Category Archives: Reservations

Amodei’s Land Grab

Amodei Privatization Land “Congressman Mark Amodei will give an update to the Elko City Council Tuesday on possible issues that might impact the City and Elko County, according to Assistant City Manager Scott Wilkinson.

Amodei’s topics have not been outlined for the City. However, past subjects have included lands issues and sage grouse.” [EDFP]

If he’s set on discussing land issues, then we might guess he’s off to thread another precarious choice between the Bundyite Bunch and the BLM.  Back in late April, 2014 Representative Amodei was praising the BLM for backing off the confrontation with the Rampant Bundys, recalling his words:

“That is a leadership-type thing where you say, ‘We are getting our butts kicked and we are taking our team off the field and getting out of the stadium,'” Amodei said, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. “It’s not a win, but probably the right thing to do under the circumstances.” [LVSun]

Two years later Amodei’s tone changed, he didn’t support the Bundys and he definitely didn’t want to be labeled anti-park:

“Amodei, however, said the (1) report attempts to use the Bundy sideshow to score political points rather than take a serious look at important issues such as (2) land access, ecosystem health and local economies.

“They don’t speak for me on anything to do with public lands,” Amodei said of Bundy and his acolytes. (3) “I want it to be about the resources, not about some guy who is or isn’t paying his grazing fees.” [RGJ] (numbering added)

Parse with us now. (1) When faced with a report bearing uncomfortable factual inclusions, such as Amodei’s opposition to funding and maintaining national parks and monuments, deflect the issue to the Bundy Bunch – who want no federal involvement in public land administration (grazing, forests, parks, monuments, …) and announce one’s inclination to talk about substantive land issues.  The 2nd District Representative had an opportunity to vote on the SHARE Act, a privatization proposal in Congress this year, but was absent for the vote.

“Representative Rob Wittman (R-VA) sponsored H.R. 2406, the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act of 2015, which contains harmful measures undermining the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Wilderness Act, and other bedrock environmental laws. The bill includes language that could allow the use of motorized vehicles, road construction, and other forms of development within protected wilderness areas, and it blocks input from public stakeholders in National Wildlife Refuge management decisions. This legislation also includes provisions that would weaken the EPA’s ability to regulate toxic lead in ammunition, fishing equipment. Additionally, this bill would undermine international commitments to combat ivory trafficking, thwarts our ability to effectively manage marine resources, and cuts the public out of management decisions impacting hundreds of millions of acres of public lands. On February 26, the House approved H.R. 2406 by a vote of 242-161 (House roll call vote 101). NO IS THE PRO-ENVIRONMENT VOTE.” [LCV] (emphasis added)

(2) Representative Amodei has the big three listed — “land access, ecosystem health, and local economies.” However, in terms of access notice the underlining in the SHARE bill – when management decisions are to be made the PUBLIC is cut out of the process. This raises the question that if we are speaking of public access to public lands and the public is cut out of the management decision process, then whose access are we talking about?  Since the GOP sponsored bill passed the GOP controlled Congress, then it’s reasonable to assume the GOP doesn’t want input from PUBLIC organizations concerning management decisions – leaving the field (literally?) to the mining, logging, privatization, and other commercial interests?

And, if rivers are dredged or fouled, forests are cut down, wildlife is endangered, hunters are denied access, fishing enthusiasts are turned away, then it must be for the sake of the “local economies?” Unfortunately, Representative Amodei’s comments as reported offer no explication of his priorities.

(3) But then, there’s Representative Amodei’s infamous quote: “…we do understand their frustration with increasingly heavy handed federal agencies that continue to violate the rights of hardworking American farmers and ranchers.” [RGJ] Are heavily armed men taking over a federal wildlife refuge and threatening violence just “frustrated?”  So, perhaps it would be logical to infer that Amodei’s heart is with the “frustrated” members of those “local economies” which seek to exploit public resources?

Amodei is quick to cite his support for the National Park Service budget, and his support for the hazardous fuel mitigation efforts on public lands, but part of what got him on the Anti-Park list is explained: “Amodei landed on the list for sponsoring legislation that would give the state control of 7.2 million of the approximately 58 million acres of federally controlled land in Nevada..[RGJ]

It doesn’t take too much imagination to see that cash strapped states (like Nevada) might not eventually want to capitalize on the exploitation of public lands in the state, quite possibly at the expense of small ranching concerns, outdoor sports participants, and wildlife in particular.

A sneak peak might be on display with his bill to place BLM lands in trust with Nevada tribes:

“The House Natural Resources Committee approved the Nevada Native Nations Land Act, H.R. 2733, which Amodei introduced to provide more opportunities for economic development and protection of natural resources in the regions.

“(Wednesday’s) vote puts us one step closer to placing Nevada public lands back into local control — rather than in the hands of Washington bureaucrats,” Amodei said. “My bill carefully balances the unique needs of our Nevada tribal nations with those of local ranchers, land owners and businesses.” [RiponAdv] (emphasis added)

There he goes again, getting land out from under the “Washington Bureaucrats.”  The only salvation in this legislation is that Native Americans, who generally have a better standard of stewardship than the Koch Brothers,  are the ones holding the lands in trust.  We might also safely conclude that this “one step” is the first of many in which Representative Amodei seeks to place Nevada public lands under local control.

From local it’s one more step to private.

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Filed under Amodei, Interior Department, koch brothers, National Parks, Native Americans, Nevada politics, public lands, Reservations, Rural Nevada

>Vote fraud more important than rape? Gonzales Department of Justice replaced attorney trying to reduce reservation crime

>When is it more important to prevent voter fraud than rape? Very possible answer: When you’re in the Bush Administration Department of Justice managed by AG Alberto Gonzales.

In 2004 Congress enacted a budget a section of which required the Department of Justice to submit quarterly reports on its efforts to reduce murder rates, domestic violence, child abuse and other violent crimes committed against Native Americans. [Indianz] $2.75 million was dedicated to the FBI Indian Country unit to assist with crime prosecution efforts. $7.55 million was to be used for the creation of a liaison office to help Native communities eliminate domestic violence.

There was a reason for this legislation. Between 1992 and 2002 the rate of violent crime victimization among Native Americans aged 25-34 was more than 2 1/2 times that for all other persons of the same age. The rates of violent crime victimization for both Native American men and women were higher than for all other races. [DoJBJS]

And, for trying to carry out the Congressional mandate to help Native Americans improve law enforcement activities to reduce these statistics — former Minnesota U.S. Attorney Thomas Heffelfinger was one of the 30 prosecutors the Bush Administration wanted to fire. He was also one of the U.S. Attorneys Monica Goodling thought should be removed for spending “an extraordinary amount of time” prosecuting crimes against Native Americans. [TP]

Heffelfinger’s reaction: “I did spent a lot of time on it,” Heffelfinger said of the American Indian issue. “That’s what I was instructed to do” by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft. Given the higher rates of violence suffered by American Indians, Heffelfinger said, the time was warranted, but it didn’t take away from other priorities. “I had to work hard, but I was comfortable with the mix of my local responsibilities and my Native American responsibilities,” said Heffelfinger, who oversaw his office’s investigation into the 2005 shooting that claimed 10 lives on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in far northern Minnesota.” [KARE]

That Red Lake shooting — in 2005 the second deadliest school shooting in the U.S., now unfortunately the third — the one about which the President had nothing to say until the Washington Post and other media outlets printed reports comparing his response to the Schiavo Case to the Red Lake Tragedy: “The fact that Bush preempted his vacation to say something about Ms. Schiavo and here you have 10 native people gunned down and he can’t take time to speak is very telling,” said David Wilkins, interim chairman of the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota and a member of the North Carolina-based Lumbee tribe.”

The silence from the White House was so obvious that “Jacqueline Johnson, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, called the White House on Thursday to inquire about Bush’s silence. “I wanted to make sure the White House is paying attention to this issue,” she said. “I wasn’t sure.” [WaPo] President Bush eventually commented on the tragedy during a subsequent Saturday radio broadcast.

For spending time dealing with the tragedy at Red Lake, and all the numerous and unrecorded smaller tragedies on Native American lands, the political operatives in the White House and the Justice Department put Mr. Heffelfinger on a list of those to be replaced by the likes of Rachel Paulouse, a close friend of Ms. Goodling.

So, the tragedy continues, compounding itself as the Bush Administration seeks to politicize the Department of Justice and denigrate attempts to solve problems on Reservations. Would it be too much to ask that the Administration spend an “extraordinary amount of time” noting that the BIA law enforcement section is staffed at just 31% of its needs? Or, take action regarding the fact that the violent crime rate in Indian Country is 101 per 1,000 compared to the national average of 41 per 1,000. Or, notice that Native American women are 2 1/2 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted as other women in America. [Helena Ind]

Republican members of Congress may whine that the “fishing expedition” into the firing of U.S. Attorneys is an inconsequential partisan activity. [TPmm] And, the President may groan that the “political theater” is being “drug out.” [TPmm] But, this issue illustrates exactly where the rubber meets the road.

When a competent prosecutor who is attempting to follow the mandate of Congress, and the instructions from the man who hired him (Ashcroft), to make progress toward achieving the worthwhile goal of reducing crime against Native Americans — is “rewarded” for his efforts by being placed on a firing list — then something is, indeed, very very wrong. Unless, of course, one believes that replacing such attorneys with ones more amenable to bringing phony voter fraud cases is more important.

In 2002 while a resident of a reservation was 2 1/2 times more likely to be a victim of a violent crime than the rest of the American population, Republicans weren’t focusing on the murders committed or the rapes perpetrated. They were exercised about the possibility that the Democrats were going to ‘steal’ the election with fraudulent votes from South Dakota Reservations. [TPM] It seems there was some voter fraud going on — six Republican party staff members and campaign workers in South Dakota resigned in October, 2004, over a voter fraud scandal. The GOP reassigned one of them, Larry Russell head of the South Dakota GOP-GOTV operations to Ohio. [TPM]

With this brief history in mind, it’s no surprise that Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison and Rep. John Conyers are asking for communications related to Heffelfinger’s replacement, and for documents about efforts to “enforce” voter fraud and ballot integrity laws in Minnesota. [WCCO] After all, it seems far more important to the Bush Administration to punish so-called voting fraud crime BY Native Americans than to address violent crimes done TO Native Americans.

What’s needed at this juncture, whether the Republican lock-steppers in Congress like it or not, is an “extraordinary amount of time” spent investigating who’s manipulating the Department of Justice into allocating resources to chase the phantoms of voter fraud while Native Americans are waiting all night for a BIA cop to respond to a burglary, rape, or murder 911 call.


Filed under Alberto Gonzales, Crime Rates, Heffelfinger, Native Americans, Reservations