Good morning, NUNAverse:
The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will consider the nomination of Representative Deb Haaland as U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary during a hearing scheduled for Tuesday, February 23. If confirmed by the Senate, the New Mexico Democrat would be the first Native person to serve as a Cabinet secretary. The hearing will be live-streamed on the committee’s website beginning at 9:30 A.M. EST.
Tribes in Texas are working together to address the blackouts caused by the recent historic winter storm, according to tribal leaders from the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, the Tigua Ysleta Del sur Pueblo, and the Lipan Apache Tribe. Indian Country Today spoke to leaders from the tribes and pueblo, reporting on how each of them have been impacted and how they have been assisting their citizens.
Archeologists recently uncovered Venetian glass beads from Italy along an old trading route in the Alaskan Arctic. Recently, using carbon dating technology, plant fibers surrounding the buried beads told the scientists the relics arrived in Alaska sometime between 1440 and 1480, at least a decade before Christopher Columbus made landfall in what is now Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Throughout the 1400s, craftsmen in Venice traded with people throughout Asia. The beads –– which archaeologists agree were likely worn on jewelry –– travelled more than 10,000 miles to make it to present-day Alaska.
The city of Tempe, Arizona, which sits on traditional O’odham and Piipaash land, recently acknowledged in a statement that its 40 square miles are on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community homelands. The statement will be used in its educational programs, ceremonies and holiday observances, and will be included in the city’s discussions and decisions about land use and development.
Touchdown for NASA’s Perseverance rover at the Jezero Crater on Mars is expected around 3:55 P.M. EST today, and NASA television will begin broadcasting coverage from the mission’s control room at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California at 2:15 P.M. EST. Jezero Crater is a place that planetary scientists think could be an ideal place to find preserved signs of life from several billion years ago, if life ever did arise on the red planet.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Confirmation Hearing Scheduled For Interior Secretary Nominee Deb Haaland
Native News Online, February 17
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has scheduled Rep. Deb Haaland’s hearing for her nomination as Interior Secretary for Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 9:30 a.m ET. The hearing will take place in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in the Senate Office Building in Washington, DC, and will be webcast live on the committee’s website. As of Feb. 17, seven of Biden’s 23 Cabinet nominated positions requiring Senate approval have been confirmed.
Deb Haaland’s Senate Hearing Set
Indian Country Today, Aliyah Chavez, February 17
The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will consider the nomination of Rep. Deb Haaland as U.S. Department of the Interior secretary during a hearing scheduled for Feb. 23. The news came Tuesday, nearly a month after President Joe Biden was sworn in — and nearly two months since her selection. If confirmed by the Senate, the New Mexico Democrat would be the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet secretary.
US Life Expectancy Drops A Year In Pandemic, Most Since WWII
ABC News, Marilyn Marchione, February 18
Life expectancy in the United States dropped a staggering one year during the first half of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic caused its first wave of deaths, health officials are reporting.
Native Americans Embrace Vaccine, Virus Containment Measures
AP News, Sarah Blake Morgan, February 17
While minority communities across the United States have struggled to trust the vaccine, the opposite is true for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, a Native American tribe of 16,000 in western North Carolina, and other tribes across the country, which were also quick to adopt coronavirus prevention measures. The federal 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, that’s higher than all but five U.S. states, according to an AP analysis of federal data.
Native Americans Embrace Vaccine In North Carolina [Video]
USA Today, February 17
Native Americans are bucking a trend of minority populations who harbor doubts about the coronavirus vaccines. A North Carolina tribe is embracing inoculations and has been among the first in the country to adopt COVID containment measures.
Tuesday Navajo Nation COVID-19 Update: 24 News Cases – No Recent Deaths Reported
Native News Online, February 17
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.
NASA’s Mars Rover Landing: When To Watch
New York Times, February 18
NASA’s latest robotic explorer will reach Mars on Thursday afternoon, the third spacecraft to arrive at the planet this month after visitors from the United Arab Emirates and China. The Perseverance rover is headed to Jezero Crater, a place that planetary scientists think could be an ideal place to find preserved signs of life from several billion years ago, if life ever did arise on Mars.
Venetian Blue Beads Found In Alaska Predate Arrival Of Columbus
Native News Online, Jenna Kunze, February 17
Venetian glass beads from Italy archeologists uncovered along an old trading route in the Alaskan Arctic indicate what the Alaska Native Iñupiat, who have occupied the land since time immemorial, have always known: their existence long predated Christopher Columbus’s “discovery” of America. Arctic archeologists Mike Kunz and Robert Mills last month published a study on the beads they in part helped excavate and analyze from three different sites in the Brooks Range of the Alaskan Arctic. Using carbon dating technology, plant fibers surrounding the buried beads told the scientists the relics arrived in Alaska sometime between 1440 and 1480, at least a decade before Columbus made landfall in what is now the Bahamas.
NSF-Funded Sensor Project Will Promote Resilience In Native American Communities
UNM Newsroom, Kim Delker, February 17
In recent decades, the impacts of wildfires have been felt in many places in the Southwestern United States, but those impacts — including erosion that can turn a heavy rainfall into a life-threatening flood — are felt especially in Native American communities. But a group of researchers at The University of New Mexico saw a way to provide some hope by taking existing and adaptable technology to give Native American communities the tools to better anticipate the dangers they themselves know best.
Tribes Survive Texas Storms
Indian Country Today, Mary Annette Pember, February 17
Many across the country are battling the aftermath of a Feb. 13 winter storm as nearly 3.4 million customers around the U.S. are still without electricity or heat. The demand for power overwhelmed power grids unprepared for climate change. Tribes in Texas are working together and handling the challenges well, according to tribal leaders from the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, the Tigua Ysleta Del sur Pueblo and the Lipan Apache Tribe contacted by Indian Country Today.
Tempe Acknowledges Traditional Homeland
Native Americans, Kalle Benallie, February 17
An Arizona city has formally recognized the traditional homelands it was built on more than a century ago. Tempe, along with metropolitan Phoenix, sits on traditional O’odham and Piipaash land. Recently, the city acknowledged that its 40 square miles are on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community homelands — a rare move by a large city — as a way to recognize Native historical and cultural land significance.
Indian Elders Honors Nominations Open
Mvskoke Media, Angel Ellis, February 17
AARP Oklahoma is accepting nominations for the 13th annual AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honors, which celebrates 50 Native American elders who have positively impacted our country, state, communities and Indian Country.