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Contemporary Indigenous Issues and Resistance

Man Who Threatened Dakota Access Protesters Pleads Guilty, Avoids Jail Time

Jesse D. McLain

A Bismarck man shown in a viral video wearing a mask and threatening Dakota Access Pipeline protesters has pleaded guilty and will avoid jail time.

Jesse Dean McLain signed a plea agreement downgrading two Class C felony charges of terrorizing to two Class A misdemeanor counts of menacing. The charges stem from an early December confrontation with Dakota Access protesters at the Ramada Inn in Bismarck, where Dean Dedman Jr. recorded a live Facebook video of masked men threatening him and other hotel guests.

The video shows vehicles preventing Dedman and his driver from leaving, with the masked men saying they would sexually assault the victims’ wives and “f— you up.”

McLain was arrested shortly after the incident. He faced five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each charge, but his plea deal filed in Burleigh County District Court said a one-year jail sentence would be suspended, meaning he doesn’t have to serve time if he completes a year of probation and goes through anger management.

Four Beer Stores Near Pine Ridge Reservation Must Stop Sales After April 30th

Whiteclay | omaha.com

  • By Black Powder | RPM Staff – April 28. 2017

Due to an appeal by the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission of a district judge’s decision on Thursday, four beer stores in Whiteclay must stop selling alcohol on Monday.

The stoppage will go forward despite the stores winning an appeal with a Lancaster County judge, after the LCC refused to renew their licenses last week, citing a lack of adequate law enforcement in the area.

The judge said the LCC did not show that the stores had failed to qualify for renewals, but the state Attorney General filed an appeal of the decision late Thursday. That means the original ruling will stand until the court can issue another one as early as next week.

The unincorporated saloon town of Whiteclay has a population of 14 people and sits on the Nebraska-South Dakota border next to Pine Ridge home to the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

Pine Ridge is a dry reservation struggling with alcoholism.

The four beer stores sell millions of cans annually to Native Americans from the reservation, where Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) has reached epidemic proportions. 1 in 4 babies are born with FAS.

The status of Whiteclay’s beer stores has been a constant political issue in the region, prompting waves of activism to end the alcohol sales.

As of right now, the four beer stores will have to stop sales April 30th at midnight.

Piapot First Nation Youth Lead Alcohol, Drug Ban, Violators to Be Fined

The Piapot First Nation is just northeast of the city of Regina

Youth resolution asking for a ban on alcohol & drugs, accepted and passed

By Red Power Media, Staff | April 27, 2017

A group of youth from Piapot First Nation are taking a stand for a drug- and alcohol-free community.

CTV Regina reports, the band council on the First Nation, about 45 kilometers northeast of Regina, is following the lead of youth from Payepot School.

Thursday morning, the student body and community walked to celebrate and support the resolution of a drug- and alcohol-free community.

According to the Regina Leader-Postmany walkers including the chief and council wore red T-shirts that read, “We choose to live for what we believe in” to support the youths’ initiative.

Jr. Chief Thomas Kaiswatum said he and the members of the junior council wanted to do something to help create a safer environment for the elders and the children in the community.

Earlier this week, Kaiswatum and the other youth presented a resolution to chief and council asking for a ban on drugs and alcohol which was accepted and passed.

Piapot aims to keep drugs, alcohol off reserve

“An open-alcohol fine would be $200, but in order to get a federal prosecutor out here to prosecute that infringement on that bylaw, it could cost upwards of $3,000,” said Piapot First Nation Chief Jeremy Fourhorns.

Kaiswatum said he’s also noticed drunk driving as a problem on the reserve.

Earlier this year, the youth entered a video in SGI’s Save a Life Challenge, which was part of a drinking and driving awareness campaign.

The 16-year-old said the efforts will make the community safer for youth and elders.

The First Nation’s leaders hope to make the walk an annual event.

Sagkeeng First Nation Mourns Slain Teen at Vigil Attended by Hundreds

Family, friends and supporters met at Sagkeeng’s powwow grounds on Thursday as part of a vigil for Serena McKay. (CBC)

Serena McKay was found dead on Sunday; 2 teens have since been charged with her murder

CBC News Posted: Apr 27, 2017

Hundreds of people from Sagkeeng First Nation came together Thursday night in honour of a 19-year-old woman from the community who was killed over the weekend.

Serena McKay was found dead on Sunday in the community of roughly 4,000 people, 100 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

The body of Serena McKay, 19, was found Sunday evening in Sagkeeng First Nation. Two teenage girls have been arrested in connection with her death. (Del Daniels/Facebook)

On Thursday, family, friends and supporters met at Sagkeeng’s powwow grounds to honour her memory and begin community healing.

“I didn’t really know her. It’s just really devastating, because I have a sister. When I heard about that, it kind of touched me,” said Elvis Atkinson, 20.

“The community needs to open up their eyes on the younger generation … how these young generation drink, drugs in the community.”

McKay had recently moved to Sagkeeng and was set to graduate high school in June. Two girls from her school, aged 16 and 17, have been charged with second-degree murder in connection with her death.

People at Thursday’s vigil for Serena McKay say the community needs to begin healing. (CBC)

Sagkeeng Anicinabe High School principal Claude Guimond said the environment at the vigil was moving and emotional. Indigenous leaders including Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak and Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Kevin Hart were in attendance, he added.

“There’s nothing so devastating as losing a young life like that, so senselessly taken, before she even started to live, really, you know? Never got that chance,” he said. “That’s one of the most devastating things to endure.”

Elvis Atkinson, 20, lives on Sagkeeng First Nation. He didn’t know Serena McKay personally, but said her death moved him. (CBC)

Guimond said ceremony and tradition play a powerful role in community healing.

“Of course, the drumming, you know, that’s the heartbeat of our nation,” he said. “That’s the heartbeat of Anishinaabe people, is the drum, and it’s so strong.”

Claude Guimond, principal of Sagkeeng Anicinabe High School, said the Thursday evening vigil was moving and emotional. (CBC)

[SOURCE]

Trump Orders Review of National Monuments to Allow Development

U.S. President Donald Trump signs an executive order reviewing previous National Monument designations made under the Antiquities Act, at the Interior Department in Washington, U.S., April 26, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Staff | Reuters – Apr 26, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to allow national monument designations to be rescinded or reduce the size of sites as the administration pushes to open up more federal land to drilling, mining and other development.

Trump’s order is part of an effort to reverse many of the environmental protections implemented by his predecessor, Democratic President Barack Obama that Trump said were hobbling economic growth. Trump’s agenda is being cheered by industry but enraging conservationists.

Legal challenges are expected because no president has ever rescinded a monument designation.

In announcing the order on Wednesday Republican Trump said Obama’s use of the 1906 Antiquities Act to create monuments was an “egregious abuse of federal power” that allowed the federal government to “lock up” millions of acres of land and water.

The Antiquities Act gives a president the authority to create national monuments from federal lands to protect significant natural, cultural, or scientific features.

“Today we’re putting the states back in charge,” Trump said, adding that they should decide which land is protected and which is open for development.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters late Tuesday the order requires him to review about 30 national monuments created over the past two decades, and recommend which designations should be lifted or altered.

The monuments covered under the review will range from the Grand Staircase created by President Bill Clinton in 1996 to the Bears Ears created by Obama in December 2016, both in Utah.

FILE PHOTO: Bears Ears, the twin rock formations in Utah’s Four Corners region is pictured in Utah, U.S. December 19, 2016. REUTERS/Annie Knox

Zinke said he will seek local feedback before making recommendations, adding that reversing a monument designation could be tricky.

“It is untested, as you know, whether the president can do that,” Zinke said.

President Woodrow Wilson reduced the size of Washington state’s Mount Olympus National Monument in 1915, arguing there was an urgent need for timber at the time.

Zinke said he will review the Bears Ears monument first and make a recommendation to the president in 45 days. He has 120 days to issue a full report on all monuments to the president. Bears Ears protects Native American cultural heritage and sacred sites.

Obama created the Bears Ears monument in the final days of his administration. Utah’s governor and the state’s congressional delegation opposed the designation, saying it was done against the wishes of citizens eager for development.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert, and Senators Mike Lee and Orin Hatch, all Republicans, stood beside Trump as he signed the order. Trump said the lawmakers lobbied him for the order.

Bears Ears is near where Texas-based EOG Resources Inc has been approved to drill.

Republican House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan praised the order.

“I commend the Trump administration for stopping this cycle of executive abuse and beginning a review of past designations,” he said.

Conservation and tribal groups were critical.

“With this review, the Trump Administration is walking into a legal, political and moral mine field,” said Kate Kelly, public lands director for the Center for American Progress.

Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona, ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, warned Zinke not to make an “ideological” decision. He said previous monuments were decided “after years of close federal consultation with multiple local stakeholders.”

The five Native American tribes that pushed to create the Bears Ears monument to protect ancestral land said they will fight to protect it.

The Outdoor Industry Association, the trade group of the recreation industry, also attacked the order.

The group has estimated the outdoor recreation economy generates over $887 billion in consumer spending and creates 7.6 million jobs.

“Less than 24 hours after joining with our industry to celebrate the economic power of outdoor recreation, in a hypocritical move, the Trump administration took unprecedented steps that could result in the removal of protections for treasured public lands,” said Rose Marcario, chief executive of outdoor gear retailer Patagonia.

On Friday, before the close of Trump’s first 100 days in office, he is expected to sign an executive order that would review offshore areas available for offshore oil and gas exploration that have been restricted by previous presidents.

(This version of the story has been refiled to delete extraneous text in paragraph 17)

(Editing by Phil Berlowitz, Jonathan Oatis and Jeffrey Benkoe)

[SOURCE]

Principal After Violent Death: Drugs and Gangs ‘Killing Our Youth’

Views of Sagkeeng First Nation which sits on the north and south shore of the Winnipeg River near Pine Falls Manitoba. Dec 19, 2014 Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press

  • Staff | CP – Apr 26, 2017

SAGKEENG FIRST NATION, Man. — The killing of a 19-year-old high school student and a graphic video believed to be linked to the death has shocked a small Manitoba First Nation that has seen more than its share of tragedy.

RCMP said Wednesday they were reviewing the video circulating on social media to determine whether it was indeed connected to the death on the Sagkeeng reserve, 120 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

They also said they had arrested two girls, 16 and 17 years old, on charges of second-degree murder.

RCMP would not identify the victim, but community members said she was Serena McKay. The two accused cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

All three were students at the Sagkeeng Anicinabe High School, said principal Claude Guimond.

“We’re not a very big school. We only have about 220 students here … and all three of the students in the video, I know them personally and it was hard to take,” Guimond said.

“Tuesday we had a healing ceremony for our students and staff … and one of the recurring things that came out was how social media — Facebook, you know — made things even worse by people reposting the video.”

The video shows a young woman lying bloodied on the ground and barely conscious as she is repeatedly kicked and punched in the head. It appears to have been taken on a cellphone. Female and male voices can be heard.

McKay is the woman being attacked in the video, Guimond said.

RCMP would only say the victim’s body was found Sunday night, near a home in Sagkeeng, about two hours after she was reported missing to the detachment in the neighbouring town of Powerview.

Counsellors were brought in this week to help students and staff at the school deal with the death. A vigil was planned for the community on Thursday evening.

Sagkeeng, a community of some 3,000 residents, was also the home of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine, whose body was pulled from the Red River in Winnipeg in 2014. She had left Sagkeeng just two months earlier. Her father, Eugene Fontaine, was beaten to death on the reserve three years earlier.

The small community has seen several other cases of missing and murdered indigenous women, including 17-year-old Fonessa Bruyere, who was killed in Winnipeg in 2007.

Guimond said gang activity and drug use have encroached on the community from the city.

“Over the last 10 years, what I’ve noticed is that more and more of the gang influence is filtering on to the reserve from Winnipeg,” Guimond said.

“With gang activity comes drug trafficking and stuff like that, and that’s what’s killing our youth here.”

Sagkeeng Chief Derrick Henderson said everyone is trying to come to terms with the latest death.

“It’s been tragic and it’s pretty sombre right now.”

By Steve Lambert in Winnipeg

The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

Video Linked to Serena McKay Homicide Needs to Be Pulled Off Facebook, Chief Says

The body of Serena McKay, 19, was found Sunday evening in Sagkeeng First Nation. Two teenage girls have been arrested and charged in her death. (Del Daniels/Facebook)

2 teenage girls from Sagkeeng First Nation charged with 2nd-degree murder in McKay’s death

CBC News Posted: Apr 26, 2017

The chief of Manitoba’s Sagkeeng First Nation wants the video of a vicious attack on a young woman — some say the same woman later found dead in the community — pulled off Facebook.

The body of the woman believed to be the victim in the video, 19-year-old Serena McKay, was found Sunday night near a home in the community 100 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

The video is disturbing and its continued existence is extremely difficult for McKay’s mom, who hasn’t even seen her daughter’s body yet, said Chief Derrick Henderson.

Serena McKay

“I know the mom personally. It’s very hard for her,” he said, adding he hopes she will see her daughter on Wednesday and then funeral arrangements will be made.

“Today’s going to be a tough day for her,” he said.

Two teenage girls from the community have been charged with second-degree murder in McKay’s death. The girls, aged 16 and 17, cannot be identified due to provisions in the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Both are being held in custody.

​All three went to Sagkeeng Anicinabe High School, but McKay lived in the neighbouring community of Powerview-Pine Falls.

The video, which has been shared many times on Facebook, shows a girl being beaten but doesn’t clearly identify anyone.

“I’ve asked Facebook and I’ve asked the major crimes unit to get that video removed, whatever it takes,” Henderson said. “I mean that’s part of the investigation again, right? It’s evidence.

“It’s pretty hard once it gets out there, I guess. But there must be some mechanism there available.”

RCMP are aware of the video, but a spokesperson would not confirm whether the person being attacked is McKay. Sgt. Paul Manaigre said officers are reviewing the video to determine if it is relevant to their investigation.

He also said the video is being passed around via Facebook Messenger, which means it cannot be controlled by Facebook but only by those sharing it.

Henderson hopes the homicide sparks a conversation that starts to bring changes to Sagkeeng.

​”It’s devastating for everybody. Even me, as a leader, it’s so hard to stomach, but we have to continue and move forward and try to make it a better place for our people,” he said.

“I’m not sure what the circumstances are of what happened but I know a lot of it can be related to lots of factors like addictions. I know that’s an issue in my community, it’s an issue everywhere, and we need to deal with those things.”

Henderson also wants to see parents held more accountable for keeping an eye on their children.

“They need to be more responsible towards their children: ‘Where are you? Why are you not home?’ Things like that,” he said. “Where’s the moms and dads?”

Henderson plans to speak about those issues at a vigil for McKay planned for Thursday at 6 p.m. in Sagkeeng.

McKay was last seen by a family friend on Saturday evening and was reported missing to Powerview RCMP on Sunday around 6 p.m.

As officers searched the area, they received a call two hours later — around 8 p.m. — that her body had been found.

[SOURCE]

Manitoba Families of Missing, Murdered Say Hearings Must Go Ahead

An open letter signed by officials with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the Manitoba Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Coalition says the hearings have been long in coming and families are anxious. (Francis Vachon/The Canadian Press)

Staff | The Canadian Press – April 25, 2017

A coalition that represents Manitoba family members says national hearings into missing and murdered indigenous women must begin soon despite the uncertainty surrounding the process.

An open letter signed by officials with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the Manitoba Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Coalition says the hearings, slated to begin at the end of May, have been long in coming and families are anxious.

“Indigenous families, women and girls cannot afford a ‘pause’ in your process. We have heard directly from families of (missing and murdered indigenous women) they are quickly losing hope that your inquiry will actually be relevant to them,” states the letter, dated last Wednesday.

“We call on you to, at a minimum, announce in the near future when you, as commissioners, will finally go out and listen to our people.”

Inquiry officials announced April 13 that they were postponing a series of regional advisory meetings, which were supposed to help determine what issues should be covered when the formal hearings get underway.

Since then, the Manitoba coalition said there has been no communication. The group is also worried many family members may have a hard time being included in the hearings.

“You have not yet initiated meetings with Manitoba survivors of violence or who were missing, families of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, as well as First Nations and communities that are part of your mandate,” the letter states.

A spokesperson for the inquiry commission said Monday the advisory hearings were put on pause to look at possible changes for the inquiry hearings, and the May start date is still a go.

“The message we received is that we must be flexible and be prepared to change course if need be. This time is an opportunity for us to reflect on our approach for future truth-finding gatherings,” Tiar Wilson wrote in an email.

The uncertainty over how families across Canada may be ensured participation in the inquiry has led some indigenous leaders to call for the inquiry to be postponed.

Eric Robinson, former deputy premier and aboriginal affairs minister of Manitoba, said a delay is warranted to ensure the inquiry is fair and thorough.

“Let’s not do a job that’s in half-measures. I think that it’s got to be done in a thorough fashion and there’s got to be satisfaction … for the families,” Robinson said.

Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson, who represents First Nations in northern Manitoba, said the process so far has been troublesome.

“I still believe that it should take place and that they should go forward and I respect the fact that they’re being flexible,” she said.

“But at the same time, I’m worried that the families … are losing a little bit of faith in the process because there seem to be some false starts.”

[SOURCE]

Men Arrested for Murder After Allegedly Tying Woman To A Tree, Shooting Her

Matthew Onesimo Armstrong (right) and Nicholas Earl Faulkner (left) arrested for the kidnapping and murder of a woman.

  • Police say two American Indian men tied a woman to a tree and fatally shot her because they believed she had stolen drugs and money from one of them

Staff – kfor.com  April 25, 2017

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Okla. – Two men have been arrested for the kidnapping and murder of a woman.

On April 17, officials said 27-year-old Matthew Onesimo Armstrong and 30-year-old Nicholas Earl Faulkner tied Nichole Owl to a tree in Seminole County after they believed she had stolen drugs and money from Armstrong.

“One of the two, either Faulkner or Armstrong, believed it was an old Indian custom,” said Jessica Brown with the OSBI. “If you could not remember where you placed something, then you were to be tied to a tree and that would help you to remember.”

The men allegedly left Owl in the woods for several hours and later returned.

When Owl could not tell Armstrong where she hid the stolen items, he allegedly shot her several times.

Once she was dead, investigators said Armstrong and Faulkner returned to the scene with a woman and buried Owl’s body.

Allegedly, the men poured concrete over her body before burying it.

“They knew the rain was coming,” Brown said. “They were afraid, if they dug a hole and put the body in there, that it would float to the top.”

A witness reported the crime to investigators the next day.

OSBI agents and archaeologists excavated Owl’s body.

Agents with the OSBI arrested Armstrong and Faulkner at Armstrong’s home in Wewoka.

Armstrong’s father, Jimmy Armstrong, was also arrested for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Armstrong and Faulkner were arrested on complaints of first-degree murder and kidnapping.

[SOURCE]

Authorities Drop 33 Cases Against Dakota Access Protesters

PHOTO: (Supplied: Sacred Stone Camp)

  • Staff | (AP) APR 23 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. — Authorities dropped nearly three dozen cases last month that stemmed from arrests of protesters against the Dakota Access crude oil pipeline, court records show.

The Bismarck Tribune reported Saturday that prosecutors and judges dropped the 33 misdemeanor cases while another 14 were resolved by guilty pleas. Most of the cases dropped last month related to criminal trespass charges from the late summer and fall.

Prosecutors struggled to prove those charges before Judge Allan Schmalenberger, who ruled in multiple cases that the Morton County State’s Attorney office had failed to meet its burden of proving that protesters were given proper notice that they were on private land, either with signs or verbal warnings.

Demonstrators staged months of protests near the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota to try to stop the $3.8 billion, four-state pipeline, saying it will pollute water and damage Native American sacred sites. Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, which built the line, says it’s safe. According to the joint information center, 761 arrests were made during the protests.

Protesters who got their charges dropped last month included Rebecca Kemble, a Madison, Wisconsin, City Council member, who was acting as a legal observer on Oct. 10, according to her defense attorney’s brief. She was charged with criminal trespass, engaging in a riot, resisting arrest and tampering with evidence, but her attorney argued she was arrested while trying to leave and was simply turning off her camera, not deleting evidence.

Those pleading guilty included actress Shailene Woodley, star of the “Divergent” films, who livestreamed her arrest on Facebook. Her plea deal on a disorderly conduct charge called for no jail time.

Assistant State’s Attorney Brian Grosinger said some of those dismissed cases would be re-charged.

[SOURCE]