Police in Albuquerque were being criticized Tuesday for not stepping in sooner as a protest over a statue of a Spanish conquistador erupted in violence, leaving one man hospitalized with gunshot wounds.

The city of Detroit has removed a bust of explorer Christopher Columbus from a prominent downtown spot after 110 years. The bust is being placed in storage until its future can be determined.

At Navajo Nation, more than two dozen recruits are expected to begin training at the Navajo Nation’s police academy, a program that was postponed for months because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Navajo Nation is resuming lockdowns for at least the next two weekends as the number of coronavirus cases surrounding the reservation increases, most notably in Arizona. Tribal President Jonathan Nez made the announcement after Arizona hit an alarmingly high new daily number of cases with nearly 2,400, nearly double the previous record.

A federal appeals court ruled to cancel a long-disputed oil and gas lease on land in northwestern Montana considered sacred to Native American tribes in the U.S. and Canada. The area near Glacier National Park is the site of the creation story of the Blackfoot Tribes of southern Canada and Montana’s Blackfeet Nation.

While a crowd gathered in front of the federal courthouse in Omaha, Nebraska to push for stronger charges in the death of Kozee Decorah, the man charged, Kozee’s boyfriend and father of their child, pleaded not guilty to manslaughter.

Dr. Walt Hollow, associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine reports that now more than ever, more Native students are looking to go to medical school.

Keep reading for a full news update.

Nationwide Protests:

Will Native Americans Be Left Out Of Conversations About Racial Injustice? [Opinion]

The Hill, Ryan Benally, June 16

While the murder of George Floyd at the all-too-familiar hand of police brutality has created much needed discussions on the continuing racial disparities in America, Native Americans are left to wonder, will we get left out of this important conversation as well?  

Police Tactics To Be Reviewed Following Albuquerque Protest

AP News, Susan Bryan, June 16

Police in Albuquerque were being criticized Tuesday for not stepping in sooner as a protest over a statue of a Spanish conquistador erupted in violence, leaving one man hospitalized with gunshot wounds. Police units that had been monitoring the protest moved in minutes after the shooting and used tear gas and rubber bullets as they took the suspect into custody and aided the man who was shot. But some witnesses say things started to escalate long before the shooting as protesters surrounded the statue and a group of armed men who were trying to protect it.

Detroit Removes Bust Of Christopher Columbus From Downtown

AP News, June 15

The city of Detroit has removed a bust of explorer Christopher Columbus from a prominent downtown spot after 110 years. The bust has been placed in storage until its future can be determined, Mayor Mike Duggan told reporters Monday. The move comes as cities the world over protect or remove statues and public monuments that celebrate people linked to the subjugation of minorities. “I’ve been bothered for a while by the fact that the statue is occupying such a place of prominence next to City Hall,” Duggan said. “But when I looked at some of the violence around the country, in particular, you’ve got people with arms gathering around a Columbus statue in Philadelphia arguing with people.”


Nonprofit PWNA Praises Donors For $4M In COVID-19 Relief Funds

Native News Online, June 16

The Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) today recognized several charities, organizations and individuals for donations of more than $4 million for COVID-19 relief efforts for Native Americans tribes. The Addison, Texas-based nonprofit, which collaborates with program partners on reservations, said the donations will help them provide aid and emergency services to Native Americans living on remote, isolated and impoverished reservations. The coronavirus pandemic has “overwhelmed Indian Country,” according to PWNA. Coronavirus risk is higher for Native Americans – especially on remote reservations where overcrowded housing makes social distancing less feasible.

Navajo Resumes Weekend Lockdowns As Arizona Virus Cases Rise

AP News, June 16

The Navajo Nation is resuming lockdowns for at least the next two weekends as the number of coronavirus cases off the reservation increases, most notably in Arizona. Tribal President Jonathan Nez made the announcement Tuesday in a virtual town hall. He cited Arizona, which hit an alarmingly high new daily number of cases with nearly 2,400 — almost double the previous record, in urging people to stay home. Businesses will be closed during the weekend lockdown. During its peak, the Navajo Nation sent the sickest patients from the reservation to larger hospitals in Arizona and New Mexico. That might not be an option if hospitals in Arizona become overwhelmed with patients, Nez said.

Navajo Nation Leaders Urge Citizens To Stay Home To Avoid New Spike In COVID-19 Cases

Native News Online, June 16

On Monday, the Navajo Department of Health, in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, reported 22 new cases of COVID-19 for the Navajo Nation and no new deaths. The total number of deaths is 311 as of Monday. Reports from 11 health care facilities indicate that approximately 3,207 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, with one health care facility report still pending. 44,589 people have been tested for COVID-19. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases for the Navajo Nation has reached 6,633.

COVID-19 Impact: More Native Students Asking How To Get Into Medical School

Native News Online, June 16

Imagine being a first year doctor and finding yourself treating patients in a global pandemic. How has medical school prepared doctors for a situation like this? Dr. Walt Hollow, Assiniboine and Yankton Sioux, is an associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He’s also the president of the Association of American Indian Physicians. Through the years, he’s mentored and taught hundreds of Native medical students who are now physicians. He was also the first Native to graduate from the UWA medical school.

Aspen Takes To The Air To Help Native American Tribes Fight Coronavirus

9 News, Scott Condon, June 16

Ten small aircraft stuffed with N95 masks, face shields and hand sanitizer departed Aspen in bluebird skies June 10 and fanned out across the Four Corners region in what could prove to be a life-saving mission. The volunteer pilots enlisted by Aspen-based conservation nonprofit EcoFlight delivered personal protective equipment to Native American tribes that have been hit hard by COVID-19. The reservations have some of the highest infection rates per capita in the United States. “We live in such a privileged place here. We really haven’t seen the desperation,” said Bruce Gordon, a founder and executive director of EcoFlight as well as one of the pilots who flew Wednesday.

New Mexico Begins Tribal Outreach Campaign Amid Coronavirus

AP News, June 15

New Mexico health officials have teamed with Native American cartoonist Ricardo Caté to increase awareness about the coronavirus pandemic as part of a new campaign.

One of the most prominent Native American cartoonists working today, Caté, who is from Santo Domingo Pueblo, is known for using humor to bring attention to serious topics affecting tribal communities. His cartoon, “Without Reservations,” is published daily in the Santa Fe New Mexican and The Taos News. The Behavioral Health Services Division of the state Human Services Department and the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department partnered to create the campaign. Officials say the goal is to use culturally relevant messaging on how tribal members can take precautions to protect their communities, families and elders. 


Federal Judge Orders Distribution Of Remaining Cares Acts Relief Funds To Tribes

Native News Online, June 16

The federal judge overseeing a series of lawsuits involving tribes and the Trump administration yesterday ordered the Department of Treasury to disburse the remaining $679 million in Title V CARES Act funds designated for Tribal governments by June 17, 2020. United States District Court Judge Amit P.Mehta ruled that the CARES Act does not give the Treasury Dept. authority to hold back funding, only to determine the proper allocation and disburse the funds. In his order, Mehta wrote that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin could “at his discretion” withhold $7.65 million from the sum for an additional day based on a lawsuit brought by The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation.

CARES Act Litigation: Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation V. Mnuchin

Indianz.com, June 16

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation on June 15, 2020, filed a notice of appeal in its CARES Act lawsuit against the Trump administration. “Notice is hereby given this 15th day of June, 2020, that Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation hereby appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from the order of this Court entered on the 11th day of June, 2020 denying Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation’s motion for a preliminary injunction in this matter,” the one-page document reads.

Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation (Kansas): Statement to the Nation – CARES Act Suit

Indianz.com, Joseph Rupnick, June 16

To the Nation from the Tribal Chair, Joseph “Zeke” Rupnick: Dear Tribal Members, As some of you have probably already heard our motion to delay the second round of funding from the CARES Act was denied.  That was disappointing to say the least.  Our hopes were to delay the funding and force the Treasury to publicly state how they were going to distribute the 24% of the remaining funds to the Tribes but timing and competing lawsuits were the factor in the decision. The two lawsuits; Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation et al. v. Mnuchin argues against distributing funds to the Alaska Native Corporation and Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians et al. v. Mnuchin argues for immediate distribution. This case was the deciding factor.


Winnebago, NE Man Pleads Not Guilty To Manslaughter Charge 

WAOW ABC News 9, Sarah McGrew, June 16

A Winnebago, Nebraska, man has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter in the death of his girlfriend.

Twenty-year-old Jonathan Rooney is being charged with Manslaughter occurring in Indian Country for the death of Kozee Decorah.

Court Rules To Cancel Energy Lease On Land Sacred To Blackfeet

AP News, June 16

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday to cancel a long-disputed oil and gas lease on land in northwestern Montana considered sacred to Native American tribes in the U.S. and Canada.

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overruled a judge’s 2018 decision that had allowed a Louisiana company to keep its lease within the Badger Two-Medicine area of Lewis and Clark National Forest.

That area near Glacier National Park is the site of the creation story of the Blackfoot tribes of southern Canada and Montana’s Blackfeet Nation.

Afognak Native Corp. Acquires Major Alaska Liquor Store Chain

Native News Online, June 16

Afognak Native Corp. has acquired the Brown Jug chain of retail liquor stores throughout Alaska with 21 locations. The approximately $21.4 million cash transaction with Edmonton, Alberta-based Alcanna Inc., effective June 1, also included a 40,000-square-foot warehouse distribution center in Anchorage, according to a statement. Afognak — an Alaska Native Village Corporation serving the Kodiak Alutiiq people of Afognak and Port Lions, Alaska — is using the Brown Jug deal to further diversify its revenue stream and increase employment opportunities for its shareholders.

‘Strings On The Rez’ Documentary Benefits Navajo & Hopi COVID-19 Fund

Native News Online, Rich Tupica, June 16

An acclaimed string quartet is digitally releasing a documentary called “Strings on the Rez” in an effort to help raise funds for Navajo and Hopi families during COVID-19. Strings on the Rez, a 2011 documentary directed by Molly McBride, features the members of ETHEL, a New York-based string quartet. The film was shown at the Grand Canyon Music Festival and the Black Bear Film Festival, but will now be available online. The music-filled flick, filmed by McBride from 2006-2008, was shot in and around Tuba City, Ariz. and at the Grand Canyon. It tells about the group’s collaboration with guitar-playing high school students from the Navajo Nation. 

Cherokee Nation Contractor Among 42 Small Businesses Selected For $6.1B Navy Contract

Native News Online, June 16

A Cherokee Nation-owned federal contractor successfully bid to provide aircraft maintenance services as part of a $6.1 billion procurement contract split among 42 small businesses.

Under the 10-year contract, Cherokee Federal Red Wing, a subsidiary of Cherokee Nation Businesses, and other partnering organizations will work with the U.S. Navy’s Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC) to overhaul aircraft components and subsystems and supply maintenance and support personnel, according to a statement. Services could include aircraft modifications, downed aircraft recovery, aircraft and engine repairs and overhauls, and maintenance, whether on land or at sea.

Why Native And Indigenous People Should Be The Only Reviewers Of Native/Indigenous Plays

Indian Country Today, Laurie Arnold, June 16

Recently, Ojibwe/South Asian playwright Yolanda Bonnell wrote a piece in Vice asking that white theatre critics not review her work because those critics do not have the cultural or intellectual background to understand the Indigenous lives and stories Bonnell presented on stage. She clearly stated that all audiences were welcome, but she noted that “critics” often serve as gatekeepers, and when they negatively review a show because they don’t possess the context to fully understand it, they contribute to the erasure of Indigenous stories and histories. One week later, a follow-on article from The Guardian unwittingly made Bonnell’s point for her when it characterized Indigenous people as other minorities, simply one group among “critics of color, female critics; disabled critics; LGBTQ+ critics and working-class critics.”

Dartmouth President: ‘Offensive’ Weather Vane Coming Down’

AP News, June 16

A copper weather vane that depicts “an offensive image” of a Native American will be removed from the top of the main library at Dartmouth College, President Philip Hanlon said Monday. The 600-pound weather vane, designed in 1928, shows a Native American man wearing feathers and smoking a long pipe seated on the ground in front of the college’s founder, Eleazar Wheelock. Historical records suggest a round shape behind Wheelock is a barrel of rum. Students and alumni have been asking for the weather vane to be replaced, calling it racist and demeaning. On Friday, a Native American student group issued a statement saying the weather vane “flaunts a racist depiction in the face of all the meaningful and beautiful progress that has been made.”

‘Justice for Kozee!’: Native Women Seek Stronger Charges For Death Of Kozee Decorah

Indianz.com, Kevin Abourezk, June 16

Shortly after 2 p.m. Monday, the news came. The nearly 30 people standing outside the federal courthouse in Omaha gathered around Tanya Hindsley as she lifted her megaphone. “We made a big impact today you guys,” the Ho-Chunk woman said. “Justice for Kozee! He’s going to stay in jail!” Hindsley words came near the end of a nearly four-hour rally for justice for her sister, Kozee Decorah, a 22-year-old Ho-Chunk woman whose burned body was found May 16 on the Winnebago Reservation in northeast Nebraska. Her boyfriend and the father of her children, Jonathan Rooney, a 25-year-old Winnebago man, was arrested and charged with manslaughter for his alleged involvement in her death.

UC Campuses Lag In Returning Native American Artifacts

The Daily Californian, Annika Rao, June 16

UC Berkeley and other UC campuses have been slow to return Native American tribal artifacts kept in their collections and have failed to comply with federal law, a recent audit found. The audit, conducted by the state of California, revealed that several UC campuses were failing to meet benchmarks for repatriation outlined by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, or NAGPRA. Among the UC campuses, UC Berkeley has returned the lowest percentage of artifacts, according to the audit. Of the hundreds of thousands of relics kept in campus’s Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology and elsewhere, only about 20% have been returned.

Navajo Nation Resumes Training At Its Police Academy

AP News, June 15

More than two dozen recruits are expected to begin training Monday at the Navajo Nation’s police academy, a program that was postponed for months because of the coronavirus pandemic. The program will last 15 weeks instead of 22, with recruits training six days a week instead of four, the tribal police department said. The 25 recruits will be required to stay at the academy in Chinle the majority of the time, and the area will be closed to the public. “This pandemic may have slowed our plans in the beginning, but it is not going to stop us from moving forward,” said tribal police Chief Phillip Francisco. “We need to resume our academy to plan for the future and to get more officers in our communities.”