Good morning/afternoon, NUNAverse:
On Friday, the United States cleared President Joe Biden’s goal of administering 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine before his 100th day in office – more than a month before the target date. The country is currently administered about 2.5 million shots per day, and the President promised to set a new goal for vaccinations this week, teasing the possibility of setting a 200 million dose goal by his 100th day in office. The United States is currently on pace to have enough doses of the three currently authorized vaccines for the entire adult population in just 10 weeks.
The California State Board of Education approved the country’s first statewide ethnic studies curriculum for high schools last Thursday. After an eight-hour public meeting, board members voted unanimously, 11-0, to approve the curriculum it hopes will become a model for other states to follow. The nearly 900-page Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, which has been years in the making, is meant to teach high school students about the struggles and contributions of “historically marginalized peoples which are often untold in U.S. history courses.” It centers on the four groups that are the focus of college-level ethnic studies: African Americans, Chicano/Latinos, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and Native peoples.
In Montana, the State House Administration Committee voted unanimously to endorse a bill that would make it easier for Native people to vote. The bill would require counties to have at least one satellite or alternative election office on reservations in the 30 days before an election, and for the counties and tribes to agree, in writing, on the location and hours of operation. The bill puts into law the terms of a 2014 settlement in a voting rights lawsuit that required three counties to open satellite voting offices on reservations twice a week before Election Day. It also puts into law guidance issued by the Secretary of State’s Office directing other counties with tribal voters to comply with the settlement.
Citizens of Canada’s First Nations and their allies are mounting last-ditch challenges to two massive fossil fuel pipelines that are already under construction and have strong government backing. The anti-pipeline actions in Canada’s far West feature acts of civil disobedience including blockading roads and construction sites, and coordinated campaigns against banks and underwriters that are financing the pipelines. Dozens of protesters have been arrested. The Trans Mountain and Coastal GasLink pipelines began construction in 2019 and intend to begin pumping by the end of 2022 and in 2023, respectively. Each is roughly one-quarter built, but work has slowed recently amidst environmental violations and safety incidents.
Seventeen Native and Tribal communities in Nevada will receive more than $10 million in federal funding to develop affordable housing within their communities as a result of the recent COVID-19 relief bill. The funds will be distributed as Indian Housing Block Grants (IHBG) a formula grant that provides aid in the development and operation of low-income housing on tribal land. The relief bill includes more than $31.2 billion in dedicated funding for tribal governments and Native communities in the U.S., the largest one-time investment in history for Native programs.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Rep. Yvette Herrell: Only Native American In Congress To Vote No On Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act
Native News Online, Levi Rickert, March 20
Rep. Yvette Herrell (Cherokee) is the only Native American in Congress who voted no H.R. 1620: Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021 on Wednesday. The bill passed the House of Representatives and will move to the Senate for consideration. The first term Republican, who represents the 2nd congressional district in New Mexico, has not commented publicly on her reason for her no vote. The four other Native Americans in Congress, Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) – Chickasaw Nation; Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS) – Ho-Chunk Nation; Rep. Kaialiʻi Kahele (D-HI) – Native Hawaiian; and Rep. Markwayne Mullin, (R-OK), Cherokee, supported the legislation.
House Committee Endorses Native American Voting Rights Bill
AP News, March 19
A Montana House committee unanimously endorsed a bill Friday aimed at making it easier for Native Americans to vote. The bill would require counties to have at least one satellite or alternative election office on reservations in the 30 days before an election and for the counties and tribes to agree, in writing, on the location and hours of operation. The bill puts into law the terms of a 2014 settlement in a voting rights lawsuit that required three counties to open satellite voting offices on reservations twice a week before Election Day. It also puts into law guidance issued by the Secretary of State’s Office directing other counties with tribal voters to comply with the settlement.
COVID-19 News: Cautious Optimism As More Americans Become Eligible For Vaccine
The New York Times, March 21
As more states expand eligibility for coronavirus vaccinations, the pace of daily shots administered in the United States has steadily increased to a pace that is now 12 percent higher than it was just a week ago. President Biden said Thursday that the United States was a day away from reaching his goal of administering 100 million vaccine doses in 100 days — with six weeks to spare before his self-imposed deadline.
Hundreds Get Vaccinated At Indian Pueblo Cultural Center Drive-Thru Event
KRQE, March 21
A new partnership helped Native Americans get vaccinated Saturday. The New Mexico Indian Affairs Department and the Department of Health held a vaccination and food distribution drive-thru event at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. The free event was open to Native Americans ages 18 and older. Organizers were able to distribute 600 vaccinations and 800 food boxes.
Biden Eyes New Goal After US Clears 100M Shots Since Jan. 20
Associated Press, Zeke Miller, March 19
The U.S. on Friday cleared President Joe Biden’s goal of injecting 100 million coronavirus shots, more than a month before his target date of his 100th day in office, as the president prepared to set his sights higher in the nationwide vaccination effort.
Navajo Nation Surpasses 30,000 COVID-19 Cases; Death Toll Stands At 1,233
Native News Online, March 19
The Navajo Department of Health, in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, reported nine new COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases is now 30,007. The total number of deaths stands at 1,233. Reports indicate that 16,326 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, and 250,930 COVID-19 tests have been administered. Health care facilities across the Navajo Nation continue to administer COVID-19 vaccines during drive-thru events or by appointment.
‘Moccasin Telegraph’ Finds New Life As Source Of Vaccine Information
Underscore, Brian Bull, March 18
While the U.S. as a whole is just finding its stride administering the COVID-19 vaccine to its citizens, many Native American tribes – including the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians – are on a mean streak. According to Cherity Bloom-Miller, the tribe’s infectious control officer, CTSI has vaccinated roughly one-quarter of the 5,547 enrolled members, and about one-third of those who live in Oregon. As of Friday, the tribal government had given the Moderna vaccine to 3,000 people 18 and over, members and otherwise.
Professional Boxer Dead In BIA Officer Involved Shooting On Standing Rock Indian Reservation
Native News Online, Darren Thompson, March 20
On Sunday, March 14, a Standing Rock tribal citizen was shot and killed by Bureau of Indian Affairs police in McLaughlin, S.D. on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, according to a statement made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Law enforcement is providing little information about the shooting that occurred at the house of the victim’s mother. The FBI identified Ryan White Mountain-Soft, 30, of Rapid City, S.D. as the person killed by the officer-involved shooting. He was a professional boxer and MMA fighter who was considered by many as an up-and-coming contender.
Activists Fight Fossil-Fuel Pipeline
InvestigateWest, Braela Kwan, March 20
Citizens of Canada’s First Nations and their allies are mounting last-ditch challenges to two massive fossil fuel pipelines that already are under construction and have strong government backing. In campaigns reminiscent of the Standing Rock protests in the U.S. Great Plains, the anti-pipeline actions in Canada’s far West feature acts of civil disobedience including blockading roads and construction sites, and coordinated campaigns against banks and underwriters that are financing the pipelines. Dozens of protesters have been arrested. But they say they are determined to continue their resistance.
California Adopts First Statewide Ethnic Studies Curriculum
Associated Press, Jocelyn Gecker, March 18
As America reels from its latest spate of deadly hate crimes and racism, the California State Board of Education on Thursday approved the nation’s first statewide ethnic studies curriculum for high schools, saying the teaching of discrimination and oppression has never been more important.
Indigenous Activists Fight British Columbia’s Pipelines To The Last Mile
Crosscut, Braela Kwan, March 19
Indigenous opponents of the Trans Mountain pipeline comprise the vanguard of a network of eco-activists, local governments, economists and lawyers fighting new pipeline infrastructure under construction in British Columbia. Opponents decry how two new pipelines — the Trans Mountain expansion and a natural gas pipeline farther north, Coastal GasLink — will lock in decades of dangerous greenhouse gas emissions and, they say, compromise Indigenous land rights. The ongoing battle against the Trans Mountain expansion and Coastal GasLink is part of a broader protest movement that blocked nearly every proposal to ramp up exports of coal, oil and natural gas from the West Coast for a decade. Now British Columbia’s twin pipeline projects appear poised to punch two big holes in what activists called their Thin Green Line against fossil fuel exports from North America’s western coast.
Tribes To Get Record Funding From American Rescue Plan
Gaylord News, Joseph Tomlinson, March 19
Tribes in Oklahoma are both hopeful and anxious as they wait for the funds and spending rules from the American Rescue Plan that President Joe Biden signed last week. Native American tribes nationwide will receive more than $31 billion as part of the American Rescue Plan, the largest one-time investment to Native American communities in history. However, the amount of money set to be given to Oklahoma tribes on an individual basis is largely unknown and likely will be until further tribal consultation has occurred. Nonetheless, some tribes in Oklahoma hope the plan will pull them out of the fight against COVID-19 and return to normal.
Nevada Tribes To Receive More Than $10M For Housing
Nevada Current, Jennifer Solis, March 19
Seventeen Native and Tribal communities in Nevada will receive more than $10 million in federal funding to develop affordable housing within their communities, as a result of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The new funding will deliver immediate relief for hard-hit Native American families and support Tribal Nations as they develop, maintain, and operate affordable housing while working toward economic recovery. The relief bill includes more than $31.2 billion in dedicated funding for tribal governments and Native communities in the U.S., the largest one-time investment in history for Native programs.
Kiowa Elder Bonds With 10-Year-Old Actress On ‘News Of The World’ Movie Set
Gaylord News, Nancy Marie Spears, March 19
The first time WhiteHorse met Helena Zengel, she gave the child star a beaded cross. The second time, WhiteHorse gave her a little doll. Zengel was so touched by the gifts that she couldn’t put them down, WhiteHorse said. Along with a Kiowa linguist, WhiteHorse taught Zengel the language and customs of the Kiowa Tribe for the girl’s role in “News of the World,” which stars two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks. On Monday, “News of the World” received four Academy Award nominations for best original score, best cinematography, best production design and best sound. The movie was shut out in nominations for best picture, Hanks or Zengel.