February 29, 2008



Reno Charette, Native American Studies Program Coordinator, 657-2144
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES —Valerie Taliman, who was on the front lines of an effort to get the United Nations to formally recognize the rights of indigenous peoples, will give a free workshop on indigenous rights and tribal sovereignty at Montana State University Billings on Tuesday, March 11.


The workshop, which will feature a wide array of documents and discussion, will be from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the MSU Billings Library, Room 231. It is free and open to the public.

Students with an interest in history, political science, Native American studies, sociology and global studies are especially urged to attend.


Valerie Taliman02.JPGTaliman, an enrolled citizen of the Navajo Nation, is currently Director of Communications for the Indian Law Resource Center, a legal advocacy organization that provides assistance on land claims and human rights issues to Indian tribes in the U.S. and indigenous peoples throughout the Americas.  ILRC has offices in Helena and Washington, D.C.


In September 2007, the ILRC was instrumental in awareness of sovereignty rights when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the landmark Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Though non-binding, the declaration will help inform federal judges, Congress and government officials about the rights of tribes and indigenous peoples. The declaration lays out in detail indigenous rights to self-government, culture, resource development, language, employment, health and education.


As communications director, Taliman was on the front lines of the work that led to approval of that declaration.

Reno Charette, Native American Studies Program coordinator at MSU Billings, said the workshop will be of particular interest to students and others who want to an expert’s viewpoint on sovereignty issues.


“She will be talking about the declaration, what happens now and what you can do,” said Charette, who is also the former Indian Affairs advisor to Gov. Brian Schweitzer. “She will talk about tribal law and sovereignty and not just tribal law in Montana.”


Charette said the work of ILRC is illustrative of just how effective a single Montana entity can be on the world stage.


Taliman also is president of Three Sisters Publishing, a media company incorporated on the Navajo Nation. Three Sisters employs a team of award-winning writers, photographers, editors and designers who produce magazines and public relations materials for a variety of clients.


She is a former columnist, editor and bureau chief for Indian Country Today newspaper, and former producer of Native America Calling, a nationally syndicated American Indian talk radio show heard on more than 100 radio stations. She has been documenting the stories, history and struggles of Indian people throughout Native America for nearly two decades, specializing in environmental justice issues.


For more information on the workshop on the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, contact Charette at 657-2144.  Documents and other information related to workshop can be found soon at the Department of Sociology, Political Science and Native American Studies web site, http://www.msubillings.edu/cas/NAMS/.