperil both prospects for Rohingya repatriation and the country’s transition toward civilian rule. All sides should step back from confrontation and pursue talks about Rakhine State’s future.
      What’s new? Arakan Army attacks on remote police outposts in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State left thirteen officers dead, prompting the government to order military “clearance operations” against the ethnic Rakhine insurgents. The looming violent escalation will be difficult to reverse – and will complicate efforts to repatriate Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.
      Why did it happen? Despite the main ethnic Rakhine party’s election victory in 2015, Aung San Suu Kyi installed a minority National League for Democracy government in the state and the government imprisoned a popular Rakhine politician on high treason charges. These actions fuelled the belief among ethnic Rakhine that politics is failing them.
      Why does it matter? Rising violence in Rakhine State will deepen the longstanding political crisis there and undermine prospects for the repatriation of Rohingya refugees. It will also impede Myanmar’s broader peace process and political transition.
      What should be done? The military, government and insurgents should exercise restraint and seek a negotiated solution to the violence to avoid further inflaming ethnic tensions. China should work to bring all sides to the negotiating table. The government should initiate dialogue with ethnic Rakhine representatives over key political, economic and social issues.
     I. Overview
On 4 January – Myanmar’s Independence Day – the Arakan Army (AA), an ethnic Rakhine group, launched coordinated attacks on four police outposts in northern Rakhine State, killing thirteen officers and injuring nine others. The attacks followed months of low-grade violence in the state, including a roadside bomb attributed to the AA that struck the chief minister’s convoy but did little damage. The government has directed the military to launch “clearance operations” against the group, which will likely precipitate further violence and civilian casualties. Thousands of civilians have already fled villages near the raided outposts. The attacks signify a dangerous shift from politics to insurgency as the means of addressing ethnic Rakhine grievances. The state is already afflicted by the Rohingya mass flight; an escalated fight between ethnic Rakhine and the government would represent a blow to Myanmar’s political transition to civilian rule and be difficult to stop. All sides should step back from confrontation and instead discuss how best to address Rakhine grievances through political channels.
     The spotlight on the emergence of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) in 2016-2017, and the subsequent persecution and exodus of more than 800,000 Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh, has obscured the three-way nature of the conflict in Rakhine State. The ethnic Rakhine, who are often portrayed as aggressors toward the Rohingya, have themselves been victims of neglect and oppression by ethnic Burman-controlled central governments for generations. Rakhine grievances against the ethnic Burman majority run deep, yet often go unacknowledged in assessments of the conflict in Rakhine State.
     Historically, the Rakhine have not had a powerful ethnic Rakhine insurgent group to give expression to their political aspirations, but since 2014 the AA has emerged to fill this perceived void in Rakhine State. A series of developments in Rakhine State over the past five years, including the ARSA attacks against state security forces in northern Rakhine State in 2016-2017 and political tensions between leading ethnic Rakhine figures and Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) government, has allowed the AA to gain a foothold in Rakhine, both militarily and politically.

The consequences of the Independence Day attacks are likely to be serious. Renewed violence in northern
      Rakhine State will further diminish prospects for large-scale repatriation of Rohingya refugees. The attacks may also jeopardise prospects for progress in the peace process just weeks after Myanmar’s military announced an unprecedented unilateral ceasefire. Although that ceasefire did not cover Rakhine State, ostensibly because of operations against ARSA, the AA had recently made a significant peace overture to the government. The violence is also likely to heighten tensions between ethnic Rakhine and Burman political actors at both the state and national levels. The NLD government’s immediate response, to declare the AA “terrorists”, has only exacerbated these tensions.
     The military should exercise restraint in its response to the attacks, avoiding the violence against civilians that precipitated the flight of Rohingya refugees to Bangladesh, while the AA should refrain from further aggression targeting either the military or civilians. China ought to try to use its influence over the peace process to bring the AA and the government to the negotiating table. It should also encourage the military to expand its unilateral ceasefire to explicitly include Rakhine State. The government should initiate a dialogue about how best to address current tensions and future political aspirations with ethnic Rakhine political parties and other communal representatives

ICG, "Building a Better Future for Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh," Briefing  155 / Asia 25 April 2019,, commented, " Bangladesh is hosting nearly a million Rohingya refugees who have little hope of going home any time soon. The government should move to improve camp living conditions, in particular by lifting the education ban and fighting crime. Donors should support such steps.
      What’s new? With no near-term prospect of returning to Myanmar, almost a million Rohingya refugees in camps in Bangladesh face an uncertain future. An impressive aid operation has stabilised the humanitarian situation; attention must now turn to refugees’ lives and future prospects, in particular improved law and order and education for children.

Why does it matter? A lack of security and hope creates major risks. Militants and gangs increasingly operate with impunity in the camps, consolidating control to the detriment of non-violent political leaders. Without education opportunities, children will be left ill equipped to thrive wherever they live in the future.
      What should be done? Bangladesh should institute an effective police presence in the camps and bring the perpetrators of crimes to justice. It should also lift its ban on formal education in the camps. If it does, donors should help meet the costs of these and other measures to improve refugees’ lives.
     I. Overview
Eighteen months on from the mass expulsion of 740,000 Rohingya from Myanmar to Bangladesh, no sustainable solution for the refugees is in sight. Repatriation to Myanmar should remain the long-term goal – not only to relieve the huge burden on Bangladesh but also because that is the strong preference of the refugees themselves. But the unfortunate reality is that Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh will be unable to return home to Myanmar for the foreseeable future. Systems are now largely in place to provide for their essential humanitarian needs in the sprawling refugee camps. It is now time to move beyond the emergency phase of managing this crisis. Shifting focus in this way requires Bangladesh to ease its restrictions on longer-term assistance . Specifically:
     The Bangladesh government should lift its ban on the provision of formal education in the camps; local and international organisations are ready to provide such education.
     It should also improve law and order in the camps, where militants and gangs increasingly operate with impunity and are consolidating control to the detriment of non-violent political voices and leaders. This requires instituting a regular and effective Bangladeshi police presence in the camps and investigating crimes and bringing perpetrators to justice.
     For their part, donors should help Bangladesh not only to meet the refugees’ immediate humanitarian needs but also to cover the costs of measures that improve their lives and prospects for the future

"‘It’s Entirely Up to Me’: Indigenous Australians Find Empowerment in Start-Ups," The New York Times, January 30, 2019,, reported, " The number of Indigenous Australians operating and owning businesses grew by an estimated 30 percent between 2011 and 2016, according to a 2018 paper from Australian National University.
     Although the rate of Indigenous business ownership still lags behind non-Indigenous ventures, in recent years the uptake in those wanting to start their own ventures has been significant, according to Indigenous Business Australia, a government agency that provides support and loans for homeownership and business ventures.
     These days, the agency approves about four times as many loans as it did six years ago, and most are given to first-time start-ups, said Wally Tallis, its deputy chief executive."
Australia’s government is also encouraging Indigenous entrepreneurship. In 2015, it introduced targets for awarding contracts to Indigenous businesses, and last year it unveiled new financial support, on top of an Indigenous Entrepreneurs Fund offering 90 million Australian dollars, or about $65 million, in assistance. State government agencies are also chipping in." Many Indigenous business people say they have been assisted by the government support, while others complain that having to meet the criteria to obtain it has slowed their development.

Livia Albeck-Ripka, "The Police Were Called for Help. They Arrested Her Instead," The New York Times, February 24, 2019,, reprted, " In the past decade, officials in Western Australia have sent thousands of people to jail because of unpaid fines stemming from minor offenses, including traffic violations, loitering or failure to register a dog. It’s a practice that has been controversial and in decline across Australia for years, but here in a sparsely populated state that has a reputation for tough policing, the tactic remains.
      The connection to race and domestic violence, though, is raising new questions about whether that should change.
      Government statistics show that Aboriginal people have made up a highly disproportionate share of those jailed, leading to claims of discrimination. And public outrage over the practice has been intensifying since 2014, when a 22-year-old Aboriginal woman jailed for unpaid fines died in custody."

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