Former President Barack Obama held a virtual town hall event last night to discuss policing and the civil unrest that has followed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Obama called for turning the protests over Floyd’s death into policy change to ensure safer policing and increased trust between communities and law enforcement.

Chief Executive Officer of the National Congress of American Indians and former police officer, Kevin Allis, weighed in on the response that the police have had to nationwide protests in an Indian Country Today interview:

“When we see situations that unfolded in Minneapolis over a week ago, it’s really tough to digest both as a police officer and as a citizen.” He suggested, “Human resources departments really need to pay attention to the folks that are applying for these particular positions. Having something in their background that shows an experience of interacting with the community, would go a long way in making sure that they’re a right fit for this particular job.”

Speaking about the use of force against protestors in Lafayette Square, Allis shared, “There was absolutely no reason for that to happen yesterday. There was no reason for that kind of use of force in a peaceful protest where people weren’t addressed.”

With a breakthrough in the death of Kozee Decorah on the Winnebago Reservation in northeast Nebraska last month, 20 year-old Jonathan Daniel Rooney of Winnebago, Nebraska was charged with manslaughter. This marks a significant milestone in the ongoing work to bring justice and closure in all cases of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, as the overwhelming majority of cases go unsolved and unaddressed. In the case of Kozee Decorah, the United States Attorney Joe Kelly stated the maximum punishment for the offense is 15 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, a 3-year term of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment.

The state of New Mexico awarded the Pueblo of Cochiti nearly $2.9 million in emergency funding to bring high-speed Internet to the pueblo to promote social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Northern Arapaho Tribe secured a $4.5 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant that will be used to modernize critical water infrastructure and help combat the spread of COVID-19 on the Wind River Reservation.

As the Tocabe restaurants in Greenwood Village and Denver’s Berkeley neighborhood reopen today, the owners will once again be able to support Native food producers, and are committed to partnering with organizations that assist the Native American urban population, such as Denver Indian Family Resource Center, Denver Indian Center, and Denver American Indian Commission.

Keep reading for a full news update.

Nationwide Protests:

Obama Steps Out As Nation Confronts Confluence Of Crises 

Associated Press, Julie Pace, June 3

Former President Barack Obama is taking on an increasingly public role as the nation confronts a confluence of historic crises that has exposed deep racial and socioeconomic inequalities in America and reshaped the November election.

No Reason For That Kind Of Use Of Force In A Peaceful Protest: Former Cop Speaks Out

Indian Country Today, June 3

Kevin Allis is the chief executive officer of the National Congress of American Indians. While he was attending law school, he also for eight years as an officer with the Baltimore Police Department. In that role, he also served in an internal affairs division that investigated and prosecuted officers accused of using excessive force.


COVID-19 Death Toll Surpasses 250 On Navajo Nation; More Than 16 States

Native News Online, June 3

The death toll from COVID-19 has reached 252, which surpasses the total deaths of 16 states across the country. One Tuesday night, the Navajo Nation reported its daily COVID-19 related numbers. The Navajo Department of Health, in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, reported 54 new cases of COVID-19 for the Navajo Nation and four more deaths.

Participants At Idaho Revival Gathering Near Fort Hall Reservation Test Positive For COVID-19

Native News Online, June 3

A religious revival at an Idaho Falls Church may have put some tribal citizens on the Fort Hall Reservation at risk for COVID-19. At least 30 people who attended the revival, which took place at the Potter’s House Christian Center during the May 17-23 timeframe, tested positive or exhibited symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Tribal Health Concerns About Re-Opening National Parks ‘Have Fallen On Deaf Ears’

Indian Country Today, June 3

Arizona tribal leaders told House lawmakers this week that moves to reopen national parks are being made without needed health safety measures to protect tribal members or park visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic. The comments by Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Havasupai Council Member Carletta Tilousi come as the Interior Department is moving to reopen parks.

Navajo Nation Cancels July 4 Celebrations, Ends Weekend Curfew

Indian Country Today, Jalpan Nanavati, June 3

Navajo leaders on Wednesday canceled this year’s Fourth of July celebrations in Window Rock as the tribe continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. President Jonathan Nez announced the cancellation Wednesday during a Facebook Live town hall in which he also lifted the 57-hour weekend curfew “unless we see numbers increase once again for coronavirus cases.”

COVID-19 Is Threatening Some Indigenous Tribes With Extinction

Indian Country Today, Daniel Wildcat, June 3

Deep in the environmental lungs of our planet, Amazonia, the COVID-19, or coronavirus is devastating and literally threatening some Indigenous peoples with extinction. History is once again repeating itself as this disease pandemic hits our southern hemisphere relatives, e.g., the Shipibo-Konibo, Matsés, Awajun, Urarina, Achuar, Quichua, Isconahua, Kukama, Tikuna, to name a few, in this part of the world.


Michigan’s Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe Opens Its Tribal Casinos Before State’s Stay-At-Home Order Lifted

Native News Online, June 3

After voluntarily closing its three tribal casinos on March 16 to help stop the spread of COVID-19, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Council decided to reopen its facilities for business last Friday to VIP guests only. At the tribe’s flagship tribal gaming casino, the Soaring Eagle and Resort, an 8 a.m. reopening was done without the normal fanfare afforded a casino.

Desert Diamond Casinos Reopens June 5 At 1:00 Pm, June 3

Extensive new safety precautions will be in place when Desert Diamond Casinos & Entertainment welcomes guests back to all four of its properties at 1:00 p.m. on June 5, 2020. When the doors reopen, guests will find the same excellent service, dining and gaming experience that Desert Diamond Casinos is known for, in a safe environment for all to enjoy

2020 Elections:

American Indian Congressional Candidates Win Primaries In Idaho, New Mexico

Native News Online, June 3

American Indian congressional candidates in Idaho and New Mexico earned primary victories on Tuesday, paving a path for increased numbers of tribal citizens in the House and Senate this fall. In Idaho, Paulette Jordan won the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate seat in Idaho on Tuesday night 

Coeur D’alene Tribal Member Paulette Jordan Wins US Senate Democratic Nomination In Idaho

Native News Online, June 3

Paulette Jordan won the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate seat in Idaho on Tuesday night. Jordan is a tribal citizen of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe of Indians, where she has previously served on the tribal council.

4 Native Candidates For Congress Advance To November

Indian Country Today, Aliyah Chavez, June 2

At least four Native candidates for Congress will advance to the general election. Both candidates running in Idaho on Tuesday — Paulette Jordan, Coeur d’Alene, and Rudy Soto, Shoshone-Bannock — will appear on the November ballot. Jordan will face incumbent U.S. Senator Jim Risch, while Soto will compete against incumbent U.S. Rep Russ Fulcher.


Winnebago Man Charged With Manslaughter

Nebraska TV ABC, June 3

20 year-old Jonathan Daniel Rooney of Winnebago, Nebraskan was charged with manslaughter occurring in Indian Country for the death of Kozee Decorah.

‘Stunning’ Rates Of Child Hunger, Education And Death In Indian Country

Indian Country Today, June 3

Isolated areas with high Native American and Alaska Native populations tend to be among the worst to suffer from childhood disparities around malnutrition, graduation rates, and early deaths, according to a new report. New Mexico’s McKinley County, which sits on the Navajo Nation – a tribe suffering amid the pandemic – is ranked near the bottom in child hunger and graduation rates.

Northern Arapaho Tribe Secures Nearly $5 Million In Federal Funds To Improve Water Infrastructure And Fight COVID-19, June 3

The Northern Arapaho Business Council is pleased to announce the Tribe’s receipt of critical federal dollars to modernize critical water infrastructure and help combat the spread of COVID-19 on the Wind River Reservation. A $4.5 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant will fund necessary projects that implement water conservation measures, prevent contamination and improve water transmission and storage.

N.M. Awards Cochiti Pueblo $2.9 Million For Broadband, Renee Narvaiz, June 3 

The state of New Mexico awarded the Pueblo of Cochiti nearly $2.9 million in emergency funding to bring high-speed Internet to the pueblo to promote social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Inter-Governmental Agreement, announced Wednesday by the Department of Information Technology, was signed by Pueblo of Cochiti Gov. Charles D. Naranjo and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who also signed an executive order to release the funds.

Indian Affairs Announces $3 Million Living Languages Grants Funding Opportunity

Native News Online, June 3

The Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development (IEED) is seeking tribal applicants for a $3 million grant program that aims to preserve and revitalize Native languages. The Living Languages Grant Program (LLGP) program will fund between 15 and 60 grants in amounts from $25,000-$200,000 to federally recognized American Indian tribes and Alaska Native entities to document, preserve and revitalize Native languages and build active speaker capacity.

Native Women Confront Missing And Murdered Task Force Over Trump’s Role In Crisis, Acee Ayago, June 3

The Trump administration’s efforts to address the crisis of the missing and murdered in Indian Country are being undermined by the president himself, Native women asserted as outrage over police violence continues to sweep the nation. During a listening session marred yet again by technical and logistical difficulties, Native women on Tuesday wondered Operation Lady Justice isn’t looking into the reasons why so many of their sisters disappear.

Tocabe Supports Native American Food Producers As It Reopens 

Westword, Mark Antonation, June 2

Creating Native American cuisine goes beyond recipes; the ingredients and where they come from are just as important. So when Ben Jacobs and Matt Chandra, owners of the Tocabe restaurants in Greenwood Village and Denver’s Berkeley neighborhood, had to shut down their eateries specializing in Native American food, they worried that they’d also affect the farmers and other producers who provide the raw ingredients for their menus.