FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (12-21-21)
This month, the Nevada Native Caucus is happy to celebrate the success of the second-annual Native Youth Toy Drive. Our Caucus successfully raised enough funds to connect donations for the students of the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe, the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe, and Clark County Native foster youth.
We would like to thank community partners who were pivotal to the success of the toy drive, including the Las Vegas Indian Center. We also want to thank the Nye County Democrats, the Clark County Democratic Party, and the Red Rock Democrats for their support and donations.
We want to single out certain individuals without which the toy drive would not have been possible. Dr. Leslie Molina, Principal of the McDermitt Combined Schools, was instrumental to the students receiving the gifts they deserve. Debbie O’Neal, health analyst/benefits coordinator and social services director of the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe, was an absolute joy to work with, as was teacher aide Darla Camas. Finally, we want to recognize the special effort of Duckwater’s Chief of Police Jamie Lucas, who drove down to Las Vegas last week to pick up the nineteen gifts for Duckwater in person.
Through thick and thin, through easy and hard weather, the collective efforts of everyone mentioned here allowed the Caucus to succeed this year in ensuring Native youth were able – in some small way – to have better holidays than they otherwise would have. Thank you for all your support, friends and relatives near and far, and we will see you next year!
NEVADA STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY STATEMENT IN OBSERVATION OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ DAY
The Nevada Native American Caucus is happy to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day with our fellow Democrats! On this day, we take a moment to feel our collective joy in ourselves, our relatives, and the land. We also take this day to acknowledge the need for our government to move beyond proclamations and toward true justice for our people.
We ask our leaders to make Indigenous Peoples Day a formal holiday, just as we recently saw with Juneteenth. Even more importantly, we hope that our leaders commit to honoring our treaties and to strengthening Tribal sovereignty. This begins first at Peehee mu’huh. Our leaders must halt the project at Thacker Pass, as free, prior, and informed consent remains unattained. The Administration must heed Tribal calls to cancel the Dakota Access Pipeline, as well. Finally, the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 must be protected at all costs. We hope that our leaders commit to these goals and remember them, and the needs of Indian Country, on this Indigenous Peoples Day.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (9-10-21)
We are deeply disappointed by the decision by US District Judge Miranda Du to not grant a preliminary injunction at Thacker Pass. This decision paves the way for archaeological interference and the eventual severe exploitation of Peehee mu’huh.
We find Judge Du’s justification for her decision in flagrant violation of international law – specifically, the doctrine of free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Judge Du argues that consultation with relevant Tribes was adequate in the lead-up to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) approval of the Thacker Pass project fast-tracked under Donald Trump.
This is clearly untrue. As articulated in the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony’s letter requesting consultation from the BLM, “just because regional tribes have been isolated and forced onto reservations relatively far away from Thacker Pass does not mean these regional tribes do not possess cultural connections to the Pass.”
All Tribes with cultural connections to the Pass, thus, must consent to the project in order for the project to obtain free, prior, and informed consent. Relevant Nations with deep connection to the land at Peehee mu’huh did not consent, nor were they consulted, yet Judge Du did not recognize that gaping failure in her decision to continue to greenlight a project fast-tracked by Donald Trump.
We also find Judge Du’s justification of the dismissal of the Tribes’ concern alarmingly offensive. Judge Du, while recognizing that the BLM could have “done more,” nonetheless ultimately approved of BLM’s actions because “BLM is not required to consult every Native American tribe on every project it approves.” That argument misrepresents the case and engages in logically fallacious hyperbole; it also displays zero understanding or recognition of the history of genocide against Indigenous people in the region. To ignore Tribes with cultural connections to the Pass, who were violently displaced from their ancestral and traditional homelands with ties to the Pass, is to ignore the history of displacement of those Tribal communities.
Ultimately, Judge Du would do well to consider these facts when she hears and rules on the case of Lithium Nevada Corp.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (6-5-21)
We are proud and excited to see Governor Sisolak sign into law essential bills benefiting Indigenous people in the state of Nevada. These include, but are not limited to: AB262, AB88, and AB171.
AB262 is one of the first Native tuition waivers in the current United States at a state level, waiving fees associated with higher education for NV Native students, a critical step in correcting historical wrongs and attaining educational justice. The waiver reinstates the practice of waiving tuition fees as a benchmark in civil rights. It also makes higher education more affordable and accessible for the original peoples of Nevada.
Now, a future Numu college graduate can go back to school.
Now, a future Newe astronomer can afford to go to UNLV to study astrophysics.
Now, a future Nuwu poet can afford to enroll in class where they will meet the mentor who will guide their creative voice.
Now, a future Wašišiw attorney can go to law school without accruing more debt.
As Chairwoman Janet Davis of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe said, the tuition waiver “will allow all of our kids to go to school.” Every education made accessible by AB262 is a victory for our families and our communities.
AB88 bans racist mascots and sundowner sirens, both of which are relics of violent settler-colonialism and are linked to worse mental health for Native students. According to the Indigenous Futures Survey, mental health is the number one issue for Native people in Nevada. The psychological harm that results from mascots, which have been documented by clinical psychologist Michael Friedman in a study commissioned by the Oneida Indian Nation, only exacerbates the mental health crisis in Native youth.
Chairman Smokey of the Washoe Tribe underlined the importance of the bill’s second provision, the silencing of the racist Minden sundowner siren. The passage of AB88 will go to address “years of underlying racism and historical trauma in our town.” We call on the town of Minden to respect both the Washoe Tribe and the decision of Nevada legislators by shutting down the siren once and for all. There is no room any longer for excuses and whitewashing of the siren’s racist past and present.
Finally, we applaud the Governor’s signature on AB171, which protects the sacred land of Bahsahwahbee – the swamp cedars. This area is a living temple and site of the violent massacres of Native people by settlers. It has also been a traditional meeting ground for Indigenous people of the Great Basin for prayer to the ancestors whose lives were stolen with the land in the swamp cedars. Chairman Rupert Steele of the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Nation said that Bahsahwahbee is a “very important, sacred, spiritual and holy place” for Indigenous people. Now, as a result of AB171, the harming of the sacred land is more difficult and the earth protected.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (4-30-21)
On April 5th, the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe cancelled an agreement with Lithium Nevada due to the threat that Lithium Nevada’s project poses to land, water, wildlife, hunting and gathering areas, and sacred sites in Thacker Pass.
There is a deep connection between the land the mines seek to exploit and the people who take care of that land. The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) controls the final two permits Lithium Nevada needs to begin the harmful project in Thacker Pass. We must highlight that not once in 25 years has NDEP refused to provide the mining industry with a permit.
As a result of NDEP’s complicity in the colonization of Indigenous resources, protectors have been compelled into direct action to stop the destruction of sacred lands, the contamination of water, and the ongoing violation of Tribal sovereignty by the mining industry. Protectors stand between the encroaching extractive industry and the delicate ecosystems at Thacker Pass. While some critics may argue that the exploitation of Thacker Pass would provide companies with lithium carbonate like Tesla to produce electric cars, curtailing the catastrophic pillaging of the Earth and the well-being of the future generations must be prioritized. Greenwashing extractive industries does nothing but excuse anti-Indigenous harm. The ecological future of Nevada and the United States must take into account the needs and perspectives of the stewards and caretakers native to the land. One factor that has been erased by Lithium Nevada in touting the benefits of extraction, for example, are the increased rates of drug abuse and sexual assault in Indian Country that are associated with expansions of colonialism at the hands of mining companies like Lithium Nevada. These factors must come into account in the decision-making around this project.
As Indigenous people, we stand in solidarity with the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe against Lithium Nevada’s project in Thacker Pass and call on all people who care for Nevada and its resources to do so, as well. Additionally, we call on NDEP to stand up to the interests of Big Mining and rightfully deny the company its permits.
The Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone people are tied to this land, their home since time immemorial. The land and its resources are inextricably linked to their identities, cultures, livelihoods, as well as their physical and spiritual well-being. We cannot permit the destruction of these – whether by government or mining companies.
Statement on Biden Administration’s Decision to Maintain the Dakota Access Pipeline
We send this letter because we are distraught and we want to communicate that we stand opposed to the Biden Administration’s decision to maintain the Dakota Access Pipeline in flagrant violation of its campaign promises. This decision is unacceptable from a sitting President of any party, as the pipeline was never authorized by the Indigenous peoples whose lives and livelihood are threatened by the pipeline’s continued operation. As Standing Rock Sioux leader LaDonna Tamakawastewin Allard said, “if we allow this pipeline, we will lose everything. We are the river, and the river is us.”
We are Native American Democrats who mobilized for Biden and we are particularly infuriated that the Administration has chosen to side with Trump-era policy over honoring the land and wishes of the Native voters who elected him. We call on the Biden Administration and the courts to order a shutdown of the Dakota Access Pipeline and for elected officials to join our call. No more broken treaties.
The Anishinaabek Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party
Nevada Statewide Native American Caucus
North Carolina Democratic Native American Caucus