Government Seizes Control of Pine Creek Reservation

Government Seizes Control of Pine Creek Reservation

October 10, 2008

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) has reportedly ‘taken control’ of Pine Creek First Nation in western Manitoba, placing the reserve under third-party management.

According to an article in Saturday’s Winnipeg Free Press, INAC decided to get rid of the Band Council last July, because of what they saw as ‘a total breakdown in band government’.

“The situation at Pine Creek First Nation has severely deteriorated to the point [where] the First Nation is unable to function,” states a letter dated July 17 from regional Indian Affairs officials.

An example, INAC “alleges that safety standards fell apart and the health of the 1,191 people living on the reserve was threatened when water tanks on water trucks weren’t cleaned anymore. The trucks deliver the only potable water on the reserve,” says the free press article.

The Band is also said to have ‘ruined’ a relationship with the only bank willing to lend it money, because of ‘Personality conflicts’.

Aswell, says INAC, ‘there was a breakdown of a hard-won agreement on council to pay down a $1.2-million deficit with tobacco tax profits and VLT gaming revenues.’

‘”Administration of programs and services are largely dysfunctional. (There’s) direct involvement of councillors in administration. Staff are intimidated, mixed directions are sent out to staff and political agendas take priority over services. There is no clear separation between administration and politics,” the federal government’s letter stated.’

It’s not clear how long Pine Creek will remain under TPM. It may not be for too long, since the band council’s two-year terms are about to expire, which means a new election must be held.

Canada should be placed under Third Party Management

Is it just me, or does this take over sound completely unreasonable? Ok, sure, there’s a few problems at Pine Creek that need to be addressed — but I mean, show me a government that isn’t dysfunctional!

Just look at Canada… The Federal government systematically ignores the health and safety of tens of thousands of Indigenous People who are effected by a plethora of dangerous toxins and heavy metals, who’s INAC-funded homes are filled with black mould and asbestos, who are suffering from a massive shortage of clean water (as of September 30th, 2008, there are 106 First Nations communities across Canada under a Drinking Water Advisory) and who are regularly forced to sacrifice their lands because the government refuses to consult them before they sell it off to resource-hungry corporations.

Keeping in mind that this is a small fraction of the issues facing Indigenous Nations in this troubled northern state, compare them to the few problems in Pine Creek and ask yourself: who’s the one that should really be placed under Third Party Management here?

It sounds a little silly, doesn’t it? Especially since Canada considers itself a democratic state. I guess it just goes to show you that Indigenous People truely aren’t a part of Canada. Or at least, that Canada believes first nation communities are the equivalency of a department store… just waiting to be bought, sold, traded, seized and torn down for a brand new parking lot.

http://intercontinentalcry.org/government-seizes-control-of-pine-creek-reservation/

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Government rejects Indian Trust payout scheme

Government rejects Indian Trust payout scheme

September 22, 2008 |

The US government is seeking to appeal the August Court ruling that awarded Indigenous plaintiffs $455 million in the 12-year-old Indian trust fund lawsuit.

The request comes just two weeks after the plaintiffs said they plan to appeal the same decision, because it was “profoundly disappointing and difficult to understand, in that it disregards unchallenged evidence of the record, law of the case, law of the D.C. Circuit since 1895, and settled law as set forth by the United States Supreme Court,” said lead plaintiff Elouise Cobell during an appearance on Democracy Now.

A far cry from the $47 billion of mismanaged trust money claimed in the case, U.S. District Judge James Robertson ruled on August 7 that the plaintiffs should only be entitled to “hundreds of millions.”

The government “contends [that] Robertson’s court does not have the jurisdiction to award the money at all, pointing to his January decision that the task of accounting for the trust money was ultimately impossible,” notes Mary Clare Jalonick for the Associated Press. Government lawyers claim that “If the accounting were indeed impossible, it was not the role of the court to devise an alternate remedy.”

And so, once again, the case heads to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Meanwhile, even more corruption has been revealed within the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS), who’s responsible for overseeing tribal oil revenue accounts.

Just two days after the Interior Department won an Ethics award from the federal Office of Government Ethics, on September 12th Inspector General Earl Devaney released an investigative report which shows that “…almost a third of the royalty-in-kind employees, who handle billions of dollars of transactions, have been playing fast and loose with energy industry officials, engaging in sex, bribes and drug use,” explains Jodi Rave.

“It’s the same old behavior” said Elouise Cobell, while hoping Judge Robertson pays attention — because of the similarities of the report to others released on the conduct of several Interior Department bureaus connected to the ‘management’ of Indian trust funds.

“Look at us, look at how many times we testified about the mismanagement of our money,” Cobell said. “We’ve brought these problems out over and over. Nothing gets done […] Look at how many reports we’ve had. All those reports were out there, but nobody did anything.”

Perhaps all this will change now that the case heads back to court, and then back to court again.

For more news and background, visit http://www.indiantrust.com. You may also want to check out the film, Broken Promises: Indian Trust, which details the relationship between the United States government and Indigenous People

http://intercontinentalcry.org/government-rejects-indian-trust-payout-scheme/

Crosby woman suing Government after claiming her father’s death was caused by exposure to radiation while in Merchant Navy

Crosby woman suing Government after claiming her father’s death was caused by exposure to radiation while in Merchant Navy

Aug 14 2008

by Gillian Stratton, Crosby Herald

A CROSBY woman is suing the Government claiming her father died as a result of exposure to deadly radiation during his time in the Merchant Navy.

Karen Brogan is hoping her case has been strengthened by the Ministry of Defence admitting last week that more than 150 servicemen were killed after taking part in atomic bomb tests.

Solicitors acting for defence chiefs made the admission in papers lodged with the High Court. They continue to deny that 20,000 others suffered harm.

Up to 3,000 veterans and their relatives are suing the MoD claiming unlimited damages.

Among them is Mrs Brogan, of Chesterfield Road, Crosby. Her father Alfred Martin, a docker who lived in Waterloo, served on a ship off Christmas Island in the 1950s. He died of bone cancer aged 55.

by Gillian Stratton, Crosby Herald

$455M award in Native American trust case

Ruling a fraction of that sought by plaintiffs, who claim the government swindled tribes out of $47 billion in oil, gas, grazing and timber rights.

$455M award in Native American trust case

Ruling a fraction of that sought by plaintiffs, who claim the government swindled tribes out of $47 billion in oil, gas, grazing and timber rights.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge ruled Thursday that American Indian plaintiffs are entitled to $455 million in a long-running trust case, a fraction of the $47 billion they wanted.

But U.S. District Judge James Robertson did not say how the government should award the money, writing that his opinion “leaves for another day the question of how and to whom the award should be distributed.”

Robertson’s final number is close to government estimates and far from the billions sought by plaintiffs in the 12-year trial. The lawsuit – filed on behalf of a half-million American Indians and their heirs – claims they were swindled out of billions of dollars in oil, gas, grazing, timber and other royalties overseen by the Interior Department since 1887.

The judge said he will have to hold another proceeding to decide how the money will be awarded, hinting that he hopes for a settlement between the two parties before then.

“Perhaps it is not too much to hope that the announcement in this memorandum of a hard number will give rise to some off-line conversation between the parties in the meantime,” Robertson wrote.

At issue was how much of the royalty money was withheld from the Indian plaintiffs over the years, and whether it was held in the U.S. Treasury at a benefit to the government.

Robertson said in the opinion that plaintiffs did not successfully argue that the money was of benefit to the government over the years, significantly reducing his final estimate of what the American Indians were owed.

Because many of the records have been lost or destroyed, it has been up to the court to decide how to best estimate how much the individual Indians – many of whom are nearing the end of their lives – should be paid.

During the course of the trial, plaintiffs reduced the amount they said they were owed based on documents that became available in the proceedings. They settled on $47 billion, down from their estimate going into the trial, which was $58 billion. Earlier estimates were as high as $100 billion.

Filed by Blackfeet Indian Elouise Cobell, the lawsuit deals with individual Indians’ lands. Several tribes have sued separately, claiming mismanagement of their lands. To top of page

Government owes American Indians $456 Billion: judge

By Tom Doggett

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – After 12 years of litigation, a federal judge rejected claims that the government owed American Indians $47 billion for mismanaging their money held in a special trust fund, but ruled they were owed less than 1 percent of the amount sought.

The U.S. Interior Department was sued for mishandling the revenue in the Indian trust fund going back to 1887. The trust includes 10 million acres of land owned by individual Indians and 46 million acres belonging to Indian tribes.

On this lands, the department manages more than 100,000 leases and the money they generate from mineral mining, oil and gas drilling, timber, livestock grazing, recreational and agricultural uses are deposited into the trust. That money is disbursed by the department to individuals and tribes.

U.S. District Court Judge Robertson ruled on Thursday that the model used to estimate how much money was withheld by the government was faulty because it “did not make use of the best available evidence and did not make fair or reasonable comparisons of data.”

Robertson said the there was no evidence of the “prodigious pilfering of assets from within the trust system” that the Indian plaintiffs had claimed and that they failed to prove the government used any money from the fund for its own benefit.

Instead, the judge accepted the Interior Department’s position that it was 99 percent confident that no more than $455.6 million was missing from the trust fund.

“This statement has the character of an admission — by responsible civil servants — that there are limits to what can be confidently stated with respect to the (trust fund), and that a history of accounting nonfeasance makes such a substantial error plausible,” Robertson wrote in his ruling.

Elouise Cobell, the lead plaintiff in the class action lawsuit against the government and a member of Montana’s Blackfeet tribe, said she was disappointed by the ruling and her lawyers would consider whether to appeal the decision.

“We believe we presented a strong, compelling case that individual Indian trust beneficiaries are entitled to much more than the government’s admitted mismanagement of our trust monies over the past 120 years,” she said.

The case is not over yet, because the judge said another hearing will determine how the missing money should be restored and allocated.

The Interior Department said it looked forward to working “with the court, the Congress, and the plaintiffs to bring the case to final closure.”

(Reporting by Tom Doggett; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Government officials seek response plan to radioactive leak

Government officials seek response plan to radioactive leak


by Clynt Ridgell, KUAM News
Friday, August 08, 2008

While the U.S. Navy continues to maintain that radioactive material that leaked from the U.S.S. Houston into Apra Harbor posed no risk to the safety of the public, marine life or the environment, government of Guam officials aren’t so confident. Officials are hoping to place legislation that would develop an independent monitoring process to monitor nuclear waste leakage at Apra Harbor in emergency status on the session agenda.

It was late Thursday when Adelup announced that the fast attack submarine, the U.S.S. Houston had been leaking radioactive material longer than was initially reported. The vessel, which traveled to ports like Hawaii, Japan and Guam, leaked radioactive material in the waters of the territory for a little more than a year.

This morning the Navy, in a statement, indicated that it had determined that an extremely small amount of radioactive material may have been released into the environment, but at no time did it pose a health risk. How small? According to the Navy, less than the total amount of radioactivity contained in all of the smoke detectors installed in a typical family home.

Despite this government officials like acting Governor Mike Cruz, Speaker Judi Won Pat, and Senator Frank Blas Junior met today as they believe the leakage stresses the need for an independent process and protocol to monitor the leakage of waste in Apra Harbor and future leaks.

As we reported Senator B.J. Cruz recently introduced Bill 349 that seeks to appropriate $100,000 to Public Health’s Environmental Health Division to conduct an independent investigation and study of the leakage of radioactive material into Apra Harbor by the U.S. Navy. The legislation would also require a permanent monitoring device be installed at the entrance of the harbor to detect and provide early warning signs of any radioactive contaminants that may be discharged into Guam’s waters.

The acting Governor and Speaker Won Pat requested Bill 349 be placed on emergency status without a public hearing as lawmakers have already agreed to act expeditiously on the legislation. Public Health and Guam EPA are currently working with their federal counterparts to address the issue.
The acting governor adds that U.S. EPA has agreed that the amount of leakage was minimal however they are questioning how the data was presented and are recommending that Guam pursue independent testing.

In light of the leak and the Navy handled the release of information, Senator Ben Pangelinan sent a letter calling for major changes at Big Navy. “I believe that the actions of the local Naval command to withhold information of the leakage of the nuclear elements into Guam waters over a two year period is inexcusable and unacceptable and as such today I am sending off a letter to the Commander of the Naval Forces in the Pacific Admiral Keating in Hawaii for the removal of the local Naval command,” the Democrat lawmaker stated.

Meanwhile Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo issued the following statement: “I have been updated on the status of the U.S.S. Houston incident. I was told that the valve leakage has occurred since 2006, which extended the number of locations which were potentially impacted. The Governments of Malaysia and Republic of Singapore were also informed that the U.S.S. Houston made port calls in those countries during this period. In addition, it is believed that this small amount of weepage from the valve and the subsequent tests of Apra Harbor by the U.S. Navy indicate that the leakage of water from the submarine did not harm the environment or place the residents of Guam or crew in danger. I will continue to work to ensure the safety of the residents of Guam as well as the sailors on-board our nuclear submarine force. I have requested and will receive a more comprehensive briefing from the U.S. Department of Energy, which has shared oversight on the safe operation of the U.S. Navy’s nuclear propulsion program. I also want to further explore how this defective valve went unnoticed during previous maintenance or while the ship was in service.”