The New York Times reports on the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on tribal communities, focusing on the cultural loss that accompanies the death of tribal elders. The loss of tribal elders has swelled into a cultural crisis, the New York Times writes, as the pandemic has killed Native people at nearly twice the rate of white people. As a result, tribal nations and volunteer groups are now trying to protect their elders as a mission of cultural survival.

In Washington, D.C., the House of Representatives has been called back into session and they will vote on a resolution that calls on Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment as early as today, and on impeachment tomorrow. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is exploring the Majority and Minority leaders’ combined authority to bring the chamber back into session under a 2004 resolution passed in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. 

Meanwhile, a new poll finds that 53% of those polled would approve of the House of Representatives voting to impeach Trump, compared to 40 percent who said they would not approve of the idea. Support was nearly identical for the Senate convicting Trump in the event the House brought impeachment charges against the president. Native News Online reports that all Native members of Congress will likely vote down party lines for the article of impeachment, as they did last week in the Electoral College votes.

The District of Columbia’s attorney general said yesterday that he is looking at whether to charge Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani, and U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks with inciting the violent invasion of the U.S. Capitol last week, and the New York State Bar Association is considering expelling Rudy Giuliani as a member because of his comments ahead of the attack on the Capitol.

While the current nominees to President-elect Joe Biden’s cabinet would constitute the most diverse cabinet in the history of U.S. Presidents, the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) issued a statement yesterday expressing disappointment with the absence of a person of Asian Pacific American heritage to be nominated for a cabinet role.

“There are numerous qualified AAPIs [Asian American Pacific Islanders] who should be appointed to senior positions throughout the government,” the NCAPA said in a press release. “Furthermore, NCAPA is prepared to stand behind the quality and expertise of our member organizations, as we have members who are willing and prepared to engage with the Biden Administration in nearly every policy area ranging from health to housing, or education, immigration and civil rights.”

Finally, last week Massachusetts lawmakers passed a legislative resolve creating a commission to recommend a new seal and motto for the Commonwealth. The panel would be tasked with studying the current seal and motto “to ensure that they faithfully reflect and embody the historic and contemporary commitments of the commonwealth to peace, justice, liberty and equality and to spreading the opportunities and advantages of education,” then recommending a new or revised version by October 1.

Keep reading for a full news update.


Tribal Elders Are Dying From The Pandemic, Causing A Cultural Crisis For American Indians

New York Times, Jack Healy, January 12 

The virus took Grandma Delores first, silencing an 86-year-old voice that rang with Lakota songs and stories. Then it came for Uncle Ralph, a stoic Vietnam veteran. And just after Christmas, two more elders of the Taken Alive family were buried on the frozen North Dakota prairie: Jesse and Cheryl, husband and wife, who died a month apart.

COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Stepped Up For Elderly On Navajo Nation

Native News Online, January 11

Some health care facilities on the Navajo Nation have already started providing the Covid-19 vaccines to elderly patients. On Monday, health care officials stepped up those efforts to provide the vaccines to individuals who are 65-years and older on a larger scale. The Navajo Department of Health reported 154 new Covid-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and no recent deaths. The total number of deaths remains 871 as previously reported on Sunday.


Lawmakers Called Back To D.C. TO Vote On Trump’s Impeachment, Removal Under 25th Amendment 

NBC News, Alex Moe, Rebecca Shabad, Dareh Gregorian, January 11 

House Democrats plan to vote on a measure calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment against President Donald Trump and on an article of impeachment in the next two days.

Schumer Exploring Emergency Senate Session For Trump’s Second Impeachment Trial 

Huffington Post, Igor Bobic, January 11, 2021

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is exploring a way to force the Senate back into session before Jan. 20 to consider articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump for the second time, according to a senior Democratic aide.

DC Attorney General Considers Riot Incitement Charges Against Donald Trump Jr., Giuliani, GOP Rep. Brooks 

CNBC, Dan Mangan, January 11 

The District of Columbia’s attorney general said Monday that he is looking at whether to charge Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks with inciting the violent invasion of the U.S. Capitol last week by a horde of President Donald Trump’s supporters.

New York State Bar Association Considers Expelling Rudy Giuliani

NPR, Merrit Kennedy, January 11 

The New York State Bar Association is considering expelling Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani as a member because of his comments ahead of the Wednesday attack on the U.S. Capitol, and his efforts for months to cast doubt on the results on the presidential election.

Native Americans In Congress Split Along Party Lines On Trump Impeachment

Native News Online, January 11

For the second time in 13 months, the House of Representatives is poised to vote to impeach President Donald Trump. The House on Monday secured 218 Democrats to commit to the vote on the article of impeachment for Trump’s role inciting violence at the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday that left six people dead. It appears all Native American members of Congress will vote down party lines for the article of impeachment, as they did last week in the Electoral College votes.

Pence And Trump Finally Speak After Post-Riot Estrangement 

CNN, Kevin Liptak, Katilan Collins, January 11 

Vice President Mike Pence received a memento from his aides the other day: the engraved chair set aside for him in the White House Cabinet Room, hauled over-the-shoulder from the West Wing and delivered to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building for one of his final staff meetings.

Poll: Americans Narrowly Back Trump’s Impeachment, Resignation 

Politico, Nick Niedzwiadek, January 11

A plurality of Americans support the effort gaining steam in Congress to impeach President Donald Trump following last Wednesday’s deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll released Monday.

NCAPA Slams Lack Of Native Hawaiians And Other Pacific Islanders In Biden’s Cabinet

The Hill, Alexandra Kelley, January 11

If all nominees are confirmed, the Biden-Harris administration is set to make history with the most diverse cabinet in the history of U.S. presidencies. While the diverse roster is a hallmark of improved representation in government, some demographics remain excluded. The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) issued a statement on Jan. 11 expressing disappointment with the absence of a person of Asian Pacific American heritage to be nominated for a cabinet role. Acknowledging that the Biden administration “set a new benchmark for…a diverse and inclusive government,” the advocacy organization points out that no Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islanders were appointed to cabinet positions, an absence it refers to as “an egregious step backwards.”


Tribes Prevail In Fight With Chemical Company

Indian Country Today, January 11

The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes can continue charging food and chemical conglomerate FMC Corp. a fee of $1.5 million a year for storing hazardous waste on reservation land. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a challenge to a lower court decision in the tribes’ favor. In 2019, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes could charge FMC a fee for storing the waste from its now-closed phosphorus processing plant on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in Idaho. The ruling by the three-judge appeals court panel said the tribes have jurisdiction over the company.


How To Include Indigenous Researchers And Their Knowledge 

Nature, Virginia Gewin, January 12 

Despite long-standing calls to increase diversity on university campuses, Indigenous researchers remain poorly represented in academia, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. For example, Maori people make up about 17% of the population of New Zealand, but the percentage of Maori academic researchers is much lower. A 2019 study found that Maori researchers comprise less than 5% of the full-time academic workforce at New Zealand’s eight universities. Tara McAllister, a freshwater ecologist and diversity researcher at the University of Auckland and a member of the Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki tribe, was lead author of that work and of a follow-on study in 2020. It found minimal change in Indigenous representation between 2008 and 2018 at those eight universities and at six Crown research institutes (T. G. McAllister et al. J. R. Soc. N. Z.; 2020).

Lawmakers Vote To Change Mass. State Seal, Motto Long Offensive To Native Americans

WCVB, Chris Lisinski, January 11

Massachusetts lawmakers last week took a step toward potentially replacing the official state seal and motto, a victory for activists who have argued for decades that the current versions disparage Native Americans. A legislative resolve creating a commission to recommend a new seal and motto emerged in the final hours of the 2020-2021 lawmaking session, earning support from both branches and landing on Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk just after 4 a.m.

Group Of Men Trek Across America To Bring Awareness To MMIW

Native News Online, Justus Caudell, January 11

Running and biking daily with the name of a missing or murdered indigenous woman or child painted in red on their arms – and with the red hand print that has come to represent Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women movement painted on their faces – Colville Tribal member Willi Bessette joined tribal descendent Duane Garvais Lawrence and Lakota member Ethan LaDeaux on a cross-country run and bike ride that started at the Peace Arch in Blaine, Washington and ended on the Massachusetts coasts near Plymouth Rock.

In A Small, Rural School Reside Big Hopes For Nevada’s Native Students 

The Nevada Independent, Jazmin Orozco Rodriguez, Jackie Valley, January 11

Before class on a warm and sunny December morning, eight kindergarten students at Schurz Elementary School listened quietly as the Shoshone Indian Flag song played over their computer screens.

Native American Land Activist Carrie Dann Dies In Nevada

AP News, January 10

Carrie Dann, a Native American land rights activist, Nevada rancher and longtime leader of the Western Shoshone Nation, has died. Dann and her older sister Mary Dann, who died in 2005, fought with the federal government for decades over ownership of their ancestral lands in central Nevada. Born in Nevada’s Crescent Valley in 1932, Carrie Dann co-founded the Western Shoshone Defense Project in 1991.