On this day in 1865, two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with the news that the Civil War had ended and the enslaved were now free. Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, and its recognition and celebration have grown considerably in recent years. For more information on Juneteenth and different ways you can get involved, click here.
The Nike N7 summer collection was recently released, and the designs find “expression through patterns inspired by the heritage plants found across the Americas” in an effort to “evoke the healing force of the land — a powerful source of intergenerational and cultural wellness — and the traditional methods of healing that unite our Indigenous communities in North America.”
The Christopher Columbus statue in front of City Hall in Columbus, Ohio, will be removed immediately and placed in storage as monuments to Confederates and others are being dismantled across the country.
B&G Foods have come under fire recently for the racist origins of their mascot for Cream Of Wheat, and have become the fourth company to announce a product design change since Wednesday, June 17th.
As Census field workers are restarting their Updated Leave on Navajo Nation, just 1.5% of residents have returned their Census forms compared to the national response rate of 61.5% and 58.1% for the rest of Arizona, according to the Census Bureau.
Quapaw Chairman John L. Berrey announced that every one of the 5,400 Quapaw Nation enrolled members is set to receive a lump sum of COVID-19 stimulus money directly from the Nation’s Northeast Oklahoma office after the Quapaw Nation received $10.8 million in federal CARES Act stimulus funding. The Northern Cheyenne Tribe so far has received more than $19 million from the CARES Act coronavirus relief fund after the tribe received a $2.8 million payment from the second round of CARES Act distribution.
Gila River Hotels & Casinos has shut down for two weeks to review safety standards and disinfect properties after the COVID-19 related death last week of a security employee. “The decision came after a careful evaluation of the growing enterprise’s current safety plan with the Gila River Indian Community Council and feedback from its community and team members,” according to a statement made by Gila River Hotels & Casinos.
ROAR Digital, the sports wagering venture between MGM Resorts International (MGM) and GVC Holdings (GVC), reached an agreement with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde of Oregon to be the tribes’ “long-term” exclusive sports betting partner. “Along with retail sports betting, ROAR Digital will roll out an on-reservation mobile sports betting app, as well as eventual state-wide online sports betting offering as it becomes available to the Tribe, pending regulatory approval,” according to a statement.
Keep reading for a full news update.
NCUIH: We Stand In Solidarity With Our Black Relatives
Native News Online, June 18
The National Council of Urban Indian Health released the following statement yesterday:
“We stand in solidarity with our Black relatives who have been subject to centuries of violence. The recent senseless murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, are a painful reminder of this country’s dark history that has not been forgotten. The National Council of Urban Indian Health stands with our Black brothers and sisters and our Afro-Indigenous relatives. We condemn racism in any form and demand justice from the system that caused this suffering.
General Sutter In Lititz Removes Statue, Considers Name Change Out OF Respect To Native Americans
Penn Live, June 18
Earlier today, the General Sutter Inn in Lititz removed a statue of Gen. John Sutter due to controversy surrounding his legacy.
Historians believe Sutter, a colonizer during the Gold Rush and founder of Sacramento, California, enslaved hundreds of Native Americans and forced them to work to defend the territory, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Cream Of Wheat Becomes Fourth Brand In 24 Hours To Revisit Packaging Over Racist Origins
Forbes, Jemima McEvoy, June 17
B&G Foods, under fire for the racist origins of the mascot for Cream Of Wheat, became the fourth company to announce a design rethink Wednesday amid mounting public pressure.
Columbus Statue To Be Removed From Namesake Ohio City
AP News, Farnoush Amiri, June 17
A statue of Christopher Columbus will be removed by the largest city that bears the explorer’s name, the Ohio city’s mayor announced Thursday. The statue located in front of City Hall in Columbus, Ohio, will be removed immediately and placed in storage as monuments to Confederates and other historical figures who repressed or oppressed other people are being dismantled across the country. “For many people in our community, the statue represents patriarchy, oppression and divisiveness.” Democratic Mayor Andrew Ginther said in a release. “That does not represent our great city, and we will no longer live in the shadow of our ugly past.”
Taking Indian Country’s COVID Testing Into Their Own Hands
Indian Country Today, Aliyah Chavez, June 19
In its first three years, Tribal Diagnostics tested for everything from diabetes and heart disease to substance abuse.
Now, it’s working with tribal nations to test for COVID-19 at its Oklahoma lab.
Pandemic’s Harm To Tribes Is ‘Damning Consequence’ Of Federal Inaction
Indian Country Today, Kolby KickingWoman, June 18
The federal response to COVID-19 in Indian Country has been lacking, leaving tribes to enforce their own policies that are often at odds with state governments. According to the Center for American Progress, a liberal policy group, it’s been a failure. Thursday, the organization released a report, “The COVID-19 Response in Indian Country: A Federal Failure.” The report highlights seven policy areas that would “address both the pressing coronavirus crisis and the structural inequities that have made Indian Country more vulnerable to health crises.” The toll the coronavirus has taken on Native communities has been devastating.
COVID-19 In Arizona: Case Numbers Break Daily Record Set Four Days Earlier
Cronkite News, Bree Florence, June 16
Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose by nearly 2,400 on Monday alone, breaking Friday’s record of 1,600 by almost 50%, according to data from the Arizona Department of Health Services. As of Tuesday, June 16, health officials reported 39,097 cases of COVID-19 and 1,219 deaths in the state. There have been 489,286 tests for COVID-19 completed in public and private labs in Arizona, and 7.1% of them have come back positive for the virus.
The spike in positive cases comes several weeks after the May 15 lifting of Arizona’s stay-at-home orders, when businesses began reopening, and Memorial Day weekend, when many Arizonans left their homes to celebrate. “It would be preposterous to think that people going out aren’t increasing the positive cases,” Dr. Murtaza Akhter of the University of Arizona College of Medicine told Cronkite News on Tuesday. “One of my concerns is whether people are ever going to take public health emergencies seriously.”
Wednesday Update: COVID-19 Cases Reach 6,747 On Navajo Nation
Native News Online, June 18
The Navajo Department of Health, in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, reported 75 new COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and three more deaths. The total number of deaths reached 322 as of Wednesday. Reports from 11 health care facilities on and near the Navajo Nation indicate that approximately 3,342 individuals recovered from COVID-19, with one health care facility report still pending. 46,449 people have been tested for COVID-19. The total number of COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation is 6,747.
‘It’s Hard When A Death Occurs’ During COVID-19
Indian Country Today, June 18
Robert “Rob” Gill is a licensed funeral director and certified cremationist in Minnesota. As a citizen of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate and owner of Chilton Funeral Chapel, he has practiced Native customs in four states, and served Lakota, Dakota, and Chippewa families for many years. The difficulty for Gill in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic is that there are no extra transportation costs for any deaths in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, or Minnesota. All of this considered Gill personally to come to the family’s home to make all the funeral arrangements. Today, we spoke with Gill about the difficulties in maintaining safe practices while maintaining the traditions of the families involved.
Seneca Nation (New York)
Indianz.com, June 18
In an update on June 18, 2020. Seneca Nation President Rickey L. Armstrong Sr. announced another death of a community member to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Cindy Mohr, from the Heron Clan of the New York-based tribe, passed away on June 12. She had just turned 65 years old. Mohr died following a “month long battle” with the coronavirus, Armstrong said in a video message. She had been hospitalized after contracting the disease. “Cindy was a beloved secondary teacher who inspired generations of students throughout her career,” Armstrong said. “She was the first Native American teacher in New York State to have a dual certification in elementary education and special education.”
CARES Act Litigation: Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation V. Mnuchin
Indianz.com, June 18
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on June 18, 2020, opened a docket for Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation v. Mnuchin, one of the lawsuits challenging the Trump administration’s handling of the $8 billion coronavirus relief fund. The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation filed suit against Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin on June 8. The lawsuit accuses the Department of the Treasury of “underfunding” the tribe’s share of the coronavirus relief fund by failing to take its enrollment into account. The tribe received $2,456,891, a figure that was based on the Indian housing population on and near its reservation in Kansas. Had enrollment been taken into account, the tribe believes it should have received an additional $7,647,063, for a total of $10,103,954. The percentage difference is staggering. “Unsurprisingly, Treasury’s data set grossly undercounted the Prairie Band Potawatomi’s total enrolled population, by 3,678, or approximately eighty percent,” the tribe’s complaint reads.
Quapaw Nation Distributes $4 Million In CARES Act Funding Directly To Its Tribal Members
Indianz.com, June 18
Every one of the 5,400 Quapaw Nation enrolled members is about to receive a lump sum of Covid-19 stimulus money directly from the Nation’s Northeast Oklahoma office, Quapaw Chairman John L. Berrey announced. “Every adult over 18 years old will receive $1,000. Every child under 18 will receive $500. So, a Quapaw family of, say, two adults and two children will receive $3,000, and we know it’s coming at a time of great need,” Chairman Berrey said. “I’m so happy we are able to do this.” Quapaw Nation received $10.8 million in federal CARE Act stimulus funding, as have all other federally recognized Native-American tribes. The total for individual distributions is more than $4 million, and the remaining money will be spent on the Tribe’s future Covid-19 related needs. Quapaw members should expect to see checks in their mailboxes as early as next week, Chairman Berrey said.
Northern Cheyenne Tribe (Montana)
Indianz.com, June 18
The Northern Cheyenne Tribe so far has received $19,465,503.73 from the CARES Act coronavirus relief fund, according to a June 16, 2020, announcement from the council.
The tribe received $16,629,190.79 from the first round of payments that went out on May 5, the notice states. The figure was based on the Indian housing population in and around the reservation in Montana. The tribe received a second payment of $2,836,312.94 on June 16, the council said. The payment was based on employment and expenditure information submitted to the Department of the Treasury. However, the second payment is only a partial one. Treasury unilaterally withheld $679 million from all tribes out of concern for litigation filed by the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation.
COVID-19 In Arizona: Gila River Hotels, Casinos Close For Two Weeks After Worker Death
Cronkite News, Derrick Smith, June 18
Gila River Hotels & Casinos has shut down for two weeks to review safety standards and disinfect properties after the COVID-19 related death last week of a security employee. “The decision came after a careful evaluation of the growing enterprise’s current safety plan with the Gila River Indian Community Council and feedback from its community and team members,” according to a statement made by Gila River Hotels & Casinos, which operates three properties in metro Phoenix: Wild Horse Pass, Lone Butte and Vee Quiva. The closure began Thursday. The family of casino security worker Robert Washington told azfamily.com that he had diabetes and was uneasy returning to work in May, but he felt he had no choice because he otherwise couldn’t afford his insulin.
ROAR Digital Inks Deal With Oregon Tribe, Will Open BetMGM Sportsbook, Eyes Mobile Wagering
Casino.org, Todd Shriber, June 18
ROAR Digital, the sports wagering venture between MGM Resorts International (MGM) and GVC Holdings (GVC), reached an agreement with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde of Oregon to be the tribes’ exclusive sports betting partner. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but the agreement is described as “long-term.” Grand Ronde operates the Spirit Mountain Casino, Oregon’s largest gaming property, in a town bearing the same name as the tribal nation. As part of the agreement, BetMGM will open a retail sportsbook at the casino later this year. “Along with retail sports betting, ROAR Digital will roll out an on-reservation mobile sports betting app, as well as an eventual state-wide online sports betting offering as it becomes available to the Tribe, pending regulatory approval,” according to a statement.”
The Nike N7 Collection Features Designs Inspired By intergenerational Healing
Nike News, June 17
The summer N7 collection finds its expression through patterns inspired by the heritage plants found across the Americas. These patterns evoke the healing force of the land — a powerful source of intergenerational and cultural wellness — and the traditional methods of healing that unite our Indigenous communities in North America. Complementing the patterns, the collection’s colors draw from the soft, pastel tones of medicinal plants like aloe, yucca, wild rose, dandelion and prickly pear.
In Victory For Blackfeet Nation, Appeals Court Upholds Protection Of Sacred Montana Land
Native News Online, June 18
A federal appeals court on Tuesday canceled a disputed oil and gas lease on land in Montana that is considered sacred to tribes. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals struck down a 2018 court decision that allowed Louisiana-based Solenex LLC to keep its lease on 6,200 acres in the Badger-Two Medicine area near the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and Glacier National Park. The area is considered to be the sacred homeland and site of the creation story of Montana’s Blackfeet Nation and the Blackfoot tribes of southern Canada.
Census Field Workers Back On Navajo Nation, With Work Cut Out For Them
Cronkite News, Lisa Diethelm, June 18
Experts can cite any number of historical and logistical reasons why Native Americans have relatively low response rates to the Census, but Arbin Mitchell points to a very new, and very specific challenge this year – COVID-19. “People need to understand we were just out in the field for three days, from March 15 to March 18, and we only managed to drop off just a little over 3,000 questionnaires in those three days,” before field operations on the Navajo Nation were shut down by the virus, Mitchell said. Mitchell, whose title is tribal partnership specialist and area Census office manager, said field operations started up again last week. But enumerators have their work cut out for them: While the national response rate was 61.5% as of Thursday and the response rate for Arizona was 58.1%, just 1.5% of Navajo Nation residents had returned their forms, according to the Census Bureau.
Sequim Neighbors Fight To Block Tribe’s Plans For An Opioid Treatment Center
The Seattle Times, Debbie Cenziper, June 18
One morning last year, Brent Simcosky stepped out of a pickup truck in the middle of a sprawling field off Highway 101, stood in grass that brushed his knees and imagined an oasis from the scourge of opioids. The epidemic had struck particularly hard here in Clallam County, Washington, where generations of families from the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe live on the Olympic Peninsula, along the waterways of the Salish Sea. Simcosky, health director for the 537-member tribe, had too often seen the battered faces of neighbors and community members addicted to black tar heroin that sells for $5 a hit or to pain pills that for years saturated this remote corner of the Pacific Northwest.
Indigenous Languages And Race: Tribes Rethink Dated Terms
Indian Country Today, Mary Pember, June 18
“Black meat,” “long knives,” “eats the fat”: These are a few of the literal translations of Indigenous language terms used to describe Black and White people. Native communities are reexamining old terminology related to race as the country confronts the impact of systemic racism. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2006-2010 American Community Survey Briefs, about 170 Native languages are still spoken today. Many tribal communities are actively engaged in revitalizing their languages as a means to support and restore cultural identity. Some are addressing language that today is considered derogatory.
Q&A: Native Artist G. Peter Jemison Stretches The Canvas
Native News Online, Rich Tupica, June 18
Artist G. Peter Jemison grew up near the shores of Lake Erie in Victor, New York, but his Seneca, Heron clan roots eventually led him to his current home and career a couple hours away in Victor. There, he works as the historic site manager for Ganondagan, the historic site of a 17th Century Seneca town. Jemison, whose work is featured in the new summer issue of American Indian Magazine, chatted with Native News Online about his formative days and what he’s up to today. Born in 1945, Jemison has navigated a decades-long career as a naturalistic artist and “culture worker,” including his current group exhibit, Stretching the Canvas: Eight Decades of Native Painting.
Oliver Whaley: Slavery Still Exists In Some Parts Of America
Indianz.com, Oliver Whaley, June 18
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”. Today, I take Mr. King’s great wisdom to heart and I will not be silent.
As we celebrate Juneteenth this month, which is celebrated as the end to slavery. I want to shout out, for everyone to hear, that slavery has not ended in the United States. While Native Americans have seemingly become a “forgotten people”. Let us not forget, or in most cases, let us become aware, that for Native Americans living on their tribal nations today, legalized government servitude is alive and well. Here, in the 21st century, Native Americans are still deemed “wards” to their “guardians”. The federal government issues every tribal member a prison number, called a “census number”, to prove it. What does this mean?
Clara Caufield: The Old Quorum Problem
Indianz.com, Clara Caufield, June 18
At Northern Cheyenne, sooner or later, every Tribal President since the days of Allen “Chuggy” Rowland) circa 1970’s, every Tribal President has run into the old quorum problem – that is, unable to get enough tribal council members to attend Council meetings in order to conduct business. Under the Indian Reorganization Act constitution, there are ten elected Council members and the Vice-President who also has voting rights. Constitutional law requires a 2/3 majority physical attendance of those elected officials to conduct business. Since 2/3rds of 11 is awkward arithmetic, the running question has been 7 or 8 for a quorum. It seems if they are lucky to get 7, they move on with business. But who knows for sure: so many details of our tribal government being murky to the average tribal citizen.