President Clinton Signs Executive Order
On August 6, 1998, President Clinton delivered the first comprehensive Executive Order on Indian Education, providing national guidelines to improve the way federal agencies coordinate dozens of Indian education programs in public, federal, tribal, urban and rural area schools.
The historic Executive Order on Indian Education is the result of more than four years of focused efforts by the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the National Indian Education Association (NIEA) and the National Advisory Council on Indian Education (NACIE) in cooperation with the Clinton Administration.
Native American Rights Fund Executive Director John Echohawk stated that "The overriding goal of the Executive Order is to improve the quality of Indian education starting with the coordination of policy at the federal level, which will ultimately benefit 600,000 American Indian and Alaska Native students of all ages. The President's Executive Order on Indian Education will go a long way in ensuring that all federal agencies work with tribes and Indian communities in every aspect of education from Native languages and cultures to science and technology."
The Executive Order, developed out of a collaborative effort by NARF, NCAI, NIEA and NACIE to better coordinate and implement federal Indian education laws and programs, focuses on improving Indian student academic performance by increasing ownership of education within tribes and Indian communities, ensuring equitable access for Native Americans to federal education resources, and facilitating tribal, federal and state partnerships in Indian education. The Executive Order will also provide direction for new Indian education initiatives from Congress and the Administration, including budget appropriations. These actions and initiatives have been recommended by many reports and research on Indian education over the years. Hundreds of tribes and Indian organizations, as well as many Senators and members of Congress, have endorsed the Executive Order, which truly has raised Indian education to a new level within the Administration.
The Executive Order requires the Administration to develop a comprehensive Indian education policy in consultation with tribal leaders and Indian educators within two years. It also calls for a series of regional forums among tribal, federal, and state officials and educators to share information about effective education practices for Indian students. It also provides for a series of pilot schools, including public schools, that will receive comprehensive technical assistance to test new methods of teaching Indian students. "The Administration was adamant that this Executive Order be one of action, not just words," stated Melody McCoy, the NARF Staff Attorney who worked on the case. "The Department of Education, the federal agency that will lead the reform efforts, has already called the first implementation meeting among federal officials and tribal leaders for August 21, 1998. We are pleased that the attention and momentum are continuing."
Following is the full text of the Presidential Executive Order:
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, in affirmation of the unique political and legal relationship of the Federal Government with tribal governments, and in recognition of the unique educational and culturally related academic needs of American Indian and Alaska Native students, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Goals.
The Federal Government has a special, historic responsibility for the education of American Indian and Alaska Native students. Improving educational achievement and academic progress for American Indian and Alaska Native students is vital to the national goal of preparing every student for responsible citizenship, continued learning, and productive employment. The Federal Government is committed to improving the academic performance and reducing the dropout rate of American Indian and Alaska Native students. To help fulfill this commitment in a manner consistent with tribal traditions and cultures, Federal agencies need to focus special attention on six goals: (1) improving reading and mathematics; (2) increasing high school completion and postsecondary attendance rates; (3) reducing the influence of long-standing factors that impede educational performance, such as poverty and substance abuse; (4) creating strong, safe, and drug- free school environments; (5) improving science education; and (6) expanding the use of educational technology.
Sec. 2. Strategy.
In order to meet the six goals of this order, a comprehensive Federal response is needed to address the fragmentation of government services available to American Indian and Alaska Native students and the complexity of inter-governmental relationships affecting the education of those students. The purpose of the Federal activities described in this order is to develop a long-term, comprehensive Federal Indian education policy that will accomplish those goals.
Sec. 3. Regional partnership forums.
The Departments of Education and the Interior, in collaboration with the Task Force and Federal, tribal, State, and local government representatives, shall jointly convene, within 18 months, a series of regional forums to identify promising practices and approaches on how to share information, provide assistance to schools, develop partnerships, and coordinate intergovernmental strategies supportive of accomplishing the goals of this order. The Departments of Education and the Interior shall submit a report on the forums to the Task Force, which may include recommendations relating to intergovernmental relations.
Sec. 4. School pilot sites.
The Departments of Education and the Interior shall identify a reasonable number of schools funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and public schools that can serve as a model for schools with American Indian and Alaska Native students, and provide them with comprehensive technical assistance in support of the goals of this order. A special team of technical assistance providers, including Federal staff, shall provide assistance to these schools. Special attention shall be given, where appropriate, to assistance in implementing comprehensive school reform demonstration programs that meet the criteria for those programs established by the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1998 (Public Law 105-78), and to providing comprehensive service delivery that connects and uses diverse Federal agency resources. The team shall disseminate effective and promising practices of the school pilot sites to other local educational agencies. The team shall report to the Task Force on its accomplishments and its recommendations for improving technical support to local educational agencies and schools funded by the BIA.
Sec. 5. Administration.
The Department of Education shall provide appropriate administrative services and staff support to the Task Force. With the consent of the Department of Education, other participating agencies may provide administrative support to the Task Force, consistent with their statutory authority, and may detail agency employees to the Department of Education, to the extent permitted by law.
Sec. 6. Termination.
The Task Force established under section 2 of this order shall terminate not later than 5 years from the date of this order.
Sec. 7. General provisions.
This order is intended only to improve the internal management of the executive branch and is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity by a party against the United States, its agencies or instrumentalities, its officers or employees, or any other person. This order is not intended to preclude, supersede, replace, or otherwise dilute any other Executive order relating to American Indian and Alaska Native education.
The White House, William J. Clinton
The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation of the Oglala Sioux Tribe is over 2.5 million acres, the second largest reservation in the United States, and has over 38,000 residents. It encompasses three counties, including Shannon County which is the poorest in the United States, and is located in southwest South Dakota. As with many tribes, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, one of the poorest in this Nation, is struggling with the entire range of environmental problems from safe drinking water and underground storage tanks to pesticide regulation.
To deal with the environmental problems that plague the reservation, the Oglala Sioux Tribe has over the years developed several tribal health and environmentally-related programs which implement tribal health and environmental laws. Some programs directly implement federal environmental laws.
In February 1997, staffers from various tribal programs and some federal agencies met to review the various tribal programs' effectiveness. They found that among the programs there were significant areas of overlap, serious gaps in coverage, and a critical lack of communication between related programs. To address these problems they organized a standing committee comprised of a tribal staffer from each program concerned with health and environmental issues. They agreed to meet on a monthly basis to address important environmental issues facing the programs. The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council formally organized this group under Tribal Council Resolution 97-94 and the group was named the Environmental Health Technical Team (EHTT or Tech Team).
In carrying out its work, the EHTT realized that the inter-relationship of tribal environmental laws made those laws difficult, if not impossible, to implement or enforce since most were outdated or unsuited to actual tribal program operations. It also realized that there was a serious lack of critical data about the Reservation's ambient environment because the Tribe lacked monitoring and data gathering capability.
The Tech Team decided that it would be important to get legal assistance to adopt, revise and re-enact critical environmental laws for the Tribe. It sought the help of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) in February 1997. NARF had recently received a grant from the Educational Foundation of America to assist tribes to develop and adopt a Tribal Environmental Policy Act (TEPA). Hence, NARF agreed to work with the Oglala Sioux Tribe's Tech Team to develop and implement an Environmental Review Code which is essentially a TEPA.
Working with NARF, the Tech Team found that they needed to begin with a law that would allow the Tribal programs to know when and where development was to occur on the Reservation. The law would require that a developer get a permit from the Tribe before changes were made to a structure or the land that could have a significant affect on the health and welfare of the Oglala Sioux people or the Reservation environment. The permit requirement was to be designed to protect the Oglala Sioux people's health and help ensure that future generations would have suitable land to live on, pure water to drink, clean air to breath and a way of life preserved. The Tech Team, with NARF's assistance, decided that it would develop an Environmental Review Code (ERC).
The Tech Team first identified the ERC's main objectives which were (1) to monitor development on the Reservation, and (2) to gather data on development within the Tribe's jurisdiction. From there, NARF prepared a draft ERC.
The Tech Team and NARF met every month to review and revise drafts and to begin consulting with other tribal interest groups over a 16 month period. The Tech Team identified several groups including the Tribal Council Committees with jurisdiction over environmental and health issues, tribal political subdivisions, and community groups with an interest in the issue, such as the Crazy Horse Planning Commission (a group drawn from every district of the Reservation) and Gray Eagle Society (a group of tribal elders).
The Tribal Council committee members offered their guidance to facilitate the ERC's passage. That advice counseled the need for community input from local tribal political subdivisions, for educating all Tribal Council members on the ERC, for measures to take to avoid "poison pill" provisions in the ERC that would prevent passage (such as any appearance to regulate traditional Oglala religious activities), and the need for community input from key groups within the community.
To present the ERC to the general public the Tech Team distributed a question-and-answer pamphlet and a report with a section-by-section analysis of the ERC to the general public, explained the ERC and took questions through radio and newspapers, met with the district representatives to present and explain the ERC and to obtain feedback from the community, invited Tribal Council members to Tech Team meetings to discuss the ERC and scheduled meetings with the Tribal Council committees to assure that as many Council representatives as possible received a briefing on the ERC's purposes and procedures, as well as to incorporate feedback from the Council representatives, presented to tribal and community groups, including the Crazy Horse Planning Commission and Gray Eagle Society, the proposed ERC and obtained feedback from them, and considered an informational briefing for the full Tribal Council before introducing the ERC for formal debate.
In the end, the ERC passed by unanimous vote of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council on 28 April 1998. Afterwards, the Tribal President nominated NARF and its attorneys, Mark C. Tilden and Don Wharton, to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to receive Region VIII's Environmental Achievement Award for the outstanding work with the Oglala Sioux Tribe on developing the Tribal Environmental Review Code. The USEPA selected the attorneys and NARF for the award from among 296 nominations and presented the awards on 23 July 1998.
The key lessons from their experience emphasize two important points: (1) that Tribes must develop the internal administrative capability -- like the Tech Team -- to address their important environmental issues, and (2) it is very important in development of tribal codes to involve the affected community. For the Tribe to successfully implement the ERC, the Tribe must heavily rely on its own willingness and ability to enforce and comply with the ERC's requirements. And, so far, it appears to be working.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) presented the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) with an "Outstanding Environmental Achievement Award" at a special recognition ceremony on July 23rd. NARF staff attorneys Mark Tilden (Navajo) and Don Wharton accepted the award for their work on the development of a "Tribal Environmental Policy Act" for the Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota.
The "Tribal Environmental Policy Act" originated from the growing need to protect the health and welfare of the people living on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Over the years, development projects have harmed the environment of the reservation. And, faced with limited financial and technical resources and the lack of the necessary mechanisms for monitoring development, the Oglala Sioux Tribe was unable to address these growing problems themselves. In August 1997, they gained legal assistance from the Native American Rights Fund.
After reviewing the environmental situation on the Pine Ridge Reservation, NARF determined that codes and ordinances alone would not accomplish their goal. They needed to develop a Tribal Environmental Review Code that would authorize systematic oversight of tribal and non-tribal development. Following fourteen months of regular visits to the reservation to work directly with the Tribe's Environmental Health Technical Team (EHTT), Don Wharton, Mark Tilden and the EHTT developed and obtained approval of the "Tribal Environmental Review Code" from the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council on April 20, 1998. Presently, NARF is working with the Tribe on implementation of the code and is drafting operations manuals that will enable other tribes to better understand the process necessary to develop codes of this nature.
Oglala Tribal President John Yellowbird Steele, nominated NARF for the EPA Environmental Achievement Award. "They have done an outstanding job working with the Tribe in developing a document that could have the potential to change the environment of the Pine Ridge Reservation in a positive way. No thanks can ever be enough for what NARF has done for the Oglala Sioux Tribe."
Over the course of the past year, there has developed an increasingly intolerant climate in the Alaska capitol of Juneau toward the legitimate aspirations of Alaska Native people and the villages of rural Alaska. Native communities simultaneously face attacks on their fundamental human rights to self-determination, to feed both family and spirit through subsistence hunting and fishing activities, and to be free from discrimination. "WE THE PEOPLE - ALASKA TRIBES - STANDING OUR GROUND" MARCH was organized with the assistance of the Native American Rights Fund and many others to bring attention across the State and throughout the Nation to the hostility confronting the Native community in Alaska.
The March was convened in the wake of the United States Supreme Court's ruling last February that Indian tribes in Alaska do not occupy "Indian country." The decision came as a stunning blow and undermined the ability of Alaska tribes to be self-governing. Without Indian country, tribes lack important regulatory powers such as the power to tax and raise revenue from companies conducting business on tribal land, a power that has long been recognized as being possessed by Tribes in the Lower 48 states. The devastating decision was followed by a steady stream of hostile state initiatives that targeted Native issues and Bush Alaska. Satisfied that it had fatally pierced the heart of Alaska tribal sovereignty through successful litigation of the "Indian country" issue, the Alaska State Legislature set its sights on extinguishing federal protections for subsistence. With the remaining money from the one million dollar slush-fund that the State Legislature appropriated to itself and the attorney general to fight "Indian country", the Legislature brought a new action in federal court challenging the constitutionality of Title VIII of the Alaska National Interest Lands and Conservation Act of 1980 (ANILCA) which provides a rural preference for subsistence users on federal lands.
The State Legislature's assault on subsistence rights have not stopped there. The Legislature has refused to take action to adopt a constitutional amendment to the Alaska Constitution that would allow state law to come back into compliance with ANILCA, thereby ensuring subsistence protections on all lands in Alaska. Instead, the Legislature has conditioned any state constitutional amendment on major amendments to ANILCA that would weaken subsistence rights. The federal government is poised to take over the enforcement of subsistence rights under ANILCA on December 1, 1998, unless Congress again passes another moriatorium on federal involvement.
These events were the catalyst that brought 220 Alaska tribes and over 4,000 people together on May 7th to rise up and stand their ground; to collectively say "enough is enough." The March was a huge success and created a momentum that affirms the power of the people to stand their ground against a political agenda that would diminish the fundamental rights of Alaska Natives to forever live the Native way of life.
Mark C. Tilden (Navajo) joined the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) as a staff attorney in September 1994 and is also currently serving as a member of the Litigation Management Committee. He represents tribal governments in federal recognition, administrative law, Indian family and child welfare law, environmental law and water law. He also lectures and trains in these specific areas. Before joining NARF, he practiced law at Fredericks, Pelcyger, Hester & White. While attending law school, Mark worked for the Colorado Attorney General's Office, Supreme Court of Colorado, Big Mountain Legal Defense Office, and NARF. He received a Bachelor of Science and Business Administration degree from Creighton University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver College of Law. Mark is admitted to practice law in the state courts of Colorado, U.S. District Courts in Colorado and Arizona, U.S. Courts of Appeal for the Ninth, Tenth and District of Columbia Circuits, Supreme Court of the United States, Fort Peck Tribal Courts, Fort Mojave Tribal Courts and Oglala Sioux Tribal Courts. He is a member of the Federal Bar Association, American Bar Association (ABA), Colorado Bar Association, Colorado Indian Bar Association, Boulder County Bar Association and ABA Steering Committee on the Unmet Legal Needs of Children.
The National Indian Law Library
For the modern-day Indian, information is priceless in helping their fight to keep tribal homelands intact and traditional tribal ways alive. The National Indian Law Library has been providing Indian tribes and Indian law attorneys with a wealth of Indian law materials for the past 26 years. The materials are documents ranging from legal pleadings written in vital Indian law cases (from Tribal court to United States Supreme Court) to a collection of Tribal codes (there are about 510 federally recognized tribes in the United States.)
The National Indian Law Library began as a special library project of the Native American Rights Fund. It is designed to serve as a clearinghouse for materials on American Indian Law for tribes, private and tribal attorneys, legal service programs, law firms, federal and state governments and agencies, and for students. Essentially, it was intended to carry out one of the Native American Rights Fund's priorities, the systematic development of Indian law.
The National Indian Law Library has the largest collection of Indian law materials in the nation. The Library fulfills its function by collecting all available materials related to Indian law. These materials are catalogued on a customized library application software database and indexed for inclusion in the National Indian Law Library Catalogue.
The National Indian Law Library Publications For Sale:
The Bibliography on Indian Economic Development, 2nd Edition. 1984 (Updated 1993). Designed as a tool for the protection and regulation of commercial activities on Indian reservations. Included in the bibliography are articles, monographs, memoranda, Tribal codes, and miscellaneous materials on Indian economic development. Cost for this title is $20.00.
The National Indian Law Library Catalogue, Volume I. One of The National Indian Law Library's major contributions to the development of Indian law is the creation of this catalogue. It is arranged by subject-matter index, author-title index, plaintiff-defendant index, and NILL number listing. Cost for The National Indian Law Library Catalogue, Volume I is $90.00; the 1985 Supplement is $15.00; the 1989 Supplement is $35.00. (NILL anticipates offering a free up-to-date version of its catalog on the Internet in 1999.)
Top Fifty: A Compilation of Significant Indian Cases, 1990, compiled by the National Indian Law Library, costs $50.00.
Other Publications Offered For Sale by The National Indian Law Library: (Pricing of publications includes shipping and handling. Publications subject to availability.)
American Indian Law: Cases and Materials, 3rd edition, 1991, by Robert N. Clinton, Neil Jessup, Monroe E. Price, price is $50.00.
American Indian Law: Cases and Materials, 3rd edition, 1992 Supplement, by Robert N. Clinton, Neil Jessup, Monroe E. Price, price is $15.00.
American Indian Law in a nutshell, 3rd edition, 1998, by William C. Canby, price is $26.00.
American Indians, Time and the Law, 1986, by Charles F. Wilkinson, price is $20.00.
Battlefields and Burial Grounds, 1994, by Walter Echo-Hawk and Roger Echo-Hawk, price is $20.00.
Code of Federal Regulations, Title 25, 1998, published by U.S. Government Printing Office, price is $45.00.
Federal Indian Law, Cases and Materials, 3rd edition, 1993, by David Getches, Charles Wilkinson, and Robert A. Williams, Jr., price is $59.00.
Felix S. Cohen's Handbook of Federal Indian Law, 1982 edition, edited by Rennard Strickland, price is $90.00. (Publication currently in process of being updated.)
Handbook of American Indian Religious Freedom, 1991 edition, edited by Christopher Vescey, price is $20.00.
The Indian Child Welfare Handbook: A Legal Guide to the Custody and Adoption of Native Americans, 1995, published by the American Bar Association, price is $75.00.
Indian Claims Commission Decisions 1946-1978. This forty-three volume set reports the work of the Indian Claims Commission. Each volume is sold separately at a cost of $55.00. The ICCD Indexis sold at $30.00.
Indian Land Area Map, 1992, published by the U.S. Department of the Interior, price is $10.00.
Mending the Circle: A Native American Repatriation Guide, 1996, published by the American Indian Ritual Object Repatriation Foundation, price is $45.00.
The Rights of Indians and Tribes, 2nd edition, 1992, by Stephen L. Pevar, price is $13.00.
NARF Annual Report. This is NARF's major report on its programs and activities. The Annual Report is distributed to foundations, major contributors, certain federal and state agencies, tribal clients, Native American organizations, and to others upon request.
The NARF Legal Review is published biannually by the Native American Rights Fund. Third class postage paid at Boulder, Colorado. Ray Ramirez, Editor. There is no charge for subscriptions, but contributions are requested.
Tax Status. The Native American Rights Fund is a nonprofit, charitable organization incorporated in 1971 under the laws of the District of Columbia. NARF is exempt from federal income tax under the provisions of Section 501 C (3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and contributions to NARF are tax deductible. The Internal Revenue Service has ruled that NARF is not a "private foundation" as defined in Section 509(a) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Main Office: Native American Rights Fund, 1506 Broadway, Boulder, Colorado 80302 (303-447-8760) (FAX 303-443-7776). http://www.narf.org
Washington, D.C. Office: Native American Rights Fund, 1712 N Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036 (202-785-4166) (FAX 202-822-0068).
Alaska Office: Native American Rights Fund, 420 L Street, Suite 505, Anchorage, Alaska 99501 (907-276-0680) (FAX 907-276-2466).
The Native American Rights Fund
For the past 28 years, the 15 attorneys, support staff and Board of Directors of NARF have represented over 200 Tribes in 31 states in such areas as tribal restoration and recognition, tribal jurisdiction, land claims, hunting and fishing rights, the protection of Indian religious freedom, and many others. In addition to the great strides made in achieving justice on behalf of Native American people, perhaps NARF's greatest distinguishing attribute has been its availability to bring excellent, highly ethical legal representation to dispossessed Tribes. The survival and strengthened sovereignty of the nation's 557 federally recognized tribes of 1.8 million Native Americans are due, in no small measure, to the battles waged and won by NARF.
The accomplishments and growth of NARF over the years confirmed the great need for Indian legal representation on a national basis. This legal advocacy on behalf of Native Americans is more crucial now than ever before. NARF strives to protect the most important rights of Indian people within the limit of available resources. To achieve this goal NARF's Board of Directors defined five priority areas for NARF's work: (1) the preservation of tribal existence; (2) the protection of tribal natural resources; (3) the promotion of human rights; (4) the accountability of governments to Native Americans; and (5) the development of Indian law.
NARF's success could not have been achieved without the financial support that we have received from throughout the nation. Your participation makes a big difference in our ability to continue to meet ever-increasing needs of impoverished Indian tribes, groups and individuals. The support needed to sustain our nationwide program requires your continued assistance. Requests for legal assistance, contributions, or other inquiries regarding NARF's services may be addressed to NARF's main office: 1506 Broadway, Boulder, Colorado 80302. Telephone (303) 447-8760. Visit our website at http://www.narf.org.
NARF participates in the Combined Federal Campaign and a number of other workplace campaigns nationwide as a member of America's Charities (code number 0450) and Community Shares of Colorado (code number 5037). Please consider NARF in your workplace contributions this year. All contributions are tax-deductible to the extent provided by law.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Executive Director: John E. Echohawk - Pawnee