Good morning, NUNAverse:
The United States House of Representatives passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan yesterday with a vote along party lines. The bill now goes to the White House where President Biden is expected to sign it into law on Friday. Of the $1.9 trillion package, $31.2 billion has been allocated to Indian Country, which is the largest amount of money ever allocated for American Indian/Alaska Native programs in history.
Yesterday, the United States Senate voted to confirm both Ohio Representative Marcia Fudge to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and North Carolina Regulator Michael Regan to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Fudge, a veteran lawmaker, will lead the housing agency just as Congress has passed new benefits for renters and homeowners who have suffered economic losses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Regan, who has served as North Carolina’s top environmental regulator since 2017, will help lead Biden’s efforts to address climate change and advocate for environmental justice, two of the administration’s top priorities. He is the first Black man to run the EPA.
A division of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America that focuses on Native youth will receive $30 million over two years in funding from a South Dakota foundation. The South Dakota-based Larson Family Foundation asked the money to be allocated over two years to clubs around the state: the Missouri River Area, Lower Brule, Standing Rock and Rosebud and other rural clubs. An endowment was also established to help sustain each club beyond the two years.
A new mini-documentary film, Executive-produced by Sonny Skyhawk (Oglala Lakota) and directed by Noel Bass titled, “The Bears of Pine Ridge” explores the distressing statistics of Native youth suicide plaguing the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The film highlights the efforts of the highly respected Oglala Lakota community leader “Tiny” DeCory, who oversees her Native youth performance group known as “The Bear Program” which employs the use of life-size mascot bears and other animals that dance and perform comedy sketches for the benefit of Native youth, to empower them and bring joy to their lives of struggle.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Alaska Opens Vaccines To All 16 Or Older
AP News, Becky Bohrer, March 10
Alaska has dropped restrictions on who can get a COVID-19 vaccination, opening eligibility to anyone 16 or older who lives or works in the state in a move that Gov. Mike Dunleavy said could help Alaska’s pandemic-battered economy. The Republican, who highlighted his own bout with COVID-19 in making the announcement Tuesday, said Alaska is the first U.S. state to remove eligibility requirements. Here’s what happened.
Milwaukee Health Clinic Hosts 3-Day Event To Get More Native Americans Vaccinated From COVID-19
CBS 58, Kim Shine, March 10
A southside health clinic is pushing for more Native Americans in Milwaukee County to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Doctors there say tribal members are more at risk for the virus. Tuesday, March 9, kicked off a three-day community vaccine event at the Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center. Over these days, they expect to give doses to about 400 people. The Wisconsin DHS reports Native Americans in the state are 1.5 times more likely to die compared to white Wisconsinites. Nationwide, the CDC reports Native Americans are nearly four times as likely to be hospitalized.
Senate Confirms Ohio Rep. Fudge As Housing Secretary
AP News, Mary Clare Jalonick, March 10
The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development and North Carolina regulator Michael Regan to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, picking up the pace for confirmations in President Joe Biden’s Cabinet. “These aren’t the nominees that any Republican would have picked for these jobs,” McConnell said ahead of the votes. “But the nation needs presidents to be able to stand up a team so long as their nominees are qualified and mainstream.” McConnell voted against Regan’s nomination and announced he will oppose New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland, Biden’s choice to be interior secretary. The two nominees both support “far-left policies that crush jobs″ in his state and across the country, the Kentucky Republican said.
Senate Confirms Michael Regan As EPA Chief
The Hill, Rachel Frazin, March 10
The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Michael Regan as the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), putting him in charge of an agency that will play a key role in implementing President Biden’s climate agenda.
Nevada Bill Would Bar Offensive School Mascots, Place Names
AP News, Michelle L. Price, March 10
Nevada lawmakers are considering legislation to require schools to get rid of racially discriminatory logos and mascots and require officials to push for the renaming of mountains, trails or any other geographic points with racially offensive names. The bill, which had its first committee hearing Tuesday, comes in the wake of a national reckoning over race that has led to school and professional sports teams dropping their mascots and activists and officials pushing to rename streets, peaks and other places that glorify the Confederacy or make offensive references to Native Americans.
House Allocates $31.2 Billion To Indian Country With Passing Of American Rescue Plan
Native News Online, March 10
The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. The act now goes to the White House for President Joe Biden who is scheduled to sign it into law on Friday. The vote was split right down party lines. Every Democrat voted on the bill. Every Republican voted against the relief package that is supported by 75 percent of Americans. Of the $1.9 trillion package, $31.2 billion has been allocated to Indian Country. It is the largest amount of money ever allocated for American Indian/Alaska Native programs in history. Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), in what may be her last major vote in the House of Representatives because she is likely to be confirmed as the secretary of the Dept. of the Interior next week, was proud to cast her vote in favor of the bill.
31 Billion Coronavirus Solutions
Indian Country Today, Mark Trahant, March 10
The American Rescue Plan was enacted by Congress Wednesday and will be sent today to President Joe Biden to sign into law. The U.S Senate Committee on Indian Affairs pegged the total spending for tribes at $31 billion. The 628-page coronavirus relief legislation includes $1,400 in direct payments to individuals making up to $75,000 annually, gives $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, $20 billion to tribal nations, and budgets $14 billion for vaccine distribution. The law will extend jobless benefits through September.
Native Youth Clubs Receive $30 Million
Indian Country Today, Kalle Benallie, March 10
After struggling with adjusting to the pandemic, a division of Boys and Girls Clubs of America that focuses on Native youth was pleasantly surprised to learn in December that they can fall back on $30 million from a South Dakota foundation. Issues like food insecurity, mental health, academic success and technology barriers were of concern, said Carla Knapp, national vice president of the club’s Native Services division and citizen of the Penobscot Indian Nation.The donation for clubs, especially rural clubs, are beneficial because of the stability it provides on paying staff and having consistent funding.
Indigenous Woman At County Jail Nearly Dies In Custody
Native News Online, March 10
A member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe nearly died while in custody at the Pennington County Jail due to medical negligence by medical staff in Rapid City, South Dakota. Carley Plenty Arrows was arrested and taken into custody on Wednesday, Feb. 24 for a failure to appear driving under the influence (DUI) warrant in Pennington County. Plenty Arrows noticed on Friday, Febr. 26 that she began feeling severely ill and reported her symptoms to jail medical staff. On Monday morning, her temperature rose to 107 degrees. High-grade fevers above 104 degrees can cause brain damage and lead to death. She was transported to the Monument Health Rapid City Hospital, where she was told that if she hadn’t been transported sooner she could have died due to septic shock.
‘The Bears Of Pine Ridge’ Addresses Youth Suicide
Indian Country Today, Vincent Schilling, March 10
There is a new mini-documentary film, Executive-produced by Sonny Skyhawk, Oglala Lakota, and directed by Noel Bass titled, “The Bears of Pine Ridge” that explores the distressing statistics of Native youth suicide plaguing the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The film highlights the efforts of the highly respected Oglala Lakota community leader “Tiny” DeCory, who oversees her Native youth performance group known as “The Bear Program.” “The Bears of Pine Ridge” will soon be available online and will also play at upcoming festivals to include the American Documentary and Animation Film Festival, the Pendance Film Festival along with a panel of Indigenous suicide prevention panelists, the American Documentary and Animation Film Festival (AmDocs) in Palm Springs.
Alabama Native-American Tribe Wants A Voice In Coal Ash Debate
Alabama Political Reporter, Bill Britt, March 10
According to historical documents, the Hopi Indians of America’s Southwest began burning coal for fuel in the early 1300s for “baking pottery, cooking food, and heating homes.” Now, a Native-American tribe in southern Alabama finds itself in the middle of a debate over the removal of coal ash from Plant Barry in southwest Alabama, about 25 miles north of Mobile. The MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians, a state-recognized tribe whose reservation is located along the banks of the Mobile and Tombigbee rivers near the small southwestern Alabama communities of McIntosh, Mount Vernon and Citronelle, and north of Mobile, are against the removal of the coal residue as it would likely be trucked through tribal communities.