This past Friday was Juneteenth, the 155th celebration of the day when the last enslaved people in the United States were freed in Galveston, Texas in 1865. On the celebrated holiday, several articles were published in the changing media landscape looking at racial equity through reporting by the Associated Press by a change to the AP Stylebook to capitalize Black and Indigenous, and a flip of narrative by the Washington Post Editorial board calling for the Washington NFL team to change their name now. Additionally, an Esquire article from 2014 resurfaced “A ‘Redskin’ Is The Scalped Head of A Native American, Sold, Like A Pelt, For Cash” and has been making the rounds on social media.
In New York City, the bronze statue of Theodore Roosevelt, on horseback and flanked by a Native American man and an African man, which has presided over the entrance to the American Museum of Natural History in New York since 1940, is coming down.
Thousands of people filled the streets of downtown Tulsa on Saturday, including a number of Indigenous activists and medical professionals who came out to lend support to protests led largely by Black Lives Matter. Indigenous nurses have been making plans for weeks, ever since Trump’s rally was announced, to provide aid to protesters who may be injured this weekend.
A former security guard at the Oyate Health Center reported that the health center used outdated-moldy personal protective equipment by staff. Discovered by Aaron Circle Bear, a security officer detailed to the Oyate Health Center which is under Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board, he first saw the moldy PPE during the transition from the Indian Health Service to Oyate. The PPE was bioterrorism equipment from more than ten years ago, and is allegedly currently being used by staff. A statement from the GPTCHB is below:
“The Oyate Health Center is disappointed to learn from Native Sun News that a recently terminated employee has made allegations regarding the distribution of defective of PPE to OHC employees. It is difficult to respond in detail to any allegation without having first reviewed the material used to support it. The Oyate Health Center’s number one priority is the health and wellness of our patients and staff. Any assertions that we have lapsed in our safety practices are false.”
The Shawnee Tribe filed a federal lawsuit, alleging that the Trump administration “grossly undercounted” the tribe’s enrolled population, costing the tribe nearly $6 million in relief funding under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This is the second lawsuit of its kind in recent weeks that included filings from Prairie Band Potawatomi on the same grounds of undercount.
In the midst of the COVID-19 that has hit the Navajo Indian Reservation hard, the Navajo Times closed its doors for 14 days, beginning on Friday, June 19, after two of its employees tested posted for the deadly virus on Thursday.
The Department of the Interior denied the Coquille Tribe’s application for a casino site and the head of the Coquille Tribe says Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs John Tahsuda, Kiowa, changed the application process midstream when he denied the tribe’s fee-to-trust request for property it owns 170 miles from its main administration office. This is the second tribe to site the midstream process change in land-into-trust dispute in recent months. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe sited the change as well in their case earlier this year at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Why I Removed Confederate Monuments From The Cherokee Capitol Grounds
Native News Online, Chuck Hoskin Jr., June 22
Across our country, we are having a new dialogue about how we experience race and the painful chapters of United States history, including the American Civil War. Recently, I oversaw the removal of two monuments from the historic Cherokee Nation Capitol Square in Tahlequah. The monuments failed to reflect the Cherokee Nation’s values of freedom and inclusion, and they run contrary to the idea that Cherokees Nation should have control of telling its own story.
Native Nurses, Demonstrators Hit The Streets In Tulsa
Indian Country Today, Graham Lee Brewer, June 20
Thousands of people filled the streets of downtown Tulsa on Saturday, including a number of Indigenous activists and medical professionals who came out to lend support to protests led largely by Black Lives Matter. Apollonia Piña, a nurse and citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and a group of peers started their afternoon at the Gypsy Coffee House, where they chatted and used red duct-tape to fasten crosses onto their vests, helmets and backpacks. Before long, the group heard skirmishes were already breaking out, so they hustled toward the 19,000-seat BOK Center, the site of President Donald Trump’s campaign rally. The event was believed to be the biggest indoor gathering the country has seen since coronavirus restrictions began in March.
Statue Of Canada’s First Prime Minister Doused With Red Paint On Prince Edward Island
Native News Online, Darren Thompson, June 20
Organizers for a Healing Walk for Justice found out Friday that the statue of John A. MacDonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister, was doused with red paint Thursday night. The statue was on the path of the organized walk, which aimed to bring attention to the recent killing of two Indigenous people by law enforcement in the Canadian Province of Prince Edward Island. “We just wanted to show our respect and walk in peace for our fallen brothers and sisters,” said Richard Pellissier-Lush, emcee of the Healing Walk for Justice. But those who came out to show their support heard of the vandalism to the statue of John A. MacDonald prior to walking.
Native Americans React To The Removal Of The Christopher Columbus Statue In Houston
KHOU, Anayeli Ruiz, June 20
A local statue of Christopher Columbus has sparked some controversy in the last few weeks. The statue finally came down. It was a sight some feared they would never see. “Finally its coming down it came down I couldn’t believe it,” Chance L. Landry, a local Native American from the Lipan Apache tribe, said. Landry, along with others, had been demonstrating for years to get the Christopher Columbus statue removed from Bell Park in the Montrose neighborhood. “It’s a slap in our faces really every time, every year we have been demonstrating peacefully out there. Making people aware that its not right to have Columbus as a hero,” Landry said. The statue was donated to the city in 1992 by the Italian-American Organizations of Greater Houston. But in the past week the statue had been vandalized three times. Someone threw tomato sauce on it, painted it red and cut off 1 of its hands.
Change The Name Of The Washington NFL Team. Now.
The Washington Post, Editorial Board, June 19
“BUT HOW, in these times, do you raise kids in the nation’s capital, ask them to look at the pain and the strife racial injustice has caused in their hometown and their home country, walk them through steps they can take to make things better, and then have them Hail to the Redskins on Sundays? It’s so incongruent it makes your head hurt.” So wrote Post sports columnist Barry Svrluga in calling on Washington football team owner Daniel Snyder to rename the team in light of the national reckoning over racial injustice that has been sparked by the killing of George Floyd.
The Decision To Capitalize Black
Associated Press, John Daniszewski, June 19
AP’s style is now to capitalize Black in a racial, ethnic or cultural sense, conveying an essential and shared sense of history, identity and community among people who identify as Black, including those in the African diaspora and within Africa. The lowercase black is a color, not a person.
Indigenous Nurses, Activists Prepare For ‘Hell Of A Day’ In Tulsa
Indian Country Today, Graham Lee Brewer, June 19
As residents here prepare for President Donald Trump’s campaign rally Saturday, Indigenous organizers and activists are gearing up to lend themselves to the protests led largely by Black Lives Matter. On Friday, streets were blocked off near the downtown arena where the rally is set to take place, and some business windows and ATMs were boarded up. Tens of thousands of Trump supporters are expected at the event, and Black community leaders have said they fear it will spark violence. Gov. Kevin Stitt has activated the Oklahoma National Guard. “It’s so surreal, the concrete barricades, the fences,” said Apollonia Piña, a nurse and citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Piña and some of her peers, including other Indigenous nurses, have been making plans for weeks, ever since Trump’s rally was announced, to provide aid to protesters who may be injured this weekend.
A ‘Redskin’ Is The Scalped Head of A Native American, Sold, Like A Pelt, For Cash
Esquire, Baxter Holmes, June 17, 2014
Native Americans pass down stories to preserve their history and heritage, because we don’t have much of it left. As tribes were systemically exterminated, so too were their respective cultures. But we have our stories, and when my mother was young, her parents shared one about the term “redskins.”
Shawnee Tribe Sues Trump Administration Over CARES Funding
Native News Online, June 19
The Shawnee Tribe filed a federal lawsuit on Thursday, alleging that the Trump administration “grossly undercounted” the tribe’s enrolled population, costing the tribe nearly $6 million in relief funding under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma claims the U.S. Treasury Department disregarded the tribe’s population data and instead used HUD Indian Housing Block Grant data that doesn’t count tribal members who live off the reservation. Although HUD maintains enrollment population data for tribes, it is for the sole purpose of calculation and distributing HUD funds, which the Shawnee Tribe does not receive, according to the filing.
Native Groups Address Mental And Behavioral Health As COVID-19 Wears On
Indian Country Today, Deagan Urbatsch and Jacqueline Robledo, June 22
With COVID-19 taking an especially heavy toll on Native Americans, tribal leaders and mental health experts have stepped up efforts to address the emotional suffering brought on by ongoing lockdowns and so much loss.
Navajo Times Offices Closed For Two Weeks After Two Employees Test Positive For COVID-19
Native News Online, Levi Rickert, June 21
In the midst of the COVID-19 that has hit the Navajo Indian Reservation hard, the Navajo Times closed its doors for 14 days, beginning on Friday, June 19, after two of its employees tested posted for the deadly virus on Thursday. With its offices closed, the Navajo Times will publish the regular online E-edition during those two weeks and post daily articles on its website (navajotimes.com). The newspaper will not print its scheduled June 25 and July 2 issues. Staff will work remotely. “Two members of our Navajo Times team tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday and so we immediately went into a 14-day quarantine to protect our staff, our newspaper carriers and all of our customers and clients,” CEO/Publisher Tommy Arviso, Jr. said. “As a result of the testing, it is most important that we follow proper protocol and adhere to the 14-day quarantine period, as advised by the CDC.”
COVID-19 Cases On Navajo Nation Near 7,000 – Death Toll At 334
Native News Online, June 21
On Saturday, the Navajo Department of Health, in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, reported 69 new COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and four more deaths. The total number of deaths reached 334 as of Saturday. Reports from 11 health care facilities on and near the Navajo Nation indicate that approximately 3,470 individuals recovered from COVID-19, with one health care facility report still pending. 48,301 people have been tested for COVID-19. The total number of COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation is 6,963.
Navajo Nation Mourns Loss Of Navajo Police Officer Michael Lee – First Law Enforcement Officer From COVID-19
Native News Online, June 20
The Navajo Nation is mourning the death of Navajo Police Officer Michael Lee, who passed away on Friday morning from COVID-19. The Navajo Police Department confirmed Lee is the tribe’s first law enforcement officer to pass away as the result of COVID-19. The Navajo Indian Reservation has been hit hard by COVID-19. On Friday evening, the Navajo Nation reported 6,894 COVID-19 cases and 330 related deaths since March 17, 2020. “On behalf of the Navajo Nation, we offer our heartfelt condolences and prayers to Navajo Police Officer Michael Lee’s family, friends, and colleagues. Officer Lee fought on the front lines to combat coronavirus and we are grateful for his dedication to our community. His steadfast commitment to protect and serve will be remembered and honored,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said.
Native Sun News Today: Moldy PPE Reportedly Used At Oyate Health Center
Indianz.com, Travis Dewes, June 19
When Aaron Circle Bear entered an underground cellar on the Sioux San Hospital grounds, he found a cache of N-95 masks, purple top sani-wipes, gloves, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) that he said was “all covered in mold.” Some of the moldy PPE is now being used by hospital staff. Circle Bear was a security officer detailed to the Oyate Health Center which is under Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board, and had entered the cellar and first saw the moldy PPE during the transition from IHS to Oyate. “At that time it was in that transitional time and everything had kind of stopped,” he said. “We couldn’t do anything.”
Navajo Nation President: Do Not Let Your Guard Down Against This Monster Called The Coronavirus
Native News Online, June 19
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer continue to urge Navajo citizens to remain home as much as possible to avoid another spike in new cases, especially as other areas in the state of Arizona continue to see daily increases in new cases.
“Please do not let your guard down against this monster called the coronavirus. we cannot go back to the way things were until the daily numbers decrease consistently, and until we have a vaccine. we must practice all of the preventative measures to keep our families and communities safe and healthy. It may be hard to accept the changes in our lifestyles, but we have to accept it together and move forward. Don’t back down and stay home as much as possible,” President Nez said.
Face Masks Required On Colorado River Indian Tribes Reservation
Havasu News, June 19
The Colorado River Indian Tribes is requiring people on the reservation, which includes much of the Town of Parker, to wear face masks. CRIT announced Friday, citing a rapid increase in positive coronavirus cases. “Given the rapid increase in positive Covid-19 cases it is time to take these additional steps to slow this surge of Covid-19 cases on the reservation,” the Tribes said in a statement posted on Facebook. Face masks may include cloth masks and coverings as long as they cover the person’s nose and mouth, the statement said. The only exceptions are children under 2 years old, people with developmental disabilities and medical conditions that prevent use of a mask. The Tribes said all businesses on the reservation must require staff and customers to wear masks. The businesses include Walmart and Safeway, and restaurants and mobile home parks. CRIT’s new rules will be ratified at the Tribal Council meeting on June 22, with additional details and parameters to come, the Tribes said.
Your Road Trip Is Not More Important Than Indian Country
The New Republic, Nick Martin, June 19
In an article published last week by The Wall Street Journal, novelist and reporter Mark Childress wrote that he wanted to spend time traveling to “the parts of the country where nobody is.” Documenting his pandemic road trip, Childress wrote that he “felt the pandemic lifting up as the civilization thinned out.”
Roosevelt Statue to Be Removed From Museum of Natural History
The New York Times, Robin Pogrebin, June 21
The bronze statue of Theodore Roosevelt, on horseback and flanked by a Native American man and an African man, which has presided over the entrance to the American Museum of Natural History in New York since 1940, is coming down.
Interior Denies Coquille Tribe’s Application For Casino Site
Indian Country Today, Richard Walker, June 21
The head of the Coquille Tribe says an assistant secretary of the Interior changed the application process midstream when he denied the tribe’s fee-to-trust request for property it owns 170 miles from its main administration offices. Brenda Meade said the decision by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs John Tahsuda, Kiowa, sets a precedent that threatens other tribal nations’ future land acquisitions for economic development. “Every tribe should be concerned about this material erosion of their fundamental sovereign rights,” she said. Meade said the Tribal Council is considering how to respond to the decision, adding that an appeal is likely. “I don’t know if we have a choice,” she said. “This is about sovereignty.”
COVID-19 Shutdown Of Potawatomi Gaming Exacted “Devastating” Widespread Toll
The Journal Times, Eric Johnson, June 21
The protracted nearly three-month shutdown of the Forest County Potawatomi Community’s two Wisconsin gaming facilities due to the global COVID-19 pandemic have had far-reaching impacts on employees, tribal members, and the tribe’s gaming and governmental operations. The 1,700-member tribe operates Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley near downtown. Drawing more than six million visitors annually, primarily from Wisconsin and neighboring Illinois, the expansive 1.1 million square foot facility is one the nation’s largest tribally owned and operated casinos, employing approximately 2,700 as one of Milwaukee’s top 25 largest employers. Jeff Crawford, Attorney General for the Forest County Potawatomi Community, said 66% percent of its Milwaukee casino employees are drawn from area minority communities — black, Hispanic and Native American, among others. The tribe also employs 200-plus in northern Wisconsin at its Potawatomi Carter Hotel & Casino at Wabeno in Forest County.
‘Masculindians’ Expels Myths, Explores What It Means To Be A Warrior
Indian Country Today, Michael McNulty, June 21
What is Indigenous masculinity? Sam McKegney brings a healthy, non-Indigenous perspective on how to uplift Native voices by interviewing First Nations people directly and hearing their perspectives. His book “Masculindians” offers an interesting, inside take on what it’s like to be an Indigenous person set within a predominantly colonial culture in contemporary times. “Masculindians” includes testimonies from more than 20 people with various heritages, many of whom have raised families and recall raising boys as single mothers. They grapple with the differences in approach by Indigenous and western people in raising the family. For example, Basil Johnston, Anishinaabe, notes how the strict nuclear family and structural individualism hurts Indigenous families by directly contrasting how they originally functioned. Michigan State University Press published the book in 2014, but its themes are timeless.
‘Well-respected’ White Mountain Apache Medicine Man Dies
Indian Country Today, June 20
On June 16, the White Mountain Apache Tribe lost one of the greatest Medicine Men of modern times. Harris Burnette was a traditional Apache Medicine Man who conducted hundreds of Sunrise Dance Ceremonies throughout Western Apache lands over the span of four decades. His knowledge of traditional culture and language was monumental. He carried with him thousands of years of songs passed down to him from previous generations. He will always be known for his beautiful and powerful songs. Harris was a truly remarkable man who led an incredible life that blessed many. He was known among all the Apache Tribes and had traveled to many places. Mr. Burnette was well-respected not only among the White Mountain Apache Tribe but throughout Arizona and Indian Country. He was a father, grandfather, uncle, mentor, teacher, and friend to many.
Diné Man Was A Proud Dad, ‘someone You Could Lean On’
Indian Country Today, Kalle Benallie, June 20
Christopher Todacheenie was one month shy of his 47th birthday when the coronavirus took his life. The father of four had been hospitalized for just a week when he died May 11. “The hospital said he was just sleeping and was really weak so he wasn’t on his phone,” his daughter Chasitty Todacheenie said in an email. “Before he got sent to Albuquerque, I sent him a quick message telling him to keep fighting, be safe, and that I loved him.”
Christopher, Diné, was born in Shiprock, New Mexico, and was known as “Chris” or “Tody.” He worked as a welder and ironworker and had three sons, Dominque, Chad and Devin, and one daughter, Chasitty.
Native American Groups Address Mental And Behavioral Health As COVID-19 Wears On
Cronkite News, Deagan Urbatsch, June 19
With COVID-19 taking an especially heavy toll on Native Americans, tribal leaders and mental health experts have stepped up efforts to address the emotional suffering brought on by ongoing lockdowns and so much loss. “Please stay connected with relatives and neighbors by phone or video chat and remind them that they have support,” Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer said recently, imploring Navajos to take care of their mental well-being as well as their physical health. “If you are feeling stress or anxious, take the time to take a deep breath, stretch, or pray,” he said. “Exercise by working out or by doing household chores and avoid unhealthy foods and drinks. We must protect ourselves and others.” More than 320 COVID-19 deaths have been reported on the vast Navajo Reservation, which lies mostly in Arizona but also covers parts of western New Mexico and southern Utah. The tribe has the highest per capita rate of cases in the country: 6,747, as of Wednesday, among the 173,000 people who live on the reservation.
Alaska Mine Project Developer Proposes Dividend Program
AP News, Becky Bohrer, June 19
A company that wants to build a copper and gold mine near the headwaters of a major U.S. salmon fishery in southwest Alaska is not trying to buy support for the proposed Pebble Mine with its plans to pay residents in the region a dividend, a spokesperson said. “Absolutely not,” said Pebble Limited Partnership spokesperson Mike Heatwole. Critics see it differently, panning the move as a stunt to try to win or show public support as the company awaits a decision on a key permit. Jeff Bringhurst, who manages a village farm in Igiugig and is a commercial fisherman, called the dividend a “dirty trick” and a “big juicy carrot” that is “going to tempt a lot of people to go against their beliefs on this mine. So, it’s despicable.”
The Power Of California’s Native American Youth In The 2020 Census
Indian Country Today, Native People Count California, June 19
The Native People Count California campaign has worked with Native Youth since January to provide our youngest voices with the tools and guidance to participating in the 2020 Census. The campaign is a collaboration between the California Governor’s Office of the Tribal Advisor, the California Complete Count Census 2020 office, California Indian Manpower Consortium, and the California Native Vote Project. Kaytlynn Johnston, 15, of the Bishop Paiute Tribe, recently expressed to her peers, elders, and community members through public service announcements that they have a chance for their voices to be heard by participating in the 2020 Census. Ms. Johnston is Miss Pabanamanina Powwow Princess and president of the Bishop Paiute Tribal Youth Council. She is also a member of the United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY). “Being counted in the 2020 Census means Native people will have a chance to be heard in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.,” Johnston said.
New Streaming Show “Red Hoop Talk” Explores The Reality Of Indian Country With Guests
Native News Online, Mikayla Steele, June 19
A nerve-wracking appearance on one of the world’s most popular podcasts a few months ago led Shannon O’Loughlin (Choctaw Nation) down an unlikely path to co-hosting her own weekly online show, “Red Hoop Talk.” O’Loughlin, an attorney and executive director of Association on American Indian Affairs, co-hosts the new show, which streams on YouTube, with her longtime friend and “brother” Roy Melendez (Caddo Nation), a former marine. Launched in mid-April, “Red Hoop Talk” streams on Friday nights (8 p.m. EST). The show features the pair chatting and interviewing guests about the week’s news and important topics throughout Indian Country.
Tribes Turn To Musicians To Raise Kids’ Awareness Of COVID
AP News, Iris Samuels, June 19
The scene is the pedestrian bridge over U.S. Highway 93 in Pablo. In the midst of a gaggle of dancing children, a young hip-hop artist raps out a serious message: “I pull my mask up to my face so I know that I’m straight. … I wash my hands in the sink, I ain’t taking no risk,” sings KiidTruth, in the video for his new song, “C19” — the first effort in a campaign against COVID-19 waged by tribes in Montana. To shield their vulnerable elders from the coronavirus pandemic, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are enlisting musicians to tell Native youth to wash their hands and wear masks. The song by 25-year-old KiidTruth — also known as Artie Mendoza III — garnered more than 1,500 views on YouTube in the four days after it was posted. The music campaign “is an excellent way to reach younger people,” said 15-year-old Alishon Kelly, who lives on the Flathead Indian Reservation in northwestern Montana. “I’ve seen a lot of my peers posting it and watching it.”