Good morning, NUNAverse:
The Kansas City Star published a piece on Rhonda LeValdo (Acoma Tribe), who has protested against the use of Native and Indigenous people as sports mascots outside of the Kansas City Football Team’s stadium since the start of the most recent NFL season. LeValdo protested alongside members of Not In Our Honor, a collective against the use of Native American mascots, logos, and imagery, and she drove nearly 20 hours to Tampa Bay in order to protest with about two dozen activists outside of the Super Bowl. Inside the stadium, the Kansas City team’s fans swung their arms in a “tomahawk chop” cheer as the team ran onto the field.
Meanwhile in Washington State, House Bill 1356, introduced by State Representative Debra Lekanoff, seeks to ban Native names, symbols and images for use as public school mascots, logos, or team names, as of January 1, 2022. The ban does not apply to schools located within Native American areas, and Washington State is home to 29 tribes. A similar bill in Massachusetts would make the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education create regulations prohibiting public schools from using Native epithets in team names, logos or mascots, as well as references to Native culture or specific tribes.
In Congress, the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump is set to begin later this week, with House impeachment managers planning to mount a fast-paced, cinematic case aimed at rekindling the outrage lawmakers experienced on January 6. Mr. Trump’s lawyers have indicated that they once again intend to mount a largely technical defense, contending that the Senate “lacks jurisdiction” to judge a former President at all after he has left office because the Constitution does not explicitly say it can.
On Friday, Montana Senator Steve Daines posted a statement on Twitter saying that he is “deeply concerned” with Congresswoman Deb Haaland’s “support on several radical issues that will hurt Montana,” and that unless his concerns are addressed he would block the Congresswoman’s nomination to be the next Secretary of the Interior.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Super Bowl Spotlights Mascot Issue
Indian Country Today, Kolby Kickingwoman, February 7
The biggest Sunday in American sports has nearly arrived, and like most years, the storylines abound. Will Brady cement his legacy as possibly the greatest quarterback of all-time? Can Kansas City become the eighth NFL team to win back-to-back championships? And of course, there is the yearslong call for action that the Kansas City Chiefs change their name. Momentum against Native-themed mascots has picked up in the past year. Two of Native advocates’ biggest targets, the Washington Football Team and Cleveland’s Major League Baseball Team, announced their organizations were moving on from their respective names.
‘We’re Not Mascots’: Indigenous-Led Super Bowl Protest Decries Chiefs Mascot
The Kansas City Star, Margo Snipe, February 7
Since the start of Kansas City’s football season, Rhonda LeValdo of the Acoma Tribe has protested outside the team’s stadium. She has spent days standing alongside members of Not In Our Honor, a collective against the use of Native American mascots, logos, and imagery. So when Super Bowl 55 brought the team to Tampa, LeValdo drove nearly 20 hours to Raymond James Stadium. About two dozen activists stood alongside her on the sidewalk in Sunday’s early evening light and they held signs and called out to passing fans over the thump of stadium music, hoping to call attention to the harm of using Native American names and imagery that perpetuate stereotypes.
Kansas City Enter The Field To The Sound Of The Tomahawk Chop.
The New York Times, Ken Belson, February 7
The Kansas City NFL team has banned fans from wearing Native American headdresses at Arrowhead Stadium, but fans continue to swing their arms in a tomahawk chop to celebrate their team’s success on the field. They did it again as the team ran onto the field Sunday. Fans brought the chop, and its accompanying chant — a made-up war cry — to the Super Bowl on Sunday, just as they had at last year’s title game in Miami. The league piped the chant into the stadium as part of the pregame ceremonies. To many Native Americans and others, the act is a disrespectful gesture that perpetuates racist stereotypes of the nation’s first people and embarrasses a city that fancies itself a hub of culture and innovation.
The Kansas City “Arrowhead Chop” Chant Isn’t A Tribute To People Like Me. It’s Racist.
Vox, Rhonda LeValdo, February 6
A self-described lifelong Kansas City football fan once asked me the meaning of the words that are sung as the crowd performs the “Arrowhead Chop” at NFL games, the beloved fan chant made up of a series of literal “oh oh oh”s. “They don’t mean anything,” I told him, disgusted and annoyed. “Really, nothing at all?” My face got hot and I could feel my heart beating fast in my chest. “Nothing,” I repeated. This is just one example of the uncomfortable situations I deal with as an Acoma Pueblo woman living in the Kansas City area.
Mascots Honor An Indian Who Never Was
Indian Country Today, Mary Annette Pember, February 7
Typically, athletic teams using Native American-inspired mascots insist the practice is a means to honor Native peoples. Although the sentiment may be accurate, the history behind these names discloses a truth far removed from genuine honor. The use of Native peoples as sports mascots has its origins in the myth created by White Americans near the end of the 19th century as a means to define the notion of American exceptionalism and its roots in conquering the country’s Indigenous inhabitants.
Bill Seeks To Ban Native American Mascots In WA Schools
AP News, Nicholas Geranios, February 5
House Bill 1356 seeks to ban Native American names, symbols and images for use as Washington public school mascots, logos or team names, as of next Jan. 1. The ban does not apply to schools located within Native American areas. The bill contends that the use of such names and symbols singles out Native Americans for derision and cultural appropriation. It fails to respect the cultural heritage of Native Americans or promote a productive relationship between governments. The National Congress of American Indians says there are about 1,900 schools nationwide that continue to use tribal mascots. But there are only 31 in Washington state who do.
Native American Mascots Under Spotlight As Massachusetts Bill Proposes Eliminating Their Use In Public Schools
Mass Live, Steph Solis, February 5
The use of Native American mascots at public schools has again come into question as a Massachusetts bill proposes eliminating the practice, which Native Americans say mocks their culture. Sen. Jo Comerford, a Northampton Democrat, refiled a Senate bill that would make the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education create regulations prohibiting public schools from using Native American epithets in team names, logos or mascots, as well as references to Native culture or specific tribes. Rep. Nika Elugardo, a Boston Democrat, and Tami Gouveia, an Acton Democrat, refiled the House version.
Montana Senator Says He’ll ‘Block’ Deb Haaland’s Interior Nomination
Indian Country Today, Mark Trahant, February 7
President Joe Biden nominated Deb Haaland, Laguna and Jemez Pueblos, to lead the agency that has implemented the relationship between tribes and the federal government since the transfer of Indian Affairs from the Department of War in 1824. At the same time the Interior Department is responsible for fish, wildlife, and being the nation’s landlord managing some 640 million acres, more than 30 percent of the country. That includes a huge portfolio of natural resources, such as oil and gas. It’s the extractive industry — and its allies in Congress — that are lining up opposition to Haaland. This weekend Montana Sen. Steve Daines, a Republican, said he would block Haaland’s confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
Impeachment Case Aims To Marshal Outrage Of Capitol Attack Against Trump
New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, February 7
When House impeachment managers prosecute former President Donald J. Trump this week for inciting the Capitol attack, they plan to mount a fast-paced, cinematic case aimed at rekindling the outrage lawmakers experienced on Jan. 6.
GOP Opponents To Deb Haaland’s Nomination Are Funded By Oil And Gas Industry
Native News Online, Levi Rickert, February 7
Fifteen members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to President Joe Biden late last month asking that he withdraw the nomination of Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) as secretary of the Department of the Interior. Haaland, a tribal citizen of the Laguna Pueblo, will become the first American Indian to serve in a president’s cabinet when confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The 15 members of Congress—all Republicans—claim Haaland’s past support of the Green New Deal is enough to ask the president to withdraw her name from consideration.
Joann Chase To Head Indian Environmental Office
Indian Country Today, Kolby Kickingwoman, February 5
Earlier this week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that JoAnn Chase, Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Indian Nation, was appointed to be director of the American Indian Environmental Office, Office of International and Tribal Affairs. Chase is no stranger to the EPA or the nation’s capital. She was executive director of the National Congress of American Indians from 1994 to 2000, and in 2010 served as senior advisor to the administrator of the EPA for Native American Affairs.
Pueblo Wins Temporary Reprieve In Hospital Fight
Indian Country Today, Dalton Walker, February 5
An Indian Health Service hospital in western New Mexico will continue to provide emergency and other key services through at least the end of February. A federal judge granted a temporary restraining order to Acoma Pueblo late last month that expires Feb. 28, according to court documents. The order is the latest legal move in an ongoing fight to keep the federally funded Acoma-Canoncito-Laguna Service Unit running at full capacity. The pueblo of about 3,000 people sued the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services over cuts to hospital services.
Former Executive Director Of Montana Native Women’s Coalition Admits To Stealing Federal Funds
Native News Online, Jenna Kunze, February 5
The former executive director of Montana Native Women’s Coalition on Friday pleaded guilty to theft of federal funds. Sheryl Lynn Lawrence of Colstrip admitted to stealing federal money in a false claim she made to the organization while serving as executive director in November 2017. The Montana Native Women’s Coalition administers state and federal funding for domestic violence and programming for Native women. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Lawrence claimed more money on a travel advance for a work trip to Las Vegas than was necessary, and spent the balance on her personal expenses throughout her trip.
St. John’s Sponsored COVID-19 Study Reveals Wide Racial Disparities
St. Johns University, February 5
A recent St. John’s-sponsored study finds the food and health-care security of Native Americans and people of color in New York City have been adversely impacted during the pandemic. “This study highlights an urgent need to reduce racial disparities in food and health-care security through culturally tailored programs among urban Native Americans and people of color,” said Preety Gadhoke, Ph.D., M.P.H., Associate Professor of Public Health at St. John’s University, and lead investigator for the study.
Sunday Navajo Nation COVID-19 Update: 23 New Cases, One More Death
Native News Online, February 7
The Navajo Department of Health reported 23 new COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and one more death. The total number of deaths is now 1,057 as of Sunday. Reports indicate that 15,234 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, and 235,948 COVID-19 tests have been administered. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases is now 28,897, including two delayed reported cases.
Albert Hale, Former President Of Navajo Nation, Dies At 70
New York Times, Simon Romero, February 6
Albert Hale was serving as president of the Navajo Nation when one of the most powerful political figures in the United States flared tempers by telling leaders in Indian Country that he had trouble understanding the concept of tribal sovereignty.