President Trump is heading to Arizona for a Native American roundtable to address the $8 billion of COVID-19 relief funding set aside for tribal governments. This comes on the heels of a statement from the Treasury and Interior Departments on the distribution of said relief funding.

Following what some are calling stereotypical and insensitive comments made by Mayor Levi Tappen, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez is calling for the city of Page to work united with Navajo Nation to fight COVID-19. Tribes are seeking to open casinos whose missing revenue is being felt across Indian Country, and Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt is assessing higher fees for some tribal-ran casinos as well as new gambling forms. 

Taika Waititi (Māori) will direct and co-write a new Star Wars feature film feature film for theatrical release in 2024. 

Keep reading for a full news update.


Tribal Governments, Hobbled by Casino Closures Related to Coronavirus, Eye Reopening

The Daily Chronicle, Lynda V. Mapes, May 4

Tribal governments across the region shut down their casinos in mid-March because of the novel coronavirus pandemic — shutting off a major source of money for tribal governments, and killing jobs. 

Navajo Nation Leaders Implore City Of Page Mayor Levi Tappen To Unite Communities, Not Divide People, May 3

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer are calling on city of Page Mayor Levi Tappen to work together with the Navajo Nation to unite efforts to fight COVID-19, following stereotypical and insensitive comments that were posted on social media by Mayor Tappen regarding alcoholism in the city of Page, along with a photograph of what appears to be a group of Native Americans standing along a street.   


Joint Statement by Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt on Distribution of Coronavirus Relief Fund Dollars to Native American Tribes

Department of the Treasury, May 5 

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin and Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt today issued the following statement after agreeing on a path forward to provide Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars to Native American Tribes:

“We are pleased to begin making $4.8 billion in critical funds available to Tribal governments in all states,” said Secretary Mnuchin.  “Our approach is based on the fair balancing of tribal needs.”

Trump Heads To Native American Roundtable Amid Heat On $8 Billion In Coronavirus Relief, Acee Agoyo, May 5

President Donald Trump is preparing to take credit for releasing the $8 billion coronavirus relief fund that his own administration has held up for more than a month, helping a vulnerable Republican along the way.

On the eve of a visit to Arizona on Tuesday, the White House has been finalizing a “fact sheet” that promotes his administration’s initiatives in Indian Country. Though the document so far only takes up about one page, the first bullet item in the draft touts Trump’s signing of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act on March 27.

‘Left Behind’: NM Tribes Await Federal Relief Money

Albuquerque Journal, Elise Kaplan, May 3

When COVID-19 came to Indian Country, it spread quickly. The Navajo Nation now has the third-highest rate of cases in the United States, behind New York and New Jersey, and health care professionals anticipate the peak is yet to come. In New Mexico, more than 50% of people infected are Native American. 


Uniting Online For Missing Native Women, Girls

Indian Country Today, Kalle Benallie, May 5

The novel coronavirus isn’t stopping the awareness and activities of National Day of Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls.

Before COVID-19, there would be public rallies, vigils, community activities and more. But this year, the May 5 awareness campaign will proceed online.

‘Star Wars’ Signs Indigenous Star Taika Waititi To Direct, Co-write New Film

Native News Online, Rich Tupica, May 4

As “May the 4th Be With You” memes spread across social media today, it was announced that Academy Award winner Taika Waititi (Māori) will direct and co-write a new Star Wars feature film for theatrical release.

President Of Oglala Sioux Tribe Admits Arrest During Coronavirus Crisis, Kevin Abourezk, May 4

President Julian Bear Runner of the Oglala Sioux Tribe admitted to being arrested this weekend, though he declined to say what charges he is facing.

Stitt Seeks Shift Away From ‘One Size Fits All’ Gaming Compacts

Grand Lake News, Ben Felder, May 4 

New state gaming compacts with two tribal nations highlight the two ways Gov. Kevin Stitt would like to change future compacts – that gambling expands through new casinos and new forms, such as sports betting, and that fees paid to the state be based on geography, rather than a flat statewide rate.

Now, More Than Ever, We Need Tribes At The Water Negotiating Table

AZ Central, Dennis Patch, May 4 

A study recently published in the journal Science found that global warming and climate change have led to an emerging “megadrought” in the western U.S. – and that the drought we’ve been experiencing over the last 20 years is as bad or worse than any in 1,200 years.