Let me be a free man—free to travel, free to work, free to follow the religion of my forefathers, and I will obey every law or submit to the penalty.
-- Chief Joseph, Nez Perce.
Indigenous rights are never freely given—they must be demanded, wrested away, then vigilantly protected. That is the essence of freedom.
-- Walter Echo-Hawk, Pawnee.
NAWA! Walter Echo-Hawk (Pawnee) is a Native American speaker, author, and attorney. Throughout his distinguished legal career, he has worked to protect the legal, political, property, cultural, and human rights of Indian tribes and Native peoples. An articulate and versed indigenous rights activist, Echo-Hawk delivers keynote speeches and lectures on a wide variety of indigenous topics, involving Native arts and cultures, indigenous history, federal Indian law, religious freedom, environmental protection, Native American cosmology, and human rights.
He makes keynote appearances at important events throughout Indian Country and around the world. Over the years, he has offered major speeches in South Africa, Turkey, Egypt, Philippines, Canada, and throughout the United States. He is currently on a book lecture tour for his groundbreaking book, In the Courts of the Conqueror: The 10 Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided (2010). In June, his new book, "IN THE LIGHT OF JUSTICE," will be available on this website. This Site introduces this Native American Speaker, profiles his unique career, and provides Contact Information for your event. WELCOME!
What the Hell Is Wrong With Albuquerque Cops?
After a 16 month investigation, the DOJ report on the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) was released and it concluded that ?APD engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional use of violence and use of deadly force? and the use of less than lethal force?? and ?system deficiencies that cause or contribute to the use of excessive force?, such as substandard training of officers, inadequate community policing, institutional failures in the investigation of shootings and accountability system, an aggressive culture among officers, a disconnect between officers and the community over this aggressive behavior, lack of use of the crisis intervention team and weak civilian oversight. DOJ, City of Albuquerque, and APD will now negotiate a ?consent decree? to outline reforms and actions. DOJ has such consent agreements in 8 other cities. A full time Deputy Chief was hired to oversee DOJ reforms, including overhaul of the internal Affairs Division, strengthening the Civilian Oversight Commission, and proper training of use of force and de-escalation tactics.
The hacker group Anonymous called for another protest march last weekend, but the DOJ report has taken the steam out of most protesters. There are more people in gatherings supporting APD after the DOJ report. Anonymous did disrupt APD and city websites two weeks ago after the over-reaction by APD in responding to a protest march that turned violent. Protesters spent 12 hours protesting and it turned violent at night, with the APD in riot gear, using tactical teams, tear gas and an armored personnel carrier (APC). These protests were for the shootings of James Boyd and Alfred Redwine, whose deaths were not even covered in the DOJ investigation. The FBI is now investigating the Boyd and Redwine shootings. The video of Boyd?s shooting went viral and set off the protests while Redwine was shot in a separate incident the night of the first protest march.
Training of police recruits has been an issue since it was revealed that Jack Jones, the director of the Law Enforcement Academy that trains rookie police officers in the state, had been refusing to comply with an inspection of public records request to view his training manual. Jones, a 30 year military veteran, was criticized for his ?officer survival? tactics and philosophy that taught an officer could die any day at the hands of the public. It appears that these rookies were trained to fear the community they are supposed to protect and serve. It also reinforced the views in Radley Balko?s new book, Rise of the Warrior Cop, which states that police are trained to patrol urban insurgencies and to fear the populace -- even though 90% of police work is not SWAT related. In the Warrior Cop mentality, community policing and investigative forensics seem to be low priorities.
How Did I Miss That? Militia: God Gave Land to Settlers, Not Shoshone
Big news that went on all week was the confrontation between the federal government and the ?militia movement? over the removal of cattle belonging to Mormon ?pioneer? Cliven Bundy from federal land. Bundy has not paid his grazing fees for 20 years. Why? His ancestors settled those lands in the 19th century. ?Time immemorial,? my Cousin Ray Sixkiller pointed out, ?means different things to different people.?
The 68-year-old Bundy recognizes no federal authority in the matter. If he owed grazing fees, he claimed they would be owed to the state of Nevada, which entered the United States on Halloween, 1864. Because the Civil War was going on, the Nevada Constitution contained a ?paramount allegiance clause,? which is seriously inconvenient for anybody claiming, as Bundy does, a right to ignore the feds.
The year before Nevada was admitted, the US signed the Treaty of Ruby Valley, which recognized the Western Shoshone as owners of the dirt Cliven Bundy is claiming the right to use because of his ?pioneer? pedigree. In 1979, the Indian Claims Commission awarded the Shoshone $26 million in compensation for land lost to ?settler encroachment? while the federal government looked the other way. Those encroaching settlers would be who Cliven Bundy cites today as originators of his right to graze his cattle.
The Shoshone refused the money. They had not agreed to sell the land. They did not agree that the land should be used for nuclear testing. Carrie and Mary Dann were Shoshone elders who stood up to the abuse. Mary walked on at age 82, in 2005. The 81-year-old Carrie was last arrested in 2007, protesting against the use of Shoshone land for nuclear weapons research.
The Dann Sisters grazed their cattle on land the Bureau of Land Management claimed since 1973, refusing to pay grazing fees based on the Treaty of Ruby Valley, Article VI of the US Constitution, and a report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States that found the US to be cheating the Shoshone.
In 1992 and again in 2002, armed BLM posses rounded up the Dann Sisters? cattle and sold them for grazing fees. The New York Times reported in 2002 that the Dann Sisters had been fined $3 million for ?trespass.?
When a BLM posse came to round up Cliven Bundy?s cattle, armed ?patriots? rode to the rescue. The BLM got about 400 head of Bundy?s cattle and Bundy got about as many supporters, many of them armed, from as far away as Montana. The Washington Post reported on April 10 that a sign at the entrance to the protest camp read ?MILITA SIGHN IN.? Cousin Ray said he hoped their shooting was no better than their spelling.
Protestor Richard Mack, a former Arizona Sheriff, told a Fox News camera that the plan was ?to put all the women up at the front. If they are going to start shooting, it?s going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers.?
On April 12, the BLM postponed the circus, giving Bundy?s cattle back and leaving Cousin Ray to wonder where all these lovers of law and liberty were when the women up front were Carrie and Mary Dann?
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Randy Gray, 27, is the first of four men to be sentenced for selling counterfeit guitars to pawnshops nationwide. The fakes were represented as Martins, Gibsons, and Guilds??90 percent Martins,? according to a federal prosecutor. Cousin Ray was horrified. ?Fake guitars? Is nothing sacred??
The good news is that the brilliant satirist Stephen Colbert has been tapped to replace David Letterman. The bad news is that Colbert will appear as himself rather than in character as the right wing blowhard. Military Times reported that the Colbert pick was endorsed by retired Gen. David Petraeus because of Colbert?s service entertaining the troops in Iraq. ?Or it might have been,? Cousin Ray speculated, ?because Colbert never made fun of Petraeus?s inability to keep his affair secret.?
Speaking of right wing blowhards, Rush Limbaugh accused that when CBS picked Colbert it, ?declared war on the heartland of America.? If so, it?s an interesting choice, since CBS has the older white male demographic that is the Republican base sewed up. They get their entertainment from CBS and their news from Fox. Cousin Ray pointed out that kids get their entertainment from Fox and their news from The Comedy Channel.
A more violent right wing blowhard, and former Grand Dragon of the KKK, set out to kill some Jews at a Jewish community center in a suburb of Kansas City. Between that and a Jewish retirement home, the Aryan superman managed to kill one child and two elders?two Methodists and a Catholic?before being hauled off in a police car shouting ?Heil Hitler!?...
Racial Bullying Persists in Northern California
Racial bullying continues to occur at a Northern California high school, even after several students from the Pit River Tribe took a stand against peers who have systematically taunted and belittled them.
Verbal attacks are escalating, said 12-year-old Alexis Elmore, a seventh-grader at Burney Junior-Senior High School.
?They tell me I?m disgusting because I?m Indian,? Alexis said. ?They call us wagon burners, dirty Indians and savages.?
Two Pit River students already transferred to other schools after they found notes reading ?Watch Your Red-skinned Back? and ?White Pride Bitch? on their lockers last month. The notes came as Native students held elections for their Native Youth Council. Campaign materials like posters and stickers were defaced.
Alexis, who ran for treasurer, campaigned with pictures of herself dancing at a powwow.
?Girls came up to me and told me it was witchcraft, and it was wrong,? she said, adding that the bullying began last fall and now has expanded to social media.
Alexis and several other students came forward last month to talk about the constant bullying and an apparent lack of response from school and district authorities. Greg Hawkins, superintendent of the Fall River Unified School District, did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Parents reported the notes to the Shasta County Sheriff?s Office. The case was sent to the major crimes unit, where deputies continue to investigate whether a hate crime has occurred, deputy Seth Edwards said.
The school, which houses grades seven through 12, has a Native student population that is higher than average for the county and state. According to data from the California Department of Education, 27 Native students attended Burney Junior-Senior High School last year, or about 12 percent of the total student population.
There are almost 1,400 Native students in Shasta County or about 5 percent of the total, and about 40,500 Native students in the state, or roughly one-half of one percent of the total student population.
To Book Walter Echo-Hawk
Thursday April 24th, 2014
The Henry Zarrow Center for Art & Education, Tulsa, OK
06:00pm to 07:00pm
Public Keynote, "In The Light of Justice," Tulsa Indigenous Studies Alliance, Spring Speaker Series.
Thursday May 1st, 2014
The W Hotel, Seattle, WA
06:30pm to 07:30pm
Dinner Speech, Northwest Indian Bar Association (NIBA)
Tuesday June 10th, 2014
Isleta Pueblo Hotel, Albuquerque, NM
01:30pm to 02:45pm
Lecture, "United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples" at 2014 National Program Training of the Society of American Indian Government Employees (SAIGE) Conference.
"How the UNDRIP can provide a stronger foundation for Indian rights in the United States"
By Walter Echo-Hawk
Posted: 06 Mar 2011
INDIAN RIGHTS IN THE U.S. ARISE from a foundation fashioned in the 19th Century. Much of that foundation remains sound today and should be retained, especially the "inherent tribal sovereignty" doctrine of Worcester v. Georgia (1833) and its "protectorate framework" for protecting Indian nations that exist in the Republic as "domestic dependant...
"Why We Need The UN DECLARATION ON THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES"
By Walter Echo-Hawk
Posted: 27 Feb 2011
MANY IN INDIAN COUNTRY fail to see how international law can help solve tribal problems at home on Indian reservations. That is short-sighted. By contrast, the leading Indian Country organizations fought hard for many years to develop the UNDRIP and obtain UN and US approval. Those advocates include the National Congress of American Indians, Na...