Good morning, NUNAverse:

Bloomberg reports that the United States is on pace to vaccinate 75% of its population – a rough estimate for when herd immunity might kick in – against COVID-19 this year, while other G7 countries could take years to reach that milestone. The U.K. and Israel are also on a path to administer a two-dose vaccine regimen to three-quarters of people this year. 

The Guardian reports that Native people are dying as a result of COVID-19 at a faster rate than any other community in the United States. Nationwide one in every 475 Native people has died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, compared with one in every 825 white Americans and one in every 645 Black Americans. Native people have suffered 211 deaths per 100,000 people, compared with 121 white Americans per 100,000.

Natalie Landreth (Chicasaw), a former attorney at the Native American Rights Fund in Alaska, will become the deputy solicitor for land with the Interior Department, the agency announced yesterday. Landreth has spent the past 17 years at the Native American Rights Fund, which represents tribes in treaty rights, public lands, aboriginal rights, and environmental laws.

Tuluksak, a Yup’ik village in Western Alaska, is searching for solutions after a January 16 fire destroyed the community’s water plant and washateria – their only source of clean, running water. Bottled water shipments began arriving from Bethel, the regional hub southwest of Tuluksak, that day, but harsh weather conditions and COVID-19 constraints complicated the operation. A widely shared GoFundMe page has so far generated around $3,000 of its $10,000 goal.

A bill in Washington State would replace the current statue of missionary Marcus Whitman with one of Native activist Billy Frank Jr., who received the U.S. Medal of Freedom and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize after fighting for Native fishing and treaty rights. Frank, who died in 2004, was a member of the Nisqually Tribe. The proposal had a public hearing Monday and no one testified against the bill.

Keep reading for a full news update.


Exclusive: Indigenous Americans Dying From COVID At Twice The Rate Of White Americans 

The Guardian, Nina Lakhani, February 4 

Covid is killing Native Americans at a faster rate than any other community in the United States, shocking new figures reveal.

U.S., Israel Years Ahead Of Europe In Early Race For COVID Shots 

Bloomberg, Tim Loh, Februray 4 

The U.S. is on pace to vaccinate 75% of its population against Covid-19 this year, while Canada would need almost a decade to reach that coverage level, according to Bloomberg’s Covid-19 Vaccine Tracker.

New Vaccine Puzzle: Who Should Get Which Shot? 

New York Times, Benjamin Mueller, Rebecca Robbins, February 3 

First came the good news. The European Union authorized a third vaccine.

Then, the bad news. Regulators in country after country suggested restricting it to younger people until more testing was done.

Fact-Check: No Link Between COVID-9 Vaccines And Those Who Die After Receiving Them 

ABC News, Dr. Stephanie Widmer, February 3 

When a Florida doctor died just weeks after receiving a coronavirus vaccine, his story whipped around the internet and spurred fears that the COVID-19 vaccine might have had something to do with his death. But scientists warn that these isolated cases, while tragic, do not mean the vaccines are to blame.

Native Americans Use Culture And Community to Gain Tribes’ Trust In COVID Vaccine 

NBC New York, February 3 

While the rollout of coronavirus vaccinations has been chaotic and resisted by some of the public, the Cherokee have quietly mobilized their members to get as many needles into as many arms as soon as possible, starting with some of the most endangered members of the tribe — those who still speak Cherokee.

Wednesday Navajo Nation COVID-19 Update: 70 New Cases And Six More Deaths

Native News Online, February 3

The Navajo Department of Health reported 70 new COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and six more deaths. The total number of deaths is now 1,038 as of Wednesday. Reports indicate that 14,714 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, and 234,183 COVID-19 tests have been administered. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases is now 28,544, including three delayed reported cases.

Navajo Nation Mourns Loss Of Former President Albert Hale Who Died From COVID-19

Native News Online, February 3

The Navajo Nation is mourning the loss of its former President and Arizona state legislator, Albert Hale, who passed away on Tuesday from complications from Covid-19. Hale served as the second president of the Navajo Nation from 1995 to 1998. He was 70. Hale will be remembered as someone who opened doors for so many young Navajos aspiring to help their people through political office.


Top House Republican Condemns Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Comments, But Stands By Her 

New York Times, Catie Edmonson, Jonathan Martin, Nicholas Fandos, February 3 

The top House Republican refused on Wednesday to punish Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene for spreading false and bigoted conspiracy theories and endorsing political violence against Democrats, condemning the Georgia freshman’s previous comments but declining to take away her posts on influential congressional committees.


Navajo Nation Purchases New Permanent D.C. Office For $4.8M

Native News Online, Jenna Kunze, February 3

The Navajo Nation Council, the legislative branch of the tribal government, advanced legislation last week to buy office space in Washington, D.C., joining a handful of federally recognized tribes with established space in the nation’s capital. On Jan. 29, 16 of 24 council members voted in favor of the $4.8 million purchase, a two-thirds vote that was necessary because the legislation drew from funding from the principal of the Nation’s Land Acquisition Trust Fund. The property includes a 161-year-old home, along with a detached building, located at 11 D St. SE, directly behind the U.S. House of Representatives building.


Native American Rights Fund Lawyer Appointed To Interior

AP News, February 3

A former attorney at the Native American Rights Fund in Alaska and member of the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma will become a top official in the U.S. Department of the Interior, the agency said in a statement on Wednesday. Natalie Landreth will become deputy solicitor for land with the Interior Department after spending 17 years with the Native American Rights Fund, which represents tribes in treaty rights, public lands, aboriginal rights and environmental laws, the federal agency said in a statement.

Cherokee Chief Rebuts ‘Offensive’ Election Challenge

Indian Country Today, Dalton Walker, February 3

The leader of the Cherokee Nation has called a legal challenge against a Cherokee citizen of Freedmen descent who is seeking tribal office “offensive.” Marilyn Vann, president of the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes, filed for an at-large Cherokee tribal council seat on Monday, and a day later, another candidate filed a complaint against her with the tribe’s Election Commission. The complaint said Vann “is not Cherokee by blood as required by the Constitution,” according to a report by the Cherokee Phoenix. On Wednesday, Cherokee Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. issued a statement backing Vann’s right to run for office.


Washington May Replace Statue At US Capitol With One Of Native American Activist 

King 5, Drew Mikkelsen, February 3 

Washington might have a new statue representing the state at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. State lawmakers are proposing replacing the statue of missionary Marcus Whitman with one of Native American activist Billy Frank, Jr.

Oak Flat Testimony: ‘You Cannot Mitigate Our Religion’

Indian Country Today, Dalton Walker, February 3

The leader of the fight to save Oak Flat shared emotional testimony Wednesday on the sacred land’s religious importance and why it should be saved. Their remarks before a federal judge were the latest step in a years-long fight to stop a proposed copper mine in eastern Arizona. Apache Stronghold recently sued the U.S. Forest Service for turning over Oak Flat to Resolution Copper, a joint venture of global mining companies Rio Tinto and BHP. The group is seeking an injunction until a judge ultimately can determine who has rights to that land, and whether mining would infringe on Apaches’ religious practices.

Alaska Fire Destroys Clean Water

Indian Country Today, February 3

Tuluksak, a Yup’ik village in Western Alaska, is searching for solutions after a Jan. 16 fire destroyed the community’s only source of clean, running water. The fire burned from noon to around 4:30 local time, harming the village’s water plant and washateria in the process. Tuluksak community members attempted to put the fire out by hauling buckets of water from the Tuluksak River, but the plant had already been breached by the time the flames were subdued. The news of the disaster instantly hit social media, where local Alaskans were able to donate money and pitch in from afar.