Good morning, NUNAverse:
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. Despite progress in vaccinations, public health experts in the U.S. are taking every opportunity to warn that relaxing social distancing and other preventive measures could easily lead to another surge.
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.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs unanimously passed the Repealing Existing Substandard Provisions Encouraging Conciliation with Tribes (RESPECT) Act on Wednesday, which would repeal 11 outdated laws like allowing for the forced removal of Native children from their homes to be sent to boarding schools, subjecting Native people to forced labor, and more.
Navajo Department of Water Resources Director Jason John and Colorado River Indian Tribes Chairwoman Amelia Flores told the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs that the federal government can help address a crisis with water infrastructure on their lands through more funding, and less meddling. The two made comments during a hearing on water infrastructure for Native communities.
Keep reading for a full news update.
How A Native American Elder Told His Story To Encourage His Daughter To Get A COVID Shot
CNN, Sara Sidner, March 25
Raymond Lasley, an Osage elder, said the history of disease plaguing Native Americans is all the more reason to get vaccinated. As a tribal elder, 68-year-old Lasley was prioritized for the shot, ahead of even health care workers. The Osage, in common with other tribes like the nearby Cherokee, looked to protect the guardians of their history and culture first and then move to other parts of the community. While Native populations were hit extremely hard by the pandemic, tribal health providers have also been successful in getting vaccines delivered and administered. The disappointment now for the Osage is that they have the shots, but not enough arms willing to take them in their northern Oklahoma land.
Native American Agencies Partnering For Indianapolis COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic
Wish TV, Katiera Winfey, March 25
Native American organizations are finalizing plans to bring a COVID-19 vaccine clinic to Indianapolis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Native Americans are being impacted by the virus at disproportionate rates compared to the white population. Native American representatives said the impact of this pandemic is similar to other times in history. About a decade ago, H1N1 had terrible impacts on Native American communities, and even longer ago, so did the smallpox outbreak. The CDC recently released data from 14 states showing just how much Native American’s are being impacted. The Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi tribe is partnering with the American Indian Center of Indiana to try and counter COVID-19’s impact.
Navajo Nation Reports 9 New COVID-19 Cases And 8 More Deaths
Indian Country Today, March 25
The Navajo Nation on Thursday reported nine new COVID-19 cases and eight additional deaths. The latest numbers pushed the tribe’s numbers to 30,031 cases and 1,243 known deaths since the pandemic began. The Navajo Nation had a soft reopening last week with 25% capacity for some businesses under certain restrictions. Still, mask mandates and daily curfews remain on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
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.
Bill Repealing Old Laws Against Native Americans Passes In Committee
KEVN, March 25
The U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee unanimously passed a bill that would repeal old discriminatory laws against Native Americans on Wednesday. The Repealing Existing Substandard Provisions Encouraging Conciliation with Tribes (RESPECT) Act repeals 11 outdated laws such as allowing for the forced removal of Native American children from their homes to be sent to boarding schools and laws subjecting Native Americans to forced labor.
Sen. Rounds sponsored with original cosponsor Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN), both members of the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee.
Arizona Tribes Get $88 Million More For Housing In COVID-relief Bill
Cronkite News, Molly Hudson, March 25
Tribes in Arizona will get another $88 million in housing grants – the most of any state – from the $450 million in tribal housing assistance released Thursday by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The national funding, which was included in the American Rescue Plan, will come in addition to the $651 million that tribes across the country were already scheduled to get in fiscal 2021 under the annual Indian Housing Block Grant. Arizona tribes’ share of the grant rose from the original $128 million to $216 million with the extra funds from the pandemic-relief law.
Native Americans Urge Deb Haaland To Help Tackle Pollution In Communities Of Color
The Hill, Frankie Orona, March 25
As Native peoples and stewards of Mother Earth, we celebrate the recent confirmation of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland as the first Native person to lead a cabinet agency. For the first time in U.S. history, a Native leader will oversee the Interior Department’s responsibility for the well-being of the nation’s 1.9 million Native people, along with about 500 million acres of public land, federal waters and the endangered species who share our home. This historic moment comes at an especially difficult time, however, as our communities continue experiencing some of the worst impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. And in the face of disproportionate and devastating harm, we are choosing to help our communities coexist and share life in a healthy environment.
Tribal Leaders Ask For More Funding, Less Meddling For Water Projects
Cronkite News, Sarah Oven, March 24
Arizona tribal officials told a Senate committee Wednesday that the federal government can help address a crisis with water infrastructure on their lands through more funding, and less meddling. Navajo Department of Water Resources Director Jason John and Colorado River Indian Tribes Chairwoman Amelia Flores made the comments during a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on water infrastructure for Native communities. Leaders of Oregon and Alaska tribes also testified at the hearing.
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.