The Power of Cultural Teachings for Native American At-Risk Youth

January 24, 2016 Comments Off on The Power of Cultural Teachings for Native American At-Risk Youth

The White Earth Nation is taking a “no more” stand against substance abuse by using Anishinaabe culture as the basis for an integrated rehabilitation program for youth in the juvenile justice system. The White Earth Tribal Council commissioned a video to show that the program has been very effective in turning around the lives of at-risk youth in the White Earth Nation. As the introduction states:

Impacts of drug abuse are being felt in our homes, schools, workplaces, and in our daily lives. The devastation from this drug abuse is fragmenting our families, contributes to the neglect of our children and threatens to destroy our communities. Our culture is a guide and a source of security in good times and in bad. Many of our teachings handed down from our elders are in danger of being lost, but through our cultural teachings we as people gain strength and understanding. Watch how a determined effort by the White Earth Nation is making a positive change in our community and a difference in the lives of at risk youth.

The White Earth Nation’s reservation is in present-day Minnesota, and the tribe is culturally Anishinaabe—also known as Ojibwe or Chippewa. The Anishinaabeg (plural) describes the tribes aboriginal to the Great Lakes area and speaking an Algonquin dialect.

Please note that Minnesota is a Public Law 280 state, which means that the state has criminal and civil jurisdiction over most tribal lands. The video includes interviews with state-court judges, prosecutors, and public defenders because the state has jurisdiction over juvenile justice matters on the White Earth Naton’s reservation, even if the White Earth Nation has its own tribal police.

Although it focuses on a culturally based program within the juvenile justice system, the video also emphasizes the role of schools in educating the tribe’s youth in Anishinaabe culture in developing values and a way of life based on respect and self-esteem.

Link to video here.

James D. Griffith is an Associate Attorney with Mangum, Wall, Stoops & Warden, PLLC. He is licensed as an attorney in Arizona, the Navajo Nation, and the Hopi tribal courts.

GAO Report on Ongoing Systemic Challenges with Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education

April 26, 2015 Comments Off on GAO Report on Ongoing Systemic Challenges with Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education

The Washington Post recently published an article on a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office that found mismanagement, staffing problems, and inconsistent financial accounting in the Bureau of Indian Education (“BIE”). The BIE was created about thirteen years ago (it had formerly operated under Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs). The agency has responsibility for operating, funding, and overseeing schools on or near tribal lands and has struggled since its formation to develop and implement an effective and efficient agency capable of fulfilling that mission. As a result, the approximately 185 schools that are operated or funded by BIE suffer from problems such as recently installed roofs that leak and drinking fountains with undrinkable water.

Although the challenge of overseeing Indian schools is formidable because of the rural and remote locations of many BIE schools, the problems with BIE and the consequences for the education of Indian children have continued despite White House initiatives to improve Indian education. As far back at the Clinton administration, U.S. presidents have sought to improve the educational opportunities and outcomes for American Indian children. Under Executive Order 13592 signed December 2011, President Obama established the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Educational Opportunities. See also here and here. Among other things, the Initiative calls for the U.S. Department of Education and BIE to work together to develop policies on Indian education and the implementation of government programs to improve Indian education.

In its 2014 Native Youth Report (published December 2014), the Initiative stated that:

[O]ver the last six years, the Administration has created new programs (in ED and BIE) to support building tribal sovereignty over education. BIE and ED entered a Memorandum of Agreement to improve two-way communications between the two agencies and address common issues affecting [American Indian / Alaska Native] students. In addition, ED increased the emphasis in its Title VII formula grants, on the need for school districts to provide culturally-relevant education for Indian students.

In pursuit of this policy, BIE has developed a “Blueprint for Reform” (see also here) and is currently engaged in tribal consultations, but it remains to be seen whether BIE can develop and implement a consistent, workable plan for fulfilling its mission. The “Consultation Booklet” for the current round of tribal consultations is available here.

James D. Griffith is an Associate Attorney with Mangum, Wall, Stoops & Warden, PLLC in Flagstaff, Arizona. Jim provides legal services in a variety of areas, including Indian and tribal law, education law, employment matters, and municipal law.

NCAIED Helps Navajo Nation Businesses with Government Contracting Process

February 16, 2015 Comments Off on NCAIED Helps Navajo Nation Businesses with Government Contracting Process

Many Navajo- and Indian-owned ventures face challenges finding business opportunities and surviving the bidding process for government contracts. Fortunately, the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development offers workshops that can help Indian-owned businesses win tribal and other government contracts, either as a contractor or a sub-contractor. A recent article suggests just how beneficial NCAIED’s workshops have been for Navajo business and can be for any Indian-owned venture. For more information, see NCAIED’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center, which helps Indian-owned business with the government-contracting process.

James D. Griffith is an Associate Attorney with Mangum, Wall, Stoops & Warden, PLLC in Flagstaff, Arizona. Jim provides legal services in a variety of areas, including Indian and tribal law, education law, employment matters, and municipal law.

THE VALUE OF A WILL (PREPARED BY AN ATTORNEY)

November 15, 2013 Comments Off on THE VALUE OF A WILL (PREPARED BY AN ATTORNEY)

When making a will, some people overlook the value that an attorney can add to the will-making process and turn to document preparers, forms, or software programs. Attorneys add value to the process because they are trained in the law of wills and can draft a will that uses the law to achieve the testator’s intent. Every individual and married couple has different life circumstances and brings different priorities and concerns to the will-making process, such as issues involving minor children, prior marriages, and adult stepchildren. An attorney has the knowledge and skill to consider each individual’s and couple’s unique situation and to draft a will or wills designed to minimize potential problems.

In a recent presentation, I discussed several advantages to having a will prepared by an attorney, including:

  • Moderating the burden on loved ones at a time of loss
  • Control over the distribution of assets (who gets what)
  • Decisions related to blended families and second marriages
  • The downside of intestacy (not having a will)
  • The limitations of document preparers and form kits

The slides from my presentation on The Value of a Will Prepared by an Attorney provide an overview. For more information on making a will and the legal services offered by the Law Office of James D. Griffith, P.L.L.C., please call (480) 275-8738 or use the “Contact Us” page on our website.

BIA ISSUES UPDATED LIST OF FEDERALLY RECOGNIZED TRIBES

May 14, 2013 Comments Off on BIA ISSUES UPDATED LIST OF FEDERALLY RECOGNIZED TRIBES

The BIA recently issued an updated list of federally recognized Indian tribes. The current list now totals 566 tribes. The list was published in the Federal Register on May 6, 2013 and is available here.

For more information on the legal services offered by the Law Office of James D. Griffith, P.L.L.C., please call (480) 275-8738 or use the “Contact Us” page on our website.

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