This Week at First Nations: June 28, 2024

What We’re Reading: The Truth About American Indian History and Treaty Rights in Colorado

This week, First Nations’ Stewarding Native Lands teams shares news on the cost of Indigenous land dispossession in Colorado. The Truth, Restoration, and Education Commission (TREC) of Colorado collaborated with the People of the Sacred Land (PSL) to examine the cost of widespread land displacement and genocide of Native peoples in the state. The recently published TREC report examines the value of Indigenous homelands taken by the state of Colorado and federal government, finding that approximately $1.17 trillion worth of Indigenous homelands and over $546 billion worth of minerals were extracted from Colorado. View the report.

Save the Date: July 17 for Next Office Hours 

In our role as a Community Navigator with the U.S. Forest Service, First Nations is joining the USFS and the National Indian Carbon Coalition to host informal “Office Hours” to discuss ideas and answer questions related to the Tribal Access to Emerging Private Markets for Forest Resilience or Climate Mitigation opportunity. The opportunity is designed to address Tribal-led forest resilience, climate mitigation, water quality, and carbon sequestration efforts. Up to $2 million per project is earmarked for Tribes to develop forest management plans, establish demonstration sites, and prioritize biodiversity protection. The grant deadline is August 21, 2024.

The next Office Hours will be held:
* July 17, 2024, at 1 pm MT: Register here.

REMINDER: Apply Now for Native Agriculture and Food Systems Scholarships

First Nations will award 20 to 25 scholarships, from $1,000 to $1,500, to Native college/university students majoring in agriculture and food systems fields. Scholarships support Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students to better assist their communities.

The application window for scholarships for the 2024-2025 academic year is now open. Apply here by July 11, 2024!

Biden Administration Acknowledges Harms of Columbia River Dams on Indigenous People

In a first-of-its-kind report, the federal government has detailed the harm to eight Columbia Basin tribes caused by 11 hydropower dams built on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. According to The Seattle Times, the report outlines how dams have flooded villages and disrupted economies and ways of life for Indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest ― specifically causing a decline in the salmon population, a food of paramount importance to tribes.

The report states: “The government should support actions that achieve healthy and abundant populations of salmon, other fish, and wildlife throughout the Basin.”

A separate 2022 report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration states that dam removal on the Lower Snake River is necessary to boost salmon abundance. Access a PDF of this article here.

Photo credit Erika Schultz/The Seattle Times

Judge Orders BNSF to Pay Washington Tribe $400M for Trespass

A U.S. District Court judge has ordered BNSF to pay the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community close to $400 million for trespassing on its reservation. According to The Seattle Times, a 1991 easement agreement requires the largest freight railroad in the country to carry no more than 25 cars each direction per day ― and inform the tribe of the “nature and identity of all cargo” crossing the nearly mile-long easement. A 2015 lawsuit alleged that BNSF was running six 100-car crude oil trains per week over the easement, four times the permitted number of cars. The tribe has been fighting the railway, and its predecessor, over trespass issues since 1889. Access a PDF of the article here.

Photo credit Progressive Railroading