The Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) issued a press release on the Office of the Comptroller of Currency’s announcement of the release of its final rule to modernize the Community Reinvestment Act with an increased focus on promoting capital and investment in Indian Country.

“The updated regulations are historic for Indian Country in a few key ways. They provide tribal governments parity with other governments to determine the financial needs of their respective communities,” writes NAFAO. “They also encourage innovative partnerships between Indian Country and financial institutions to support community revitalization and development.”

Navajo Nation reported 181 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death, while New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in an online news conference that they “sounded the alarm to the White House months ago about the impact on sovereign nations, lack of testing by Indian Health Services,” and that “the federal government’s not giving [tribes] what they need either,” as Indian Country Today reports she seeks to promote the “benefits of electing Joe Biden as President.

Meanwhile, the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska has reported their first death related to the virus on their reservation.

The New Mexico Indian Affairs Department in partnership with the New Mexico National Guard and the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management are procuring and delivering food and water to tribal communities. 

Representative Deb Haaland, along with other members of Congress, filed a bicameral, bipartisan amicus brief with the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia in support of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts. The brief received backing from all of the state’s congressional delegation, including U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey.

In Navajo Nation, casinos remain closed amidst the highest COVID-19 infection rate per capita in the country, while the Foxwood Resort Casino in Connecticut and the Spirit Mountain Casino and Lodge are both set to reopen the week of June 1.

Presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden pledged to increase funding for the Indian Health Service, stating that “as President, I’ll make meaningful investments in Indian Country — including dramatically increasing funding for Indian Health Services and making it mandatory.”

Keep reading for a full news update.


Joe Biden Pledges Increased Funding For Indian Health Services

AZ Central, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, May 21

With the Navajo Nation leading the nation in the per-capita COVID-19 infection rate, Joe Biden is pledging to increase funding to Indian Health Services.

Native Americans Are More Vulnerable to Coronavirus—Less Than 3 Percent Have Been Tested

Newsweek, Soo Kim, May 21

Cases of the novel coronavirus among Native Americans have been growing faster than some of the worst-hit states in the country. Nearly 8,000 cases have been reported but the actual number of infections is likely to be higher, with less than three percent of the total Native American population tested for the virus.

181 New COVID-19 Cases, One More Death & 1,195 Recoveries Reported By Navajo Nation On Thursday

Native News Online, May 21

The Navajo Department of Health, in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center, Navajo Area Indian Health Service, and the Tribal Health Organizations, reported 181 new cases of COVID-19 for the Navajo Nation on Thursday. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases for the Navajo Nation has reached 4,434, and the total number of deaths is now 147.

One New Case And One Death Related To COVID-19 Confirmed In Winnebago, May 21

The Winnebago Comprehensive Healthcare System, which is comprised of the Winnebago Public Health Department (WPHD) and Twelve Clans Unity Hospital (TCUH), have confirmed one new case of COVID-19 and the first COVID-19 related death in Winnebago. The Winnebago Reservation now has had a total of nine positive cases of COVID-19. Of those nine cases, five individuals have recovered.

Shinnecock’s Lance Gumbs Represents Tribal Nations During New York Assembly Joint Hearing On COVID-19 Impact

Native News Online, Levi Rickert, May 21

The data emerging from the COVID-19 deaths reveals that a disproportionate number of people of color are being impacted by the pandemic.

New Mexico Delivers Essential Resources to Tribal Communities, May 21

The Indian Affairs Department continues to partner with the New Mexico National Guard, the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and other sister agencies to procure and deliver food and water to our tribal communities.

‘We Sounded The Alarm’ About Navajo Nation Months Ago … And The Federal Government Failed

Indian Country Today, Joaqlin Estus, May 21

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says she will help make sure that voters know about the potential benefits of electing Joe Biden as president. Especially voters in Indian Country and in the Hispanic communities.

Taking Advantage Of A Pandemic? Roadblocks, Pipelines And Treaty Rights

Indian Country Today, May 21

A Canadian company has built the first piece of the disputed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline across the U.S. border and started work on labor camps in Montana and South Dakota. But it has not resolved a courtroom setback that would make it hard to finish the $8 billion project.

As COVID-19 Pandemic Enters A New Phase, Indian Nations Must Stand Together

Indian Country Today, Ernest Stevens, Jr., May 21

The Creator brings us the sunlight of a new day and the Spring brings us new life. Mother Earth gives us our ground to walk on and we owe the Earth a duty of caring with a vision for our children, our grandchildren and the future. As we all know, that future holds great uncertainty.

Militants Challenge Northern Cheyenne IRA Government, Clara Caufield, May 21

Though the Northern Cheyenne Reservation survived the coronavirus quarantine with no cases, actions taken during the pandemic quarantine have led to political controversy.

Powwows Move Online To Keep Indigenous Communities Together, May 21

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, some Native Americans have found a way to safely host traditional powwows by moving them online.


Navajo Nation Casinos Remain Closed Amid Pandemic

Indian Country Today, May 21 

The Navajo Nation’s casinos will stay closed into next month, a decision that is in line with the tribe’s partial government closure and a stay-at-home order for the reservation’s residents. 

Foxwood Resort Casino ‘Focused On Reopening That First Week Of June’

Indian Country Today, Susan Haigh, May 21

Plans to partially reopen Foxwoods Resort Casino on June 1 are still moving ahead despite opposition from Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, the chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation said Thursday.

Spirit Mountain Casino And Lodge To Reopen On June 1, 2020, May 21

Spirit Mountain Casino and Lodge will reopen at 6:00 a.m. on Monday, June 1, 2020 and has implemented additional safety measures to protect guests and staff.


Indian Country Included In OCC’s Community Reinvestment Act Modernization Final Rule, May 20

On Wednesday, May 20, 2020, the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC) announced the release of their Final Rule to modernize the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) with an increased focus on promoting capital and investment in Indian Country.

Rep. Haaland And Other Members Of Congress Submit Amicus Brief In Defense Of Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe

Native News Online, May 21

Lending support of the Mashpee Wampanoag in its fight to preserve its land in trust status, Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), along with other members of Congress, filed a bicameral, bipartisan amicus brief with the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia on Wednesday.

Red Lake Nation Approves Medical Cannabis

Indian Country Today, Dalton Walker, May 21

A historic vote for an Ojibwe tribe in Minnesota revealed mass support for medical cannabis. 


US To Grant More Time To Consider New Mexico Drilling Plan

Indian Country Today, Susan Montoya Bryan, May 21 

U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said Thursday he’ll extend the public comment period on a contested plan that will guide oil and gas drilling and other development in an area of northwestern New Mexico that includes a national park and locations important to Native American tribes.

Overdoses Rattle Eastern Cherokee During Shutdown

Indian Country Today, Joseph Martin, May 21

While the COVID-19 checkpoints and shutdown may have been successful in keeping numbers of the potentially deadly virus low among the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ citizens and residents, it’s had little, if any, impact on the trafficking of heroin and other illegal drugs to the tribe’s land in North Carolina.

Chehalis Indian Tribe And Heritage Distilling Co. Partner To Produce Up To 600,000 Gallons Of Hand Sanitizer Per Month, May 21

In response to the local and national need for hand sanitizer, the Chehalis Indian Tribe and Heritage Distilling Co. (HDC), the most awarded craft distillery in North America for the past seven years by the American Distilling Institute and makers of BSB®-Brown Sugar Bourbon, have teamed up to produce up to 600,000 gallons of HDC Hand Sanitizer per month for wholesale and retail sale, including in select Safeway and Costco stores in the West, in tribal convenience stores, and at Heritage Distilling Co.’s tasting rooms and website. The blending of the hand sanitizer will take place at Heritage Distilling Co. at Talking Cedar on the Chehalis Indian Reservation in Washington State. 

Pandemic Shows Tribes The Census Is An ‘Absolute Necessity’

Indian Country Today, Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, May 21

The U.S. Census has taken place every 10 years since 1790 despite wars (like the Civil War), political fights and economic crises. Now, it faces two of the three, plus a global pandemic.

Presidential Task Force On Missing And Murdered American Indians And Alaska Natives To Resume Remote Listening Sessions, May 21 

The Presidential Task Force on Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives announced four listening sessions to be conducted by teleconference in May and June.  In response to the COVID-19 health emergency, previously scheduled in-person sessions have been postponed and will be rescheduled as soon as it is safe to do so.

How A Company Misappropriated Native American Culture To Sell Health Insurance, Fred Schulte, May 21

Jill Goodridge was shopping for affordable health insurance when a friend told her about O’NA HealthCare, a low-cost alternative to commercial insurance.

Institute Of American Indian Arts (Iaia) Announces A 10% Reduction In Tuition Rates For Upcoming Academic Year

Native News Online, May 21

At a time when tuition rates are rising, the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) announced on Wednesday a 10 percent reduction in tuition for the 2020-2021 academic year.