Good morning, NUNAverse:

Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance for individuals who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 – meaning those for whom at least two weeks have passed since they received the second dose of a two-dose vaccine series of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, and those for whom at least two weeks have passed since receiving a single dose of the Johnson and Johnson single-dose vaccine.

The new guidance says that fully-vaccinated individuals can gather indoors with others who have been vaccinated without precautions such as mask wearing or physical distancing. Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, Director of the CDC, emphasized that “Everyone, including those who are vaccinated, should continue with all mitigation strategies when in public settings.”

According to the Acting Director of the Indian Health Service (IHS), Elizabeth Fowler (Comanche Nation), 570,000 Native people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination as of last Tuesday. That number is expected to spike considerably with the recent authorization of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, which IHS received an initial allocation of 21,900 doses of last Tuesday. IHS Vaccine Task Force Deputy Lead Kailee Fretland said that the new vaccine will help IHS reach their goal of administering 1 million vaccine doses by the end of this month.

The expected appointment of Jaime Pinkham (Nez Perceto a position overseeing the policies and performance of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works program is drawing praise from tribal leaders. As principal deputy assistant secretary, Pinkham would help guide the civil works program, which provides water resource development such as “navigation, flood control, hydroelectric power generation, municipal and industrial water supply, outdoor recreation activities, fish and wildlife habitat restoration, and ecosystems management.” Pinkham’s impending appointment was made public in late February during the National Congress of American Indians’ 2021 Executive Council Winter Session. The appointment does not require congressional approval.

Eight members of the House of Representatives met with President Joe Biden in the Oval Office last week to discuss the need to create and pass an infrastructure package that would build back the U.S. economy with materials made in America, create good-paying jobs, and combat the effects of climate change. Representative Sharice Davids (Ho-Chunk) was among those who attended, and said “Right now, we’re relying on the infrastructure our grandparents built. With President Biden in office, we have the opportunity to not just repair the infrastructure of the past, but to build the infrastructure of the future that our grandchildren will rely on.”

Keep reading for a full news update.


Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Will Help Indian Country Get To 1 Million Vaccinations By End Of March

Native News Online, March 8

As of last Tuesday, 570,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination, according to Indian Health Service (IHS) acting director Elizabeth Fowler (Comanche Nation). That number is set to spike, now with the newly federally approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine on the scene. The new vaccine, authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for Emergency Use on Feb. 27, is unique from the other two approved vaccinates because it requires just a single-dose shot for individuals 18 years and older. The IHS is received an initial allocation of 21,900 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on March 2 according to IHS vaccine task force deputy lead, Kailee Fretland. On Tuesday, 76 agency tribal and urban Indian organizations across the nation received distributions based on population size.

Fully Vaccinated People Can Gather Without Masks, CDC Says

AP News, Mike Stobbe, March 8

Fully vaccinated Americans can gather with other vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing, according to long-awaited guidance from federal health officials. The recommendations also say that vaccinated people can come together in the same way — in a single household — with people considered at low-risk for severe disease, such as in the case of vaccinated grandparents visiting healthy children and grandchildren. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the guidance Monday.

CDC Releases Guidance For Those Who Have Been Fully COVID-19 Vaccinated

Native News Online, March 8

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday released its guidance for those who fully received the COVID-19 vaccination. You are considered fully vaccinated after two weeks from your last shot. For those who receive the Pfizer or Moderna shots must have two shots. Those who receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine only have one shot. As of Monday, some 31 million people have been fully vaccinated or about 9 percent of the population. Among American Indians and Alaska Natives, 533,854 have received one shot; while 292,997 have been fully vaccinated.

New COVID-19 Cases Continue To Decline On Navajo Nation

Native News Online, March 8

Monday was the 22nd consecutive day with less than 50 new COVID-19 infections reported on the Navajo Nation. There were six new positive COVID-19 cases reported on Monday. The Navajo Department of Health also reported two more deaths. The total number of deaths is now 1,203 as of Monday. Reports indicate that 16,184 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, and 246,802 COVID-19 tests have been administered. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases is now 29,873, including one delayed reported case.

All Milwaukee Co. Native American Adults Eligibly For Vaccine Tuesday 

Fox 6 Milwaukee, Ashley Sears, March 8

Starting Tuesday, one of the hardest-hit populations will have a big opportunity to get vaccinated. All adult Native Americans in Milwaukee County will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine.


President Biden’s Voting Rights Executive Order Includes Creation Of Steering Group On Native American Voting Rights

Native News Online, March 8

President Joe Biden on Sunday signed an Executive Order on Promoting Access to Voting that aims to protect voting rights for all eligible Americans. Included in the president’s executive order is the establishment of an interagency Steering Group On Native American Voting Rights. In Sec. 10 of the executive order, the Steering Group is to engage in “meaningful and robust consultation” with tribal nations and Native leaders on focus areas and concerns for Native American voting rights and to develop a report on best practices and recommendations after one year.

Democrats Just Approved The Biggest Investment In Native Programs In U.S. History

HuffPost, Jennifer Bendery, March 8

When Senate Democrats narrowly passed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on Saturday, they also passed the U.S. government’s largest-ever investment in Native American programs. The bill, which is expected to pass the House on Tuesday and be signed into law by President Joe Biden as soon as this week, includes more than $31.2 billion for tribal governments and Native communities. The money will go directly to helping American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians focus on economic recovery in their communities devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Fisheries Expert In Line For Top Biden Post

Indian Country Today, Richard Arlin Walker, March 8

The expected appointment of Jaime Pinkham to a position overseeing the policies and performance of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works program is drawing praise from tribal leaders working to stave off the effects of climate change. Pinkham, Nez Perce, would bring Indigenous knowledge and perspective to the management of America’s coasts, floodplains, rivers and wetlands as principal deputy assistant Secretary of the Army, though his appointment has not yet been formalized.

Sharice Davids Among Bipartisan Group In Oval Office To Discuss Infrastructure Package

Native News Online, March 8

Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS) was among eight members of the House of Representatives who met with President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg in the Oval Office last Thursday. The bipartisan group of Members of Congress was there to discuss the need to create and pass an infrastructure package that would build back the U.S. economy with materials made in America, create good-paying jobs, and combat the effects of climate change. Davids (Ho-Chunk), who is one of three American Indian women serving in the 117th Congress, serves as the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee vice chair.

Cherokee Nation Congressional Delegate-Nominee: Biden’s Early Moves Bode Well For Indian Country 

Public Radio Tulsa, Chris Polansky, March 8

Cherokee Nation’s nominee to represent the tribe as a delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives says President Joe Biden’s early actions since taking office in January are encouraging signs for how Indian Country will fare under his administration.


Statement By The President Of The Native Women’s Association Of Canada For International Women’s Day 

Native News Online, March 8

International Women’s Day is a time to look back over the previous year and reflect upon the positive strides that have been made, in Canada and around the world, in levelling the advantages distributed according to gender. At the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), we also pause to consider the special circumstances of Indigenous women here and abroad as we assess whether there has been progress made on human rights, justice, economic stability, and basic security. Looking back at the past year under the shadow of COVID-19, I believe there have been few strides forward in any of these areas, for Indigenous and non-Indigenous women alike.

Here’s How Tribal Communities Drive Development Through Hospitality 

AZ Big Media, March 8

In 1988, the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), paving the way for the country’s Native American communities to operate casino-style gaming on tribal lands.

Among the many benefits to tribal communities was economic self-sufficiency and the financial resources to invest in infrastructure and social services programs for tribal members.

UMN Morris Awarded $1.5M For Native American Student Success 

University of Minnesota Morris, Jenna Ray, March 8

The University of Minnesota Morris was recently awarded a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support Native American student success. Totaling $1.5 million, the award will support transition to college, first-year experience programming, access to cultural resources, and student wellbeing at UMN Morris.