A federal judge issued an order allowing Alaska Native Corporations to intervene in ongoing litigation over the $8 billion coronavirus relief fund. Judge Amit P. Mehta noted that their legal interests aren’t adequately represented by the Department of the Treasury, the federal agency in charge of distributing the $8 billion. 

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has requested that the federal government intervene with the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Oglala Sioux Tribe over roadside checkpoints. 

A hearing in the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe V. Bernhardt case addressing whether the federal government can revoke the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s reservation status focused largely on whether the tribe was “under federal jurisdiction” before the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act. 

The Mashantucket Pequots (Western) Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut are looking to reopen their casinos with new safety precautions, but Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont feels “it would be premature to open the casinos in the very near term.”

Actor Wes Studi released a public service announcement to raise awareness of the serious effects of COVID-19 in Indian Country, and to request support to ensure that Native Americans are not left behind during the pandemic.

Keep reading for a full news update.


CARES Act Litigation

Indianz.com, May 20

A federal judge on May 20, 2020, issued an order allowing Alaska Native corporate interests to intervene in ongoing litigation over the $8 billion coronavirus relief fund.

Requesting Supplemental Tribal Information (Department of the Treasury)

Indianz.com, May 20

The following email was sent by the Department of the Treasury late in the evening on May 19, 2020. It began arriving in some inboxes around 11pm Eastern, informing recipients of the next steps in the process to secure the remaining $3.2 billion in coronavirus relief funds promised to tribal governments.

‘Frustrating’: Indian Country Forced To Wait Again For Coronavirus Relief

Indianz.com, Acee Agoyo, May 19

Tribal nations are still jumping through bureaucratic hoops in order to secure the full $8 billion in coronavirus relief that was promised by the Trump administration more than seven weeks ago.


Navajo Nation Reports 82 New Covid-19 Cases, Two More Deaths & 1,001 Recoveries

Native News Online, Levi Rickert, May 20

The Navajo Nation reported 82 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths from the virus on Tuesday. The latest data reported brings the Navajo Nation to a total of 4,153 and the total number of deaths is now 144. from the COVID-19, with a fatality rate of 3.47 percent among the confirmed infections.

South Dakota Gov. Takes Tribe Checkpoint Flap To White House

Washington Post, May 20

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said Wednesday she is appealing to President Donald Trump’s administration in her standoff with two American Indian tribes over coronavirus checkpoints they set up on federal and state highways.

South Dakota Governor Asks White House, DOJ To Get Involved In Tribal Checkpoints Dispute

Native News Online,  Levi Rickert, May 20

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has turned to the federal government for help in her ongoing showdown with the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Oglala Sioux Tribes over roadside checkpoints.

Practicing Self Sovereignty During COVID-19

Indian Country Today, May 20

Darryl Tonemah, Kiowa, Comanche, and Tuscarora, is a psychologist who is helping tribes and communities navigate this pandemic with their children. 

On California’s Tribal Lands, Protecting Elders Means Putting Customs, Tourism On Pause

California Public Radio, Sammy Caiola, May 19

Curving down the stretch of Highway 20 that hugs the oak-lined shore of Clear Lake, there are no obvious signs that you’re near tribal land — except for R Pomo Pumps. The gas station bears the triangular orange insignia of the Robinson Rancheria Pomo Indians of California. The federally recognized tribe occupies the Robinson Rancheria in Lake County, and has for decades catered to tourists coming through to boat, camp, and fish. 


Tribes To Begin Reopening Casino Properties On June 1

NBC Connecticut, May 20

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe announced Wednesday that they will begin reopening portions of their reservations on June 1.

Connecticut Tribes, Gov Lamont Clash Over Casino Reopenings

Casino.org, Philip Conneller, May 20

Connecticut’s two federally recognized tribes, the Mashantucket Pequots and the Mohegans, are itching to reopen their casino doors as soon as possible. Despite promises of “extraordinary measures” to protect employers and customers, the state’s Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont does not share their enthusiasm.


Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe V. Bernhardt

Indianz.com, May 20

A federal judge is holding a hearing in Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe v. Bernhardt, 18-cv-2242, at 10am Eastern on May 20, 2020. As all federal courthouses are closed, the hearing is taking place via video and teleconference. 

Hearing Examines Mashpee Wampanoag’s Status Before 1934 Law

Indian Country Today, Kolby KickingWoman, May 20

A Wednesday hearing in a case involving whether the federal government can revoke the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s reservation status focused largely on whether the tribe was “under federal jurisdiction” before the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act.

Montana Judge Blocks Law Restricting Absentee Ballot Collection

Indian Country Today, Amy Beth Hanson, May 20

“Native American voters in the upcoming primary can now use ballot collection to overcome the outrageous distances Native Americans must travel to cast a ballot,” said Jacqueline De Leon, staff attorney with the Native American Rights Fund.

‘You’re Gonna Have A Lot Of Trouble’: Judge Trashes Trump Over Changes In Tribal Homelands Policy

Indianz.com, Acee Agoyo, May 20

A federal judge trashed the Trump administration for changing course on Indian Country homelands policy during the worst public health crisis in decades.

Crow Creek Leaders Sentenced In Embezzlement Scheme

Indian Country Today, May 20

A former chairwoman of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe and a council member have been sentenced in a tribal embezzlement scheme involving four others.

Shinnecock Tribe Wins Right To Keep Electronic Billboard On Long Island

Native News Online, Levi Rickert, May 19

The Shinnecock Indian Nation got a victory in New York state Supreme Court in its fight to keep its electronic billboard, built on a right-of-way along Sunrise Highway on Long Island.


Wes Studi Urges The Public To Assist Indian Country Amid COVID-19

PRNewswire, May 20 

Legendary actor Wes Studi has developed a public service announcement (PSA) to raise awareness of the serious effects of COVID-19 in Indian Country and request support for Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) to ensure Native Americans are not left behind during the pandemic.

American Indian College Fund Names 5 Tribal Colleges For $2.4 Million Student Success Program

Native News Online, May 20 

The American Indian College Fund announced it selected five tribal colleges and universities to participate in a new 30-month program to increase the schools’ capacity to better recruit and work with students while also increasing their sustainability as higher education institutions in the process.

Indigefi, NAMA Launch Podcasts Featuring Native Artists And Musicians

Native News Online, Rich Tupica, May 20

With live entertainment on hold, there are new, alternate ways to interact with Native artists from home, including two newly launched podcasts devoted to chatting with Indigenous talent.

FBI Seeks Tips On Navajo Man’s Death

Indian Country Today, Aliyah Chavez, May 20

On Nov. 8, the body of James Naswood, a member of the Navajo Nation, was found in a car near Red Rock, New Mexico. Now, the FBI is looking for anyone with information about what happened.

New President Announced At Haskell Indian Nations University

Native News Online, Mikayla Steele, May 20

Dr. Ronald J. Graham was announced as the new president of Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas.

Native and Black Individuals Make Up A  Disproportionate Number Of Alaska Homicide Victims

Anchorage Daily News, May 20

A new analysis of Alaska homicide records has found that Alaska Natives and blacks are dying at a higher rate than other demographic groups.

The Alaska Justice Information Center at the University of Alaska Anchorage released the findings Wednesday in a 68-page report. Researchers reviewed data from 1,709 homicides investigated by Alaska State Troopers and police departments across the state between 1976 and 2016.