Good afternoon, NUNAverse:

The second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump ended on Saturday, with the Senate voting to acquit. Seven Republicans joined the 50 Democrats in voting to convict the former President, but a two-thirds majority – 67 Senators – is required for a conviction. The Republicans in favor of conviction were: Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, with the impeachment trial coming to a close President Biden is expected to press for a quick passage of his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan before moving on to an even bigger agenda in Congress that includes infrastructure, immigration, criminal justice reform, climate change, and health care.

As of February 11, the Navajo Nation has administered at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to around 44.5% of their citizens, more than any state in the Union – Alaska being the closest competitor at just 15%. The only country in the world that exceeds the vaccination rate of the Navajo Nation is the United Arab Emirates at 44.8%. 

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) announced Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will address the organization’s 2021 Executive Council Winter Session on the morning of February 21. Also addressing the winter session will be Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, Senator Brian Schatz, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Senator Lisa Murkowski, Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

A bill that would ban the use of Native mascots from most public schools in Washington was passed out of committee on Friday and sent to the full Washington state House of Representatives. The House Education Committee voted 11-2 in favor of the bill, which supporters say seeks to end the use of Native mascots by next January 1.

Keep reading for a full news update.


Coronavirus In The U.S.: Latest Map And Case Count 

New York Times, February 15

Tribes Would Receive $20 Billion From Covid-19 Relief Package As Approved By House Democrats

Native News Online, February 13

As part of President Joe Biden’s $350 billion in funding for state, local and tribal governments, Indian Country is slated to receive $20 billion if the legislation holds up in the Senate. “For tribes, this represents a $12 billion increase from the $8 billion received in the CARES Act.”  Kevin Allis, president of Thunderbird Strategic. The Native American Financial Officers Association (NAFOA) held a virtual tribal leader town hall on Friday afternoon that provided an overview of the proposed legislation.

Navajo Nation Curfew Continues To Stop Spread Of Covid-19

Native News Online, February 13

The Navajo Nation’s curfew remains in effect from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. (MST) seven days a week. Health care facilities across the Navajo Nation continue to administer Covid-19 vaccines during drive-thru events or by appointment. On Saturday, the Navajo Department of Health reported 35 new Covid-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and five more deaths. The total number of deaths is now 1,108 as of Saturday. Reports indicate that 15,754 individuals have recovered from Covid-19, and 239,126 Covid-19 tests have been administered. The total number of positive Covid-19 cases is now 29,205, including three delayed reported cases.

Dr. Fauci To Address National Congress Of American Indians Executive Council Winter Session On Tuesday

Native News Online, February 13

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) announced Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will address the organization’s 2021 Executive Council Winter Session on Tuesday morning. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the winter session is being held virtually from Washington, D.C. Also addressing the winter session will be Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (NY), Sen. Brian Schatz (HI), chairman, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (AK), Vice-Chair, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

U.S. Interior Department To Consult With Tribal Leaders On Climate, COVID-19 

Reuters, February 12 

The U.S. Interior Department will start consultations with Native American tribal leaders next month on COVID-19, economic security, racial justice and climate change, part of efforts by President Joe Biden to get more tribal input in federal policy deliberations.

Navajo Leads The Country In Vaccine Rollout: Here’s What Went Right 

Navajo Times, Cindy Yurth, February 11 

For once, something is going right on the Navajo Nation. Like, very, very right.

Some 44.5% of Navajos living on the reservation have been vaccinated for COVID-19 at least once. That’s more than any state in the union (the closest competitor is Alaska at 15.2%). Way more than the country as a whole (12.8%). And more than any country in the world except the tiny, oil-rich United Arab Emirates (44.8%).


Federal Judge Rejects Apache Stronghold’s Request To Halt Transfer Sacred Oak Flat Because They Are Not A “Sovereign Nation”

Native News Online, February 13

A U.S district judge on Friday denied Apache Stronghold’s request for an injunction to prevent the giveaway and destruction of sacred Oak Flat to Rio Tinto/Resolution Copper. District Court Judge Steven Logan Apache Stronghold has no right to ask the Court for help because they are not an officially designated a “sovereign nation.” In his ruling, Logan said that the U.S. Government has no trust responsibility to the Apache even though their Treaty of 1852 says, “the government of the United States shall so legislate and act as to secure the permanent prosperity and happiness of said Indians.”

Court Rules Against Apaches In Bid To Halt Proposed Mine

AP News, February 13

A federal judge has rejected a request from a group of Apaches to keep the U.S. Forest Service from transferring a parcel of land to a copper mining company. Apache Stronghold made the request as part of a lawsuit it filed against the Forest Service earlier this year. It’s the latest attempt to preserve the land in eastern Arizona that Apaches consider sacred because of the spiritual properties there at least temporarily while the court hears arguments on the merits of the case.

EPA Awards $220 Million For Uranium Mine Cleanup On Navajo Nation

Cronkite News, February 12

The Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday it will award contracts worth up to $220 million to three companies for the cleanup of some of the hundreds of abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation. Work could start later this year following the completion of assessments for mining sites coordinated between the EPA and the Navajo Nation’s environmental agency, the federal agency said. This week’s announcement is just the latest in years of efforts to clean up the mines, the toxic legacy of Cold War mining in the region. More than 30 million tons of uranium ore were mined in the region, according to the EPA, which said more than 500 mines were ultimately abandoned.

Judge Blocks Sale Of National Archives In Seattle

AP News, February 12

A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction Friday to stop the sale of the National Archives at Seattle. The Seattle Times reports U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour asked Brian C. Kipnis, an assistant U.S. attorney in Seattle, if anybody on the five-person Public Buildings Reform Board was from the Pacific Northwest. That’s the little-known entity which recommended the archives be shuttered in Seattle. The board was created in 2016 to find what it deems to be excess federal property.

U.S. Judge Will Not Stop Land Transfer For Rio Tinto Mine In Arizona

Reuters, February 12

A federal judge on Friday said he would not stop the U.S. Forest Service from transferring government-owned land in Arizona to Rio Tinto Plc for its Resolution Copper project, denying a request from Native Americans who said the land has religious and cultural import. The judge’s decision is likely to escalate the clash between members of Arizona’s San Carlos Apache Tribe, who consider the land home to deities, and Rio and minority partner BHP Group Plc, who have spent more than $1 billion on the project without producing any copper, the red metal used to make electric vehicles and other electronics devices.


Biden Takes Center State With Ambitious Agenda As Trump’s Trial Ends 

New York Times, Michael D. Shear, February 14 

President Biden’s allies say that with the distraction of the impeachment trial of his predecessor now over, he will quickly press for passage of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan before moving on to an even bigger agenda in Congress that includes infrastructure, immigration, criminal justice reform, climate change and health care.

Trump Impeachment Trial Verdict: How Senators Voted 

NPR, Brakkton Booker, February 13 

Former President Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial ended Saturday with his acquittal by senators, who were acting as jurors in the proceeding.

Joe Biden: Governors, Mayors, Tribes Need $350 Billion

AP News, February 13

A national finance organization for tribes held a town hall with tribal leaders to talk about the specifics of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus package. President Joe Biden met with a bipartisan group of governors and mayors at the White House on Friday as part of his push to give financial relief from the coronavirus pandemic to state and local governments — a clear source of division with Republican lawmakers who view the spending as wasteful. As part of a $1.9 trillion coronavirus package, Biden wants to send $350 billion to state and local governments and tribal governments.

Minnesota City Council Gains Second Indigenous Voice

Indian Country Today, Dalton Walker, February 12

The Bemidji City Council in northern Minnesota just got more Indigenous. Dan Jourdain, Red Lake Nation, won a special election on Feb. 9 by defeating a former council member and mayor. Jourdain received 524 votes to Dave Larson’s 410 votes in an at-large council seat race. In November’s general election, Jourdain came in second to Larson — 1,784 to 2,160 — in a race where the two top vote getters advanced. With the win, Jourdain joins a 7-person council that includes his mentor and friend Audrey Thayer, White Earth Nation. Thayer was elected in November.

Native Mascots:

Foul? Atlanta Baseball Team Preaches Equality

Indian Country Today, Dalton Walker, February 12

The Atlanta Braves are all in for racial equity. No word yet if that means moving on from its controversial nickname and team gestures of a stereotypical Native mascot. The team announced this week that it joined the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s action for racial equity. The announcement, which was only posted on its Twitter page, also included the Braves’ signature red tomahawk. Twitter users were quick to question the baseball team of the double standard of a commitment to racial equity, yet keeping the name.

Bill To Ban Native American Mascots Passes House Committee

AP News, Nicholas K. Geranios, February 12

A bill that would ban the use of Native American mascots from most public schools in Washington was passed out of committee on Friday and sent to the full Washington state House of Representatives. The House Education Committee voted 11-2 in favor of the bill, which supporters say seeks to end the use of Native American mascots by next Jan. 1. Two Republicans voted against it. Supporters of the bill contend such mascots do not honor individual tribes, but dehumanize Native Americans, erase the history of genocide and parody what indigenous people look like.


‘Basketball Or Nothing’ Wins Documentary Award

Navajo Times, David Smith, February 13

The 11th Annual Realscreen Awards ceremony was held virtually this year as the organization recognized documentaries and works of non-fiction. This year there were four nominees for best sports documentary. The winner for best sports documentary was none other than “Basketball or Nothing,” featuring high school athletes from Chinle. “Basketball or Nothing” is a series that follows the Wildcat team and the journey to the state championships. In addition to basketball, the documentary also reveals the hardship of the people, the struggles kids on the reservation had to face and how despite those struggles they emerged victorious.

‘The Bachelor’ Host Stepping Away After Racial Controversy

AP News, Mark Kennedy, Februray 13

Chris Harrison, host of “The Bachelor,” says he is stepping down from his TV role and is “ashamed” for his handling of a swirling racial controversy at the ABC dating show. In a new statement posted Saturday, Harrison apologized again for defending the actions by a contestant that are considered offensive. “By excusing historical racism, I defended it,” he wrote. Harrison came under fire after an interview on “Extra” when he was asked about racially insensitive past behavior from current “Bachelor” contestant Rachael Kirkconnell.

Past photos of her resurfaced in which she is dressed in costume as a Native American and at an antebellum plantation themed ball.

Navajo-Dubbed ‘Finding Nemo’ And ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’ Now On Disney+

Indian Country Today, Vincent Schilling, February 12

Navajo language versions of the Disney films ‘Finding Nemo’ and ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’ are now available on the Disney+ streaming service. In 2013, Navajo language speakers worked in collaboration with Lucasfilms to bring “Star Wars: A New Hope” to locations across the Navajo Nation. The effort took three years to complete.  On July 3, 2013, an approximate 200 people packed into a Window Rock stadium to watch the film amidst loud cheers and applause.

Haudenosaunee Nationals Got Game, Too

Indian Country Today, Dalton Walker, February 12

The world will get a double dose of Haudenosaunee lacrosse come 2022. The Haudenosaunee Nationals, a women’s lacrosse team of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, received some good news in late December when it learned that it was invited to play in the 2022 World Games set for Birmingham, Alabama. The invitation came a few months after its male counterpart, the Iroquois Nationals, accepted an invitation. Now, for the first time in history, both teams will be competing in the highest international lacrosse event slated for July of next year, where nations compete against each other.