Alaska’s congressional delegation is asking federal regulators to investigate whether several banks have unlawfully discriminated against Alaska Natives by refusing to fund Arctic oil and gas projects. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, with Representative Don Young, signed a letter Tuesday to the head of the Federal Reserve, the comptroller of the currency, and the chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. saying banks might be discriminating against Natives who depend upon the oil and gas industry for their livelihoods.
Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber announced that the city would be removing two obelisk monuments honoring Kit Carson as well as a statue of Don Diego De Vargas in front of the Santa Fe courthouse, citing New Mexico’s “dark and bloody past” that has caused suffering by the Native community as a primary reason.
A statue depicting Christopher Columbus that has been the centerpiece of the California Capitol rotunda since 1883 will be removed after legislative leaders decided it is out of place “given the deadly impact his arrival in this hemisphere had on indigenous populations.” California’s first and only Native American lawmaker, Assemblymember James Ramos (D-San Bernadino), hopes the call to remove some controversial historical statues is just the start to change the education process and the thought process of the people in California.
The Associated Press reports that the growing national debate over racism has renewed calls for Washington, D.C.’s football team to change their name. Native advocates from around the country were the majority feature in this article, potentially marking a turning point in the way Native mascot issues are reported on moving forward in mainstream media. AP notes that there has been no indication from team owner Dan Snyder that a name change is under consideration.
CNN also published an op-ed from IllumiNative founder and executive director Crystal Eco Hawk covering the recent push to remove racist imagery from products and statues across the country. Echo Hawk calls for the same scrutiny to be applied to professional sports teams that use Native imagery and slurs as their mascots, and for the respective leagues to ban “Native mascots, team names, insensitive gestures and the subsequent racist behavior of fans.”
The Trump administration filed a notice in Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Mnuchin, announcing the distribution of an additional $679 million from the coronavirus relief fund, which will be going out “imminently” according to government attorneys. The notice comes two days after a federal judge ordered the additional money to be released.
Multiple tribal casinos in New Mexico have reopened despite recommendations from Governor Michelle Grisham to remain closed to limit the spread of COVID-19. Isleta Casino & Resort in Albuquerque, Ohkay Hotel Casino in Ohkay Owingeh and Taos Mountain Casino in Taos all have reopened with coronavirus-related precautions.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Santa Fe, New Mexico, Mayor Says Controversial Monuments Will Go
Indian Country Today, Mary Annette Pember, June 17
Vigilante efforts to defend controversial statues and monuments in New Mexico may have backfired. Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber announced Wednesday that the city would be removing two obelisk monuments honoring Kit Carson as well as a statue of Don Diego De Vargas in front of the Santa Fe courthouse. “We must recognize that New Mexico has a dark and bloody past. The racism and pain suffered by the Native community is embodied in statues and monuments, language, place and treatment of Natives by our community, intended or not,” he said.
California To Remove Columbus Statue From State Capitol
AP News, June 17
A statue depicting Christopher Columbus that has been the centerpiece of the California Capitol rotunda since 1883 will be removed after legislative leaders decided it is out of place “given the deadly impact his arrival in this hemisphere had on indigenous populations.” The decision, announced Tuesday by legislative leaders, has long been sought by groups and others who say it’s wrong to honor a man who ushered in an era of genocide to North America’s indigenous peoples. But their effort gained momentum following the nationwide protests over racial injustice spurred by the death of George Floyd.
California’s Only Native American Lawmaker: ‘Taking Down The Monuments Are Not Enough’
CBS Sacramento, Velena Jones, June 17
The Christopher Columbus statue will be removed from the Capitol rotunda after a growing call to have controversial historical figures taken down. “We are seeing a resurgence of issues that we have been trying to fight for since the ’70s,” said Assemblymember James Ramos. As race relations are in the spotlight, California’s first and only Native American lawmaker, Assemblymember James Ramos (D-San Bernadino), hopes the call the remove some controversial historical statues is just the beginning. “Taking down the monuments are not enough if we are not going to start to change the education process and the thought process of the people in California,” he said.
Reconsidering the Past, One Statue at a Time
New York Times, Sarah Mervosh, June 16
The boiling anger that exploded in the days after George Floyd gasped his final breaths is now fueling a national movement to topple perceived symbols of racism and oppression in the United States, as protests over police brutality against African-Americans expand to include demands for a more honest accounting of American history. In Portland, Ore., demonstrators protesting police killings turned their ire to Thomas Jefferson, toppling a statue of the founding father who also enslaved more than 600 people. In Richmond, Va., a statue of the Italian navigator and colonizer Christopher Columbus was spray-painted, set on fire and thrown into a lake.
CARES Act Litigation: Agua Caliente Band Of Cahuilla Indians V. Mnuchin
Indianz.com, June 17
The Trump administration on June 17, 2020, filed a notice in Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Mnuchin, announcing the distribution of an additional $679 million from the coronavirus relief fund. The notice comes two days after a federal judge ordered the additional money to be released. According to government attorneys, the payment is going out “imminently.” “Pursuant to the Court’s recent Order, Treasury began today to disburse the $679 million that Treasury otherwise intended to withhold,” the two-page notice states.
‘We Got These Monies Late’: Trump Administration Makes Tribes Wait More Than 80 Days For Full COVID-19 Relief
Indianz.com, Acee Agoyo, June 17
It’s taken over 80 days, numerous lawsuits and public pressure for the Trump administration to pay tribal nations the COVID-19 relief they were promised by the federal government.
On March 27, President Donald Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act. The law directed the Department of the Treasury to distribute an $8 billion fund to tribal governments “not later than 30 days” after its enactment. More than two months later, Indian Country has yet to see the full relief promised by the United States, which has taken on moral obligations of the highest responsibility and trust as part of its unique relationship with tribes and their citizens. The roller coaster ride has been characterized by a string of broken promises and has prevented the first Americans from addressing the devastating impacts of the coronavirus in their communities, leaders and advocates say.
Eight More COVID-19 Deaths On Navajo Nation: President Nez Stresses “Staying Home”
Native News Online, June 17
“With the state of Arizona relaxing its precautions and allowing its stay-at-home order to expire, the metropolitan areas are seeing dramatic increases of COVID-19 cases. I cannot stress enough to our Navajo people the importance of staying home,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said on Tuesday. “It only takes a few people traveling to Phoenix or other hotspots to catch the virus and start another wave of new cases here on the Navajo Nation. If we stay at home and limit all travels, we can beat this virus,” President Nez added.
Tribal Casinos In New Mexico Reopen Despite State Warning
AP News, June 17
Multiple tribal casinos in New Mexico have reopened despite recommendations from Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to remain closed to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Isleta Casino & Resort in Albuquerque, Ohkay Hotel Casino in Ohkay Owingeh and Taos Mountain Casino in Taos all have reopened with coronavirus-related precautions, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported. “All casinos are strongly, unequivocally encouraged to remain closed at this time, just like other entertainment facilities, due to the risk of COVID-19 spread,” governor’s office spokeswoman, Nora Meyers Sackett, said Tuesday. “Any entity opening a casino right now is exposing patrons and the community in which it is situated to enormous risk of infection and spread.”
After The End Of Aunt Jemima, What’s Next?
CNN, Crystal Echo Hawk, June 18
Conversations about racism and discrimination have been ignited in living rooms and boardrooms across the nation as the Black Lives Matter movement has led the call for an end to systemic racism. We are finally seeing brands such as Land O’ Lakes and, most recently, PepsiCo’s Aunt Jemima alter their branding to acknowledge and fix the longstanding offensive use of racist imagery.
Debate On Racism Renews Calls For Redskins To Change Name
Associated Press, Stephen Whyno, June 17
The recent national debate over racism has renewed calls for the NFL’s Washington Redskins to change their name, with Native American advocates believing the climate is right for action despite no evidence owner Dan Snyder is considering it.
Alaska Congressional Delegation Suggests Banks’ Turn Against Arctic Oil Discriminates Against Natives
Anchorage Daily News, James Brooks, June 17
Alaska’s congressional delegation is asking federal regulators to investigate whether several banks have unlawfully discriminated against Alaska Natives by refusing to fund Arctic oil and gas projects.
Eiteljorg Museum Of American Indians & Western Art To Reopen
Native News Online, Rich Tupica, June 17
For more than 30 years, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art has championed the understanding of the art, history and cultures of the Indigenous peoples of North America and of the American West through its eclectic, storytelling exhibits. But since March 17, following the COVID-19 outbreak, that mission was somewhat halted — but not entirely. During the closure, museum staff launched an enhanced website featuring interactive content about exhibits and programs, including curator videos and educational activities.
Tamástslikt Cultural Institute Hopes To Create A Pandemic Exhibit
Indian Country Today, June 17
As the country navigates its way through this COVID-19 pandemic, some states are starting to reopen non-essential businesses such as museums. How have museums fared in this pandemic? Are they getting federal relief aid? Or, are they struggling to stay afloat? According to the National Congress of American Indians, there are around 236 tribal museums in the country. Our guest today is Roberta “Bobbie” Conner. She is the director of the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute in Oregon. It was established in 1998.
Community-Focused Gardening Takes Root In Alaska
Indian Country Today, Meghan Sullivan, June 17
Alaska is cold. With temperatures below freezing from October to April, it has some of the longest winters in the country. And the terrain can be challenging: rocky islands with scant soil. Tundra — soggy on top and frozen a foot down. On the other hand, summer days are long. In the land of the midnight sun, the sun doesn’t set for weeks, making gardening in Alaska a unique experience. With greenhouses to get an early start and raised beds to warm the soil, Alaskans are able to plant flourishing gardens and raise record-breaking vegetables despite the obstacles.
Family Settles 2007 Lawsuit Over Crow Reservation Death
AP News, Amy Hanson, June 16
A Montana family has settled its more than decade-old lawsuit that alleged racial discrimination tainted an FBI investigation into the 2005 shooting death of a Native American by a white man on the Crow Indian Reservation, attorney Patricia Bangert said. Under the settlement, the family of Steven Bearcrane and their supporters will meet with high-ranking officials from the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI to voice their concerns about unequal treatment of Native Americans on reservations and to push for a third party to reinvestigate the killing.