Good morning, NUNAverse:
On Thursday the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will host a business meeting to consider the nomination of Congresswoman Deb Haaland to be the next Secretary of the Interior. The committee will have four options on how to process her nomination. It can report the nomination favorably, unfavorably, without recommendation or it can choose to take no action. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who is chair of the Senate energy committee, said last week that he will vote for Haaland to serve as Interior Secretary, clearing the way for her likely approval as the first Native person to head a Cabinet agency.
The full Senate voted yesterday to confirm Miguel Cardona as the Education Secretary, clearing his way to lead President Joe Biden’s effort to reopen the nation’s schools amid the pandemic. Cardona is a former public school teacher who went on to become Connecticut’s education chief, was approved on a 64-33 vote. Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee also voted yesterday to advance Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to be the Attorney General. Garland has been a judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia since 1997 and was its chief judge from 2013 to 2020.
Following approval of their single-dose COVID-19 vaccine over the weekend, Johnson & Johnson has begun shipping nearly 4 million doses of their vaccine across the United States, and is expected to further scale up supply in the coming weeks and months. Johnson & Johnson’s addition to the vaccine arsenal will be limited at first, but company officials expect to scale up production in the coming months. The company’s CEO said they are committed to delivering 100 million doses by June and “up to a billion” by the end of 2021.
As Republican State Legislators in at least 43 states are considering more than 250 bills that would make it harder to vote, the Supreme Court will hear a case today that will decide how those new laws should be judged under federal civil rights law. At the heart of the case is the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibits racial discrimination in voting and lays out the standard for determining when it exists. Section 2 of the law says any measure which “results in a denial or abridgment of the right of any citizen of the U.S. to vote an account of race or color” is illegal.
The Biden Administration is pulling back an environmental review that cleared the way for a parcel of federal land that Apaches consider sacred to be turned over for a massive copper mining operation in eastern Arizona. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday that it likely will take several months to further consult with tribes and others about their concerns over Oak Flat and determine whether the environmental review fully complies with the law.
A bill that would grant state recognition for a second band of Maliseet Indians in Maine is running into opposition from leaders of other tribes. Former Houlton Band of Maliseets tribal Representative David Slagger is seeking state recognition for the Kineo Band of Maliseet, and a previous effort in 2012 stalled after some of the state’s federally recognized tribes opposed it, fearing the loss of federal funds. A letter signed by five tribal chiefs in the state, including Chief Clarissa Sabattis of the Houlton Band of Maliseets, argues that the state lacks a process for state recognition. Absent that, it’s unclear where the bar would be set for state recognition and people without indigenous ancestry could potentially gain access to services and exploit their culture, they wrote.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Deb Haallaand Confirmation Hearing:
Deb Haaland’s Next Senate Meeting Set
Indian Country Today, Aliyah Chavez, March 1
The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will host a business meeting Thursday to consider the nomination of Rep. Deb Haaland to be Interior secretary, according to the committee’s website. The committee will have four options on how to process her nomination. It can report the nomination favorably, unfavorably, without recommendation or it can choose to take no action. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who is chair of the Senate energy committee, said last week that he will vote for Haaland to serve as Interior secretary, clearing the way for her likely approval as the first Native American to head a Cabinet agency.
Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Rollout Begins In U.S. As COVID-19 Cases Tick Up
NPR, Rachel Treisman, March 1
Johnson & Johnson has begun shipping nearly 4 million doses of its newly authorized COVID-19 vaccine across the U.S., officials said Monday, and is expected to further scale up supply in the coming weeks and months.
Spurred By Pandemic, Little Shell Tribe Fast-Tracks Its Health Service Debut
Kaiser Health News, Katheryn Houghton, March 1
The Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana is building its health services largely from scratch roughly a year after becoming the United States’ 574th federally recognized Indigenous tribe. Because of the pandemic, it’s doing it on hyperdrive. The long-sought recognition came just months before the pandemic took hold, arriving in time to guarantee the right to crucial health care and a tribal supply of protective covid vaccines. Federal pandemic relief dollars are speeding up the Little Shell Tribe’s ability to build its own clinic.
Senate Confirms Miguel Cardona As Biden’s Education Secretary
NBC News, March 1
The Senate voted Monday to confirm Miguel Cardona as education secretary, clearing his way to lead President Joe Biden’s effort to reopen the nation’s schools amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Senate Committee Advances Merrick Garland’s Nomination For Attorney General
NBC News, Rebecca Shabad, March 1
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday advanced Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to be President Joe Biden’s attorney general.
Major Test For Voting Rights Act At Supreme Court As GOP Pushes New Election Rules
ABC News, Devein Dwyer, March 1
As Republicans in nearly every state push new voting restrictions in the aftermath of the 2020 election, the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear a major case to decide how those new rules should be judged under federal civil rights law.
USDA Pauses Land Transfer Of Oak Flat Pending Further Review
Native News Online, March 1
Citing the Presidential Memorandum signed by President Joe Biden on Jan. 26 on tribal consultation and strengthening nation to nation relationships, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) has put on hold the transfer of 5,439 acres of high-value conservation land in Arizona to Resolution Copper. The acres include Chich’il Bildagoteel, known as Oak Flat, which is the heart of several southwest tribal religious and cultural beliefs. During the last days of the Trump administration, federal officials attempted to speed up the transfer to Resolution Copper that would mine the land. On January 15, 2021, five days before Trump left the presidency, the Tonto National Forest released the Resolution Copper Project Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and draft Record of Decision (ROD) for objection.
Proposal Would Create A New State-Recognized Tribe In Maine
AP News, February 27
A bill that would grant state recognition for a second band of Maliseet Indians is running into opposition from leaders of other tribes, who say a lack of a formal standard for tribal recognition is a recipe for trouble. Former Houlton Band of Maliseets tribal Rep. David Slagger is seeking state recognition for the Kineo Band of Maliseet, which derives its name from 1,788-foot (545-meter) mountain on a peninsula in Moosehead Lake. A previous effort in 2012 stalled after some of the state’s federally recognized tribes opposed it, fearing the loss of federal funds, according to the Bangor Daily News. This time, those tribes are once again opposed.
USDA Puts Brakes On Oak Flat Transfer – For Now
AP News, Felicia Fonseca, March 1
The Biden administration is pulling back an environmental review that cleared the way for a parcel of federal land that Apaches consider sacred to be turned over for a massive copper mining operation in eastern Arizona. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday that it likely will take several months to further consult with Native American tribes and others about their concerns over Oak Flat and determine whether the environmental review fully complies with the law. The agency cited President Joe Biden’s recent memo on strengthening relationships with tribal nations, and regularly consulting with them in a meaningful way.
TikTok Sensation Nathan “Doggface” Apodaca’s Star Continues To Rise With Partnerships
Native News Online, Darren Thompson, March 1
TikTok sensation Nathan “Doggface” Apodaca’s star continues to rise with a slew of business partnerships including Xbox, LG, Sector 9 Longboards, Zumies and many others. One partnership in particular, The Gold Michi Co., has Apodaca (Northern Arapaho and Mexican) on more than 100 full-size billboards in Southern California. The Gold Michi Company recently announced Nathan “Doggface” Apodaca as a new partner to the company and created a new product with an image of his face for its most popular product, the Michelada.
Legalization Of Marijuana Could Provide Economic Boost For S.D. Native American Tribes
South Dakota News Watch, Bart Pfankuch, March 1
Legalization of marijuana in South Dakota could provide a new, lucrative economic-development opportunity for tribes and tribal citizens who have historically struggled to find prosperity and stability in the state economy. Voter-approved measures to legalize marijuana in South Dakota may be on hold or stalled for the time being, but planning and research into creating a regulatory framework and business opportunities surrounding legal pot are continuing.
Phoenix Dismantles Street Signs Using Racial Slurs For Native Women
AP News, March 1
The city of Phoenix officially installed new signs for two streets whose names have long been considered offensive. Mayor Kate Gallego watched Monday morning as workers erected a new sign for Piestewa Peak Drive. Historically, the former slur was used to describe Native American women. Piestewa honors fallen Native American soldier Lori Piestewa, who was a member of the Hopi tribe and was killed during an ambush in Iraq in 2003.
Native American Protesters Help Delay Arizona Mining Project
The Hill, Justine Coleman, March 1
Native American protesters helped delay the Resolution Copper mining project planned for Arizona, after officials on Monday temporarily blocked the transfer of federal lands for the project for at least several months.