Monday, January 26, 2009

Native Alert: New forest rules on plant gathering


1. Urge President Obama to Withdraw the Forest Service Special Forest Products Rule!
(courtesy of Jennifer Kalt, California Indian Basketweavers Association)

On Dec. 22, the U.S. Forest Service issued a new rule that would require permits and, in some cases, charge fees for tribal members to gather plant materials used for basketweaving, medicinal, ceremonial, and subsistence food uses. This “Midnight Regulation” is scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 28, 2009.

This rule would interfere with Native Americans’ traditional gathering practices for plants of cultural importance. This new rule conflicts with existing laws and policies, as well as local agreements that protect Native American religious freedom and cultural traditions. The rule will be costly to administer, and unfair to Native people.
What you can do:
Urge the Obama Administration to suspend the Forest Service's final rule on Special Forest Products -- please call or write today! For more information, contact Jennifer Kalt at or visit

Sample letter/talking points are below —(rewording and adding your own personal perspective and experience is always good):

"I urge you to suspend the “Sale and Disposal of National Forest System Timber; Special Forest Products and Forest Botanical Products” (36 CFR Parts 223 and 261; RIN 0596-AB81). Withdrawal of this rule until review and reconciliation with existing laws and policies will honor the United States’ trust responsibility to tribes and individual Indians, and will maintain the relationships with Tribes that the Forest Service has worked so hard to promote."

1. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
Dawn Charging, Office of Native American Programs
Tom Vilsak, Secretary of Agriculture

2. U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs: (202) 224-2251
Chair, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota):
Vice Chair, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, (R-Alaska):
Committee Member: Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington:

3. Chief Abigail Kimbell, USDA Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, DC 20090-6090
(800) 832-1355
(202) 205-1661

4. U.S. Congress: Find your Representative:
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-CA:

5. The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500
(202) 456-1111

2. Deployment of Renewable Energy in Indian Country (courtesy of Lizana Pierce, Dept. of Energy)
DOE's Tribal Energy Program has issued a Request for Information (RFI).
Under this RFI, the DOE is seeking information from Tribes and other
parties interested in the deployment of renewable energy in Indian
Country in the contiguous 48 States. The information in response to the
six (6) questions in the attached RFI document will be used by DOE for
internal planning and decision making purposes relative to future
activities under DOE's Tribal Energy Program.

The purpose of this Request for Information (RFI) is solely for
consideration in determining the barriers to renewable energy deployment
and the most beneficial and efficient way for DOE to help accelerate the
deployment of renewable energy in Indian Country

A copy of the RFI is attached or can be downloaded from 6EEB2D?
OpenDocument by scrolling to the bottom of the page under "Full
Announcement and Other Files" for a link to the actual document.

3. Tribal Projects in the Stimulus Package
Congress and President-Obama are in the process of developing economic stimulus legislation that will provide hundreds of billions of dollars for “shovel-ready” State infrastructure projects. Unfortunately, President-Obama’s stimulus proposal does not include direct funding for Tribal Governments to use in the hundreds of Tribal infrastructure projects that are shovel ready.

Tribal Leaders and others supportive of fair and equitable treatment in the economic stimulus package are encouraged to write President-Obama to urge him to honor the government-to-government relationship with Tribes, to treat Tribes fairly and to include a Tribal component in the economic stimulus legislation as recommended by the National Congress of American Indians, the Intertribal Transportation Association and other Tribal advocates.

For more information and to obtain a sample letter to send to President-Obama, please contact Jennifer Thomas at Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Endreson and Perry, LLP at or Gwen Salt at the National Congress of American Indians at

"Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things."

"Now our minds are one."

-- Thankgiving Address, Haudenosaunee

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