Good morning, NUNAverse:
The Indian Health Service said Tuesday that it has administered nearly 385,300 doses of COVID-19 vaccines. At a rate of about 18,490 per 100,000 people, vaccination rates in Native communities are higher than all but five U.S. states, according to an analysis of federal data by the Associated Press.
Native News Online reports that the Biden administration has added three additional Native people to various departments and task force positions this month. Former attorney at the Native American Rights Fund in Alaska and a tribal member of the Chickasaw Nation, Natalie Landreth, was appointed to serve at the Department of the Interior as deputy solicitor for land, Navajo Nation’s former Department of Transportation head Arlando Teller was appointed last week to serve as deputy assistant secretary of tribal affairs in the Department of Transportation, and Victor Joseph of the Native Village of Tanana in Alaska was selected to serve as a non-federal task force member on the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force.
The Utah State House failed to pass a resolution that would have encouraged schools to retire Native mascots. Several conservative state lawmakers spoke against the resolution, with one questioning whether legislators were being overly sensitive and if animal mascots would next be considered too controversial. The measure was defeated mostly along party lines, with only a few Republicans voting in favor. The nonbinding resolution would not have forced schools to retire their mascots.
The Shinnecock Indian Nation plans to announce a new 76,000-square-foot casino that is expected to be a vital economic engine for the tribe as it seeks to increase its self-sufficiency. The casino will be wholly owned by the Shinnecock Nation, with an agreement in place that provides for outside funding and strategic planning from Tri-State Partners of New Jersey and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, owner of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino chain.
Apple Original Films announced Thursday that Native actress Lily Gladstone will play Mollie Burkhart in Martin Scorsese’s upcoming film “Killers of the Flower Moon.” The film is based on the bestselling book of the same name by David Grann, with a screenplay written by Eric Roth. Gladstone was raised on the Blackfeet Reservation in northwestern Montana and comes from the Kainai (Blood), Amskapi Piikani (Blackfeet), and Niimiipuu (Nez Perce) tribal nations, according to a news release.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Native Americans Embrace Vaccine, Virus Containment Measures
Associated Press, Sarah Blake Morgan, February 17
Joyce Dugan did not hesitate before sitting down inside the Cherokee Indian Hospital for her second and final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. “I’m proud of our hospital,” the 72-year-old former tribal chief said as a nurse quietly prepped her arm. “I’m proud that we’re able to get these shots.”
Biden Administration Says It Has Increased Vaccine Supply
NPR, Vanessa Romo, February 16
President Biden’s COVID-19 czar Jeff Zients told governors on Tuesday that the weekly vaccine supply going out to states is increasing by more than 20% to 13.5 million doses this week, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, announced.
Tuesday Navajo Nation COVID-19 Update: 24 News Cases – No Recent Deaths Reported
Native News Onlne, February 16
The Navajo Department of Health reported 24 new COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and no recent deaths. The total number of deaths remains 1,112 as previously reported on Monday. Reports indicate that 15,892 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, and 240,250 COVID-19 tests have been administered. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases is now 29,308, including one delayed reported case.
More Native Americans Named To Key Posts In Biden Administration
Native News Online, Jenna Kunze, February 16
President Joe Biden recently added an additional three Native American members to various department and task force positions. Former attorney at the Native American Rights Fund in Alaska and a tribal member of the Chickasaw Nation, Natalie Landreth, was appointed to serve in the Department of the Interior as deputy solicitor for land. Navajo Nation’s former Department of Transportation head, Arizona State Rep. Arlando Teller, was appointed last week to serve under department secretary Pete Butigeg as deputy assistant secretary of tribal affairs in the Department of Transportation. Finally, the White House named 12 members to a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, among them is Victor Joseph of the Native Village of Tanana in Alaska who was selected to serve as a non-federal task force member.
Celebrities And Activists Unite To Pressure Biden To Shutdown DAPL
Native News Online, Monica Whitepigeon, February 16
Support continues to grow for the shutdown of the Dakota Access Pipeline, as celebrities and activists bring awareness to the ongoing tribal and environmental dispute. On Jan. 26, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in favor of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe that the U.S. Army Corps violated environmental laws and is required to perform an environmental impact statement (EIS). The EIS will examine oil spill risks and determine alternative routes to avoid hazards to the tribe.
Oglala Senator Introduces Bills Protecting Native American Two-Spirit in South Dakota
Native News Online, Darren Thompson, February 16
A South Dakota state senator introduced a series of amendments on Feb. 1, 2021 that would include protections for individuals identifying as LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender) and Native American Two-Spirit in the State of South Dakota. The bills were introduced by State Senator Red Dawn Foster, an Oglala Lakota Democrat representing District 27, which includes Bennett, Haakon, Jackson, Pennington, and Oglala Lakota counties on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Measure To Retire Native School Mascots Fails In Utah House
AP News, February 16
The Utah House failed to pass a resolution that would have encouraged schools to retire Native American mascots. Several conservative state lawmakers spoke against the resolution, with one questioning whether legislators were being overly sensitive and if animal mascots would next be considered too controversial. The measure was defeated mostly along party lines, with only a few Republicans voting in favor. The nonbinding resolution would not have forced schools to retire their mascots.
Lawmakers Pursue Limiting Public Access To Mug Shots
AP News, Sophia Eppolito, February 15
Tremayne Nez was gearing up for his life to start. He was newly married, had just bought a house and was soon to graduate college when those plans were derailed. In June 2019, police wrongfully arrested him on suspicion of selling LSD after they mistook Nez, who is Navajo, for the actual suspect, also Native American. After spending more than 30 hours in jail, Nez posted bond but his mug shot had already been released, tarnishing his reputation throughout the tribal community. He was placed on administrative leave from his job, he said, and subjected to a drug test before being cleared to return to work.
76,000-Square-Foot Casino Would Be The First One Shinnecock Tribal Land
Newsday, Mark Harrington, February 17
The Hamptons’ first casino will include a bingo parlor, 1,000 video-lottery terminals and 30 Texas Hold ’em table games, according to officials from Shinnecock Indian Nation and their partners, who plan to announce their venture Wednesday.
Lily Gladstone Cast In Upcoming Martin Scorsese Film
Indian Country Today, Shannon Shaw Duty, February 16
Apple Original Films announced Thursday that Native actress Lily Gladstone will play Mollie Burkhart in Martin Scorsese’s upcoming film “Killers of the Flower Moon.” The film is based on the bestselling book of the same name by David Grann, with a screenplay written by Eric Roth. The news comes as Scorsese arrives in Osage County where he has been seen surveying buildings in downtown Pawhuska. A lot of excitement is in the air as more members of the film crew arrive.
Writing Native American Stand-ups Into The History Of Comedy
The New York Times, Jason Zinoman, February 16
To the extent Will Rogers is known today, it’s as the folksy founding father of topical political comedy, the first comic to tell jokes about the president to an audience including the president. Woodrow Wilson apparently could take a joke. What’s often overlooked about the early-20th-century superstar is that he was Native American. Nesteroff doesn’t just map a direct line from Rogers’s Cherokee roots to his political perspective; the author reintroduces Rogers as an altogether modern comic: moody, depressive, with uglier prejudices than his aw-shucks image would indicate.
The Sundance Film Festival Highlights Indigeneity Through Filmmakers and Press Inclusion
Native News Online, Monica Whitepigeon, February 16
Effects of the COVID pandemic have forced various industries to reassess how to run its operations and experiment with hosting virtual events, especially for the Sundance Film Festival (SFF). Part of the nonprofit Sundance Institute, the Festival is known for showcasing independent films and connecting filmmakers to other industry members, audiences and the press. Native presence was felt throughout this year’s programming and not limited to only film submissions.
Indigenous Fine Dining … But Make It Curbside
Indian Country Today, Aliyah Chavez, February 16
A New Mexico enterprise has reimagined its fine dining experience during the pandemic. The Indian Pueblo Kitchen, located in Albuquerque, has created monthly events where customers can order a pre-prepared, three-course meal and pick it up curbside. While at home, they can watch a video featuring their chef as he creates and explains how their food was prepared.