While Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act) that was introduced in Congress yesterday includes an additional $20 billion for tribal governments, a Federal Court found that the Treasury Department’s delay in disbursing CARES Act funds was not egregious enough to warrant an order to disburse immediately.

Despite orders from South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and Oglala Sioux Tribes have yet to remove their roadside checkpoints bordering tribal land, and tribal leaders are expressing the importance that the checkpoints serve in keeping their communities safe.  Governor Noem on Tuesday held off her threat to sue, instead saying she would like to work out an agreement with the Tribe.

Navajo Nation now has more positive COVID-19 cases per capita than anywhere else in the United States with 3,122 total cases. Meanwhile, families of those that have passed in Navajo Nation as a result of the virus are forced to grieve in isolation.

Keep reading for a full news update.

CARES Act Funding and Lawsuit:

Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Mnuchin (D.D.C.) [Documents]

Turtle Talk, May 12

Inspector General Launches Investigation Into DOI Handling Of Cares Act Funding, Sensitive Tribal Information

Native News Online, May 12

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Interior has launched an ethics probe into a senior official’s handling of $8 billion in CARES Act funding for tribes, as well as allegations that the DOI improperly released sensitive tribal government information.

Federal Watchdog to Examine Official’s Role in Tribal Fund Distribution

New York Times, Emily Cochrane, May 11

A federal watchdog is investigating whether a top Interior Department official violated ethics rules when she helped decide how a critical tranche of funds for Native American tribes in the $2.2 trillion stimulus law should be distributed.


‘We Waited For Weeks’: Tribal Governments In Line For Additional Coronavirus Relief

Indianz.com, Acee Agoyo, May 12

As tribal nations continue to fight for the $8 billion coronavirus relief fund promised to them more than a month ago, Democrats in Congress are making good on pledges to provide more resources to the first Americans.

South Dakota Governor Holds Off On Threat To Sue

Indian Country Today, May 12

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Tuesday held off her threat to sue Native American tribes that have set up highway checkpoints intended to keep the coronavirus away from their reservations, saying instead she would like to work out an agreement.

South Dakota Tribal Checkpoint Showdown Continues, Even As Pine Ridge Orders Emergency Lockdown

Native News Online, May 12

Two days after a deadline set by South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem expired, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and Oglala Sioux Tribes still have their roadside checkpoints in place and wait for Noem’s next move.

‘The Grief Is So Unbearable’: Virus Takes Hold On Navajo

Indian Country Today, Felicia Fonseca, May 12

The virus arrived on the reservation in early March, carried in from Tucson, doctors say, by a man who had been to a basketball tournament and then made the long drive back to a small town in the Navajo highlands.

‘When Is It Going To Stop?’: UCSF Team Combats Coronavirus Surge In Navajo Nation [subscription]

San Francisco Chronicle, Sarah Feldberg, May 12

As San Francisco flattened the curve of coronavirus infection last month, and New York City reached and fell from the peak of its surge, in Navajo Nation, the pandemic’s grim statistics were climbing.

Navajo Nation Has More Covid-19 Cases Per Capita Than Any Of 50 U.S. States

Native News Online, Levi Rickert, May 11

The HuffPost on Monday pointed out the Navajo Nation “marked a grim milestone on Sunday, recording more coronavirus cases per capita on its reservation than any of the 50 U.S. states.” 

‘I’m Protecting My People’: Tribal Citizens Defend Coronavirus Checkpoints Amid Threat From State

Indianz.com, Kevin Abourezk, May 11

At a dusty, windy roadblock deep in the heart of the Badlands of South Dakota on Sunday, a 41-year-old Lakota mother of three held her hand high as a car full of tourists pulled up and asked to pass by her.

Beyond the checkpoint lay the Pine Ridge Reservation, the homelands of the Oglala Lakota people, Francisca Tobacco’s people. People she called cousin, mom, dad, grandma, grandpa.


Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association Suspends Comanche Nation And Otoe-Missouria Tribe

Native News Online, May 12

The Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association (OIGA) voted on Thursday to amend its bylaws and remove Comanche Nation of Oklahoma and the Otoe-Missouria Tribe from its organization for the rest of the year.

Gorsuch’s Pivotal Vote Could Favor Oklahoma Tribe In Controversial Native American Rape Case

FOX News, Vandana Rambaran, May 11

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch will likely be the deciding vote in a high-profile rape case that hinges on whether or not a portion of Oklahoma falls under state jurisdiction or that of the Indian reservation. 

What ANCs Are Doing To Help Alaska Native Communities Cope With The Pandemic

Alaska Public Media, Liz Ruski, May 11

Koniag, the Alaska Native regional corporation for Kodiak island, was designed to be a for-profit company. Now, with the coronavirus threatening to disrupt the normal supply lines, Koniag President Shauna Hegna says one focus is on feeding the island.