Sunday, 24 April 2016

Proposed binding rule for ICWA data collection

There has been a further  important development regarding the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) -- one which would require states to collect and submit data to the Administration for Families and Children on ICWA related matters.

There is a proposed binding rule that would require-- for the first time since the enactment of ICWA in 1978-- that data be collected by states on the Indian Child Welfare Act. While there is a complex and detailed data collection system on other aspects of foster care and adoption, there has been a conspicious absence on a requirement to collect information about ICWA. The lack of systemic data gathering and inconsistencies in available data were noted for instance in 2005 GAO report on how the Act affected children in the foster care and adoption system. This lack of information  as noted in the GAO report is cited in the proposed rule as detrimental in providing appropriate oversight for Indian children in the foster care system.

The proposed rule is currently open for public comment.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The Dakota Access pipeline continues to get attention in the media, as events continue to unfold about its possible construction. A state permit has been requested from  Iowa to begin construction on the pipeline.  According to this article, there was an application made for an expedited decision on the permit, but that that request was not successful. Instead, the decision about the permit will proceed in the usual fashion, which allows "public comments through March 25." Among other requirements to obtain the permit, the article says that "The terms and conditions issued by the board include Dakota Access must:

  • Obtain and maintain a general liability insurance policy of at least $25 million
  • Demonstrate and file the unconditional and irrevocable guarantees from its parent companies for remediation of damages from a leak or spill
  • Make modifications to easement forms on properties utilizing eminent domain
  • Continue to offer to purchase voluntary easements
  • File a revised Agricultural Impact Mitigation Plan to include landowner notifications and the separation of all topsoil from affected areas
  • File a winter construction plans
  • File quarterly status reports"
Indian Country Today Media Network has a detailed article on the pipeline plans, which discusses the concerns raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. These concerns include the damage that would result from a pipeline leak: "If a leak were to occur, it would undoubtedly devastate the environment, people, resources and land of the Standing Rock nation. The quality of the water of the Missouri River is critical to the health and well-being of the tribe, both economically and culturally."

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Dr Covarrubia: Publication of the Week

A big shout out to TK Totem blogger Dr Patricia Covarrubia.

Dr Covarrubia's recent article has featured on the University of Buckingham's website as "Publication of the Week"! 

Her article discusses the importance of different protections available to non-agricultural products in Latin America-- an issue that is of great significance for the safeguarding of indigenous culture.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

More Pipelines in the News: Dakota Access Pipeline

The issue of pipelines has not gone away, entirely, it would seem. And this is to do with a pipeline other than the controversial Keystone XL project. Now in the news is the proposed Dakota Access pipeline, which would run "through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois." 

This proposed pipeline is being opposed by members of the Standing Rock Reservation. 
Tribal members cite concerns about the environmental hazards posed by the proposed pipeline  by putting water supplies at risk, as well as alleging that the  "company bypassed federal laws requiring direct discussion with the tribes." 

Approval for construction of the pipeline was secured in Iowa on March 11, 2016.  This is despite objections raised by Iowa land owners who would be affected by the pipeline construction. 

While the threat from the Keystone XL pipeline may have abated, the appetite for pipeline building does not seem to have been curbed, even with the current very depressed prices for oil and gas. 

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Actions Speak Louder Than Words?

In developments in the long running debate on whether there should be Constitutional recognition of Australia's Indigenous Peoples, it now appears a referendum is targeted to be held in 2017.  As one commentator has noted, there is a debate within the Indigenous Peoples of Australia as to the desirability of Constitutional recognition---or whether there should be a recognition of Aboriginal sovereignty. 

One of the first steps in preparing for a referendum is a consultation with representatives of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to craft language that would be acceptable to them. 

And yet, with this focus on sensitivity to language, it might be something of a surprise that at the same time  it is being reported that "The parliament of Australia's Northern Territory turned down the request by an Aboriginal minister to speak in her Indigenous language." The request follows an incident in December 2015 where "Northern Territory MP Bess Price was ­chided by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly for an interjection in her mother tongue, Warlpiri".

What value is there is Constitutional recognition versus the value placed on the use of Indigenous languages in daily life and the life of a state? One gives a sort of symbolic recognition, the other is about making space for an active exercise of an existent culture-- the official existence of which continues to be a vacuum in the Constitution. 

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Australia: Constitutional Recognition or Treaty?

Whether there should be constitutional recognition of Australia's indigenous peoples is a long-running political debate. On one hand, this kind of recognition is a clear marker of changing thinking that may continue to permeate policies, even though the terra nullius doctrine was over-turned in the 1992 Mabo decision. Some may feel that the legacy of terra nullius lives on in the failure to have Australian Constitutional recognition of indigenous peoples. But as this editorial by Celeste Liddle points out, there is some indigenous opposition to the idea of Constitutional recognition. What is wanted, Liddle  argues, is a level of recognition that transcends that which would be obtained through Constitutional inclusion.

Liddle  notes that "Australia is the only Commonwealth Nation that does not have a treaty with its Indigenous Peoples." 

And having a treaty, she argues, provides a greater form of recognition-- one of sovereignty. Liddle points out the advantages of having a treaty:  "Provisions contained within a treaty could greatly address the current disadvantages faced by many Indigenous people as the government would have obligations to fill including the obligation to consult the community on proposed legislation affecting us."

Saturday, 13 February 2016

TransCanada pursues community support for project

Even after the costly loss that TransCanada has attributed to the failed efforts to construct the Keystone XL pipeline, it appears that efforts continue to find a way forward to build it. This article reports that the company is pursuing a plan to consider the pipeline construction in the future. It is also trying to win support from communities for the construction of its Energy East project, to address "mounting opposition from First Nations and other communities along the proposed route of Energy East, including the opposition of all the mayors in the Greater Montreal region."