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Don Ragona discusses Native American treaties

Don Ragona

Don Ragona

Finger Lakes Community College’s George M. Ewing forum continues with Don Ragona, an attorney for Colorado-based Native American Rights Fund.

Ragona has an insider’s view of the battle that pits two Native American tribes against big industry and the federal government. The NARF represents two tribes in a lawsuit filed against the Trump administration to halt an extension of the Keystone oil pipeline from Nebraska to Alberta, Canada. The suit alleges that the pipeline poses a threat to the environment and people of the sacred, ancestral lands and violates centuries-old treaties.

Ragona will discuss the Keystone case as well as the enduring relevance of Native American treaties. Joining Ragona is G. Peter Jemison, the longtime manager of the Ganondagan State Historic Site. Evan Dawson of WXXI will moderate the discussion.

Titled “Turtle Island’s Treaties: Honor and Activism,” Turtle Island is the name for land in North American commonly used by Native Americans and indigenous rights activists.

“One of the points we’re going to make is that treaties are the law of the land. They are in the Constitution. They are living documents. They don’t expire. They don’t have shelf life,” says Ragona. “Tribes do rely on them today.”

Jemison adds, “The Constitution says treaties are the Supreme Law of the land. How then can laws passed by Congress supersede a treaty signed by the president and ratified by Congress?”

This talk is the third of four in the forum’s 2019-20 season. The final talk will be on Jan. 26 with Forrest Pritchard, an organic farmer and author.

Ragona and Jemison take the stage at 4 p.m. in the Student Center Auditorium on Sunday, Nov. 10. gmeforum.org

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