While tribes across the country continue to wait for CARES Act funding to be distributed, Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin testified before Congress for the first time during the COVID-19 era to discuss the Trump administration’s response to the crisis. Mnuchin testified before the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship at 10 a.m. EST on Wednesday on Title I of the CARES Act.

In one exchange with Washington Senator Maria Cantwell, Secretary Mnuchin stated that the $8 billion for tribal governments will be distributed either today, Thursday, June 11, or tomorrow, Friday, June 12.

Senator Cantwell: Can you tell me when the $8 billion for tribal governments will be distributed?

Secretary Mnuchin: The second tranche of that money is going to go out tomorrow, and the only thing that is going to be held back at that point is the litigation issue associated with Alaska.

Senator Cantwell: Okay. On the tribal issue, you’re saying.

Secretary Mnuchin: Yes. The first tranche went out, and the second tranche is literally going out tomorrow. Or actually maybe Friday, I apologize.  It’s either tomorrow or Friday, but it’s going out.

The Associated Press reports that Census workers will resume dropping off questionnaires to Navajo Nation homes this week, noting that less than 1% of Navajo Nation has completed self-response, according to the Census Bureau. The majority of Navajo Nation is designated as Update Leave, which was delayed due to the COVID crisis.

As statues of Christopher Columbus are being destroyed across the country, Indian Country Today has made a list of 10 Native Americans who would be well-suited to replace them with statues of their own. Yesterday, auto-racing giant NASCAR announced that it is banning the display of the Confederate flag at all of its events and properties and removing its rule mandating that racing team members stand for the national anthem.

Six Native Americans were named to the 24-member Bush Foundation fellow roster that will provide up to $100,000 for recipients to pursue advanced education, networking opportunities, workshops, and training over 12 to 24 months.

As tribal governments in South Dakota await federal consultation over proposed increases in large-scale gold prospecting on Rapid Creek, the Black Hills Clean Water Alliance filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service for illegally withholding public information during the permitting process.

Gun Lake Casino in Michigan reopened its doors Monday after voluntarily closing on March 16, 2020 to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The casino is owned and operated by the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Potawatomi (Gun Lake Tribe). Gun Lake Casino reopened with a “Play It Safe Initiative” in place to provide safety and a comfort level for guests and team members.

Keep reading for a full news update. 

Nationwide Protests:

Indian Country Voices Its Solidarity With Black Lives Matter

Native News Online, June 10

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, Americans, young and old, in big cities and small towns, and of all colors have shown solidarity with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. Joining in to show support and solidarity have been American Indians and Alaska Natives throughout Indian Country.

Columbus Takes Another Dive: Protesters Topple Minnesota Statute

Indian Country Today, June 10

Protesters in Minnesota on Wednesday pulled down a statue of Christopher Columbus outside the state Capitol amid continuing anger over the death of George Floyd. The protesters threw a rope around the 10-foot bronze statue Wednesday afternoon and pulled it off its stone pedestal. The protesters, including Dakota and Ojibwe tribal citizens, said they consider Columbus a symbol of genocide against Native Americans. They said they had tried many times to remove it through the political process, but without success.

10 People Whose Statues Should Replace Columbus

Indian Country Today, Mark Trahant, June 10

Around the world statues are coming down. Civil War generals. Mass murderers. And Christopher Columbus. In every case there are far more stone monuments remaining than are removed. A survey by the Southern Poverty Law Center found some 1,800 named memorials honoring confederates. Add to that union generals. And military leaders from the American Revolution, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. The generals are men of course. One study said there is a “staggering lack of public statues of women.” 

Minneapolis Has A Long History Of Police Violence

Indian Country Today, June 10

The death of George Floyd, while in the custody of the Minneapolis police has sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and the treatment of African Americans and other People of color by police across the country. One Native group that took a vocal stand against the police is the Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Group. The group is made up of 30 American Indian organizations in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area. In a letter condemning the killing of Floyd, Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Group called attention to the mistreatment of American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Positive Law Dominates Today; Natural Law Is The Lakota Way

Native Sun News Today, Ivan Star Comes Out, June 10

Exposure to Lakota language in the very first six years of my life allowed me to be an adequate speaker today. Then, America’s nationalistic curriculum entered my life at one of its on-reservation residential schools. English language, American history and culture dominated. It did not teach me one thing about Lakota except that it was shameful and bad to be Lakota.


8 More COVID-19 Related Deaths Reported On Navajo Nation – Death Toll At 285; Cases Reach 6,150

Native News Online, June 10 

On Tuesday, the Navajo Department of Health, in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, reported 40 new cases of COVID-19 for the Navajo Nation and eight more deaths. The total number of deaths has reached 285 as of Tuesday. Preliminary reports from 11 health care facilities indicate that approximately 2,872 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, with one health care facility report still pending.

Wanblee: Quarantined Without Food

Native Sun News Today, Travis Dewes, June 10

At least two residents of the Eagle’s Nest district on the Pine Ridge Reservation have struggled receiving groceries while they were quarantined in their homes for possible coronavirus exposures. Don Doyle, a resident of Wanblee, said that his house of 17 people was ordered to quarantine after his daughter had tested positive for the virus in mid-May. Doyle was told that his household’s propane and electricity bill would be paid, and food drops with grocery supplies would be made as needed. But, when groceries were needed, they were only dropped once. That one grocery drop lasted Doyle and his house 3 days. 

Udall, Murray: Trump Administration Is Worsening Educational Disparities In Tribal Schools Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Indianz.com, June 10

Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), vice chairman on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, led 12 of their Democratic colleagues in a letter to David Bernhardt, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, and Betsy DeVos, U.S. Secretary of Education, regarding the impacts of COVID-19 on Bureau of Indian Education and Tribal college and university students. The letter asked Bernhardt and DeVos to explain how their Departments are addressing barriers to distance learning in Indian Country and to further explain the delay in distributing of CARES Act resources to Tribal schools, that has likely exacerbated disparities in educational opportunities for Native students. 


Watch: Mnuchin Testifies In Senate Hearing On CARES Act 

Washington Post Youtube, June 11

Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Files Motion To Stop Treasury Department Distribution Of Cares Act Funds

Native News Online, June 10

In a motion filed Monday in a DC court, the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation accused the Treasury Department of using a wrong formula when calculating the initial distribution of $4.8 CARES Act funds for tribal governments. As a result, the Prairie Band claims its population was undercounted by as much as 80 percent, denying the tribe nearly $8 million in much-needed relief aid, the lawsuit claims. The remaining $3.2 billion of $8 billion earmarked for American Indian tribal governments is expected to be distributed this week.

Treasury In Spotlight As Tribes Await COVID-19 Relief Promised Months Ago

Indianz.com, Acee Agoyo, June 10

With tribes still waiting on payments promised by the federal government, Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin is appearing before Congress for the first time in the COVID-19 era to discuss the Trump administration’s response to the crisis. Mnuchin will testify before the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship at 10am Eastern on Wednesday. The subject of the hearing is  Title I of the CARES Act, including the Paycheck Protection Program and the  Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, which have helped thousands of American businesses — including some in Indian Country — stay afloat during the pandemic. 

Navajo Leaders Lay Out Plan To Spend Relief Funds, Shield Elderly From ‘this Monster’

Cronkite News, Katelyn Reinhart, June 9

Federal funding has reached the Navajo Nation, and President Jonathan Nez is urging tribal leaders to move quickly to approve the distribution of $50 million in funds from the CARES Act. The proposed legislation would help the tribe distribute services and equipment, Nez said in a virtual town hall meeting Tuesday. The legislation, which must be approved by the Navajo Nation Council, would fund crucial water infrastructure projects, personal protection equipment, hazard pay for Navajo workers and other services.


Gun Lake Casino Reopens With “Play It Safe Initiative” In Place; Pokagon’s Four Winds Casinos To Reopen On June 15

Native News Online, June 10

Gun Lake Casino reopened its doors Monday after voluntarily closing on March 16, 2020 to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The casino is owned and operated by the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi (Gun Lake Tribe). Gun Lake Casino reopened with a “Play It Safe Initiative” in place to provide safety and a comfort level for guests and team members. 


NASCAR Bans Confederate Flag At All Events And Properties 

CNBC, Dan Mangan, June 10

Auto racing giant NASCAR said Wednesday that it is banning the display of the Confederate flag at all of its events and properties.

The announcement is sure to be controversial with a number of NASCAR fans, some of whom continue to display Confederate flags and symbols at racing events even five years after the organization asked fans not to do so.

Census Workers To Resume Delivering Packets To Navajo Homes 

Associated Press, June 11

Census workers will resume dropping off questionnaires at homes on the Navajo Nation this week.

The tribe’s legislative branch said the work to deliver paper packets to more than 70,000 homes begins Thursday. The operation that started in mid-March quickly was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Six American Indians Named 2020 To Bush Fellows Roster

Native News Online, June 10 

On Tuesday, the Bush Foundation, based in St. Paul Minnesota, named six American Indians to its roster of 2020 Bush Fellows. The list of 2020 Bush Fellows includes 24 visionary leaders who are working to shape better futures for their communities from North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. The foundation picked the 24 fellows out of 746 applications. The fellowship provides recipients up to $100,000 to pursue advanced education, networking opportunities, workshops and training over 12 to 24 months.

Native Sun News Today: Lawsuit Challenges Gold Permit Process In ‘Sacred Water’ Basin

Indianz.com, Talli Nauman, June 10

As tribal governments awaited federal consultation over proposed increases in large-scale gold prospecting on Rapid Creek upstream from here, the grassroots Black Hills Clean Water Alliance filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service for illegally withholding public information during the permitting process. Rapid Creek, originally called Mniluzahan, is a main source of drinking water, irrigation, recreation, and spiritual renewal for residents of Rapid City and surrounding communities, and was named one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers ago on April 14, due to the threat of mining megaprojects posed by the prospecting permits.

Freeing Sk’aliCh’elh-tanaut

Native News Online, Joaqlin Estus, June 10

It’s been 50 years since the orca known as Sk’aliCh’elh-tanaut, or Tokitae, swam in the ocean. Two Lummi women of Washington and a legal rights group are joining forces to set the killer whale free before Tokitae’s mother dies. The Earth Law Center is a non-profit that advocates for establishing legal rights for ecosystems. It will be representing Lummi tribal members Tah-Mahs (Ellie Kinley) and Squil-le-he-le (Raynell Morris) in the effort. In 1970, Tokitae was captured in the Salish Sea, protected waters off British Columbia and Washington state, and moved to the Miami Seaquarium, where she’s lived ever since. There, she’s called Lolita.

Attention Native Filmmakers: LA Skins Fest Is Accepting Submissions

Native News Online, Rich Tupica, June 10

Emerging Indigenous movie makers might want to take note that LA Skins Fest, a Native American film festival, has opened its call for its 2020 entries. The 14th annual festival, which runs Nov. 17-22, is an initiative of the Native American non-profit Barcid Foundation and aims to showcase and champion rising Native filmmakers. The event is presented by Comcast NBCUniversal and held at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Chinese Theater in Hollywood.

New C-store To Provide Boost To Santa Rosa Band Of Cahuilla Indians’ Revenues

Native News Online, June 10

The Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians has opened its first convenience store in a bid to help boost the Tribe’s economy. Located along a remote stretch of Highway 74 in Southern California, the 3,600-square-foot Santa Rosa Pít Stop convenience store and gas station came about after nearly a decade of planning, according to Tribal Council member Steven Estrada, who spoke at the June 3 opening ceremony for the project, which was streamed live over the internet.