Good morning, NUNAverse:

Congresswoman Deb Haaland’s confirmation hearing to be the next Secretary of the Interior started earlier this morning, and can be watched live on the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources’ website here. 

In her opening remarks, Congresswoman Haaland pledged to lead the Interior Department with honor and integrity and said she will be “a fierce advocate for our public lands,” and she vowed to “honor the sovereignty of tribal nations and recognize their part in America’s story.″ Yesterday evening, IllumiNative and the Native Organizers Alliance Action Fund projected a video of Congresswoman Haaland with the hashtag #DEBFORINTERIOR on the side of the Interior Department Building in support of her nomination. 

The United States recently passed 500,000 deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic, roughly equal to the number of Americans killed in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War combined. Death rates have recently fallen from more than 4,000 reported on some days in January to fewer than 1,900 per day in recent weeks. 

New studies from the U.K. shows strong evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines slash the rate of hospital admissions and may be reducing transmission of the virus. A single dose of either the AstraZeneca vaccine or the one made by Pfizer could avert most coronavirus-related hospitalizations, the British studies found, though researchers said it was too early to give precise estimates of the effect.

The South Dakota Senate on Monday unanimously supported a resolution urging the U.S. Congress to launch an investigation into Medals of Honor given to soldiers who participated in the Wounded Knee Massacre. A bipartisan group of state lawmakers, advocating both for tribes and military veterans, said their action would give momentum to a years-long effort to rescind Medals of Honor from 20 soldiers of the 7th Cavalry Regiment who participated in the massacre. An estimated 250 Native people were killed, many of whom were women and children.

Keep reading for a full news update.

Deb Haaland Confirmation Hearing:

Hearing To Consider The Nomination Of The Honorable Debra Haaland To Be The Secretary Of The Interior

Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources, February 23 

First Native American Picked TO Run Interior Dept. Says: ‘It’s Not About Me.’ It’s About ‘All Of Us.’

Washington Post, Darryl Fears, February 23 

Rep. Deb Haaland, the first Native American nominated to lead the Interior Department, is expected to begin her groundbreaking Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday with opening remarks that reflect her heritage and her nationality.

Image Of Deb Haaland Projected Onto Interior Dept Building Calling For Her Confirmation 

The Hill, Joseph Choi, February 22 

A video of Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) was projected onto the side of the Interior Department building in support of her nomination as secretary of the Interior.

‘I’m Ready To Serve’: Read Interior Nominee Deb Haaland’s Prepared Remarks For Her Confirmation Hearing

Native News Online, February 22

“I wouldn’t be here without the love and support of my child Somah, partner Skip, my mom Mary Toya, my extended family, and generations of ancestors who sacrificed so much, so I could be here today. I acknowledge that we are on the ancestral homelands of the Nakochtank, Anacostan, and Piscataway people.” This is one of the first things Democratic Rep. Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) is expected to say when she begins her confirmation hearing Tuesday.

‘She Became An Easy Target’: GOP Opposition To Haaland Rankles Native Americans

Politico, Anthony Adragna, February 22

Republican senators opposed to Rep. Deb Haaland’s nomination to be President Joe Biden’s leader of the Interior Department are centering their resistance on what they call the New Mexico Democrat’s “extreme views” on fossil fuels and use of federal lands. But supporters of Haaland, who would be the nation’s first Native American to serve in a presidential Cabinet, say they see a familiar pattern in the Republicans’ rhetoric and their unusual move to voice their opposition even before her nomination hearing was scheduled. They say she’s facing a level of criticism above and beyond the normal fiery Washington political rhetoric.

Interior Nominee Deb Haaland Vows ‘Balance’ On Energy, Climate

AP News, Matthew Daly, February 22

Oil and natural gas will continue to play a major role in America for years to come, even as the Biden administration seeks to conserve public lands and address climate change, President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the Interior Department pledges. Deb Haaland, a New Mexico congresswoman named to lead the Interior Department, said she is committed to “strike the right balance” as the agency manages energy development and seeks to restore and protect the nation’s sprawling federal lands.

Navajo Nation President Nez: ‘Confirm Deb Haaland For Secretary Of The Interior’

Indian Country Today, Jonathan Nez, February 22

This week, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has the opportunity to be a part of history by confirming Deb Haaland to serve as the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and become the very first Native American cabinet secretary. In November, I advocated for the appointment of Deb Haaland and now I am proud to be one of many people from all diverse backgrounds to support her confirmation. Through her thoughtful and decisive actions as a member of Congress, she has earned the support of many.

Deb Haaland Hearing Is Indian Country’s Obama Moment

AP News, Felicia Fonseca, February 22

For Native Americans, Deb Haaland is more than an elected official on track to become the first Indigenous secretary of the Interior Department. She is a sister, an auntie and a fierce pueblo woman whose political stances have been molded by her upbringing. News of her historic nomination electrified Indian Country. Tribal leaders and organizations for weeks have urged people to write and call U.S. senators who will decide if she’ll lead the agency that has broad oversight over Native American affairs and energy development.

Haaland Will Help Heal The Pain Of Native American Dispossession, And She’s Not Anti-Job

USA Today, Frederick Hoxie, February 22

President Joe Biden’s nomination of Native American Rep. Deb Haaland as Secretary of the Interior initially received wide praise. It is heartening to imagine an American Indian in this position of public trust. But the controversy already surrounding her appointment suggests we should step back for a moment. What does her candidacy mean in the long, painful saga of American Indian history?

#DebForInterior: ‘We Are Ready To Make History’

Indian Country Today, Aliyah Chavez, February 22

When Indigenous people want something to happen, they get to work and show up. That was the case in December when organizers declared “Deb For Interior” week, ultimately putting widespread public pressure on the Biden transition team to select Rep. Deb Haaland as the administration’s pick for Interior secretary. It is now the day before Haaland’s historic Senate confirmation hearing, and yet again, organizers are declaring: “Deb For Interior” week. Social media was flooded Monday with Native organizers and allies sending supportive messages to the trailblazing Pueblo matriarch.


Vaccines Sharply Cut Coronavirus Hospitalizations, U.K. Studies Show 

New York Times, Benjamin Mueller, February 22 

The first studies of Britain’s mass inoculation program showed strong evidence on Monday that the coronavirus vaccines were working as intended, offering among the clearest signs yet that the vaccines slash the rate of Covid-19 hospital admissions and may be reducing transmission of the virus.

Navajo Nation President Says It Is Important For Citizens To Help Share Information About Vaccinations With Loved Ones

Native News Online, February 22

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez encourages Navajo citizens to share information with their loved ones about Covid-19 vaccinations. “For those who want to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, we encourage you to contact your IHS Service Unit for information regarding upcoming drive-thru vaccination events or to find out if your Service Unit provides appointments. We are doing our best to provide the information, but we need your help to inform your loved ones,” Nez said on Monday.

Half A Million Dead In Us, Confirming Virus’s Tragic Reach

AP News, Adam Geller, February 22

After a year that has darkened doorways across the U.S., the pandemic surpassed a milestone Monday that once seemed unimaginable, a stark confirmation of the virus’s reach into all corners of the country and communities of every size and makeup. Experts warn that about 90,000 more deaths are likely in the next few months, despite a massive campaign to vaccinate people. Meanwhile, the nation’s trauma continues to accrue in a way unparalleled in recent American life, said Donna Schuurman of the Dougy Center for Grieving Children & Families in Portland, Oregon.

Sunday Navajo Nation Covid-19 Update: 27 New Cases

Native News Online, February 21

The Navajo Department of Health, in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, 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.


New Mexico’s Indigenous Education Advocate Faces Tough Job

AP News, Cedar Attanasio, February 22

As the assistant secretary for Indian Education, Lashawna Tso is Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s educational liaison to the state’s 23 tribal governments and federal agencies, including the Bureau of Indian Education. Her role since getting the job last fall bridges two worlds with centuries of fraught history: war and genocide that lasted until the 20th Century and a combination of indifference and neglect that Native American advocates argue lingers today in funding decisions and educational lesson plans. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Tso’s position was vacant. There was no top state official to direct Indigenous education policy and New Mexico’s tribal leaders were left frustrated at a critical time.


‘United, We Will Not Be Denied’

Indian Country Today, Kolby Kickingwoman, February 22

In a year unlike any other, Indian Country has and continues to rise to the occasion. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, National Congress of American Indians President Fawn Sharp, Quinault Indian Nation, said the state of Indian nations is “standing strong.” Sharp, giving the speech from her home in Washington state, noted that things are still anything but normal roughly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic that has taken 500,000 lives in the U.S. She continued to say that the virus has taken a large toll on Indian Country. Throughout the speech, a common theme emerged that Indian Country is forging a courageous future and recognizing a shared Native truth.

Google Doodle Celebrates Zitkala-Ša

Indian Country Today, Vincent Schilling, February 22

Monday’s Google Doodle, the image found on the Google home search page, illustrates the Yankton Sioux writer, teacher, musician, and suffragist Zitkala-Ša “Red Bird” with her violin on a ledger. The Google Doodle celebrates her 145th birthday. Kaw, Osage, and Cheyenne River artist Chris Pappan created the illustration as requested by Google. Pappan has received such accolades as the Discovery Fellowship from the Southwestern Association of Indian Artists and the Heard Museum’s Best of Class for paintings and drawings, and the Best of Division for Pappan’s drawings at the 52nd Annual Indian Market.

‘Wild Indian’ Offers A Glimpse Into Generational Trauma

Native News Online, February 22

Native people in cinema have been categorized into stereotypical and inconsequential roles, which has created a gap in Native-centric films that allow for any worthwhile character development. Some Native filmmakers are working to break away from historical settings and cultivate more fleshed out storylines for contemporary Native protagonists. For Sundance Institute alum, writer and director Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr. (Shinaab), it was a necessity to show audiences the inner workings of Native minds, even the more questionable characters.

State Senate Urges Inquiry Into Wounded Knee Medals Of Honor

AP News, Stephen Groves, February 22

The South Dakota Senate on Monday unanimously supported a resolution urging the U.S. Congress to launch an investigation into Medals of Honor given to soldiers who participated in the Wounded Knee Massacre. Congress has the authority to rescind the medals. A bipartisan group of state lawmakers, advocating both for Native American tribes and military veterans, said their action would give momentum to a years-long effort to rescind Medals of Honor from 20 soldiers of the 7th Cavalry Regiment who participated in the December 29, 1890, massacre on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation near Wounded Knee Creek. An estimated 250 Native Americans were killed, many of whom were women and children.

Biden’s Interior Dept. Will No Longer Fight The Mashpee Wampanoag Land In Trust

Native News Online, February 22

The Biden administration’s Interior Department decided to withdraw its appeal in the case of Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe v. Zinke. The appeal was set in motion last August by the Trump administration’s Interior Department. The Interior Department filed an appeal to Judge Paul L. Friedman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia’s ruling in favor of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. The judge ruled that the Department of the Interior’s 2018 decision that the tribe was not under federal jurisdiction in 1934 was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and contrary to law.”

Chief Of Cherokee Nation Says ‘It’s Time’ For Jeep To Stop Using Name

Car And Driver, Annie White, February 20

For the first time, the Cherokee Nation is asking Jeep to change the name of its Cherokee and Grand Cherokee vehicles. “I’m sure this comes from a place that is well-intended, but it does not honor us by having our name plastered on the side of a car,” Chuck Hoskin, Jr., principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, told Car and Driver in a written statement responding to our request for comment on the issue. “The best way to honor us is to learn about our sovereign government, our role in this country, our history, culture, and language and have meaningful dialogue with federally recognized tribes on cultural appropriateness.”