Good afternoon, NUNAverse:
Yesterday, President Biden marked the 50 millionth dose of COVID-19 vaccine administered since his swearing-in, just days after the nation passed 500,000 deaths due to the novel coronavirus. President Biden noted that the administration is on course to pass his promised goal of 100 million vaccines in his first 100 days in office: “We’re halfway there: 50 million shots in 37 days,” Biden said. “That’s weeks ahead of schedule.”
The Native American Voting Rights Act, introduced on Wednesday in the Montana State Legislature, would will revise election procedures on reservations to reduce barriers to voting in Indigenous communities. Sponsored by Representative Sharon Stewart-Peregoy the bill would require at least two permanent satellite election offices for each federally recognized tribe, and require precinct polling place notices to include locations on reservations. It would also authorize the use of nontraditional addresses for voters.
Also in Montana, the Snowbird Fund recently launched with the help of the Montana Community Foundation and will provide direct payments to families of missing Indigenous people so they can immediately start a search before trails go cold. The Snowbird Fund is focused on quickly providing money to families so they can get basic essentials to conduct community searches.
In Colorado, protestors tore down a statue of a U.S. soldier who took part in the slaughter of Native people – today tribal members and descendants of those who survived the Civil War-era attack are urging Colorado lawmakers to replace it with the likeness of an Indigenous woman at the state Capitol. The proposed new bronze statue would depict a young woman sitting on a white flag, wearing Cheyenne regalia, with her left arm extended. She has cut off her braids and the joint of a finger on her left hand in signs of mourning.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Deb Haaland Confirmation Hearing:
Joe Biden Marks 50M Vaccine Doses In First 5 Weeks
AP News, Zeke Miller, February 25
Days after marking a solemn milestone in the pandemic, President Joe Biden is celebrating the pace of his efforts to end it. On Thursday, Biden marked the administration of the 50 millionth dose of COVID-19 vaccine since his swearing-in. The moment came days after the nation reached the devastating milestone of 500,000 coronavirus deaths and ahead of a meeting with the nation’s governors on plans to speed the distribution even further.
Thursday Navajo Nation COVID-19 Update: 45 New Cases & 9 More Deaths
Native News Online, February 25
The Navajo Department of Health reported 45 new COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and nine more deaths. The total number of deaths remains 1,161 as of Thursday. Reports indicate that 16,054 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, and 243,703 COVID-19 tests have been administered. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases is now 29,655, including eight delayed reported cases.
Navajo Nation Reports 10th Straight Day With Less Than 50 COVID-19 Cases Reported On Daily Basis
Native News Online, February 25
“Today is the tenth consecutive day that the Navajo Nation has had less than 50 new COVID-19 cases reported on a daily basis. That’s a very good indication, but we have to keep our guard up and not become complacent in our daily activities, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said on Wednesday. Health care facilities across the Navajo Nation continue to administer COVID-19 vaccines during drive-thru events or by appointment.
A Third Pfizer Dose? The COVID-19 Vaccine Maker Is Studying Booster Shots.
NBC News, Erika Edwards, February 25
Despite the 95 percent effectiveness at preventing coronavirus infection after two doses of its vaccine, Pfizer is now seeing what a third dose might do.
Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium head resigns
Indian Country Today, February 24
Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium President and CEO Andy Teuber resigned Tuesday. Teuber did not immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment Tuesday.
Spokeswoman Shirley Young did not say why Teuber resigned or provide his letter of resignation. The organization’s board voted to name CEO Garvin Federenko as acting president and Bernice Kaigelak of the Arctic Slope Native Association as board chair, Young said in an e-mail.
Five Things The Biden Administration’s Department Of Interior Could Do To Reverse Barriers And Foster Land Restoration
Indian Country Today, February 25
As tribal economies have improved in recent years, the ability of tribal governments to purchase lands has improved. Ironically, however, over the last four years, the Department of the Interior under the Trump Administration enacted, even more, bureaucratic and legal barriers to homeland capacity building, slowing an already slow process even more and dramatically increasing the cost. This opinion-editorial recommends five things the Biden Administration’s Department of Interior could do to reverse these barriers and foster land restoration.
Deb Haaland Confirmation:
Native American Nominee’s Grilling Raises Questions On Bias
AP News, Felicia Fonseca and Matthew Brown, February 26
When Wyoming U.S. Sen. John Barrasso snapped at Deb Haaland during her confirmation hearing, many in Indian Country were incensed.
Kennedy: I’m Sorry For Calling Haaland A ‘Whack Job’
Politico, Burgess Everett, February 25
Sen. John Kennedy apologized on Thursday for calling President Joe Biden’s Interior Department nominee, Deb Haaland, a “whack job.“
‘Our Best Chance To Make Our Voices Heard’: Bill For Native American Voting Rights Act Introduced In Committee
Great Falls Tribune, Nora Mabie, February 25
Introduced in committee on Wednesday, a Native American Voting Rights Act bill will generally revise election procedures on reservations to reduce barriers to voting in Indigenous communities. Sponsored by Rep. Sharon Stewart-Peregoy, D-Crow Agency, the bill would require at least two permanent satellite election offices for each federally recognized tribe and require precinct polling place notices to include locations on reservations. It would also authorize the use of nontraditional addresses for voters.
New Mexico Bill Would Mandate Anti-Racism School Training
AP News, Cedar Attanasio, February 25
New Mexico lawmakers are considering a bill that would mandate anti-racism training in public schools and the development of instructional materials about Black culture. The Black Education Act pending Thursday before the House Appropriations and Finance Committee would allocate $200,000 to fund an educational liaison position within the Public Education Department. It also would create an advisory council about Black education. That would complement existing advisory bodies for Native American and Hispanic education. About 2% of New Mexican students are Black while 10% are Native American and 60% are Hispanic.
Pause On Leasing Public Land For Oil And Gas Extraction Draws Mixed Reaction
Cronkite News, Joseph Perez, February 25
Land, and specifically what to do with land, has been among the most divisive topics in U.S. history since the arrival of European settlers in 1492. More than 500 years later, little has changed. On Jan. 20, the Biden administration ordered a 60-day pause on new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters after environmental activists sent a letter urging the administration to issue a permanent ban rather than a temporary one. The order prompted an array of reactions, with some environmentalists hailing it as an important incremental step and others dismissing it as a toothless attempt to fight climate change. Among tribal leaders, reactions underscored how the relationship to land differs among tribes.
Tribes Want Native Statue To Replace One Tied To Massacre
AP News, Patty Neiberg, February 25
Months after protesters tore down a statue of a U.S. soldier who took part in the slaughter of Native Americans, tribal members and descendants of those who survived the Civil War-era attack urged Colorado lawmakers on Thursday to replace it with the likeness of an Indigenous woman at the state Capitol. The new statue would replace the one depicting a Union Army soldier who helped carry out the Sand Creek Massacre of 230 Cheyenne and Arapaho people in 1864, one of the worst mass murders in U.S. history.
Snowbird Fund To Boost Search For Missing Indigenous People
Independent Record, Whitney Williams and Anna Whiting-Sorrell, February 25
Selena Not Afraid. Ashley Heavyrunner Loring. Kaysera Stops Pretty Places.
For decades in Montana, Indigenous people — mostly women, like these three — have gone missing, many times murdered and leaving behind families to search desperately for their loved ones.