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.