Uprooted: The 1950s plan to eliminate Indian Country, and other weekend reads

In this blog:

  • Uprooted: The 1950s plan to eliminate Indian Country (a must read!)
  • Navajo nation in conflict with Navajo-owned coal company
  • University of Arizona faces heat for President’s ignorant comments about Native heritage
  • Good news for climate on the divestment front

Apologies to those of you who received a rough draft of this blog. I hit “Publish” by mistake. Here is a cleaner version.

Uprooted: The 1950s plan to eliminate Indian Country

This is a must read. Props to American Public Media does a great job of telling the story of the Termination Era of the 1950s. It starts with the story of the Day family of Bois Forte, including a young Sharon Day who many know today for her nibi walks, or water walks. Here’s a snippet from Uprooted.

The Days were among around 100,000 Native Americans to experience one of the most recent and little-known traumas inflicted on Native peoples by the U.S. government, what the BIA called the Voluntary Relocation Program. Between 1952 and 1972, it provided one-way transportation and a couple hundred dollars to Native Americans willing to move to a city.

One BIA commissioner would later call the program “an underfunded, ill-conceived program … essentially a one-way ticket from rural to urban poverty.”

The goal was to move Native Americans to cities, where they would disappear through assimilation into the white, American mainstream. Then, the government would make tribal land taxable and available for purchase and development. The vision was that eventually there would be no more BIA, no more tribal governments, no more reservations, and no more Native Americans.

Navajo nation in conflict with Navajo-owned coal company

Media coverage of the opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline have highlighted the lead role played by indigenous nations. Les visible is how some Native nations have promoted fossil fuel project for jobs and economic improvement. This tension is well documented in the film Red Power Energy, which notes that “tribal lands hold roughly 30% of the coal found west of the Mississippi, nearly 20% of the known natural gas and oil reserves and up to 50% of potential uranium reserves.” It continues:

From a historically passive role in mineral extraction that frequently left their resource-rich reservations either leased out for pennies on the dollar or contaminated by environmental degradation and Federal mismanagement, Native people are in the midst of an extraordinary resurgence. They are challenging long-held stereotypes, fighting for the sovereign right to control their lands, and develop their natural and mineral resources — however they choose. These Native-told energy stories offers a rare insight into the ideological battle shaping modern Indian Country and further advances a deeper understanding of American Indian culture which is too often under-reported, misunderstood or overlooked.

Here’s one example of such tensions. Indian County Today reports on a conflict between the Navajo nation and Navajo Transitional Energy, a coal company that is “100 percent owned, but not controlled, by the Navajo Nation.”

The Navajo Nation pulled its financial guarantees for the company, “saying the company had purchased three coal mines in Wyoming and Montana without informing the tribe.” It continues: “The tribe also said the company is not providing adequate information about the business or its finances.”

University of Arizona faces heat for President’s ignorant comments about Native heritage

When someone says he’s not here “to pull an Elizabeth Warren,” what’s coming next probably is going to be embarrassing.

Such was the case for University of Arizona President, Robert Rollins when he was speaking to a group of Native students.The students were there to write letters to Indigenous youth to encourage them to attend the University.

According to a Nov. 4 story in Indian Country Today, Rollins told the students that he had taken a DNA test to prove his Cherokee heritage, but it came back negative. So he planned another because of his “very high cheekbones.”

His comment was met with silence. Then, students wrote to the University with a number of demands, including an in-person apology to the students and the creation of a sustainable structure for ongoing student, staff and faculty meetings to provide better support for Indigenous students.

Click on the link above for the full story.

Good news for climate on the divestment front

With federal and state regulators in the United States seem unwilling or unable to stop the insanity known as Canadian tar sands crude oil pipelines, perhaps the markets can.

Tar sands crude oil is the dirtiest of the fossil fuels and contribute significantly to climate destruction.

So it’s good new to read that Riksbank, Sweden’s central bank, has sold off bonds from the oil-rich Canadian province of Alberta, as well as from Western Australia and Queensland, “because it felt that greenhouse gas emissions in both countries were too high,” according to a Nov. 15 story in The Guardian.

That same day, The Guardian reported that the “European Investment Bank has agreed to phase out its multibillion-euro financing for fossil fuels within the next two years to become the world’s first ‘climate bank.’”

But it’s not just those lefty Europeans that are divesting. On Aug. 16, the news site Energy Mix reported that the Koch Brothers were dumping their investments in the Alberta Tar Sands.

The news lands just days after tar sands/oil sands analysts bemoaned the poor response the industry is receiving from investors, despite its continuing efforts to cut costs.

“The majority of Koch Oil Sands licences have been transferred to Paramount Resources Ltd.,” Alberta Energy Regulator spokesperson Shawn Roth said in an email. “All of the remaining licences for well sites have been abandoned, which means they have been permanently sealed and taken out of service.”

Click on the link above for the full story.

Apologies to those who received an unfinished blog. I hit “Publish” by accident. Here is the cleaned-up version.

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