The Trump administration announced yesterday that 23 federally recognized Indian and Alaska Native tribes and two Navajo Nation communities were approved for grants under the National Tribal Broadband Grant (NTBG) to study the feasibility of developing or extending broadband services in their areas.
Former Principal Chief of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation George Phillip Tiger was sentenced to serve one year and one day in prison for his role in a bribery scheme involving another tribe between 2017 and 2019.
More than two months after the Christopher Columbus statue at the Minnesota State Capitol grounds was toppled, the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office charged Mike Forcia, an enrolled tribal citizen of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (Wisconsin), in the incident. Forcia was charged with criminal damage to property in the first degree, which is a felony crime in Minnesota.
Seeking answers and help to an increase in crimes, killings, and other deaths on the reservation, Northern Cheyenne President Rynalea Whiteman Peña wrote a letter to Montana’s congressional delegation asking for their assistance in holding federal agencies accountable. In the letter, Peña shares four areas where the Bureau of Indian Affairs has failed the tribe: severely understaffed police, the closure of the local jail, lack of information sharing, and the agency’s absence leading to increased crime and vigilantism.
The only Native on federal death row lost a bid to push back his execution date. Unless given relief from another court or granted clemency, he will be put to death on August 26 at the federal prison in Indiana where he is being held.
Positive COVID-19 cases on the Hoopa Valley Tribe in Northern California climbed to 24 last Thursday, an increase that helped elevate an entire county to its highest daily case record since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keep reading for a full news update.
‘It Just Feels Like They’re Forgotten’: Navajo Women Mobilize To Protect Elders From COVID-19
Cronkite News, Katelyn Reinhart, August 13
Indigenous tribes have their own cultures, languages and customs, but two common threads run through them – high esteem for their elders, and the heavy impact COVID-19 has had on Native communities. Disparities in elder income, health and overall wellness were not brought on by COVID-19, but the pandemic has shone an unforgiving light on some of the issues elders face. From Navajos in remote towns like tiny Leupp to the president of the tribal nation, the mission has been clear: Protect the elders.
Bureau Of Indian Education: Open Schools Or Else
Indian Country Today, Mary Pember, August 13
The Bureau of Indian Education’s plans to reopen its schools for in-person instruction is irresponsible, according to many Native parents and tribal leaders across Indian Country.
Tara Sweeney, assistant secretary of Indian Affairs, sent a letter to tribal leaders this month indicating that Bureau of Indian Education-operated schools will open Sept. 16 with in-person instruction. Sweeney wrote: “To the maximum extent possible, BIE (operated) schools will operate brick and mortar schools.”
COVID-19 Outbreak On Hoopa Valley Tribe Helps Break County Record For Daily Cases
Native News Online, Nanette Kelley, August 13
Positive COVID-19 cases on the Hoopa Valley Tribe in Northern California climbed to 24 last Thursday, an increase that helped elevate an entire county to its highest daily case record since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Aug. 6, Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services reported 25 new cases of COVID-19. County Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich said in a statement that the positive case increase is primarily related to two case clusters, one in an agricultural setting and the Hoopa Valley Tribe the second.
Navajo Country: COVID-19 Cases Trend Down, But Need Still High
Med Page Today, Elizabeth Hlavinka, August 12
Everyone on the Navajo Nation reservation knows someone who has been infected with COVID-19. At least that’s what it feels like to Melissa Begay, MD, a Navajo pulmonary medicine physician at the University of New Mexico (UNM) Hospital who treats patients airlifted from the reservation. There, it is still common for multiple family members to occupy adjoining rooms in the ICU. She has never seen so many tribal members at the hospital, she said.
Navajo Man Loses Latest Bid To Delay Federal Execution
AP News, August 13
The only Native American on federal death row lost a bid Thursday to push back his execution date. Unless Lezmond Mitchell gets relief from another court or is granted clemency, he will be put to death on Aug. 26 at the federal prison in Indiana where he is being held. Mitchell’s attorneys sought a delay from the U.S. District Court in Arizona where he was sentenced in the 2001 slayings of a 63-year-old fellow Navajo tribal member and her 9-year-old granddaughter.
Chief Hoskin Establishes Sovereignty Commission In Wake Of McGirt Decision
OKFox, Destiny Washington, August 13
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. established a new commission to make funding and resource recommendations and examine other related areas in the wake of the United States Supreme Court McGirt decision.
Tribal Citizen Charged With Toppling Columbus Statue At Minnesota Capitol
Native News Online, Darren Thompson, August 13
More than two months after the Christopher Columbus statue at the Minnesota State Capitol grounds was toppled, the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office charged one person in the incident on Thursday. Mike Forcia, an enrolled tribal citizen of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (Wisconsin), was charged with criminal damage to property in the first degree, which is a felony crime in Minnesota.
String Of Deaths Prompts Calls For Action From Tribe, Senators
Indian Country Today, Kolby Kickingwoman, August 13
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, another crisis has developed on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in southeastern Montana. Seeking answers and help to an increase in crimes, killings and other deaths on the reservation, the tribe reached out to the state’s congressional delegation asking for their assistance in holding federal agencies accountable. A number of deaths over the course of recent months, including one earlier this week, prompted the state’s senators, Democrat Jon Tester and Republican Steve Daines, to write letters to the Interior Department, FBI and BIA.
Former Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief Sentenced To Federal Prison Time For Taking Bribe
Tulsa World, Curtis Killman, August 14
Once the top elected official in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, former Principal Chief George Phillip Tiger is now heading to federal prison after pleading guilty earlier to bribery.
Can Kamala Harris Earn The Trust Of Indian Country?
The New Republic, Nick Martin, August 14
On Tuesday, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden officially announced California Senator Kamala Harris as his pick for vice president. Harris famously comes from a background in law enforcement as a former prosecutor who rose to the rank of state attorney general, a position she held from 2011 to 2017. Critics have dissected her record from that time with a focus on her office’s punitive response to truancy in public schools and stubbornness in cases of wrongful convictions. But over the course of her 11-month presidential run, and now again with her nomination as vice president, there has been another discussion happening in Indian Country about whether Harris will be an ally of tribal nations seeking the right to land that was legally guaranteed to them.
Campaigns, Elections And Activism
Indian Country Today, Patty Talahongva, August 13
August 17-20 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin the Democratic National Committee will host its presidential convention but it’s going to look much different than past conventions, all due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of the thousands of delegates and politicians and news reporters who typically attend the four day long convention, this time, not even the candidates will be there in person. Joining us today is Debbie Nez-Manuel, she is the Democratic National Committee woman, the first Native American to be elected.
Federal Government Announces National Tribal Broadband Grant Recipients For 25 Native Communities
Native News Online, Kyle Edwards, August 13
The Trump administration announced Thursday the approval of grants under the National Tribal Broadband Grant (NTBG) program to 23 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and two Navajo Nation communities to study the feasibility of developing or extending broadband services in their areas. The grants were approved by the Interior Department’s Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development (IEED).
Black, Choctaw Judge: Being Harassed Was ‘One Of The Best Learning Experiences’
Indian Country Today, August 13
U.S. District Court Judge Ada Brown says one of her best learning experiences as a young assistant district attorney was a racist encounter at a Dallas bookstore. Brown, who is Black and Choctaw, was reading at the store when a manager yelled “I’m sick of you people!” The woman told Brown to leave, threatened to have her charged with criminal trespass and called the police. She was President Donald Trump’s first Black female judicial appointee, according to Bloomberg Law. Brown is identified as Black in a list of federal judges compiled by the Federal Judicial Center but is also a citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
California Teaming Up With Native American Tribes To Prevent Wildfires
NPR, Lauren Sommer, August 13
For more than a century, California’s Native American tribes were largely banned from doing traditional burning of the landscape. Now, they’re restoring that practice to help prevent fires. The state is trying to limit destructive wildfires by lighting small fires which clear out excess vegetation, leaving less fuel for a big fire. The state is starting to work with Native American tribes who’ve done this for a long time. NPR’s Lauren Sommer reports.
AIANTA Announces All-Star Lineup Of Native Women To Address Virtual Conference
Native News Online, August 13
Even though the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) annual conference had to go virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Indian Country’s premier national travel association has named an all-star lineup of Native women to address those attending the conference from afar. The American Indian Tourism Conference (AITC) is scheduled for Sept. 14-18, 2020. With the theme “One Country, Many Nations,” the conference will be conducted on a fully virtual platform for the first time in its 22-year history.