Good morning, NUNAverse:
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland was sworn in yesterday evening in a small ceremony with family. Secretary Haaland’s oath of office was administered by her chief of staff, Jennifer Van der Heide, and her first official day in office is today. The ceremony is one of two, a common practice, happening this week. A second swearing-in ceremony will be administered by Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday.
The Alaska Republican Party has censured Senator Lisa Murkowski for voting to convict former President Donald Trump at his second impeachment trial and now doesn’t want her to identify as a GOP candidate in next year’s election, a member of the party’s State Central Committee said Tuesday. The vote to censure Murkowski was 53-17 at a Saturday meeting in Anchorage, he said. The decision has not been publicly announced by the party.
BuzzFeed News reports that when LeEtta Osborne-Sampson went to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at the Indian Health Service clinic in Wowka, the capital of the Seminole Nation, staffers told her that she wasn’t eligible because her tribal ID card identifies her as a Freedman, a Seminole citizen who is a descendant of enslaved Black people. Osborne-Sampson is one of six Freedmen who told BuzzFeed News that the Seminole Nation has denied them vaccines, health services, and COVID financial relief based on the ancestry listed on their tribal ID cards.
Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson (Yup’ik) has been named interim president of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, after the previous president resigned last month. Davidson began overseeing the tribal health service strategy on Monday for more than 180,000 Alaska Natives and American Indians — a critical role as the pandemic continues into spring. She’ll replace acting President Garvin Federenko, who will remain chief executive officer of the organization.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Deb Haaland Confirmation:
Deb Haaland Swearing In Details Announced
Indian Country Today, Aliyah Chavez, March 16
Incoming Interior Secretary Deb Haaland will be sworn into office on Tuesday evening in a small ceremony with family, the Interior Department announced. Haaland’s oath of office Tuesday will be administered by Haaland’s Chief of Staff Jennifer Van der Heide. Her first official day in office as Interior Secretary is slated to be on Wednesday. The ceremony is one of two, a common practice, happening this week. A second swearing-in ceremony will be administered by Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday.
The Historical Significance Of Deb Haaland Becoming The First Native American Cabinet Secretary
TIME, Olivia Waxman, March 16
Native Americans nationwide are hopeful after Deb Haaland has been confirmed as the first Native American woman to lead the Secretary of the Interior, and the first Native American Cabinet secretary, on March 15. Bureaus under Haaland’s authority will include the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. TIME asked historians who are also Native American what Haaland’s confirmation meant to them and overall, they have high expectations that Haaland’s confirmation is a step towards better understanding of what Native American communities have endured for centuries.
What Deb Haaland’s Historic Confirmation Means To Native Americans
CBS News, Cara Korte, March 16
Debra Haaland, a 35th-generation New Mexican from the Pueblo of Laguna, became the first Native American ever to be confirmed as a Cabinet secretary. When she testified in February at her confirmation hearing, Haaland began her opening remarks by introducing herself to senators in her tribal language of Keresan. “This historic nature of my confirmation is not lost on me, but I will say it’s not about me. Rather, I hope this nomination would be an inspiration for Americans moving forward together as one nation and creating opportunities for all of us,” Haaland said.
Alaska GOP Censures Murkowski, Looks For ’22 Challenger
AP News, Mark Thiessen, March 16
The Alaska Republican Party has censured U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski for voting to convict former President Donald Trump at his impeachment trial and now doesn’t want her to identify as a GOP candidate in next year’s election, a member of the party’s State Central Committee said Tuesday.The vote to censure Murkowski was 53-17 at a Saturday meeting in Anchorage, he said. The decision has not been publicly announced by the party. The censure resolution also faulted Murkowski for supporting U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland as Interior secretary, saying Haaland is an outspoken opponent of resource development on public land, which the party says is important for Alaska’s economy.
Farm Advocate Tapped For Biden Post
Indian Country Today, Dianna Hunt, March 16
Janie Hipp – the granddaughter of a farmer and national advocate for farmers and ranchers – has been nominated by President Joe Biden to be general counsel of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, an agency she once advised on tribal relations. Hipp, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma and chief executive of the Native American Agriculture Fund, would serve under Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who was first appointed to the position by President Barack Obama in 2009 and reappointed by Biden earlier this year. Hipp created the Office of Tribal Relations under Vilsack and served as his senior advisor during the Obama administration.
Colorado School District To Retire Indians School Mascot
AP News, March 16
A school district in Colorado has agreed to retire the Indians as the Cheyenne Mountain High School mascot despite efforts by some students and alumni to keep it. The district board voted 4-1 on Monday to retire the mascot at the end of the current school year after over an hour of deliberations, KXRM-TV reported. Some alumni have argued the mascot is not intended to be disrespectful and that it is part of the history of the school. However, Indigenous people at the meeting said removing the last Native American mascot in the community has been an effort for more than 30 years.
Iowa School Board Votes To Drop Native American Mascot
AP News, March 16
An eastern Iowa school board has voted to drop the district’s “Indians” nickname and mascot following renewed appeals this year to do so from Native American tribes and organizations. The Camanche Community Schools board voted 5-1 Monday night to stop use of the mascot by the end of the school year, the television station KWQC reported. The mascot was adopted in 1961 when the school opened.
Fixing Indoor Air Pollution Problems That Are Raising Native Americans’ COVID-19 Risk
Westport News, Lisa Hardy, March 15
Poor indoor air quality has been linked to health hazards for decades and is an ongoing problem in American Indian communities. Fine particulate matter and inhalation of other pollutants contributes to high risk for influenza, for example. Research in the U.S. and other countries now suggests that long-term exposure to air pollution can worsen the chances of having serious complications from COVID-19. Indeed, American Indian and Alaska Natives face hospitalizations and death from COVID-19 at higher rates than any other racial or ethnic group.
A Native American Tribe In Oklahoma Denied Black Citizens COVID-19 Vaccines And Financial Relief
BuzzFeed News, Joseph Lee, March 16
By the time the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma began distributing vaccines to tribal citizens, LeEtta Osborne-Sampson had already witnessed nearly two dozen members of her extended family die of COVID-19. She was relieved vaccine doses had finally arrived to protect those who remained. But when she showed up at the Indian Health Service clinic in Wewoka, the capital of the Seminole Nation, staffers refused to give her a shot. They told her that she wasn’t eligible because her tribal ID card identifies her as a Freedman, a Seminole citizen who is a descendant of enslaved Black people. When she demanded answers, staffers called over a tribal police officer.
Yup’ik Woman To Head Alaska Native Health Organization
Indian Country Today, Meghan Sullivan, March 16
Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson, Yup’ik, has been named interim president of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, after the previous president resigned last month. Davidson began overseeing the tribal health service strategy on Monday for more than 180,000 Alaska Natives and American Indians — a critical role as the pandemic continues into spring. She’ll replace acting President Garvin Federenko, who will remain chief executive officer of the organization.
Scrapped Vegas Pipeline Plan Looms Amid Swamp Cedar Debate
AP News, Sam Metz, March 16
The shadow of a controversial plan to pipe groundwater from rural Nevada to Las Vegas looms as state lawmakers weigh two proposals to protect groves of swamp cedar trees considered sacred on Monday. The first proposal would make it illegal for people to destroy swamp cedars without state permits and would direct the state to protect the groves. The second is a resolution to lobby the U.S. Congress to create a National Heritage Area in northeastern Nevada’s Spring Valley that would protect the cone-bearing evergreen trees. The Ely and Duckwater Shoshone and Goshute people view the trees and the ground beneath them as sacred and use the groves to celebrate, sing and pray to honor those lost in three 19th century massacres where soldiers and vigilantes killed hundreds of Native Americans.
Kiowa Actor ‘Stood A Little Straighter’ After Learning He Would Play A Chief In ‘news’
Cronkite News, Nancy Marie Spears, March 16
After nearly 30 years of playing Indigenous characters, Gary Tsoodle finally played someone from his Kiowa Tribe.His star may be rising after his role as the chief in “News of the World,” starring Tom Hanks and Helena Zengel. Tsoodle, who works for the city of Anadarko, Oklahoma, has been answering casting calls since the 1990s. He said he appreciated the Kiowa research that was done by “News of the World” producers and their use of Kiowa actors.
Native Mushers Finish In Iditarod’s Top 10
Indian Country Today, Richard Arlin Walker, March 16
Mushers and dog teams faced different kinds of challenges in the 49th annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. The course was shortened and featured fewer amenities in rest areas in order to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure. Overnight temperatures dipped at times to minus-50 degrees. The looped route — from Deshka Landing to the village of Iditarod and back again — had mushers and teams revisiting some of the more challenging runs, among them Dalzell Gorge, which drops 1,000 feet in elevation in five miles.
Justice For Ishi: UC Removes Hall’s Name
Indian Country Today, Natasha Brennan, March 16
The University of California at Berkeley has stripped the name of a controversial anthropologist from a science and arts building, drawing praise as a “first step” toward healing tensions with tribes and Indigenous students but reigniting criticisms over slow repatriation of Native remains. For more than 50 years, the building carried the name of Alfred Louis Kroeber, a cultural anthropologist whose research in the early 1900s influenced the study of California tribes for decades.