The U.S. Senate passed the Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act which, if signed into law, would provide critical funding to provide running water to 5,000 Navajo citizens who live in Utah. Currently, only 40 percent of the residents have running water.
“Providing clean water for the Navajo people is a challenging task and we have worked with our friends in Congress and across the country to move this important measure forward. As the Navajo Nation continues to struggle to address COVID-19, we welcome the passage by the United States Senate of the Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act, which would provide desperately needed funding for clean drinking water to our members,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a statement.
Environmentalists are criticizing the Trump administration for backing the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Fuel Working Group, which has called for the government to support both uranium mining and nuclear power technology to preserve national security, despite a previous history of health risks from the 520 abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation alone.
A coalition of California Native American tribes sued the state seeking more time to qualify a sports betting initiative for the statewide ballot, arguing that the state‘s coronavirus shutdown kept them from collecting voter signatures in recent months. Meanwhile, the Board of Directors of the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise (Navajo Gaming) approved the extended closure of all Navajo Gaming operations through July 5, 2020, while the Pokagon Gaming Authority announced that all of its Four Winds Casinos locations in Michigan and Indiana will reopen to the public on Monday, June 15 with operational changes to ensure guest health and safety.
In a ruling that sets a precedent for two-spirit and transgender inmates, Adree Edmo, a citizen of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and current Idaho inmate, won her case to receive sex reassignment surgery. The ruling sets a new precedent in the medical treatment of inmates who are diagnosed with gender dysphoria in the prison systems of the 9th Circuit.
Keep reading for a full news update.
In Apache, We Say ‘Ndąą Diłhił’í bi’idąą da’ilįį’ (Black Lives Matter)
Indian Country Today, Terry Rambler, June 8
Now that George Floyd has been laid to rest, America must heed his call from heaven. His cry is our cry. We can’t breathe anymore. In Apache, we say ‘Ndąą Diłhił’í bi’idąą da’ilįį’ (Black Lives Matter.) When one unarmed black person is killed, it affects us all, even out here on the San Carlos Apache Reservation. After all, we Apaches are people of color. All people of color are at risk – red, black, brown or yellow. We are at risk and live in fear of what happened to Mr. Floyd because it can happen just as easily to any one of us.
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe v. Bernhardt:
Trump Administration Lands In Trouble For Threatening Tribe’s Sovereignty
Indianz.com, Acee Agoyo, June 9
Indian Country is declaring victory after a federal judge blasted the Trump administration for threatening the sovereignty of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and breaking its promises to the People of the First Light. In a series of decisions, Judge Paul L. Friedman unleashed the “trouble” he warned about just a couple of weeks ago. He ordered the Department of the Interior to take yet another look at the tribe’s request for a reservation, holding that Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner by disapproving the land-into-trust application in one of her first major actions of the Trump era.
Eastern Cherokee Extend Office Closures After COVID-19 Spike
Indian Country Today, Joseph Martin, June 9
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has experienced a spike in confirmed coronavirus cases since it began its phased reopening May 8. At that time, the tribe had nine confirmed cases of COVID-19. As of Monday morning, it had 43. The tribe was previously slated to open Monday but was notified that three employees at Qualla Boundary Head Start and Early Head Start tested positive for the virus, Principal Chief Richard Sneed said in a statement. The Head Start programs are considered nonessential and have been closed, along with tribal programs, due to the pandemic.
Monday Navajo Nation COVID-19 Update: 2,814 Recoveries, 90 New Cases, & No New Deaths Reported
Native News Online, June 9
The Navajo Department of Health, in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, reported 90 new cases of COVID-19 for the Navajo Nation and no recent deaths as of Monday. The total number of deaths remains at 277 as previously reported. Preliminary reports from 11 health care facilities indicate that approximately 2,814 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, with one health care facility report still pending. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases for the Navajo Nation has reached 6,110.
Remember Our Ancestral Teachings And We ‘Will Continue To Survive’ This Pandemic
Indian Country Today, June 9
It’s been three months since the novel coronavirus has hit the country. This global pandemic closed the economy. People have been staying at home, social distancing, and of course everyone is vigorously washing their hands. In Hawaii, like many other states, businesses are reopening and people are venturing out. Indian Country Today features Dr. Lynnae Lawrence. She works for the VA Pacific Islands Healthcare System in Honolulu.
Congress Returns To Indian Country’s Agenda In Age Of COVID-19
Indianz.com, Acee Agoyo, June 9
Congress is slowly but surely getting back to work after COVID-19 derailed Indian Country’s legislative agenda ahead of one of the most critical elections in America’s history.
Last Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed a legislative package with provisions addressing water, education and veterans in tribal communities. It marked the first time in three months that lawmakers in the chamber took action on a substantive Indian Country bill.
Navajo Gaming Announces Extension Of Closure Through July
Indianz.com, June 9
The Board of Directors of the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise (Navajo Gaming) approved the extended closure of all NavajoGaming operations in adherence to Navajo Nation Executive Order 005-20 as issued by President Johnathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer. The Executive Orders keep in place the closure of government operation through July 5, 2020.
Tribal Casinos Sue California For More Time To Qualify Legal Sports Betting Measure Amid Coronavirus
Los Angeles Times, Patrick Mcgreevy, June 9
A coalition of California Native American tribes sued the state Tuesday seeking more time to qualify a sports betting initiative for the statewide ballot, arguing that the state‘s coronavirus shutdown kept them from collecting voter signatures in recent months. The lawsuit comes as state officials express concerns that the virus could impede the ability of Californians to go to the polls to vote, leading Gov. Gavin Newsom last month to order ballots to be mailed to the state’s 20.6 million voters.
The Pokagon Band Announces Details For The Reopening Of Its Four Winds Casinos On June 15
Indianz.com, June 8
The Pokagon Gaming Authority is pleased to announce that all of its Four Winds Casinos locations in Michigan and Indiana will reopen to the public on Monday, June 15 at Noon Eastern Time. Each Four Winds Casino location has implemented changes to their amenities and services to help protect the health and safety of guests and employees, and will continue to provide an enjoyable entertainment experience.
U.S. Senate Passes Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act
Native News Online, June 9
Leaders of the Navajo Nation are applauding the passage by the U.S. Senate of the Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act. If enacted into law, it would settle decades-long negotiation between the Navajo Nation, the federal government and the State of Utah. “As the Navajo Nation continues to struggle to address COVID-19, we welcome the passage by the United States Senate of the Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act, which would provide desperately needed funding for clean drinking water to our members,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a statement.
Cronkite News: Plan To ‘Revive’ Uranium Mining Called Unneeded, Unwanted By Advocates
Indianz.com, Jessica Myers, June 9
Environmentalists are blasting a Trump administration call for “bold action to revive and strengthen the uranium mining industry,” an industry whose history they say has left a “toxic trail” through the Grand Canyon. They are responding to a report (April 23) by the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Fuel Working Group, which called for the government to support both uranium mining and nuclear power technology to preserve national security.
The first step in that plan is a proposal for $150 million in next year’s Energy Department’s budget to buy and stockpile U.S.-mined uranium, the report said.
Shoshone-Bannock transgender inmate makes history with legal fight
Indian Country Today, Amanda Peacher, June 9
A transgender Idaho inmate and citizen of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes is on track to receive sex reassignment surgery next month following a ruling that sets precedent for much of the American West. The U.S. Supreme Court declined the state’s request to suspend prisoner Adree Edmo’s surgery, which is now slated to take place in July. The 7-2 decision is another landmark victory for Edmo, who initially won her case in federal court in Idaho in late 2018.
North Dakota Primary: 3 Native Women ‘Using Their Voices To Bring Change’
Indian Country Today, Aliyah Chavez, June 9
North Dakota officials will tally results Tuesday from its all-mail primary, which includes at least three Native women, all Democrats, who are running for the state Legislature. Thomasina Mandan, Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Nation, and Tracey Wilkie, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, are running for state House seats. For state Senate, Lisa Finley-DeVille, Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Nation, is running unopposed in Tuesday’s primary election.
Resources & Development Committee Authorizes Tribal Access Regulations Without Bia Approval For Navajo Enterprises
Indianz.com, June 9
The Resources and Development Committee (RDC) of the 24th Navajo Nation Council approved and adopted uniform rules for Navajo Nation enterprises to allow access to Navajo Nation trust and fee lands for development that no longer require the normal Bureau of Indian Affairs rights-of-way approval. Pursuant to 25 CFR §169.4(b)(3)(iii) concerning rights-of-way over Indian Land, the RDC passed a tribal authorization authorizing access without BIA approval on June 3 for independent legal entities wholly owned by the Navajo Nation.