Good morning, NUNAverse:

As Congresswoman Deb Haaland’s Senate confirmation hearing approaches tomorrow, the Washington Post published an article detailing the ongoing Republican opposition to her nomination to lead the Department of the Interior. Haaland is expected to face sharp questioning from Republican members on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee regarding her opposition to new oil and gas drilling leases on federal land, and her nomination may face a tie vote on the committee, which is composed of 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans. In that case, Democrats would still be able to bring Haaland’s nomination to the full Senate for a vote following several procedural steps.

The 19th annual State of Indian Nations will take place this afternoon from 2:30 P.M. to 4:15 P.M. EST as the National Congress of American Indians’ President Fawn Sharp delivers the annual update to Indian Country. The event is hosted by NCAI, and can be watched live here. 

Today, a coalition of California state agencies and partners are hosting a media briefing on the coordinated investment effort by the state of California with tribes, American Indian, and Alaska Native communities in responding to COVID-19. The briefing will run from 1:30 P.M. PST until 2:45 P.M. PST, and will include information on coordination efforts with the Governor’s Office, California Department of Public Health, California Department of Health and Human Services, and tribal health officials. Click here to register.

The Department of the Interior withdrew a Trump administration appeal on Friday that aimed to revoke federal reservation designation for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s land in Massachusetts. A federal judge in 2020 blocked the Interior Department from revoking the tribe’s reservation designation, saying the agency’s decision to do so was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and contrary to law.” The Trump administration appealed the decision, but the Interior Department on Friday moved to dismiss the motion.

Following the Navajo Nation reaching their goal of administering 100,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of February last Thursday, the Navajo Nation raised its goal to 120,000 vaccinations this month. “This week, our health care workers surpassed our goal of administering at least 100,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccines by the end of February. Now that we’ve accomplished that goal, we are setting a new goal of 120,000 doses by the end of the month. With the great work being done by our health care workers and the high confidence level among our Navajo people, I’m confident we will exceed that goal soon,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said.

Google is celebrating writer, musician, teacher, composer and suffragist Zitkala-Ša of the Sioux Tribe of South Dakota with a new Doodle on what would have been her 145th birthday. Google’s homepage features artwork of Zitkala-Ša by guest artist Chris Pappan, who is of Osage, Kaw, Cheyenne River Sioux, and European heritage.

Keep reading for a full news update.


Sunday Navajo Nation COVID-19 Update: 27 New Cases

Native News Online, February 21

The Navajo Department of Health reported 27 new COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and two more deaths. The total number of deaths is now 1,144 as of Sunday. Reports indicate that 15,989 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, and 242,063 COVID-19 tests have been administered. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases is now 29,535.

Navajo Nation Sets Goal To Have 120,000 COVID-19 Vaccinations By The End Of February

Native News Online, February 20

The Navajo Nation on Friday reset its COVID-19 vaccination February goal to have 120,000 vaccinations administered by the end of the month. This reset comes on the heels of the old goal of 100,000 being surpassed on Thursday, on the 18th day of the month. “This week, our health care workers surpassed our goal of administering at least 100,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines by the end of February.” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said.

Tribal, County Teamwork Keys Minnesota County’s Vaccination

AP News, February 20

The only Minnesota county located entirely within the borders of a Native American reservation has been vaccinating at rates that far surpass most other counties in the state, authorities said. Mahnomen County is located in the northwestern part of the state, about an hour’s drive from the Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota metropolitan area. As of this past week, 85 percent of people 65 and older in the county have been vaccinated. Public health leaders at the White Earth Nation and Mahnomen County credit that high vaccination rate to close collaboration between the tribe and the county to efficiently get those doses to residents.

Racial Diversity Lags In Clinical Vaccine Trials Despite Push For Inclusion, JAMA Study Finds

NBC News, Alicia Victoria Lozano, February 19

Vaccinating communities of color, which have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic, has been a focus for both the Biden administration and many local governments. But federal data show that despite guidelines from the National Institutes of Health recommending more diversity in clinical trials, people of color are largely underrepresented. A study released Friday in JAMA Network Open suggests that the disparities started long before the pandemic magnified existing inequities.  Recent CDC numbers show that Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths are more likely to occur among Native Americans, Latinos and Blacks.

With Vaccine Delay, Biden Warns Of Uncertain End To Pandemic 

New York Times, Noah Weiland, Katie Thomas, and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, February 19 

President Biden, on a visit to Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine plant in Kalamazoo, Mich., said on Friday that the nation could be “approaching normalcy” by the end of the year, but cautioned that new virus variants and potential vaccine production problems could slow progress.

Serious COVID-19 Vaccine Reactions Are Rare, Says New CDC Report 

ABC News, Dr. Eric Silberman, February 19 

In clinical trials, the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines demonstrated low rates of serious adverse events. Now, real-world data from the first month of vaccine administration in the U.S. corroborates that data.

Deb Haaland Confirmation Hearing:

If Deb Haaland Is Confirmed As Interior Secretary, It Would Be A Huge Win For Arizona

AZ Central, Ethel Billie Branch, February 22 

The confirmation of U.S. Rep. Debra Haaland as secretary of interior by the Senate on Feb. 23 will be a tremendous win for Arizona.

Indian Country, Vote Rep. Deb Haaland’s Opponents Out Of Office

Native News Online, Levi Rickert, February 21

Rep. Deb Haaland’s long-awaited confirmation hearing to become the 54th Secretary of the Department of the Interior is Tuesday morning. For Indian Country, it has been a 244-year wait. She will enter the hearing before the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources as the only American Indian in history nominated by a president to serve as the secretary of a federal agency. Haaland, a tribal citizen of the Laguna Pueblo, is serving her second term in Congress, representing New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District.

On The Doorstep Of History: Confirm Congresswoman Deb Haaland As Secretary Of Interior

Indian Country Today, Fawn Sharp, February 21

After centuries of invisibility, the best and brightest of Indian Country are rising to the highest positions of leadership across the United States government. This moment is long overdue – and I steadfastly support Deb Haaland’s nomination. But Congresswoman Haaland’s nomination is monumental not just for its historical significance, but more importantly for the experience and leadership she will bring to the position at a critical moment in our nation’s history.

Tribes Have High Hopes As Haaland Confirmation Hearing Nears

AP News, Felicia Fonseca, February 20

Deb Haaland stood with fellow tribal members protesting an oil pipeline outside a reservation in North Dakota, advocated for protecting cultural landmarks in her home state of New Mexico and pointedly told government witnesses in a hearing about blasting sacred Native American sites near the U.S.-Mexico border: “I don’t know how you can sleep at night.” Native Americans have reason to believe the two-term U.S. congresswoman will push forward on long-simmering issues in Indian Country if she’s confirmed as secretary of the Interior Department, which has broad oversight of tribal affairs and energy development.

Indigenous Organizations Challenge GOP Attempt To Block Haaland From Becoming The First Native American Secretary Of Interior

Native News Online, February 20

Responding to Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) publicly stated commitment to block the confirmation of the first Indigenous nominee for Secretary of the Interior, tribal organizations are launching a high-profile campaign to rally support for Congresswoman Deb Haaland (D-NM), President Biden’s pick to lead the Interior Department. Beginning in Daines’ home state of Montana, the Global Indigenous Council (GIC) and Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council (RMTLC) have billboards highlighting Haaland’s historic nomination being raised in two of the state’s main population centers, Billings and Great Falls.

Deb Haaland’s Nomination To Lead Interior Is A Historic First For Native Americans. The GOP Wants Biden To Cancel It.

The Washington Post, Darryl Fears, February 19

As Rep. Deb Haaland prepares for a Senate hearing Tuesday that could make her the first Native American in history to lead the Interior Department, her supporters are listening to Republican opposition to her nomination with worry — and anger. Haaland, a New Mexico Democrat, is expected to face sharp questioning from GOP members on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee regarding her opposition to new oil and gas drilling leases on federal land — a position she shares with President Biden. Her lifetime score on environmental issues with the League of Conservation Voters is 98 percent.


Feds Drop Legal Battle Against Mashpee Lands

AP News, February 20

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe scored a legal victory Friday when the U.S. Interior Department withdrew a Trump administration appeal that aimed to revoke federal reservation designation for the tribe’s land in Massachusetts. A federal judge in 2020 blocked the U.S. Interior Department from revoking the tribe’s reservation designation, saying the agency’s decision to do so was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and contrary to law.” The Trump administration appealed the decision, but the Interior Department on Friday moved to dismiss the motion.


Cherokee Nation Closes 10 Casinos To Prevent Electricity Shortages As Cold Snap Hits Oklahoma

Native News Online, February 20

When an unprecedented winter storm bringing freezing temperatures rolled through the Midwest earlier this week, Cherokee Nation Businesses answered the call from energy companies to conserve power to protect against cut-offs. Starting Monday, Cherokee Nation Businesses, an enterprise of the Cherokee Nation, shut down its 10 casinos throughout northeast Oklahoma to do its part. The operations sent employees home early on Monday, and the few that remained to secure the building were compensated with overtime, Scott added.

Native Mascots:

Native American Mascot Resolution Fails, But Sponsor Plans To Revisit Issue

St George News, Jeff Richards, February 19

A nonbinding resolution aimed at promoting Native American equality in Utah’s public schools and discouraging Native American themed mascots, failed to pass in the Utah House of Representatives earlier this week The resolution, designated H.C.R. 3, failed in the Utah House by a 45-27 vote Tuesday.  Following the decision, Rep. Elizabeth Weight who sponsored the resolution, stated “I would like to try to get something done so I can introduce something next year. My thinking is to get the education component going. And from that, learn more about communities where you have the history and degrading implications of Native American mascots. And then, take a look at that resolution again next year.”


Google Honors Writer, Activist Zitkala-Sa With A New Doodle

UPI, Wade Sheridan, February 22 

Google is celebrating writer, musician, teacher, composer and suffragist Zitkala-Ša of the Sioux Tribe of South Dakota with a new Doodle on what would have been her 145th birthday.

Innovative MIT Natives: ‘It’s Time For Action’

Indian Country Today, Kolby Kickingwoman, February 21

For three years and counting, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Solve initiative has sought out Native innovators finding creative ways to find solutions to challenges facing their communities. It all began with a call to action from Phyllis Young, Standing Rock Sioux, in 2017 when the Standing Rock water protectors were selected as finalists for the MIT Media Lab Disobedience Awards. The award recognizes “individuals and groups who engage in ethical, nonviolent acts of disobedience in service of society.”

Pipeline Divides Indigenous Lands And People

Indian Country Today, Mary Annette Pember, February 20

Jason Goward was overjoyed to get a high-paying job on Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline project. The job, clearing ground with a contractor for the Canadian energy company, meant he could at last pay child support for his two young sons. He could buy groceries, pay for heat. And maybe, just maybe, he could dig his way out of poverty. As he worked along the pipeline, however, he watched sandhill cranes fly over his job site. One of the Ojibwe leadership clans is named after the crane — ajijaak, the ones who speak on behalf of the people. The cranes were frantically fleeing the wetlands at the sound and disturbance of the heavy machinery he operated.

‘Piecing Together A Broken Heart’: Native Americans Rebuild Territories They Lost

The Guardian, Hallie Golden, February 20

More than six decades after a 1,705-acre patchwork of meadows, wetlands and timberland in southern Oregon was taken from the Klamath Tribes, the Native American community has found its way back to the territory – by way of the real estate market. Over the summer, the tribes discovered the land was up for sale, so as part of their large-scale effort to reacquire territory that was historically theirs, they prepared an offer. Although another buyer nearly swooped in, the tribes’ purchase more than doubles their current holdings, and extends their territory to the base of Yamsay Mountain, an important site for prayer and spiritual journeys for the community.

Gathering Of Nations Moved Online For Second Year In A Row

Native News Online, February 20

The largest powwow in North America and the United States will take place virtually again in 2021 due Covid-10 restrictions. The Gathering of Nations (GON) powwow is held annually in April in Albuquerque, N. M. Upwards of 72,000 people have attended the in-person event in past years, and over 565 tribes from the United States and 220 from Canada have travelled to Albuquerque to participate in the past. More than 3,000 singers and dancers take part in the powwow annually.

Minecraft’s Indigenous World

Indian Country Today, Darrell Stranger, February 19

For most kids, Minecraft is a game they play to unwind after school, but thanks to a new program at the Louis Riel School Division (LRSD), kids can now play it during school hours.

The LRSD in Winnipeg is using the game Minecraft to teach students about Manitoba Anishinaabe culture. It’s a first of its kind education tool using an educational version of the game. The program was made thanks to a partnership between Microsoft Canada, Minecraft: Education Edition and LRSD. Students enter the virtual world of Manito Ahbee Aki meaning “the place where the Creator sits” to learn and explore Manitoba’s Anishinaabe community.