News Updates: Police Abuse; Sacred Sites and Water Rights

Here is a series of national and international news stories concerning Native American rights.

Police Abuse: In a CNN story: The forgotten minority in police shootings, it said:

Native Americans are killed in police encounters at a higher rate than any other racial or ethnic group, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet rarely do these deaths gain the national spotlight. …

Because the numbers of Native Americans is relatively small compared to African Americans, they don’t get as much media attention. Still, their mortality rate from “legal intervention” (police shootings or manhandling) “is 12% higher than for African-Americans and three times the rate of whites,” the story said.

The recent media attention is due to the police shooting that killed Jason Pero, an 8th grader from the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa’s reservation. Police say he had a knife, his family disputes it.

Here is a similar story from Newsweek: Why Are So Many Native Americans Killed By Police? It said:

The number of Native Americans killed by police doubled from 2015 to 2016. Per capita, Native Americans are more likely to be killed by police than any other demographic in the U.S., according to a 2014 study by The Center of Juvenile and Criminal Justice. And that’s probably undercounted.

Canadian Supreme Court Deals Blow to Indigenous Sacred Site

The Globe and Mail reported a Canadian Supreme Court decision that dealt a significant defeat for an indigenous sacred site, in a story headlined: Top court deals blow to Indigenous peoples,

The Supreme Court of Canada has declined to grant special protection for religious freedom for aboriginal peoples, ruling that a private ski resort in British Columbia can be built on a site sacred to an Indigenous community.

The Ktunaxa Nation had opposed a resort on Crown land near their community in southeastern British Columbia, arguing that it would affect a grizzly-bear habitat and drive away the Grizzly Bear Spirit essential to their faith.

Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in California Win Water Rights Case

In more positive news, the Native American Rights Fund announced the following water rights victory in a recent email:

Those of you who have been following the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians’ struggle to protect the Coachella Valley water aquifer will be pleased to know that this week the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would not hear the appeals submitted by the California water agencies. Tribal Chairman Jeff L. Grubbe responded to the decision, “Because of the Supreme Court’s decision, the favorable rulings from the federal district court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recognizing and protecting the Reservation’s federal water right are now settled law.”

For over twenty years, the Tribe has voiced concerns to the water agencies over their management of the Coachella Valley aquifer. The Tribe’s long-standing concerns center on the need for more responsible management of the aquifer’s water quality and quantity. While the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has been treated as an interested party in management issues, its standing as an Indian tribe with a sovereign status under federal law and defined rights to a share of the aquifer has been repeatedly ignored and rebuked by the agencies.

For more background on this issue, see the NARF website.

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