Good afternoon, NUNAverse:
Yesterday, President Biden signed a Major Disaster Declaration for the Navajo Nation that will provide more federal resources and prompt the release of federal funds for the reimbursement of emergency funds spent to address the COVID-19 pandemic on the Navajo Nation. The Navajo Nation declared a Public Health State of Emergency on March 11, 2020, just days prior to its first confirmed case of COVID-19. The state of emergency remains in effect. On Dec. 3, 2020, President Nez and Vice President Lizer also issued a letter and a formal request to the White House for the Major Disaster Declaration.
The federal government will begin shipping COVID-19 vaccines directly to retail pharmacies next week in an attempt to expand where and how Americans can get vaccinated. The initial shipment of 1 million doses will go to 6,500 stores starting Feb. 11, said Jeffrey Zients, the Biden administration’s COVID-19 coordinator. Pharmacies that receive the vaccine directly from the federal government will still need to follow their state’s guidelines to determine which populations should receive the injections.
The New York Times reports on a new study that found the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca not only protects people from serious illness and death but also substantially slows the transmission of the virus. The results of the study, detailed by Oxford and AstraZeneca researchers in a manuscript that has not been peer-reviewed, found that the vaccine could cut transmission by nearly two-thirds.
Pete Buttigieg and Alejandro Mayorkas were confirmed by the Senate yesterday to serve as the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of Homeland Security, respectively, making them the fifth and sixth members of President Biden’s cabinet to be confirmed thus far. Both Secretaries make history with Mayorkas being the first immigrant and the first person of Latin descent to helm the Department of Homeland Security, and Buttigieg as the first ever Senate-confirmed, openly LGTBQ Cabinet member.
The Senate Agriculture Committee advanced the nomination of Tom Vilsack for Agriculture Secretary yesterday, setting the former Iowa governor up for a quick Senate confirmation. The committee approved Vilsack by voice vote just off the Senate floor hours after holding a friendly confirmation hearing.
Senate Democrats moved forward with President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID rescue plan yesterday, following a meeting between the President and 10 Republican Senators who had proposed their own $618 billion plan. The President and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen both told Democratic Senators that the Republican’s plan was too small, and they urged fast action on their relief package.
Former Arizona State Representative Arlando Teller (Diné) has been selected as a key member of President Joe Biden’s transportation team. He will serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary for tribal affairs for the U.S. Department of Transportation, the agency announced this week. Teller has previously worked for the Navajo Division of Transportation, California’s transportation department, and the city of Phoenix aviation department.
Keep reading for a full news update.
The AstraZeneca Vaccine Is Shown To Drastically Cut Transmissions Of The Virus
New York Times, February 3
The vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca not only protects people from serious illness and death but also substantially slows the transmission of the virus, according to a new study — a finding that underscores the importance of mass vaccination as a path out of the pandemic.
President Biden Signs Major Disaster Declaration For Navajo Nation To Assist With COVID-19 Response Efforts
Native News Online, February 2
President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed a long-awaited Major Disaster Declaration for the Navajo Nation. The Declaration will provide more federal resources and prompts the release of federal funds for the reimbursement of emergency funds spent to address the COVID-19 pandemic on the Navajo Nation. “With the signing of the Major Disaster Declaration by President Biden and the support of FEMA Acting Administrator Robert Fenton, the Navajo Nation will now work with FEMA to deliver more federal resources to help our communities combat Covid-19,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said.
Cherokee Nation Shares COVID-19 Respond, Recover, Rebuild Spending Report
Native News Online, February 2
The Cherokee Nation has received $411 million from the federal government for Coronavirus Relief assistance so far. Cherokee Nation Treasurer Tralynna Sherrill Scott on Thursday released the tribe’s COVID-19 Respond, Recover, Rebuild Spending Report showing the number of ways the tribal nation has served its citizens through job and food security, economic relief, health care, housing and connectivity during the pandemic.
Federal Government To Ship Covid Vaccines To Retail Pharmacies Next Week
NBC News, Shannon Pettpiece, February 2
The U.S. will begin shipping doses of the Covid-19 vaccine directly to retail pharmacies next week, as the Biden administration expands how and where Americans can get inoculated.
Biden, Yellen Say GOP Virus Aid Too Small, Democrats Push ON
AP News, Lisa Mascaro and Josh Boak, February 2
President Joe Biden panned a Republican alternative to his $1.9 trillion COVID rescue plan as insufficient Tuesday as Senate Democrats pushed ahead, voting to launch a process that could approve his sweeping rescue package on their own, if Republicans refuse to support it.
Colleen Echohawk Aims To Be Seattle’s First Indigenous Mayor: ‘We Have To Find Ways To Change’
The Guardian, Haillie Golden, February 3
Colleen Echohawk, a Native American woman and key advocate in Seattle’s homelessness crisis, is running for mayor of the Pacific Northwest city and laying the groundwork for it to potentially elect its first indigenous mayor.
Arlando Teller To Join Joe Biden Transportation Team
Indian Country Today, Aliyah Chavez, February 2
Former Arizona state Representative Arlando Teller, Diné, has been selected as a key member of President Joe Biden’s transportation team. He will serve as deputy assistant secretary for tribal affairs for the U.S. Department of Transportation, the agency announced this week. Teller says part of his work will be assuring that the transportation issues of tribal nations are heard, as well as advocating for funding.
Arizona To Embrace Sports Betting In Deal With Tribes
AP News, Bob Christie, February 2
Arizonans would be allowed to bet on professional and college sports at tribal casinos and at sites owned by pro sports teams under a proposal that is part of an update to the state’s deal that allows Native American tribes to run casinos. The wide-ranging proposal introduced in the Arizona House on Monday would also allow bets to be placed online, fantasy sports wagering, and add limited Keno games at off-track betting locations and social clubs like the American Legion.
Indiana Senate Backs Bill To Ban Renaming Of Indianapolis
AP News, February 2
A proposal to ban Indianapolis and more than 100 other Indiana cities from ever changing their names has been approved by the state Senate. Republican Sen. Jack Sandlin of Indianapolis said he sponsored the bill to prevent any movement toward renaming Indianapolis because it includes the word Indian following Native American protests that have led to the renaming of professional sports teams. The bill comes even though no efforts have emerged seeking to change the name of Indiana or Indianapolis.
Native American Group Plans Super Bowl Protest Of Kansas City Chiefs
Tampa Bay Times, Tony Marrero, February 2
The Kansas City Chiefs will arrive in Tampa this week as defending Super Bowl champs and the bearers of a divisive name. Ahead of kickoff for Super Bowl 55 on Sunday, a local group plans to stage a protest at Raymond James Stadium to urge the team to ditch the “Chiefs” moniker out of respect for Native American people. The St. Petersburg-based Florida Indigenous Rights and Environmental Equality, or FIREE, wants to call attention to how hurtful the team’s name is to indigenous people who see their culture and spirituality appropriated and caricatured by fans who wear headdresses and war paint and swing their arms in an Arrowhead Chop.
North Fork Rancheria Indian Housing Authority To Build 26 New Housing Unites For Community
Sierra News Online, February 2
The North Fork Rancheria Indian Housing Authority (NFRIHA) held a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, January 22, 2021 for a new $16.4 million affordable housing development on tribal lands in North Fork, CA. The project, called ‘North Fork LIHTC Homes #1’, will include 19 structures, made up of both single-family homes and duplexes, and provide 26 new affordable housing units for tribal citizens. Construction will begin in early 2021 and be complete by December 2022.
The Delaware Nation Lenni Lenape Announces Appointment of Daniel “StrongWalker” Thomas To Combat Corporations Posing as Indigenous Nations (CPAIN)
Yahoo Finance, February 2
The Delaware Nation Lenni Lenape People, in efforts to protect Lenapehoking, the Lenape word for their homelands, from the growing threat of Corporations Posing as Indigenous Nations (CPAIN) have appointed their Hereditary Chief, Daniel “StongWalker” Thomas as the official tribal representative to “combat” the rising threat.