Creekside Development Project Benefits Environment of Umpqua Tribe

Creekside Development Project pic
Creekside Development Project
Image: creekside-development.com

For almost 20 years, Wayne Shammel served as general counsel for the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians in Oregon. Wayne Shammel consulted with the tribe on the Umpqua Indian Utility Cooperative (UIUC), which brings fresh water and electrical power to the Creekside Development Project.

The project encompasses the area around Jordan Creek, which contains the City of Canyonville, the tribe’s resort and casino properties, and a truck and travel center near Interstate 5. The land borders on the South Umpqua River, an area of environmental improvement over the past few years due to several problems associated with the river. Over time, Canyonville had dumped approximately 300,000 gallons of non-drinkable water into the river, algae blooms cropped up during the summer months, and salmon fishing was banned for some time. Recreation such as swimming, fishing, and boating was limited.

The construction of a gray water treatment facility that recycled the water from Canyonville was one major solution offered by the project. Additionally, a new drinkable water reservoir supplied clean water to the casino, RV camp, and other tribal facilities, and the project supports the restoration of the river and the return of the steelhead smolt fish population.

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Efforts to Protect the Indian Child Welfare Act

Indian Child Welfare Act pic
Indian Child Welfare Act
Image: nicwa.org

Wayne Shammel, a consultant attorney in Oregon, comes to his current role following nearly 20 years of service as general counsel to the Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe. Wayne Shammel remains actively involved in Native affairs as a pro bono attorney to the Native American Rights Fund.

In the 1970s, the United States Congress enacted the Indian Child Welfare Act. This legislation aimed to end the disproportionate removal of children from Native communities and the placement of these children in non-Native homes or institutions. The ICWA sought to end this practice by requiring that tribes have the opportunity to intervene before removal proceedings occur, while also prioritizing placement for children in Native communities.

The ICWA is currently in a precarious position. In early 2015, the Bureau of Indian Affairs published its revisions to state child custody guidelines with the goal of more effectively addressing noncompliance. The bureau also proposed new binding federal regulations to regulate proceedings that fall under ICWA requirements. Opponents to the ICWA have responded with a series of lawsuits that claim the new guidelines are in violation of due process or are unconstitutional or discriminatory in their focus on race.

The Native American Rights Fund is now in collaboration with a number of other agencies, including the National Indian Child Welfare Association, on an initiative known as the ICWA Defense Project. The project is working to coordinate legal responses to the proposed litigation, while also educating policy makers on the need for the new proposed legislation to protect the rights of Native children. The project welcomes invested volunteers to speak with legislators, reach out to media, and raise funds for ICWA defense actions.

Optimist International Offers Scholarships for Public Speaking

Before launching his private law practice, Wayne Shammel advocated for the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians. Active in charity, Wayne Shammel volunteers for Optimist International.

Optimist International seeks to encourage children to see their true value. One aspect of this mission is the Oratorical Contest, in which participants speak on the theme “How My Best Brings Out the Best in Others.”

The event is open to young persons born before October 1, 1997, who are in school in the United States, the Caribbean, and Canada. Students must craft a four- to-five-minute speech. The deadline for entry is usually in mid-March; the exact date is set by each Optimist chapter. Nearly 2,000 clubs take part in the program, which began in 1928.

Club-level competitions give out medallions as prizes; contests at the zone level award plaques. Optimist districts can award two scholarships for $2,500. Alternatively, districts can give out a first place scholarship for $2,500, second place for $2,000, and third place for $1,000.

Related to this event is the Kids Speak Out contest. Prizes are not given, but younger children get the opportunity to practice public speaking skills.

Native American Rights Fund Achieves Voting Rights Victory

Having formerly served as general counsel for the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, Wayne Shammel is now a consulting attorney with his own firm. Wayne Shammel’s pro bono activity has included work for the Native American Rights Fund (NARF).

The oldest organization of its kind, NARF promotes the interests of Indian organizations, tribes, and individual citizens. In September 2015, it won a significant victory for Alaskan native voting rights.

The settlement between the State of Alaska and plaintiffs in federal court mandates that voting materials in indigenous languages be written for Native Americans in three census regions. Language assistance programs were also established for speakers of Gwich’in and as many as six Yup’ik dialects.

The suit was initiated in 2013 by tribal elders and organizations, who maintained the state had failed to provide complete voting information in their languages. The state argued that it upheld adequate standards for non-English speakers.

A district court judge is expected to issue a final implementing order by the end of the month. The settlement is anticipated to remain in force until December 31, 2020.