Contact the Interior Department about Bears Ears

As the first national monument proposed by a coalition of Tribal Nations, Bears Ears gained protections under the Obama administration but lost protections under the Trump administration.

The five Tribes of the Bears Ears Commission (BEC) — Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and the Zuni Tribe — are among the many Tribal Nations with deep cultural connections to the entire Bears Ears landscape.

They helped win the reinstatement of protections under President Biden, who restored the original designation and re-established the BEC as collaborative managers of these sacred lands and waters.

In an unprecedented collaborative process, the BEC worked directly with the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service to develop a draft resource management plan for the monument, which has just been released — and it needs our support.

Alternative E was created from the input from over 90 community meetings which gathered input and concerns. As outlined in this newly released plan, Alternative E would set a new standard for sustainable management of public lands.

Specifically, Alternative E incorporates the most Traditional Indigenous Knowledge and TraditionalEcological Knowledge — both needed to balance public access with protecting the area’s cultural and natural resources. It would represent a sustainable collaboration that:

  • Upholds the sovereignty of the Tribes and honors Indigenous peoples’ personal, traditional, and cultural connections to the land.
  • Reflects time-tested best practices for land management passed down over centuries from the original, and ongoing, stewards of this land.
  • Protects the habitat, wildlife, and resource biodiversity.
  • Responsibly manages access and use of the Monument in a way that allows current and future visitors to recreate, hunt, and fish, while also responding to the needs and health of the land.

Our work together has already generated more than 63,000 comments in support of the plan, but that’s not enough to ensure its adoption before the final decision is made — and the deadline is fast approaching.

We must back-up this unprecedented community-driven federal-Tribal co-management plan for Bears Ears National Monument. Please add your name now to show strong public support during the official comment period.

Together, we’re re-Indigenizing national parks and protecting sacred places across the country.

Hawwih (thank you) for supporting grassroots community-powered Tribal sovereignty.

Women’s History Month

Every March is Women’s History Month and this year, we uplifted four women–both past and present–who have been vital in the Native Vote.

While the month might be over, we know it is important to lift up the matriarchs around Indian Country 365 days a year.

Zitkála-Šá

Zitkála-Šá was born on the Yankton Indian Reservation in 1876. A boarding school survivor, she also studied the violin and even later taught for a couple of years at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. The treatment of the students there was reminiscent of her own experiences.

The observations she made regarding the treatment of Indigenous peoples of this time led her to write and critique federal policy that directly impacted Tribal communities. Her political beliefs also led to her to advocate for citizenship for all Native Americans as well as equality for women.

After the nineteenth amendment was passed in 1924, Zitkála-Šá continued to advocate for citizenship and ultimately, the Native right to vote. Her fervor was rewarded as Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act in 1924.

Zitkála-Šá continued to bring attention to Native rights and self determination until her death in 1938. She is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Lucy Nicolar Poolaw

Lucy Nicolar Poolaw was born in 1882 in Penobscot County, Maine. A citizen of the Penobscot Nation, Lucy started performing at a young age. She was recognized for her musical ability and moved to Chicago to study music. As she grew in popularity, Lucy adopted the stage name “Princess Watahwaso”.

At some point, Lucy began recording music with Victor Records which led her to a promotional tour. Activism was threaded into her travels as she attended debates in major cities on issues like immigration. She also participated in vaudeville acts until that sort of performance was no longer popular.

After early retirement, Lucy returned to her home. She owned and operated a gift shop that specialized in traditional Native items. Her retirement along with being back with her community led to more activism efforts. Along with her sister, Florence, she advocated for Penobscot students to attend public schools, lobbied for better access to the reservation, and demanded the right to vote for Native people in the state of Maine.

Lucy’s activism was the reason she was chosen to be the first Native individual to cast a ballot once Maine extended this right in 1955. She spent the rest of her life with her people.

Jacqueline De León

Jacqueline De León is a Senior Staff Attorney for the Native American Rights Fund and an enrolled member of the Isleta Pueblo. She co-led field hearings across Indian Country on Native American voting rights and co-authored the subsequent report, ‘Obstacles at Every Turn: Barriers to Political Participation Faced by Native American Voters’.

She has testified before Congress on multiple occasions detailing voting rights issues in Indian Country and serves as the Chair of the Advisory Committee of American Bar Association’s bipartisan Standing Committee on Election Law.

At NARF, Jacqueline leads the voting rights practice group, which engages in nationwide litigation, advocates for Native American voting rights legislation, conducts research, crafts policy, encourages and protects civic engagement, and assists tribes advocating for greater voter access for their communities.

Prior to her work at NARF, De León focused on international antitrust and litigation at WilmerHale. She holds a J.D. from Stanford and a B.A. from Princeton University in Philosophy. De León clerked for Judge William H. Walls of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey and Chief Justice Dana Fabe of the Alaska Supreme Court.

Allie Young

Allie Young is a citizen of the Diné (Navajo) Nation from the Northern Agency of the reservation in Northern New Mexico. She is a storyteller and writer on a mission to increase the authentic representation of Native people in TV, film, and mainstream media by sharing the stories and traditions of her ancestors to help her community persevere in a world where they are largely invisible, underrepresented, and misrepresented.

She founded Protect the Sacred—a program of culture change organization Harness—a program that focuses on educating and empowering the next generation of Navajo and Indian Country leaders and allies. Through Protect the Sacred, Allie makes certain Native voices are centered in culture and policy, especially the voices of Indigenous youth and womxn.

It is her objective to ensure that the stories of her people are no longer history – the fabricated American narrative perpetuated in textbooks and Hollywood Westerns. Instead, they will be authentic and from the original peoples, the original storytellers of this land.

Tell Congress: Pass the Indian Programs Advance Appropriations Act

Right-wing members of Congress have used annual government funding bills as a political football — threatening government shutdowns in an attempt to push through their wildly unpopular policy ideas including attacks on communities bearing the brunt of systemic racism and exploitation as well as cuts to critical programs and services.

All this month, Congress is voting on funding bills with the threat of a shutdown looming in the background. Government shutdowns do one thing: hurt people.

That’s why we need “advance appropriations” on services under the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Indian Education, and Indian Health Service so that funding for Indian Country is not threatened by the whims of extremists in Congress.

We’re urging Congress to pass the Indian Programs Advance Appropriations Act — a bipartisan bill introduced in the House and the Senate to ensure the continuation of critical programs like Indian Health Facilities, Payments for Tribal Leases, Operation of Indian Education, Operation of Indian Programs, and more.

According to Francys Crevier (Algonquin), CEO of National Council of Urban Indian Health:

“This legislation is simple and essential. It would enable Congress to appropriate funding for the Indian Health Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Bureau of Indian Education one year in advance — ensuring timely and sustained funding for essential programs and services that are vital to the well-being and prosperity of Native communities. The Act demonstrates a commitment to transparency and accountability, ultimately empowering our communities to thrive. I urge Congress to swiftly pass this bill, a significant step forward in supporting Native American health and education initiatives.”

Take action today and send a message to your members of Congress to pass the Indian Programs Advance Appropriations Act now.

Together, we’re strengthening Native communities and the movements for self-determination, sovereignty, and a multiracial democracy.

South Fork Kuskokwim River, Alaska, August 1914

NOA Supports New Bill to protect Kuskokwim River

 

Native Organizers Alliance praises bill to protect “Indigenous ways of life”

South Fork Kuskokwim River, Alaska, August 1914

South Fork Kuskokwim River, August 1914

Washington, DC—The “Balance for the Kuskokwim River Act” was introduced today in Alaska that would protect the Kuskokwim River’s water quality and prioritize the customary and traditional subsistence lifestyle of the Alaska Native people of the region under the Federal Clean Water Act. Stretching over 700 miles, the Kuskokwim River is the second largest river in Alaska and a resource for subsistence fishing for the Yup’ik, Cup’ik, and Athabascan people. The following statement from Judith LeBlanc (Caddo), executive director of Native Organizers Alliance, can be quoted in-part of in-full. 

 

“Native Organizers Alliance stands with our Alaska Native relatives to celebrate the introduction of a bill that aims to protect the Kuskokwim River and Indigenous ways of life. For too long, Native rights have been ignored in favor of corporations and government agencies that have continued to exploit our lands and destroy our traditional ways. This bill aims to acknowledge Alaska Natives’ subsistence rights and protect one of the state’s most valuable resources—salmon. 

 

Numerous Alaska Tribes and Indigenous grassroots organizations have opposed projects like the Donlin Mine that could potentially pollute the Kuskokwim River. This bill extends much needed protections to this critical water and food source.

 

We are grateful to members of Alaska’s legislature, and for the work that Mother Kuskokwim and numerous Alaska Tribes and organizations are doing to fight for Native rights. Their resistance is felt across Indian Country.”

 

NOA Responds to the Biden Administration’s Pause on LNG Approvals

Recently, the Biden administration announced their decision to pause pending approvals for all exports of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). The pause will be in effect while the Department of Energy (DOE) conducts a public interest determination that will include an analysis of the impacts of climate change and the harms to Native communities. Too often, our Native communities and sacred places have had to bear the brunt of toxic messes and pollution created by the fossil fuel industry. 

This decision is a major win for our Tribes, Native communities, and grassroots advocates who have been organizing for government action on climate change. It is also a continuation of this administration’s proven historic efforts to curb climate change and phase out these harmful fossil fuels. Native Organizers Alliance (NOA) applauds the administration for their efforts toward regenerative energy to create a sustainable future for us all. 

Indigenous and youth organizers provided the political momentum to make this shift happen as well as the leadership behind the March to End Fossil Fuels and the Global Fight to End Fossil Fuels.

While this decision does not address the harms already caused by current and ongoing projects, it’s a critical step in the right direction to end reliance on fossil fuels. Pushback from fossil fuel supporters is already underway with a Senate hearing called last week to investigate the pause. 

We must not let corporate greed derail this moment. We will continue to press for the right decisions on behalf of Mother Earth. This includes shutting down DAPL, Line 5, the Willow Project, and more.

As the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairwoman Janet Alkire said, “As a matter of sovereignty, honor, and respect for the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, we must demand that DAPL be shut down. Now. Shutting the pipeline down will also protect crucial water supplies for millions and reject the increase of greenhouse gasses responsible for disastrous climate change.”

“A just democracy for all requires transformational change,” said Tremayne Nez, NOA’s Policy Director, “We must prioritize Mother Earth and people before fossil fuel profits for a sustainable future for all.”

Native Organizers Alliance 2023 in Review

It’s a new year! And while we are preparing for the upcoming events of 2024, we also know it is important to reflect on the various accomplishments of the previous 365 days.

While so much of our organizing includes on-the-ground trainings, email campaigns, and education, Native Organizers Alliance was included in 26 panels, webinars, podcasts, and interviews.

Here’s a look at just some of the projects we were involved in throughout 2023: 

 Training Program

Our Native Community Organizer Training is for Native leaders, nonprofits, and organizations both in rural and urban communities. During these in-person sessions, we share new skills and strategies that are vital for effective organizing.

In 2023, we held 1 National and 7 State-Based or Regional Trainings for a total of 245 total training participants.

Save Oak Flat

In Spring 2023, we were notified of a Trump-era deal, which would hand over Oak Flat in Arizona to a notoriously devastating mining corporation. We organized an email campaign that supported the San Carlos Apache and Apache Stronghold, who are on the ground and working towards permanent protections for Oak Flat. Thankfully, the Biden administration listened, pushing that approval.

The constant attack on Oak Flat is why we also have shown support for Rep. Raúl Grijalva’s Save Oak Flat from Foreign Mining Act. Let’s keep up the fight to protect Oak Flat for future generations!

Re-Indigenizing National Parks

At Native Organizers Alliance, we’re working with Tribes, Native communities, and grassroots organizers across the country to grow the movement to re-Indigenize and protect national parks. In 2023, we used social media and our email list to push for co-management legislation as well as programs that would teach the Indigenous histories of the land where these parks exist.

We also organized a letter program to President Biden to establish a new national monument to protect the Grand Canyon. Tribal leaders and organizers were able to celebrate the years of work put towards this designation when the White House announced Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni:

“Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument will conserve nearly 1 million acres of public lands surrounding Grand Canyon National Park. The new monument protects thousands of cultural and sacred sites that are precious to Tribal Nations in the Southwest – including the Havasupai Tribe, Hopi Tribe, Hualapai Tribe, Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians, Las Vegas Paiute Tribe, Moapa Band of Paiutes, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, Navajo Nation, San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, Yavapai-Apache Nation, Pueblo of Zuni, and the Colorado River Indian Tribes.”

The White House on August 8, 2023

Honoring Chaco Initiative

Many of our partners are fighting to protect Greater Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, a sacred place with deep cultural significance for Indigenous people. While steps have been taken to protect certain areas of Greater Chaco from industrial exploitation, more needs to be done to truly safeguard the safety and well-being of this cultural landscape and surrounding communities. We will continue to uplift this need and support The Honoring Chaco Initiative.

This legislation is a first-of-its-kind effort to change the paradigm of public lands management in this sacred landscape and finally prioritize the health, economic, and environmental justice, equity, and sustainability of the region.

All Our Relations Snake River Journey

Native Organizers Alliance was honored to be a part of the Indigenous-led 2023 All Our Relations Snake River Journey. Traveling through Washington, Oregon, and Idaho in September and October the campaign set out to build community and demonstrate the momentum of public support for restoring salmon to abundance and upholding treaty promises to Northwest Tribes.

Read more about our time on the journey here.

Free Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier is the longest-incarcerated political prisoner in our country. The fight for Leonard Peltier’s freedom continues to this day. In the fall, we brought together a coalition of organizations to bring renewed pressure on the Biden Administration to act.

We rallied for support via a petition with 70,000+ names that was then delivered to the White House by Congressman Raúl Grijalva.

Indigenous Futures Survey

The Indigenous Futures Survey is an annual survey that aims to capture Indigenous people’s voices, perspectives, and concerns for use in developing policy, understanding socio-economic trends, and highlighting important issues impacting Indian Country.

This information will help inform Tribal leaders and members of Congress about issues facing Indigenous People and inform so much for the upcoming Native Vote 2024.

The success of this year’s IFS is only possible because of the 10 fellows who worked in their communities with local organizations. Each fellow is part of our ‘moccasins on the ground’ approach and their work is important in the continued community and power building that makes grassroots organizing possible.

This year’s survey is co-led by IllumiNative and Native Organizers Alliance, with Kauffman and Associates, Inc. supporting the survey development and analysis.

DAPL and the Draft Environmental Impact Statement

After many years of delays and a fatally flawed Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) written by a member of the American Petroleum Institute — a clear conflict of interest — the Army Corps of Engineers finally took public comments on this dangerous violation of the sovereignty of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

Through our channels, we were able to submit over 101,000 comments on this DEIS. The fight against DAPL might have begun in 2016 but we will continue to stand in support of Tribal sovereignty until this pipeline is no longer a threat to the area.

 

Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline!