Good morning, NUNAverse:
Federal health researches at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published a new study today that found the COVID-19 vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech are proving highly effective at preventing symptomatic and asymptomatic infections under real-world conditions. Consistent with clinical trial data, a two-dose regimen prevented 90 percent of infections by two weeks after the second shot. One dose prevented 80 percent of infections by two weeks after vaccination. While there has been some debate over whether vaccinated people can still get asymptomatic infections and transmit the virus to others, the CDC study suggested that transmission is extremely unlikely.
The New York Times published an article covering the current vaccine eligibility in states across the country, noting that at least 34 states have pledged to make vaccines universally available to their adult populations by mid-April, and at least 14 more have announced plans to expand eligibility on or before May 1, a goal set by President Biden. Alaska, Mississippi, Utah, and West Virginia have already made all adults eligible to receive shots, and some local jurisdictions have also begun vaccinating all adults.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs signed off on a revenue-sharing agreement between the Catawba Indian Nation and the state of North Carolina that clears the way for a casino near the state’s southern border last week, the Catawba Nation said in a news release Thursday. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper inked the deal with the tribe in January, paving the way for Las Vegas-style gaming at Kings Mountain, about a half hour west of Charlotte. The Catawba Nation has said the planned $273 million resort would bring thousands of jobs to North Carolina.
Lawmakers in Nevada have introduced legislation that would create a college tuition waiver for Native students in the state. The bill would prohibit the Board of Regents from charging tuition for members of a federally recognized tribe or certified by a tribe as being of at least one-quarter Native descent. Several other states, including Massachusetts, Michigan, and Montana, have enacted policies to provide tuition waivers for Native people who reside in their states prior to enrolling in school, or are a member of a tribe from that state.
Last Friday, the National Congress of American Indians officially transferred ownership interests in Indian Country Today, LLC to Indij Public Media. The news enterprise was donated to NCAI by the Oneida Indian Nation in October 2017. Indian Country Today operated as an independent limited liability company owned by NCAI and will now operate as an independent company owned by IndiJ Public Media, an Arizona nonprofit corporation.
Keep reading for a full news update.
The Moderna And Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccines Are Very Effective In Real-World Conditions At Preventing Infections, The C.D.C. Reported
New York Times, Gina Kolata, March 29
The coronavirus vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech are proving highly effective at preventing symptomatic and asymptomatic infections under real-world conditions, federal health researchers reported on Monday.
Mass Vaccine Site Opens In Indianapolis For Native Americans
Wish TV, March 27
A mass vaccination site for Native Americans and other native groups living in Indiana opened on Saturday. The Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi ran the clinic. According to officials, more than 70 people showed up to get their vaccine. The Pokagon Band also says that Native American residents from other states showed up. In addition to giving out shots, educating members was also important to community leaders. To date, Pokagon Health Services has vaccinated 3,000 people.
Saturday Navajo Nation Covid-19 Update: 12 New Cases; Death Toll Reaches 1,246
Native News Online, March 27
The Navajo Department of Health reported 12 new Covid-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and one more death. The total number of deaths is now 1,246 as of Saturday. Reports indicate that 16,342 individuals have recovered from Covid-19, and 253,123 Covid-19 tests have been administered. The total number of positive Covid-19 cases is now 30,052.
At Least 34 States Are Giving All Adults Vaccine Access By Mid-April, And More Aim To By Biden’s May Goal
New York Times, Remy Tumin, Eileen Sullivan, Sharon LaFraniere, March 26
States are racing to vaccinate as many people as possible as the United States’ coronavirus infection curve continues its plateau for a third week at more than 55,000 new cases per day, a level that health experts warn could rapidly escalate into a new wave.
Who Gets Cherokee Citizenship Has Long Been A Struggle Between The Tribe And The U.S. Government
Native News Online, Aaron Kushner, March 26
A recent decision by the Cherokee Nation’s Supreme Court struck down a law that freedmen – descendants of people enslaved by Cherokees in the 18th and 19th centuries – cannot hold elective tribal office. The ruling is the latest development in a long-standing dispute about the tribal rights available to Black people once held in bondage by Native Americans. National media reported this news as a victory against racism in the tribe. “Cherokee Nation Addresses Bias Against Descendants of Enslaved People,” reads a representative headline from The New York Times. But as a scholar of Cherokee law and history, I argue this development can be seen another way: as only the latest chapter in a long struggle between the Cherokee Nation and the federal government over which has the power to determine who should be considered a tribal citizen, and which culture’s values should be most important in that determination.
Legislation Would Waive Tuition For Native American Students
Nevada Current, Jennifer Solis, March 26
Lawmakers have introduced legislation that would create a college tuition waiver for Native American students in Nevada. The proposal — shepherded by Democratic Assemblywoman Natha Anderson, D-Washoe — had its first hearing Thursday in the Assembly Committee on Education. The bill would prohibit the Board of Regents from charging tuition for members of a federally recognized tribe or certified by a tribe as being of at least one-quarter Native American descent. Several other states, including Massachusetts, Michigan, and Montana, have enacted policies to provide tuition waivers for Native Americans who reside in their states prior to enrolling in school, or are a member of a tribe from that state.
Justice Dept. Adds Additional Charge Against Former Mashpee Wampanoag Chairman
Native News Online, Darren Thompson, March 25
On Monday, March 22, a federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment against former Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell. Native News Online reported that Cromwell was arrested on Nov. 13 after an indictment by a federal grand jury for two counts of accepting or paying bribes. The U.S. Attorney’s Office charged Cromwell and David DeQuarttro of Warwick, R.I., owner of an architecture firm used by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe for a casino project, on two counts of accepting or paying bribes as an agent (or to an agent) of an Indian tribal government and one count of conspiring to commit bribery. Cromwell was also indicted on four counts of extortion under color of official right and one count of conspiring to commit extortion.
Feds OK Casino Revenue Agreement Between NC, Catawba Tribe
AP News, Michelle Liu, March 25
The federal government has approved a revenue-sharing agreement between the Catawba Indian Nation and the state of North Carolina that clears the way for a casino near the state’s southern border. The Bureau of Indian Affairs signed off on the compact last week, the Catawba tribe said in a news release Thursday. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper inked the deal with the Rock Hill, South Carolina-based tribe in January, paving the way for Las Vegas-style gaming at Kings Mountain, about a half hour west of Charlotte. The Catawba tribe has said the planned $273 million resort would bring thousands of jobs to North Carolina.
Ancient Forest On Ancestral Land Poses Biden’s Biggest Test Yet On Indigenous Rights, Climate Change And The Environment
Native News Online, Rick Bass, March 27
One might not think of northwest Montana as the heart of the hostile climate policy inherited from the Trump administration. Keystone-XL and Standing Rock are well-known in the climate struggle’s pantheon, thanks to Indigenous people forming the frontlines in those struggles. But an unseen world, similarly vital, exists to the west, in the shadows of an ancient inland rainforest in the Yaak Valley of northwest Montana’s Kootenai National Forest (KNF). Once again, the Indigenous community is stepping-up to defend that, which if lost, will impact us all.
Native Americans Underserved, ‘Erased’ In Fresno County Health Data, Investigation Finds
Fresno Bee, Ariane Lange, March 27
Nooshin Moalemi, a doctor at Central Valley Indian Health in Clovis, works almost exclusively with Native American residents of Fresno County. She knows that the pregnant Native women she sees are two to three times more likely than white women to die of pregnancy-related causes. And she knows that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, their babies die before their first birthday at almost twice the rate of white babies. Native American families in the county suffer a twofold health crisis: Policies leave them at greater risk for medical complications and death; and public institutions essentially make them disappear. While Native families are known to have significant health problems during pregnancy, birth and toddlerhood, officials consider the 37,000 Native people living in Fresno County to be too small a population to collect solid data on.
Indian Country Today, NCAI Split
Indian Country Today, March 26
Indian Country Today has a new owner. The National Congress of American Indians transferred ownership interests in Indian Country Today, LLC to IndiJ Public Media on March 26, 2021. The news enterprise was donated to NCAI by the Oneida Indian Nation in October 2017. Indian Country Today operated as an independent limited liability company owned by NCAI and will now operate as an independent company owned by IndiJ Public Media, an Arizona nonprofit corporation.
Portugal. The Man: Land Back Means ‘Pass The Mic’
Indian Country Today, Meghan Sullivan, March 26
It started with a simple idea: honor the Indigenous people whose land they were performing on. Soon, alternative rock band Portugal the Man was incorporating a land acknowledgement into every one of their concerts — their original idea reaching thousands, and growing in impact each time. Then in 2018, band member Zach Carothers made a spur of the moment decision to dedicate the acceptance speech for their first Grammy award to Alaska Native communities. The response from fans around the world and Alaskan locals alike was overwhelmingly positive. From that moment, it became clear to the band that they had a platform they could utilize. Their Indigenous advocacy changed from casual partnerships, to a more formalized effort.
Group Steps Up To Get Supplies To Navajo Veterans During Pandemic
Cronkite News, Claire Spinner, March 26
It started with chain saws and a will to serve. When COVID-19 first struck the United States, the Navajo Nation was hit hard. Within months, infection rates across the reservation were the highest in the country, and death rates skyrocketed. Among those affected: about 5,000 United States veterans who live on the reservation, which covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Last March, when Tom Eisiminger and Bob Dalpe heard of the struggles facing Navajo veterans amid the pandemic, they felt it was their duty to help. Only later would their effort come to have an official name: Native American Sustainability for Veterans and Those in Uniform.
Watchdog Says Haskell President Silencing Faculty
AP News, March 26
The president at Haskell Indian Nations University has been accused by an academic watchdog group of restricting the free speech rights of the faculty, the latest First Amendment dustup to engulf the Kansas college. Haskell’s president, Ronald Graham, sent “non-negotiable” directives outlined in a March 11 memorandum after experiencing what he termed “detractors” to his decisions addressing issues at the university. In it, Graham forbade all employees from expressing derogatory opinions about the administration and others, contending that such expression is “inappropriate” and not protected by academic freedom.
Efforts To Reinstall Toppled Columbus Statue Gains Momentum, Opposed By Tribal Leaders
Native News Online, Darren Thompson, March 25
On Wednesday, March 17, 2021, the Minnesota Senate State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee voted to advance a bill to repair and return the statue of Christopher Columbus to the Minnesota State Capitol Grounds. The toppling of the statue led to damage of more than $154,000, according to a 13,000-page report by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The bill, in part, reads “the statue was illegally removed from its place on the Capitol grounds in the summer of 2020.” “Rioters do not dictate the policies of our state, nor do their opinions and beliefs represent the views of every Minnesotan,” said Minnesota State Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen to Alpha News MN earlier this month.
Mohave County, Navajo Officials Push To Broaden ‘Downwinder’ Coverage
Cronkite News, Haleigh Kochanski, March 25
Federal law has long compensated residents who lived downwind from open-air nuclear test sites in the 1950s and 1960s, including many in northern Arizona – but not residents in most of Mohave County. County Supervisor Jean Bishop told a House committee Wednesday that this is “a perfect time to amend the boundaries” of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to include “downwinders” like herself. Federal law has long compensated residents who lived downwind from open-air nuclear test sites in the 1950s and 1960s, including many in northern Arizona – but not residents in most of Mohave County. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez told lawmakers Wednesday at the hearing that “cancer is now the second-leading cause of disease and death for the Navajo people.” He said Navajo uranium mine and mill workers, ore transporters, and core drillers became ill and died from diseases associated with their work – specifically cancer.
This App Will Show You What Indigenous Land You’re On
CNN, Leah Asmelash, March 22
As the US grapples with history and becomes increasingly racially and culturally aware, more people are acknowledging the keepers of the land now known as North America: Native Americans. And now, there are apps that will easily tell you whose land you’re on. One of the most popular ones is run by Native Land Digital, a Canadian non-profit. The organization has a website and app where users can enter an address and see which Indigenous nations lived on that land. Though the map doesn’t represent the official or legal boundaries of the nations, it’s an interesting look into the history of the land the users may call home. And the map links out to multiple websites about Indigenous tribes and nations, their languages, or any relevant treaties — essentially providing users with an education about their homes.