Indian Country Today reports that Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney is under investigation for allegations of ethics violations in her role in decision-making on the $8 billion allocated for tribes under the recent COVID-19 relief act.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the McGirt v. Oklahoma case yesterday (listen here), the case could have wide ranging impacts on Tribal sovereignty. Multiple teams of physicians from Doctors Without Borders have arrived in the Navajo Nation to assist in COVID-19 treatment, and the New York Times reports on the growing economic crisis that Indian Country is enduring as casinos remain closed.

In Kansas, the teepee erected to honor the spring graduates at Haskell Indian Nations University was burned to the ground, while in Wisconsin Tricia Zunker is hoping to become the third native woman serving in Congress this session in a special election today.

Keep reading for a full news update.

CARES Act Funding & Lawsuit

Probe Launched Into Interior Leaks, Handling Of $8 Billion For Tribes

Indian Country Today, Joaqlin Estus, May 11

A top Interior Department official is under investigation for allegations of ethics violations in her role in decision-making on the $8 billion allocated for tribes under the recent COVID-19 relief act. Officials are also looking into leaks of information from tribes’ applications for relief funding.


Tribal Nations Face Most Severe Crisis In Decades As The Coronavirus Closes Casinos

New York Times, Simon Romero and Jack Healy, May 11

Tribal nations around the United States are facing their most severe crisis in decades as they grapple simultaneously with some of the deadliest coronavirus outbreaks in rural America and the economic devastation caused by the protracted shutdown of nearly 500 tribally owned casinos.

Doctors Without Borders Arrives In New Mexico To Help Native American Communities Battle The Coronavirus

The Hill, Anagha Srikanth, May 11

Also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in French, the organization told CNN one team arrived in mid-April north of Albuquerque, where they are assisting the Pueblos. Another arrived late April in Gallup, where they are working with the Navajo Nation, the largest tribe in the United States. Both teams plan on staying until June.

Oglala Sioux Tribe Is “Ready To Stand Against Foreign Intrusion”

Native News Online, Levi Rickert, May 11 

Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Runner Bear reacted to South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem’s Friday letter in which she threatened legal action against the Oglala Sioux Tribe if 10 checkpoints into the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation were not removed within 48 hours.

Marcella Lebeau: Vulnerable Native Americans Need Protection From Covid-19, Marcella LeBeau, May 11

Native Americans have centuries of experience with Pandemics. Before Columbus, native peoples were remarkably healthy. Native Americans shared food with all in the village and cared for each other.

North Dakota County Sees Rise In Cases

Indian Country Today, May 10

Cass County in eastern North Dakota remains the epicenter of the state’s coronavirus outbreak.

North Dakota officials on Sunday reported 24 new cases of COVID-19 in Cass County, bringing the county’s total to 805. Cass County accounts for more than half of the coronavirus cases in North Dakota.


McGirt v. Oklahoma

Supreme Court Oral Arguments, May 11

Supreme Court Takes Up Sovereignty Case Amid Coronavirus Crisis In Indian Country, Acee Agoyo, May 11

Despite recent improvements in government-to-government relations, Indian nations are still finding themselves at odds with states and even their own trustee amid the worst public health crisis to hit their communities in decades.

As debate over coronavirus checkpoints in Republican-led South Dakota drew huge headlines in the national media, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation once again found itself in a familiar place on Monday morning. The tribe’s sovereignty was under attack at the highest court in the land.

Supreme Court Revisits Boundaries Of Creek Reservation [Subscription]

Wall Street Journal, Jess Bravin, May 11

The Supreme Court on Monday revisited the meaning of U.S. pledges to an American Indian tribe that was forcibly relocated to Oklahoma in the 19th century.

Native Candidate Seeks To Make History

Indian Country Today, Aliyah Chavez, May 11

Even though her campaign had to dramatically switch gears a few months ago because of the coronavirus, Tricia Zunker said she’s been giving it “150 percent” and working harder than ever in her life.

Teepee To Honor Haskell Indian Nations University Graduates Burned To The Ground

Native News Online, Levi Rickert, May 10

The teepee erected to honor the spring graduates at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas was not a mere reminder of housing of our tribal ancestors. It was meant to remind graduating students that “you stand on your own,” according to Jared Nally (Miami Tribe of Oklahoma).