FCNL Native American Legislative Update

Michael Shell BrightCrow at InfoAve.Net
Sat Sep 19 18:38:02 JEST 1998

Dear Friends,

For those of you who share a concern for Native American sovereignty and
rights, here is the latest legislative update from Friends Committee on
National Legislation.  Please share it with others.

Blessed Be,

Date: Thu, 17 Sep 1998 17:04:46 -0400
From: Aura Kanegis <aura at fcnl.org>
Sender: Maiser at local.fcnl.org
To: NALU List <nalu at local.fcnl.org>


The following are updates and action suggestions from the Friends Committee
on National Legislation (FCNL) regarding Indian affairs legislation for the
coming two weeks.  These messages focus on selected legislation which
Congress is considering now, and suggest some points that you may wish to
make in your communications with Congress.  These messages are intended as a
supplement to other FCNL Native American Program materials and do not
reflect FCNL's complete policy position on any issue, nor do they include
all pertinent facts on any topic.  For more information, or to request the
FCNL Indian Report and other background documents, please contact Aura
Kanegis, FCNL Legislative Associate for Native American Affairs:  (202)
547-6000 ext. 113; 245 2nd St. NE, Washington, DC 20002; aura at fcnl.org.

TORT LIABILITY RIDER.  Sen. Gorton (WA) intends to introduce a rider to the
Interior Appropriations bill which would require tribal governments to
purchase tort liability insurance, and would place jurisdiction over tribal
liability suits in federal district courts, entirely bypassing tribal courts
for such cases.  Tribes that did not or could not pay for the coverage
deemed necessary would have the premiums taken out of their Tribal Priority
Allocations, funding which provides vital resources to tribal governments
for community development, social services, general assistance, housing,
education, public safety, and governance.  Although there is agreement
between Senate Indian Affairs Committee members that legislation addressing
insurance issues should be pursued in consultation with tribes, there is
strong opposition to the removal of tribal court jurisdiction in this
manner, and serious objection to taking any such steps in the form of a
legislative rider without tribal government consultation or consideration by
the Indian Affairs Committee.

ACTION: Sen. Gorton's amendment will be voted on when the Senate returns to
consideration of the Interior Appropriations bill, which could occur at any
time.  Please contact your senators to ask that they strongly oppose the
Gorton amendment regarding tribal tort liability when the Senate returns to
consideration of the FY99 Interior Appropriations bill.

National Parks and Public Lands Act was introduced in the House which
contains an amendment by Rep. Young (AK) to place yet another one year
moratorium on federal implementation of the subsistence priority called for
in Title VIII of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.

Throughout much of Alaska, Native peoples continue to rely upon hunting and
fishing to provide their day- to-day sustenance.  To Alaska Natives,
subsistence hunting and fishing are not simply a means of survival but an
integral aspect of their culture.  Title VIII of the Alaska National
Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) was passed in 1980 to protect those
subsistence rights.

Sen. Stevens (AK), who offered a similar moratorium in past years, had
promised not to extend the moratorium again if the Alaska State legislature
did not take the steps necessary to bring the state into compliance with
Title VIII in their last session.  They have failed to take that action, and
further extension of the moratorium now would demonstrate that the state
need not make serious efforts to come into compliance.  This would increase
the momentum of those who would rather do away with the subsistence priority
altogether (Please see page 3 of FCNL's Spring 1998 Indian Report for
background information on the Alaska subsistence issue). 

ACTION: Contact members of the House Resources Committee to ask that they
oppose any effort to further block implementation of the important
subsistence priority called for in Title VIII of the Alaska National
Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).  Contact Rep. Young to express
concern with his amendment, and to ask that he suspend this effort to
protect the Alaska legislature from the consequences of their inaction on
the critical subsistence issue.
R. Aura Kanegis
Legislative Associate for Native American Affairs
aura at fcnl.org
(202) 547-6000 ext. 113

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