Good morning, NUNAverse:
AstraZeneca released a new data analysis yesterday following an independent monitoring board’s questionsabout the company’s release on Monday. The latest analysis finds the vaccine to be 76% effective against symptomatic COVID-19 and 100% effective against severe or critical disease and hospitalization. These results are very close to the results that came out at the beginning of the week, and include 49 more cases of COVID-19 than the Monday analysis, which drew down the efficacy rates of the vaccine by 3%.
South Dakota’s House and Senate recently passed a bill that will establish a liaison in the Attorney General’s Office dedicated to pursuing cases of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons. The bill was introduced by two-term Democratic Representative Peri Pourier (Oglala Lakota), who said the Office of Liaison for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons will collaborate with federal, state, and tribal officials to investigate MMIP cases that have gone cold or fallen through the cracks because of a lack of jurisdictional consistency. The role will also provide guidance and training within local communities for locating missing and murdered Indigenous persons.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Tuesday heard arguments over Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 replacement project in northern Minnesota, which opponents are calling unnecessary due to an eventual decline in the demand for oil. The Minnesota Department of Commerce, along with the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, and several Indigenous and environmental groups argued before the three-judge panel that Enbridge failed to show long-term need for the Line 3 project.
In a new report published yesterday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said that the number of American bald eagles has quadrupled since 2009, with more than 300,000 birds in the lower 48 states. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, in her first public appearance since being sworn in last week, hailed the eagle’s recovery and noted that the majestic, white-headed bird has always been considered sacred to tribes and the United States generally. “The strong return of this treasured bird reminds us of our nation’s shared resilience and the importance of being responsible stewards of our lands and waters that bind us together,″ said Haaland.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Brighter Outlook For US As Vaccinations Rise And Deaths Fall
AP News, Julie Watson, Carla K. Johnson, March 25
More than three months into the U.S. vaccination drive, many of the numbers paint an increasingly encouraging picture, with 70% of Americans 65 and older receiving at least one dose of the vaccine and COVID-19 deaths dipping below 1,000 a day on average for the first time since November.
Latest AstraZeneca Report Supports Effectiveness Of COVID Vaccine
NPR, Scott Hensley, Vanessa Romo, March 24
AstraZeneca’s latest data analysis affirms effectiveness of its COVID-19 vaccine and is roughly in line with the results released Monday.
Chickasaw Nation’s Covid-19 Response Helped Lower Infection Rates, Tribal Expert Tells Congress
The Oklahoman, Chris Casteel, March 24
The head of the Chickasaw Nation’s health system told a congressional subcommittee on Tuesday about the tribe’s wide-ranging efforts to battle COVID-19 in the past year as the disease took a disproportionate toll on Native Americans around the country. The Ada-based tribe implemented screening, testing and contract tracing programs, expanded its hospital and medical laboratory space and even built cottages to isolate patients, Dr. Charles Grim told the House Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States.
Tribes Welcome Covid-19 Relief Funds, Say Deep-Rooted Problems Remain
Cronkite News, Molly Hudson, March 23
Advocates said the billions in aid slated for Native Americans under the latest COVID-19 relief bill is welcome, but they told a House committee Tuesday that a one-shot infusion will not solve all the challenges facing tribes. “While the American Rescue Plan provides much-needed support to Indian Country’s ongoing requests, the pandemic is far from over and there is much work still left to be done,” said William Smith, the National Indian Health Board chairperson. That includes not just health care, they said, but the whole range of infrastructure shortfalls, from health facilities to lack of broadband access to overcrowded housing, that have combined to contribute to the devastating effects of COVID-19 on Indigenous people.
All Charges Dropped Against Mt. Rushmore Protesters Except NDN Collective’s Nick Tilsen Who Must Fulfill Diversion Program
Native News Online, Darren Thompson, March 24
According to a statement made by NDN Collective on March 22, 2021, the Pennington County State’s Attorney’s office proposed a dismissal of all criminal charges against individuals charged for an organized protest outside the Mount Rushmore National Memorial last July 3, 2020. The demonstration was organized largely by NDN Collective, an Indigenous advocacy organization based in Rapid City, South Dakota, during a visit to the Black Hills by former President Trump, who defied coronavirus precautions by calling for large gatherings despite rising numbers of cases in South Dakota. The demonstration led to the arrests of twenty adults and one juvenile by the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office. Most were charged with misdemeanors. One of the 21 arrested was a counter-protestor from Buckeye, Arizona.
US Report: Bald Eagle Populations Soar In Lower 48 States
AP News, Matthew Daly, March 25
The number of American bald eagles has quadrupled since 2009, with more than 300,000 birds soaring over the lower 48 states, government scientists said in a report Wednesday.
HUD Announces Historic $450 Million Investment To Provide COVID-19 Relief From American Rescue Plan Funding
Native News Online, March 24
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia L. Fudge on Thursday announced $450 million in Indian Housing Block Grants (IHBG) to Indian tribes across the country to respond to COVID-19. This funding will be used to help Tribes carry out affordable housing activities to protect the safety and health of their Tribal members and communities.
South Dakota To Create Liaison To Solve Cases Of Missing And Murdered Indigenous People
Native News Online, Jenna Kunze, March 24
South Dakota’s House and Senate passed a bill this month that will establish a liaison in the Attorney General’s Office dedicated to pursuing cases of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP). The bill was introduced on Feb. 1 by two-term Democratic Rep. Peri Pourier (Oglala Lakota) and has since passed through the House and unanimously on the Senate floor. Pourier said she saw the legislation as a building block off a momentum of prior legislation aimed at addressing a crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women.
Lakota Activist: Mount Rushmore Key In Move To Regain Land
AP News, Stephen Groves, March 24
When then-President Donald Trump visited Mount Rushmore last year for a fireworks display, Lakota activist Nick Tilsen saw an opportunity to further a goal of returning to Native American tribes control of land they once held. It would land him in jail, facing felony charges after he organized a demonstration to block a road leading to the monument, but it also made Mount Rushmore a focal point for that effort, known as the Land Back Movement. Now Tilsen, who heads a Rapid City, South Dakota-based Indigenous advocacy organization called NDN Collective, has a plan to make dramatic changes at Mount Rushmore by turning it over to tribal control. But that plan puts him in direct conflict with top Republicans in the state like Gov. Kristi Noem, who say it should be preserved as a celebration of America, complete with an annual Independence Day fireworks display.
Need For Disputed Pipeline Argued In Minnesota Appeals Court
AP News, Mohamed Ibrahim, March 24
The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Tuesday heard arguments over Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 replacement project in northern Minnesota, which opponents are calling unnecessary due to an eventual decline in the demand for oil. The Minnesota Department of Commerce, along with the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, and several Indigenous and environmental groups, argued before the three-judge panel that Enbridge failed to show long-term need for the Line 3 project.
People Downwind Of Atomic Blasts Renew Push For US Payout
AP News, Susan Montoya Bryan, March 24
Nevada and Arizona lawmakers are making a renewed push for compensation from the U.S. government following uranium mining and nuclear testing carried out during the Cold War. Lawmakers from several Western states, advocacy groups and residents have been urging Congress to expand a payout program for years, and advocates say the latest push takes on added weight because the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act is set to expire next year. Wednesday’s hearing was the first on the issue since 2018, advocates said. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez testified about the environmental and health effects of decades of uranium mining on tribal land. He said more than 30 million tons of ore were extracted from Navajo lands to support U.S. nuclear activities, with many Navajos working in the mines without knowledge of the dangers.
One Generation Away: Diné College Fights To Keep Navajo Culture Alive During Pandemic
Cronkite News, Joseph Perez, March 23
Diné College wasn’t Harley Interpreter’s first choice for higher education. During summers in high school, at the urging of her elders, she would travel off the Navajo Nation reservation to see what colleges elsewhere had to offer. But the convenience of Diné College — the first accredited college to be tribally controlled — and its proximity to Interpreter’s home near Tsaile was too good to pass up. As a young Navajo woman, she found the traditional knowledge and language the college offered was invaluable. She helps care for her grandparents who speak Navajo better than English. Earning her degree from Diné College would mean a closer relationship with them and an opportunity to keep their wisdom, language and culture alive. It also put her on the front lines of her tribe’s battle against COVID-19, which has already claimed more than 1,200 Diné lives.
US Report: Bald Eagle Populations Soar In Lower 48 States
AP News, Matthew Daly, March 24
The number of American bald eagles has quadrupled since 2009, with more than 300,000 birds soaring over the lower 48 states, government scientists said in a report Wednesday. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said bald eagles, the national symbol that once teetered on the brink of extinction, have flourished in recent years, growing to more than 71,400 nesting pairs and an estimated 316,700 individual birds. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, in her first public appearance since being sworn in last week, hailed the eagle’s recovery and noted that the majestic, white-headed bird has always been considered sacred to Native American tribes and the United States generally.