While a federal judge is expected to rule today on whether Alaska Native Corporations should be considered eligible to receive funding from the CARES Act, USA Today reports that members of Indian Country trying to access CARES Act funds have been met with red tape, roadblocks, and new hurdles that have led to delays and deep-rooted feelings of uncertainty.
In local news, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier and the Bureau of Indian Affairs have clashed over the Chairman’s implementation of highway checkpoints that limit non-reservation travelers, Mayors and Tribal Health Groups in Alaska have sounded the alarm about the dangers of reopening a fishery in Bristol Bay, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma has turned to the courts to help recoup coronavirus-related revenue losses from insurers.
Meanwhile, the Turtle Talk Law Blog gives a rundown of new research on COVID-19 infection rates in Indian Country, while The Guardian reports that Native Americans are being labelled as ‘other,’ and thus left out of US coronavirus data.
Keep reading for a full news update from over the weekend.
CARES Act Funding and Lawsuits:
Tribal Suit Over Paycheck Protection Program Of CARES Act [Documents]
Turtle Talk Law Blog, April 27
Federal Judge Expected To Rule On Distribution Of CARES Act Funds On Monday
Native News Online, Levi Rickert, April 26
A federal judge is expected to rule on Monday whether or not Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) should be considered eligible for any of the $8 billion in relief funds earmarked for tribal governments in the CARES Act.
Choctaw Nation Sues Insurance Company For COVID-19 Losses
Indian Country Today, Dalton Walker, April 24
A tribe in Oklahoma with more than 10,000 employees has turned to the courts to help recoup coronavirus-related revenue losses from insurers.
The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and businesses nationwide are looking to their insurers to cover losses following COVID-19-related closures, which combined may exceed $300 billion a month. Now insurers have widely rejected the claims so businesses are suing insurers to force them to pay.
NDN Collective Offers Millions To Tribes, Indigenous Nonprofits, Artists and Entrepreneurs
Indian Country Today, Vincent Schilling, April 27
The NDN Collective Inc., a nonprofit organization self-described as an entity built “to equip all Indigenous peoples with the tools needed to become architects of our future,” has recently announced the creation of the NDN COVID-19 Response Project — a project designed to “provide immediate relief to some of the most underserved communities in the country.”
Navajo Nation Requests Relief Groups Follow Curfew Orders [Documents]
Turtle Talk Law Blog, April 27
Sunday Night Update From Navajo Nation: 79 New Cases Related To COVID-19, No New Deaths Reported
Native News Online, April 26
The Navajo Department of Health in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 for the Navajo Nation and there remains a total of 59 deaths as reported on Saturday. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases for the Navajo Nation has reached 1,716. There is a total of 8,037 negative test results.
BIA And Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chairman Square Off On Reservation Highway COVID-19 Checkpoint
Native News Online, Levi Rickert, April 26
As COVID-19 began to spread across the country in late March, the tribal chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe ordered checkpoints on that would limit non-reservation travelers into the Cheyenne River Indian Reservations.
Chairman Harold Frazier had a reason for the checkpoints: He wanted to protect his tribal citizens and limit the virus from spreading on the reservation.
BIA Director Tells CRST Chairman TO Get South Dakota Agreement On US 212 Roadblocks
Kelo Land, Bob Mercer, April 26
The top official at the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs has instructed a tribal chairman that agreement from South Dakota state government is needed to stop non-tribal traffic on US 212.
Mayors, Tribal Health Group Sound Alarm Over Alaska Fishery
Indian Country Today, Joaqlin Estus, April 25
As thousands of fishing captains and crew members from around the United States prepare to descend on Alaska’s Bristol Bay, local mayors are calling for more and stronger measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, while the region’s main health care provider says the fishery shouldn’t open at all.
New Research On COVID-19 Infection Rates In Indian Country
Turtle Talk Law Blog, April 25
The SARS-CoV-2 virus is causing widespread devastation as rates of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) grow across the world. The United States is experiencing one of the largest outbreaks with over half a million confirmed cases as of mid-April 2020. However, outbreaks on tribal lands are largely ignored by the federal government, mainstream media, and case tracking web sites. To reverse this erasure, Indian Country Today has collected cases for the Indian health system. As of April 10, the ICT database contained 861 COVID-19 cases in 287 tribal communities. Infections are growing across Indian Country, but very little is known about the relationship between community and household characteristics and the rate of COVID-19 spread on tribal lands. This is the question that a team of Indigenous researchers at UCLA and the University of Arizona are actively working to answer.
Behind Those COVID-19 Numbers
Indian Country Today, Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, April 25
The numbers are stark.
Navajo Nation health officials reported six new deaths Friday and 180 new cases of COVID-19. That adds up to 1,590 known coronavirus infections across the Navajo Nation resulting in 58 deaths.
Cherokee Nation Expands Telemedicine Services
KUAF, Antoinette Grajeda, April 24
Cherokee Nation Health Services is increasing its use of telemedicine to help reduce the potential spread of COVID-19. Each Cherokee Nation health center now uses telemedicine technology for primary care services and some specialty services including pediatrics, women’s health, behavioral health and infectious disease. The tribe also began offering teledentistry appointments this week.
Native Americans Being Left Out Of US Coronavirus Data And Labelled As ‘Other’
The Guardian, Rebecca Nagle, April 24
Native Americans are being left out of demographic data on the impact of the coronavirus across the US, raising fears of hidden health emergencies in one of the country’s most vulnerable populations.
Navajo Nation Receives 30,000 Liters Of Bottled Water To Help Covid-19 Response Efforts
Native News Online, April 24
Two semi-trucks arrived in the capital of the Navajo Nation on Wednesday, to deliver more than 30,000 liters of bottled water that will help first responders and health care workers on the COVID-19 frontlines, as well Navajo citizens in need.
Native American Tribes Have Been Hit Hard By Coronavirus. Now They’re Battling Red Tape To Get Help
USA Today, Christal Hayes, April 24
Nathaniel Campbell has already dipped into his savings but isn’t sure how much longer his reserves will be able to support him. Furloughed from the Arizona casino he helps manage, the Tonto Apache Tribe member is putting much of his faith in the federal government.
Native Communities In Nevada Turn To Tradition And Each Other During Pandemic Crisis
Reno Gazette Journal, Benjamin Spillman, April 23
Stay-at-home warnings aimed at slowing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic prompted thousands of people in Northern Nevada to rush to grocery stores in preparation.
Autumn Harry went to Pyramid Lake.
Building Trust Between Native American Communities And Educational Institutions
Nevada Today, Jessica Fagundes, April 24
For two days in May 2019, Dr. Myrton Running Wolf searched for the Indigenous Publics working group, which was part of the Rhetoric Society of America Project in Power, Place, and Publics (RSA Project). When he finally found the researchers on campus, he thought he would only be there a few minutes, but he ended up spending half a day with them.