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North Dakota Republican Who Sponsored Law Disenfranchising Native Americans Loses Election - To a Native American

Republicans managed to beat Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota. But down the ballot, they paid a price for trying to block her Native American base from voting.

By Matthew Chapman / AlterNet

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Dear Secretary Zinke,

We know as you do that every generation inherits a world it never made; and, as it does so, it automatically becomes the trustee of that world for those who come after. In due course, each generation makes its own accounting to its children. Therefore we reach out to you today on a matter that demands justice, courage and ultimately honor. You have many times visited our council in the shadow of the “Backbone of the World” as we spoke these very words and how to make a better life for our children. You as former military man know these words. You know they served not only as your military code of conduct but also a code of conduct for how one should walk in this world.

September 25, 2017

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Open Letter Approved by Official Resolution No. 1 (Dec 2014-04) of the MT WY Tribal Leaders Council on December 11, 2014

The sovereignty and spiritual rights of Tribal Nations in Montana and Wyoming are threatened by the proposed delisting of the Yellowstone grizzly bear from Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections by the US Fish and Wildlife Services. Ten of the twenty-six Tribal Nations the federal government recognizes as having an ancestral connection to Yellowstone are located in Montana and Wyoming, but to date they have not been consulted in this process.

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Tribes gathering in Yellowstone to demand names of war criminal and white supremacist be changed in National Park

WHEN: Saturday, September 16

WHERE: Gardiner, Montana
Noon - Ceremonial ride through Gardiner to Arch Park
1 pm – Tribal Leaders presentations in Arch Park followed by ride through Roosevelt
Arch to present official request from Tribal Leaders to the National Park Service


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By William Ernest Henley

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August 25, 2016

LETTER FROM Bill Thorpe to Tom Rodgers

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Eagle's Ribs
a Piegan Chief


1832 George Catlin
Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796
Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872

oil on canvas 29 x 24 in. (73.7 x 60.9 cm)
Smithsonian American Art Museum

Letter of Recommendation from Lawrence R. Stidham, Attorney

"Few other lobbyists or advocates can match his zeal in representing his clients."

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Letter of Recommendation Richard L. Velky, Chief, Schaghticoke Tribal Nation

"[Tom Rogers'] perseverance and strong work ethic - available nearly 24/7 - allows him to not just participate, but walk with us in this journey to correct the injustice that was done to our Nation. ...Tom has validated our focus on restoration and fortified the Tribe's ethical stance in pursuit of fairness and justice."

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Remarks on the Signing of the Voting Rights Act (August 6, 1965)
Lyndon B. Johnson

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Tom C. Rodgers O-tee-paym-soo-wuk Ethics in Government Scholarship

Tom Rodgers, a member of the Blackfoot tribe and an alumnus of the University of Denver College of Law, recently established the Tom C. Rodgers Ethics in Government Scholarship, which will benefit a Native American law student at his alma mater. Rodgers is president and CEO of Carlyle Consulting and is a leading lobbyist on tribal matters in Washington DC. Through this full-ride scholarship, which includes a guaranteed internship with his company, Carlyle Consulting in DC, Rodgers hopes to encourage students with unique perspectives to participate in public policy debate and advocacy. Rodgers' desire to serve as a role model for Native American youth is particularly strong, as the past year has seen an alarming outbreak of suicide among youth living on the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana, just fifty miles from Rodgers' boyhood home.


University of Denver Sturm College of Law

13 satellite offices set up for tribes, state says

HELENA - Secretary of State Linda McCulloch announced Tuesday that 13 early voting offices have now been established on Montana's American Indian reservations for the June 7 primary election.

They will be in nine counties and will serve six tribal nations, and will be providing early voting and late registration on select days in the month leading up to the primary, McCulloch, the state's chief elections officer, said, adding the creating of these satellite offices follows a directive she issued in October.


Phil Drake, Great Falls Tribune, May 17, 2016

Make voting easier for Native Americans on reservations

We have a longstanding belief on the Tribune editorial board that government should make it easier, not more difficult, for people to vote for public office.

That's why we favor efforts by Native American activists to make it more convenient to vote on Montana's Indian reservations, some of which are far-flung and far away from county seats. Northern Cheyenne Indians in southwest Montana face a one-way, 70-mile drive to Forsyth, the county seat in Rosebud County, to register to vote on Election Day.


Editorial Board, Great Falls Tribune, October 24, 2015

Montana voting rights case inspires national legislation

A 120-mile round trip separates voters in Lame Deer from voting early and registering late, and Lame Deer is among the closest places on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation to Forsyth, the seat of Rosebud County.

But the asphalt on Montana Highway 39 is just one way to measure the distance.

"This journey has geographical and historical distances," said Tom Rodgers, a tribal issues activist, member of the Blackfeet Nation and Jack Abramoff whistleblower.

As South Carolina debates Confederate symbols, Rodgers thinks of symbols in Montana that also tell a story.


Kristen Inbody, Great Falls Tribune, August 14, 2015

Tribal Equal Access to Voting Act -- Letter to The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr., President, United States Senate

Dear Mr. President:

The right to vote is the bedrock guarantee of this great nation. For far too long, our American

Indian and Alaska Native communities have faced significant obstacles that have prevented these communities from enjoying equal access to polling places and equal opportunities to cast a ballot. In addition to suffering from a long history of discrimination, the distance many American Indian and Alaska Native citizens must travel to reach a polling place presents a substantial and ongoing barrier to full voter participation. Following formal consultations with Indian Tribes, the Department of Justice believes that there is a pressing need for federal legislation to ensure equal access to voting by Native American voters. We are pleased to transmit to Congress the enclosed legislative proposal, which would ensure that American Indian and Alaska Natives have access to at least one polling place in their communities to cast their ballots and ensure their voices are heard - a basic right that most other citizens already take for granted.


May 21, 2015

Tribal leaders welcome Holder's voting access plan

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday his office will consult with tribes across the country to develop ways to increase voting access for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Holder said the goal is to require state and local election officials to place at least one polling site in a location chosen by tribal governments in parts of the nation that include tribal lands. Barriers to voting, he said, include English-only ballots and inaccessible polling places.


Billings Gazette, Billings Gazette, JUNE 10, 2014

Montana's Northern Cheyenne tribe fighting to secure voting rights

The only way to register to vote for reservation residents is to make a 157-mile round trip to nearest county seat - a trip most can't afford. But one man is fighting to change this in federal court

Mark Wandering Medicine has sacrificed more than most for his country. He served six years in the US marines, fought through the bloodiest years of the Vietnam war and almost lost a leg when his scouting unit was ambushed near the North Vietnamese border in 1972.

"Native Americans make up just 1.7% of the US population, but it's strategic," says Tom Rodgers, a Blackfeet Indian from northern Montana who works as a Washington lobbyist for many tribes, rich and poor, and has raised most of the money for the lawsuit. "This is spiritual, and this is fate. It is poetry."


by Andrew Gumbel. The Guardian, Monday 7 October 2013

Tribes' lawsuit could decide who controls Senate in 2015

high-profile lawsuit on the voting rights of Native Americans could help determine control of the Senate in the next Congress.

A group of 16 Native Americans, nine of whom are military veterans, is waging a protracted legal battle against Montana's Democratic secretary of State and county administrators, arguing for improved access to voter registration sites.

This group, which is providing strategic and financial support to the plaintiffs, includes Four Directions, a nationally known voting rights organization, and Tom Rodgers, the Native American lobbyist who blew the whistle on former lobbyist Jack Abramoff for charging Native American tribes exorbitant fees on lobbying.


By Jordy Yager, THE HILL, Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tribes say rights violated in 2012 election

Arguments are scheduled in a lawsuit over tribal members' ability to vote.

HELENA, Mont. - Arguments are scheduled this month in a federal lawsuit over whether state and county election officials did enough to give tribal members on reservations the ability to vote in the 2012 national election.

The 9th U.S. District Court of Appeals denied a request by defendants led by Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction in late February.


By John S. Adams, USA Today, March 18, 2013

The man who blew the whistle on Jack Abramoff tells the story of how he did it

He was instrumental in shining the light on one of Washington's biggest scandals. He made Jack Abramoff a household name. But few know who he is.

Tom Rodgers preferred to operate strategically behind the scenes as he played a leading role in taking down the most notorious lobbyist on K Street. But now, in an interview with The Hill, he has decided to go public with his story.


By Susan Crabtree, The Hill, January 26, 2010

Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada Funding Letter

Dear Tribal Leaders and Friends of the Indian Community,

We write today to ask for your financial assistance to achieve equal access for our Tribal members to the ballot box for the 2016 federal and state general election in Nevada.


44 Million Ways to Say I'm Sorry

Jack Abramoff served his time and is working off his restitution. He has even taken on the cause of government reform. But will he ever be done paying for his crimes?


By Marisa M. Kashino - Marisa M. Kashino, The Washingtonian

Native American tribes' lawsuit could decide who controls Senate in 2015

A high-profile lawsuit on the voting rights of Native Americans could help determine control of the Senate in the next Congress.


By Jordy Yager - 07/16/13 05:00 AM ET. THE HILL.

In Honor of: Anthony Burnside


June 13, 2012

Lobbyist Tom Rodgers Has His Own Washington Monument That He Hopes Will Get Indians to Vote

When most of us want to remember to do something, we put a Post-it note on our computer or refrigerator. Tom Rodgers's Post-it is a 25-foot-high tipi with pine lodge poles he planned to erect in his backyard near Washington, D.C.'s Capitol Building in mid-August.


August 29, 2012

Count That Day Lost
by George Eliot

If you sit down at set of sun
And count the acts that you have done,
And, counting, find
One self-denying deed, one word
That eased the heart of him who heard,
One glance most kind
That fell like sunshine where it went -
Then you may count that day well spent.

But if, through all the livelong day,
You've cheered no heart, by yea or nay -
If, through it all
You've nothing done that you can trace
That brought the sunshine to one face -
No act most small
That helped some soul and nothing cost -
Then count that day as worse than lost.

July 30, 2012

Hi, Tom!

You will be receiving a card any day now, but I wanted to tell you separately just how profoundly your visit affected the students in Miami's Inside Washington Program Wednesday, and how astonished they were to know that you came to speak to them even though you lost your brother-in-law only hours earlier.

To a person, they were deeply moved by your stories and by the challenges you laid out for them - to follow their passion, be true to themselves, to cherish relationships above all, and to live with integrity. The were still mulling over what you said days later. One of the students told me Friday your comments actually helped her decide she didn't really want to go to law school, it was just one of those things she thought she was supposed to do. What she really wants, she said, is to work for a non-profit that makes a difference in people's lives - so she's switching gears and planning to do that and probably earn a master's degree instead. That is just one example of how much they took in what you shared with them. Others' responses have not been as dramatic, but they've been talking a lot about how they're reevaluating their plans in terms of your suggestions.

So ... thank you. In yet another way, in yet another setting, you made a difference in people's lives.


Cheryl Gibbs, Faculty Leader
Miami University's Inside Washington Program
Spring 2012

February 4, 2012

from Terry "TJ: Snow, Chairman
Blackfeet Tribal Business Council

March 8, 2012

Redemption Song
An Abramoff whistle-blower has created a law school scholarship for Native students

February 8, 2012
"The Week from Indian Country"

Tom C. Rodgers
O-tee-paym-soo-wuk Ethics in Government Scholarship

November 2011

Tom Rodgers, a member of the Blackfoot tribe and an alumnus of the University of Denver College of Law, recently established the Tom C. Rodgers Ethics in Government Scholarship, which will benefit a Native American law student at his alma mater.

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Reasons for suicide amplified for Native Americans
Read article by LORNA THACKERAY Of The Gazette Staff
Read the Billings Gazette Article, Sunday, February 20, 2011

Death and Night

By Tom Rodgers
April 2, 2011 and your crew may still reach home
Suffering all the way, if you only have the power
To curb their wild desire and curb your own
-The Odyssey

Like a W.H. Auden World War II-era poem we live in an age of anxiety, of negation and emptiness. His poem is as prescient now as it was then, for when injustices and ethical issues are not addressed early they lead to even more anxiety, more fear, more misjudgments and more injustice. We are now confronted again with the headlines of Faustian children-whether it be about Michael Scanlon (TPMMuckraker: "Abramoff's Partner Doesn't Want to Cough Up Ill-Gotten Millions") or Tony Rudy awaiting his May 3 sentencing in United States District Court. As the Financial Times columnist Harry Eyres so sadly wrote about the "Lords of Finance" ("Why We're All Fausts Now") we need to remember that Faust sells his soul to Mephistopheles (the devil) for worldly glory and happiness. The question becomes who is the descendant of Faust and who is the descendant of Mephistopheles? Both Abramoff men "wanted"-be it knowledge, money, power, love (or sex). Faust wanted knowledge initially, then he wanted only power and as power is money, he wanted only money. Scanlon also wanted his Helen of Troy but that discussion would entail a complete examination of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

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Thomas Rodgers celebrates 50th birthday in Nation's Capitol

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The Father Becomes The Son; Does The Son Become The Father?

By Thomas Rodgers Feature

I have often wondered when I think about my relationship with my father whether the philosopher Kierkegaard’s statement: “Life is lived forwards, but understood backwards” was most poignantly about a father and a son.

I am the son of a Blackfoot Native American woman and a once removed Irish immigrant man who together escaped from the extreme poverty of the Blackfoot Indian reservation of north- western Montana to the windswept wheat fields of eastern Montana. This landscape generates an emotional stoicism born of sheer adversity and gives deep meaning to the statement “if you tell me where you are from I can tell you who you are.”

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If They’re Lost, Who Are We?

By David Treuer/Washington Post
April 6, 2008

LEECH LAKE, Minn. - I am not supposed to be alive. Native Americans were supposed to die off, as endangered species do, a century ago. And so it is with great discomfort that I am forced, in many ways, to live and write as a ghost in this haunted American house.

But perhaps I am not dead after all, despite the coldest wishes of a republic that has wished it so for centuries before I was born. We stubbornly continue to exist. There were just over 200,000 Native Americans alive at the turn of the 20th century; as of the last census, we number more than 2 million. If you discount immigration, we are probably the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population. But even as our populations are growing, something else, I fear, is dying: our cultures.

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Raised $31,000 dollars for Christmas gifts for children of less fortunate tribes from the Great Plains Tribes of Montana as part of the 2006 Annual Tribal Christmas Drive

Last year, NIGA and Member Tribes raised approximately $200,000 through a Christmas toy/ clothing/food drive for Indian children in need on Indian reservations in North and South Dakota, Montana, and the Navajo Nation.

For example, through our Christmas drive last year children in court-ordered foster care on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation received at least one article of clothing that they needed and a Christmas toy that they wanted. Without assistance, they would have had very little Christmas cheer because of their difficult family circumstances.

Raised over $200K in charitable contributions for a Native American Tribal Government who was a victim of hurricane Rita.

Charitable contributions to Alcohol Abuse Avoidance and Alcohol Treatment programs in Washington, D.C.: MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and Clean and Sober Streets

- Ernest L. Stevens, Jr., Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association

Intern Experience
July 21, 2006

"This has been an awesome internship. I really don’t think I could have done anything better. It’s so cool because some of legislation affecting Natives, this committee has jurisdiction over, so I get to see first hand all the different processes that our committee goes through. Right now my boss Richard is starting to write legislation for some different things in education, permanent funding for bison co-op, and some other stuff.

I talked to some other Natives who are out here with different programs like WINS and UDALL, and not to brag but this internship is way better. They have to do reports on issues going on right now such as health care, suicide, meth, and language immersion... (and) I have first hand to all this stuff. Almost in one way or another, these topics fall within the committee. So I feel fortunate to have this experience. All the people I talk to are really impressed with my internship and they all want to know how in the heck I got it."

- Diana Ramos, Barona Band of Mission Indians

Endless Generosity Letter
August 16, 2004

“Tom, I wanted to extend to you my sincerest “thanks” for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime. My time in Washington D.C. with the great people of the Finance Committee was truly the best experience and most fun six weeks of my life. It was awesome! Without you, this would never have happened.

Since my departure from D.C., I haven’t gone a single day without thinking about the exciting times I had there with the Democratic Finance Staff (“The Dream Team”) and my intern buds. I miss it, and them, so much! I never would have thought that I would have as much fun as I did, and I owe it all to you. I’ll never forget you, Tom, or your endless generosity! Thanks a bunch!

Forever Grateful,
Alex Robles

Excerpts from "Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero"
Frontline, September 2002

A couple leaped from the south tower, hand in hand. They reached for each other and their hands met, and they jumped. I try to whisper prayers for the sudden dead and the harrowed families of the dead and the screaming souls of the murderers, but I keep coming back to his hand in her hand, nestled in each other with such extraordinary, ordinary, naked love. It's the most powerful prayer I can imagine, the most eloquent, the most graceful. It's everything we're capable of against horror and loss and tragedy.

It's what makes me believe that we're not fools to believe in God, to believe that human beings have greatness and holiness within them, like seeds that open only under great fire, to believe that who we are persists past what we were, to believe, against evil evidenced hourly, that love is why we are here.
-Brian Doyle

To me, that image is an inescapable provocation. This gesture, this holding of hands in the midst of that horror, it embodies what September 11 was all about. The image confronts us with the need to make a judgement, a choice. Does it show the ultimate hopelessness of human attempts to survive the power of hatred and of death? Or is it an affirmation of a greatness within our humanity itself that somehow shines in the midst of that darkness and contains the hint of a possibility, a power greater than death itself? Which of the two? It's a choice? It's the choice of September 11th.
-Monsigner Loranzo Albacete, Catholic Priest

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