Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland penned an op-ed published in the Washington Post covering the effects of COVID-19 on Indian Country and the insufficient action taken by the federal government.

“By disregarding the clear health crisis in tribal communities,” write Warren and Haaland, “the federal government continues a tragic pattern of broken promises to Native nations.”

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez announced that recent data and new surge projections indicate that the COVID-19 surge peak for IHS hospitalizations peaked from April 21 to April 26 an entire month earlier than initial projections on March 27. The updated information demonstrates the effectiveness of proactive measures taken by Navajo Nation to flatten the curve, though as reported yesterday cases continue to grow in Navajo Nation.

As ordered by a federal judge, the Trump administration submitted an updated status report on their efforts to distribute the remaining funds from the $8 billion CARES Act allocation for tribes. Earlier this month, the Treasury Department requested certain employment and budgetary data from tribes in order to disburse the remaining funds.

“As of approximately 12:00pm Eastern Daylight Time today, May 26, 2020, 277 Tribes have submitted the requested data, while 470 have not yet done so,” Daniel Kowalski, the Counselor to Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin, told the court. “Of the 470 that not yet submitted data, 74 have logged into the portal and filled out some of the data and/or updated some of the requested forms but have not yet certified and submitted the data.”

Plans to partially reopen Foxwoods Resort Casino on June 1 are still moving ahead despite opposition from Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont.

Tribal authorities have arrested a man in connection with the May 16 death of Kozee Decorah, a 22 year-old woman from the Ho-Chunk Nation whose body was found near a river on the Winnebago Reservation in northeast Nebraska.

Keep reading for a full news update.

CARES Act Funding:

CARES Act Litigation, May 26

A federal judge has ordered the Trump administration to submit another status report about its efforts to distribute the rest of the $8 billion coronavirus relief fund promised to tribal governments. Judge Amit P. Mehta requested the update from the Department of the Treasury earlier on May 26, 2020. It’s due by the end of the day.

Treasury Formula For COVID-19 Funding Shortchanges Some Tribes, Lisa Diethelm, May 26

Arizona tribes were among those who could get too much – or too little – COVID-19 relief funding under a Treasury Department funding formula that is based on “probably not the best numbers,” according to the author of a new report.

Pandemic Consolation Prize: View From Indian Country

Native Sun News Today, Talli Nauman, May 26

Kim Daniels’ long wait for a stimulus check from the U.S. government’s pandemic emergency relief program has been frustrating for the 59-year-old local Oglala Lakota grandmother and an all-too-common case of a tribal member “falling through the cracks” of the universal payment system intended to alleviate hardship during the Covid-19 health crisis.


The Federal Government Fiddles As COVID-19 Ravages Native Americans [Subscription]

Washington Post, Elizabeth Warren and Deb Haaland, May 26

For generations, the federal government has failed to honor its promises to Native American people. Now, Covid-19 is ravaging Native communities, killing young people and elders alike, and devastating tribal economies. We are fighting in Congress to ensure that sovereign Native nations have the resources needed to protect the health and well-being of their citizens during this pandemic. The novel coronavirus’s terrible impact in Indian Country underscores that the federal government must live up to its unique legal and moral obligations to Native nations and act as a partner to help build security and resiliency for the future.

‘We Must Remain Diligent And Prepared’: Coronavirus Continues To Take Heavy Toll On Tribes, Acee Agoyo, May 26

Coronavirus data from New Mexico continues to show a disproportionate impact on the first Americans, whose cultural, political and social contributions are a point of pride in a state with nearly two dozen tribes. As of May 26, American Indians and Alaska Natives accounted for 57.6 percent of COVID-19 cases, according to the state Department of Health. That’s the highest proportion of any racial or ethnic group.

New COVID-19 Surge Projections Show The Effectiveness Of Public Health Emergency Orders And Weekend Lockdowns, May 26

During a live online town hall on Tuesday, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer announced that recent data and new surge projections provided by the Navajo Area Indian Health Service on May 24, indicate that the COVID-19 surge peak for IHS hospitalizations, including ICU admissions and ventilations occurred from April 21 to April 26 – an entire month earlier than initial surge projections on March 27.

Alternative Care And Isolation Sites Help To Slow The Spread Of COVID-19 Across The Navajo Nation, May 26

The Navajo Nation Health Command Operations Center with support and coordination from the Office of the President and Vice President, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Navajo Area Indian Health Service, and Tribal Health Organizations, began housing and isolating individuals who test positive for COVID-19 several weeks ago at three alternative care sites and several isolation sites to help slow the spread of the virus on the Navajo Nation.

No Response Yet From Federal Government About Tribes’ Checkpoints, Gov. Kristi Noem Says

Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Lisa Kaczke, May 26

Gov. Kristi Noem said she hasn’t received a response from federal authorities about the state’s investigation into two tribes’ checkpoints. Noem said she hasn’t heard from the U.S. Department of Justice, the White House or South Dakota’s congressional delegation about the evidence the state turned over to them last week. She declined on Tuesday to give details of the investigation, citing that it’s an ongoing investigation. 

Monday Update: 105 New Reported COVID-19 Cases On Navajo Nation; One More Death & 1,491 Recoveries

Native News Online, May 25

The Navajo Department of Health in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service reported 105 new cases of COVID-19 for the Navajo Nation. The total number of deaths has reached 157 as of Monday.


Several Michigan Casinos To Reopen Despite Stay-At-Home Order

Indian Country Today, May 26

Several tribal casinos have announced they will reopen despite Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home restrictions. Meanwhile, Whitmer said Tuesday people who leave their home for work or those who have coronavirus symptoms can be tested without needing a doctor’s note, expediting testing that is seen as critical to slowing the spread of the virus.

Tribes: Casinos To Begin Reopening May 29 With Safety Protocols, Whitney Bryan, May 26

Four of Michigan’s 12 federally recognized tribes announced the opening of their casinos beginning Friday, May 29, as select Michigan regions and economies begin to phase open. Each tribe’s reopening date may differ, however, at least one reopening will occur on Friday, May 29. 

Connecticut Tribes Open To Suggestions But Still Plan To Reopen Casinos

Cherokee Phoenix, May 26

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 May 21.

In Latest Filings, Tribes, Stitt Ask Judge To Rule In Their Favor In Gaming Compact Lawsuit

Public Radio Tulsa,  Matt Trotter, May 26

Oklahoma tribes and Gov. Kevin Stitt made their latest cases to the judge presiding over their gaming compact lawsuit. Documents submitted on Friday by both sides argue why Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy DeGiusti should rule in their favor, finding the compacts automatically renewed when it comes to the tribes or ruling they expired when it comes to Stitt.

Desert Diamond Casinos Puts Safety First For June 5 Reopening, May 25

The Tohono O’odham Gaming Enterprise (TOGE) will resume gaming operations on Friday, June 5, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. at all four of its Desert Diamond Casinos near Tucson, Sahuarita, Glendale, and Why (Ajo). As a leader in guest service and safety, TOGE is implementing comprehensive, structural changes in its health and sanitization procedures to offer the highest level of protection for guests, team members and the community.


Navajo Nation Receives 10,000 Diapers And 500 Masks From Richardson Navajo Fund

Native News Online, May 26

As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases grew to more than 4,200 last week on the Navajo Nation, Navajo Council Delegate Edmund Yazzie reached out to longtime ally and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson for help.

Company Floats Proposal For Hydropower On Navajo Nation

Indian Country Today, May 26 

A Phoenix-based company that was eyeing the Little Colorado River for power generation is floating a new proposal that would rely on groundwater rather than surface water to make electricity. 

‘Bring Kozee Home’: Vigil Held For Native Woman Murdered On Winnebago Reservation,  Kevin Abourezk, May 26

Tribal authorities have arrested a man in connection with the May 16 death of a 22-year-old woman from the Ho-Chunk Nation whose body was found near a river on the Winnebago Reservation in northeast Nebraska.

With The Trump Administration, It’s All About Energy — And Sweeney Is Complicit

Native News Online, Levi Rickert, May 26

Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Tara MacLean Sweeney may be taking the heat, but the problem at the Department of the Interior goes beyond her office. Last Thursday, five leading American Indian organizations called on Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to remove Sweeney from her post as the nation’s top public official for Indian affairs, citing her failure to fulfill her duties as trustee to the 574 federally recognized tribes.

New Mexico Senator Presents Veterans’ Histories To Library Of Congress

Indian Country Today, May 26

‘My father probably spent the last 15 years of his life in New Mexico, and he would point out to me about the tradition of Native Americans and Hispanics and others, serving with great distinction.’ U.S. Sen. Tom Udall has presented 90 oral histories his office collected from New Mexico veterans to the Library of Congress. 

Navajo Nation Leaders Honor Fallen Warrior With Wreath Laying Ceremony On Memorial Day

Native News Online, May 26

Navajo Nation leaders placed a wreath to honor fallen warriors on Memorial Day at Veterans Memorial Park in Window Rock. The park lists the names of Navajo men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the United States armed forces and those who are still missing in action.

Shane Morigeau: My Roots Run Deep In Montana, Shane Morigeau, May 26

In Montana, candidates running for office often introduce themselves by sharing what generation of Montanan they are. To me, that number means nothing if we don’t share the values of building each other up and protecting our way of life in Montana.