Good morning, NUNAverse:
Republican Senator Susan Collins from Maine said yesterday that she will support Congresswoman Deb Haaland’s nomination to become the next Secretary of the Interior, the first Republican to publicly back the Congresswoman. The announcement makes Haaland’s confirmation by the Senate nearly certain and follows Haaland’s endorsement last week by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Zach Ducheneaux (Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe), a South Dakota rancher and former head of the Intertribal Agriculture Council, has been tapped as the first Indigenous person to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Services Agency. Ducheneaux joins more than a half-dozen Native people appointed by President Joe Biden’s administration for top government positions.
House Democrats passed sweeping voting and ethics legislation Wednesday over unanimous Republican opposition, advancing to the Senate what would be the largest overhaul of the U.S. election law in decades. House Resolution 1, which touches on virtually every aspect of the electoral process, was approved on a near party-line 220-210 vote. It would restrict partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, strike down hurdles to voting, and bring transparency to a murky campaign finance system that allows wealthy donors to anonymously bankroll political causes.
The CEO of Jeep’s parent company, Carlos Tavares, said that the company is engaged in a dialogue with the Cherokee Nation over its use of the tribe’s name. Asked in an interview if he would be willing to change the Jeep Cherokee’s name if pushed to do so, Mr. Tavares said, “We are ready to go to any point, up to the point where we decide with the appropriate people and with no intermediaries.”
Keep reading for a full news update.
Deb Haallaand Confirmation Hearing:
Collins To Back Haaland For Interior, Sealing Her Approval
AP News, Matthew Daly, March 3
Maine Sen. Susan Collins said Wednesday she will support New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland to be Interior secretary, the first Republican senator to publicly back a nominee set to become the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency. The announcement makes Haaland’s confirmation by the Senate nearly certain.. Collins said she differs with Haaland on a number of issues but appreciated her role in helping to lead House passage of the Great American Outdoors Act. The landmark law, co-sponsored by Collins in the Senate, authorizes nearly $3 billion on conservation projects, outdoor recreation and maintenance of national parks and other public lands.
She Will Likely Be Confirmed. But When?
Indian Country Today, Aliyah Chavez, March 3
With crucial support from Sens. Joe Manchin and Susan Collins, Rep. Deb Haaland is very likely to become the next Interior secretary. This ultimately would make her the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency in history. But the question on many minds is when she could officially be confirmed by the Senate in order to take office. A major factor for Haaland’s confirmation date is the COVID relief bill currently being negotiated by the House and Senate before it can be sent to President Joe Biden to provide vital relief for Americans. The relief bill includes more than $31.2 billion for Indian Country including $20 billion for tribal governments, and other tens of billions for the Indian Health Service, Native education programs and tribal housing.
Lakota Rancher To Head Farm Service Agency
Indian Country Today, Dianna Hunt, March 3
A South Dakota rancher and former head of the Intertribal Agriculture Council has been tapped as the first Indigenous person to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Services Agency. Zach Ducheneaux, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, joins more than a half-dozen Native people appointed by President Joe Biden’s administration for top government positions. Ducheneaux and his family raise cattle and horses on the DX Ranch on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in north-central South Dakota.
Sen. Mark Kelly Says He’s In A Position To Help Native Americans
Navajo-Hopi Observer, Stan Bindell, March 2
U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly has received his committee assignments and said he will be in a position to help Native Americans on many issues such as veteran’s affairs, the environment and the elderly. Kelly, D-Ariz., has been assigned to the Armed Services Committee, Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Environment and Public Works Committee, Special Committee on Aging and the Joint Economic Committee. Kelly said he supports expanding veterans programs to ensure service reaches all tribal nations. He said rural tribes are often the most underserved with issues such as health care, homelessness, social services and national cemetery access often overlooked by the federal government.
House Passes Sweeping Voting Rights Bill Over GOP Opposition
AP News, Brian Slodysko, March 3
House Democrats passed sweeping voting and ethics legislation Wednesday over unanimous Republican opposition, advancing to the Senate what would be the largest overhaul of the U.S. election law in at least a generation. House Resolution 1, which touches on virtually every aspect of the electoral process, was approved on a near party-line 220-210 vote. It would restrict partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, strike down hurdles to voting and bring transparency to a murky campaign finance system that allows wealthy donors to anonymously bankroll political causes.
Bill Protecting Native American Two-Spirit Individuals Fails In South Dakota State Senate
Native News Online, Darren Thompson, March 3
South Dakota State Sen. Red Dawn Foster introduced Senate Bill 166 with a series of amendments to the South Dakota state senate on Feb. 1 that included protections for individuals identifying as LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender) and Native American Two-Spirit in the State of South Dakota. The bill included provisions of existing laws that would protect individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity with specific identification as Native American Two-Spirit. It is the first time the term Native American Two-Spirit is up for discussion in an official capacity in a state government.
Church Leaders Say Johnson & Johnson Shot Should Be Avoided If Alternatives Available
NPR, Tom Gjelten, March 3
The new Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine may offer the best prospect for protecting as many Americans as possible, as quickly as possible, but some U.S. faith leaders say they have moral concerns about its development.
FEMA To Hold Consultation On COVID-19 Funeral Expenses Funding To Tribes
Native News Online, March 3
FEMA sent a letter to tribal leaders on Feb. 26 to announce a virtual tribal consultation session set for Thursday, March 4 from 2:00-4:00 p.m. – EST to seek information on tribal policies set in place to assist burial expenses of tribal citizens who have died from COVID-19. The consultation will allow tribal leaders to provide input on how to spend $2 billion allocated to FEMA to distribute to provide assistance for funeral expenses from COVID-19 related deaths. It was not clear how much of the $2 billion will ultimately be provided to tribal nations.
Wednesday Navajo Nation COVID-19 Cases: 20 New Cases And Three More Deaths
Native News Online, March 3
The Navajo Department of Health reported 20 new COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and three more deaths. The total number of deaths is now 1,187 as of Wednesday. Reports indicate that 16,124 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, and 245,372 COVID-19 tests have been administered. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases is now 29,794.
Over 90% Of COVID-19 Vaccine Received Has Been Administered On Navajo Nation
Native News Online, March 2
As of Tuesday, the Navajo Area Indian Health Service reported that 146,980 total vaccine doses have been received, 135,161 administered, which represents nearly 92-percent so far. On the Navajo Nation, 48,800 individuals have received a first and second dose of the vaccines. “It’s very unfortunate to see some states lifting restrictions that help to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Here on the Navajo Nation, we continue to urge all of our residents to take all precautions, even after receiving both doses of the vaccine,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said on Tuesday.
The US Government Has Always Given Native Hawaiians A Raw Deal. It Still Does
The Guardian, Uahikea Maile, March 4
Since the state of Hawaii reopened to visitors in October 2020, more than 650,000 people have flown to the islands. After arriving, some tourists are receiving vaccines before local residents, even though Pacific Islanders are disproportionately affected by Covid-19. Despite the influx, visitor numbers are still lower than usual, leaving the state’s economy – which is overly dependent on tourism and military dollars – in shambles.
Budget Proposal Would Help Schools Drop Race-based Mascots
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers’ proposed budget includes $400,000 to help local school districts that still have race-based mascots transition to another nickname. In Wisconsin, officials say more than two dozen schools still have Native American mascots. The proposal would create a program that would help schools with the process through grants, Wisconsin Public Radio News reported. The budget is now in the hands of the Republican-controlled Legislature, which will rework it before passing its own version this summer.
‘Culture Of America’ Features Oneida Beader, Ojibwe Canoe Builder
Indian Country Today, Vincent Schilling, March 3
The National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with the National Council for the Traditional Arts, will be honoring their latest 2020 National Heritage Fellows with a virtual event open to the public on Thursday, 8 p.m. ET. The event features and visits with a wide range of culturally diverse artists. It’s titled “The Culture of America: A Cross-Country Visit with the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellows.” Among the recipients are Karen Ann Hoffman, Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, a Haudenosaunee Raised Beadworker from Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and Wayne Valliere, Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe, a birchbark canoe builder from Waaswaaganing, Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin.
Animated Short ‘Kapaemahu’ Could Make History At The Oscars
Native News Online, Monica Whitepigeon, March 3
Societies have been shaped through their legends and myths, which reflect worldviews, define human relations and teach life-long lessons. As a result of colonization, many Indigenous stories from all over the world were suppressed and consequently lost to history. But some traditional storytellers are utilizing contemporary techniques, such as filmmaking, to help secure these oral histories and ensure the survival of their messages. For Native Hawaiian teacher and cultural practitioner, Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, this is a task she does not take on lightly. Her recent animated short film, “Kapaemahu,” reveals the hidden history of four monumental stones on Waikiki Beach, and the legendary transgender healing spirits within them.
Jeep Is Open To Dropping Cherokee Name, Says CEO
Fox Business, March 3
The chief executive of Jeep’s owner said he is open to dropping the Cherokee name after recent criticism from the Native American tribe’s leadership.
Report: Spokane Police More Likely To Use Force Against Black, Native American Residents
KREM 2, Megan Carroll, March 3
A report commissioned by the Spokane Police Department shows that Black and Native American residents were more likely to be suspected of crimes and have forced used against them by officers.