Politico reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has turned down tribal epidemiologists’ requests for data that it’s making freely available to states, potentially widening health disparities and frustrating tribal leaders already ill-equipped to contain the pandemic.
The White Mountain Apache Tribe in Arizona reports more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases, passing Navajo Nation as the highest infection rate per capita in the country with about 67 cases per 1,000 population.
The Trump administration filed a response in Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Mnuchin, claiming that Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin has been “working diligently” to distribute the money remaining in the $8 billion coronavirus relief fund to tribes and as a result, there is no need for a federal judge to take action in the case.
U.S. Senator and vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Tom Udall sent a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Peter Gaynor, requesting the agency provide guidance in concert with Indian Health Service (IHS) to Tribal governments regarding available disaster response resources and the process to request Public Assistance.
Senator Udall also submitted a speech into the Congressional Record honoring Navajo Code Talker Joe Vandever, Sr. who passed away five days before his 97th birthday in January.
A subsidiary of an Alaska Native Corporation has agreed to pay $1.3 million following a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into a kickback and fraud scheme involving a former employee. Alutiiq International Solutions admitted in a nonprosecution deal with the DOJ that former manager Elmer Baker received cash and other kickbacks over several years in connection with a project to modernize the Harry S. Truman Federal Building in Washington, D.C.
Members of the commission tasked with redrawing Montana’s legislative boundaries following the 2020 Census expressed frustration over the state’s dragging response rate in Native communities and other rural areas, which could potentially cost Montana its opportunity to gain back a second seat in the U.S. House.
After the Federal Communications Commission’s Wireline Competition Bureau approved an additional 67 funding applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program, the Indian Health Center of Santa Clara Valley, in San Jose, California, was awarded $371,175 for laptops, video conferencing equipment, and other communication tools to build an accessible health care system with the goal of helping provide culturally appropriate health care services to the American Indian/Alaska Native community.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson announced $1.8 million in funding for the Fond du Lac and White Earth Tribes to build new water towers and childcare facilities.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Terry Rambler: ‘His Cry Is Our Cry. We Can’t Breathe.’
Indianz.com, Terry Rambler, June 10
Dear Representative O’Halleran, Senator McSally, and Senator Sinema: On behalf of the 17,000 members of the San Carlos Apache Tribe (the “Tribe”), I provide my support for the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, including Title IV (H.R. 35), the Emmett Till Antilynching Act. Even as George Floyd is being laid to rest, all America must heed his call from heaven. His cry is our cry. We can’t breathe. 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 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.
CARES Act Lawsuit: Agua Caliente Band Of Cahuilla Indians V. Mnuchin
Indianz.com, June 11
The Trump administration filed a response in Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Mnuchin on June 10, 2020. According to the filing, the Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin has been “working diligently” to distribute the money remaining in the $8 billion coronavirus relief fund to tribes. As a result, the government attorney says there is no need for a federal judge to take action in the case. “Plaintiffs have been aware of the work performed by Defendant during this period as well as the expected timing for payments,” the response reads. “Yet Plaintiffs did not deem it necessary to renew their motion until the Defendant indicated that the expected schedule would be delayed by approximately seven days, due to problems in the submission process.
CARES Act Hearing: Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation V. Mnuchin
Indianz.com, June 11
A hearing in Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation v. Mnuchin takes place via teleconference at 3pm Eastern on June 11, 2020. At issue in the case is the $8 billion coronavirus relief fund for Indian Country, of which $4.8 billion has already been allocated by the Trump administration. The lawsuit accuses Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin of “underfunding” certain tribes, including the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, by failing to take into account the citizenship data they submitted to the Department of the Treasury two months ago. “While Treasury ultimately decided to award sixty percent of Title V Funds on the basis of ‘Tribal population’, Treasury elected to ignore the actual Tribal enrollment, the only justifiable basis for measuring the scope of Tribal government responsibility for its citizens impacted by COVID-19,” the complaint, which was filed in federal court on June 8, reads.
American Indian Tribes Thwarted In Efforts To Get Coronavirus Data
Politico, Darius Tahir and Adam Cancryn, June 11
Federal and state health agencies are refusing to give Native American tribes and organizations representing them access to data showing how the coronavirus is spreading around their lands, potentially widening health disparities and frustrating tribal leaders already ill-equipped to contain the pandemic.
Udall, Democratic Senators Call On FEMA To Better Coordinate Disaster Response With Tribes
Indianz.com, June 11
U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, along with U.S. Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), and Jackie Rosen (D-Nev.) sent a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Peter Gaynor, requesting the agency provide guidance in concert with Indian Health Service (IHS) to Tribal governments regarding available disaster response resources and the process to request Public Assistance.
Hit Hard By COVID-19, Navajo Nation Self-response To 2020 Census Is Under One Percent Of Households
Native News Online, June 11
In comparison to the entire country’s response to the 2020 Census questionnaire, the Navajo Nation is far behind. As of Wednesday, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the national self-response rate, which is the percentage of people across the entire country that have answered the 2020 Census questionnaire, averaged 60.8 percent. However, the self-response rate for the Navajo Nation was 0.9 percent. Given the Navajo Nation that has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, the response disparity is understandable.
COVID-19 Exposes Inadequate Funding Levels At Indian Health Service
Indianz.com, Acee Agoyo, June 11
With coronavirus cases continuing to rise at disproportionate rates in Indian Country, advocates are calling on Congress to live up to its trust and treaty obligations by providing adequate funding for health care in tribal and urban communities. The Indian Health Service needs at least $9.1 billion to meet the needs of the first Americans, key lawmakers are being told at a hearing on Thursday afternoon, among the first in the COVID-19 era. The agency’s budget currently falls far short of that amount. “The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the vast deficiencies in health care access, quality, and availability that exists across the Indian health system,” Stacy Bohlen, Chief Executive Officer of the National Indian Health Board, says in written testimony.
Covid-19 Related Death Toll Nears 300 On Navajo Nation
Native News Online, June 10
On Wednesday, the Navajo Department of Health, in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, reported 125 new cases of COVID-19 for the Navajo Nation and seven more deaths. The total number of deaths has reached 292 as of Wednesday. Preliminary reports from 11 health care facilities indicate that approximately 2,997 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, with one health care facility report still pending.
White Mountain Apache Tribe Surpasses 1,000 COVID-19 Cases
Arizona Central, Chelsea Curtis, June 9
The White Mountain Apache Tribe has more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases, surpassing the Navajo Nation in total number of cases per capita.
Native Corporation Subsidiary Agrees To Pay Justice Department $1.3 Million Over Employee’s Alleged Kickback Scheme
Anchorage Daily News, Alex DeMarban, June 11
A subsidiary of an Alaska Native corporation has agreed to pay $1.3 million following a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into a kickback and fraud scheme involving a former employee.
Alutiiq International Solutions admitted in a nonprosecution deal with the agency that former manager Elmer Baker received cash and other kickbacks over several years in connection with a project to modernize the Harry S. Truman Federal Building in Washington, D.C., the agency said in a statement Wednesday.
Udall Honors Navajo Code Talker Joe Vandever, Sr. In Speech In Congressional Record
Native News Online, June 11
Navajo Code Talker Joe Vandever, Sr., who passed away five days before his 97th birthday in January, will have his place of honor in the Congressional Record. U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, submitted a speech honoring the life and service of Vandever to the Congressional Record, according to a press release distributed by the senator’s office.
Nebraska Reservoir Named Big Elk Lake For Omaha Tribe Leader
Associated Press, June 11
A new flood mitigation reservoir in Nebraska is being named Big Elk Lake in honor of Chief Big Elk, a leader of the Omaha tribe. Directors of the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District Board announced the unanimous decision Thursday. “Big Elk played an important role in Sarpy County history, and naming this flood mitigation reservoir after him is a meaningful way to not only commemorate the historical imprint Big Elk left, but keep it alive by educating others on this great leader’s life, death and all he accomplished in between,” director Kevyn Sopinski said in a news release.
Lagging Rural Census Response Could Cost Montana Second U.S. House Seat
Montana Free Press, Eric Dietrich, June 11
Members of the commission tasked with redrawing Montana’s legislative boundaries following the 2020 census expressed frustration over the state’s dragging response rate in Native communities and other rural areas June 10, citing complications from the COVID-19 pandemic that have disrupted get-out-the-count efforts. One, Republican Jeff Essmann of Billings, worried a low count could cost Montana its opportunity to gain back a second seat in the U.S. House.
FCC Surpasses $100 Million In Approved Covid-19 Telehealth Program Applications
Indianz.com, June 11
The Federal Communications Commission’s Wireline Competition Bureau today approved an additional 67 funding applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. Health care providers in both urban and rural areas of the country will use this $20.18 million in funding to provide telehealth services during the coronavirus pandemic. Indian Health Center of Santa Clara Valley, in San Jose, California, was awarded $371,175 for laptops, tablets, phones, mobile hotspots, a telehealth platform subscription, video conferencing equipment, and network upgrades to build an accessible health care system to help provide culturally appropriate health care services to the American Indian/Alaska Natives community, match patients with providers, and reduce strain on hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
HUD Awards $1.8 Million To Fond Du Lac And White Earth Tribes
KBJR 6, Cade Klimek, June 10
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson announced $1.8 million in funding for the Fond du Lac and White Earth Tribes. The Fond du Lac Tribe received $900,000 to construct a water tower, which will improve the storage of potable water, the water pressure, and fire protection for 140 homes. The White Earth Nation received $900,000 to build a childcare facility, which will replace the current overcrowded one. The current facility serves 20 children and the new facility will be able to accommodate an additional 26 children who are currently on the waiting list.
(Opinion) Abusing Power Through Ignorance
Native Sun News Today, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, June 10
Abusing power through ignorance … is a real thing in this era of government and bureaucratic criminality, and it is as “catching” as the coronavirus. When the U.S. President refuses the Health Advisors’ call to be tested for the virus and wear a mask during the worst pandemic of the century and threatens the few State Governors who don’t want to ”open up” to the tourist trade, disease and abuse spreads. He cuts the federal funding for World Health Organizations because he wants to avenge some petty slight. He uses the courts as his strategy for abuse. Indian Country is not ignorant of this way of power.