Good morning/afternoon, NUNAverse:
The Indian Health Service announced yesterday that it is shifting its vaccine distribution system to target individual hospitals and clinics with high demand for shots and taper supplies to hubs where most eligible patients have received doses. Additionally, most Indian Health Service facilities are beginning to offer vaccines to the general population after successfully immunizing vulnerable tribal members.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill into law yesterday that makes August 14 a state holiday honoring Native people who used their language to transmit coded messages during World War II. While hundreds of Navajos were recruited as code talkers, about a dozen Hopis and members of other tribes also covertly sent wartime messages. The Navajo Nation already celebrates August 14 as a tribal holiday, marking the date Japan announced it would surrender to the Allied forces.
For the first time since 1862, the site of the first clashes of what became known as the Dakota War is back in Native care after the state of Minnesota returned it to the Lower Sioux Indian Community. Talks to repatriate the historic 120-acre site along the Minnesota River began back in 2004 after getting legislative approval in 2017 the Minnesota Historical Society turned over the property to the Lower Sioux Indian Community last month.
The Montana House narrowly advanced a bill yesterday that seeks to make it easier for Native people to vote, even as Republican lawmakers are pushing election restrictions. The bill aims to reduce travel time for tribal members to access voting services by requiring at least one satellite elections office to be available on each reservation in the state – with the same services as county elections offices – at least 30 days before election day. The measure was advanced with a preliminary vote in a 53-47 split, with several Republicans joining Democrats in voting in favor of the measure. The House is expected to vote on the bill for a third and final time this week.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Native American Health Clinics Offering Vaccine To Visitors
AP News, Morgan Lee, March 29
The Indian Health Service announced Monday that it is shifting its vaccine distribution system to target individual hospitals and clinics with high demand for shots and taper supplies to hubs where most eligible patients have received doses. Dr. Matthew Clark, a safety and monitoring specialist with the agency’s vaccine task force, says that the new distribution model “is intended to improve efficiency by allowing locations with high demand and sufficient capacity to receive additional doses, and facilities where the majority of eligible individuals have already been vaccinated to receive only the doses they need.” Additionally, most Indian Health Service facilities are beginning to offer vaccines to the general population after successfully immunizing vulnerable tribal members. It’s a push toward so-called herd immunity that still depends on development of a vaccine for children.
Navajo Nation: No COVID-19 Deaths For 2nd Consecutive Day
AP News, March 29
The Navajo Nation on Monday reported five new COVID-19 cases, but no additional deaths for the second consecutive day and fifth time in the last nine days. Tribal health officials said the latest figures bring the total number of cases since the pandemic started to 30,064. The number of deaths remains 1,246. Navajo President Jonathan Nez said in a statement that people cannot let pandemic fatigue undo the progress already made with vaccinations and mitigation measures. The Navajo Nation last week revised a “safer at home” order, making the daily curfew hours 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Businesses can remain open until 9 p.m. daily.
Oregon’s Native American Tribes, Often Hard-hit By COVID-19, Make Concerted Vaccination Push
Oregon Public Broadcasting, March 29
While the U.S. overall is finding its stride with COVID-19 vaccine distribution, some tribes — including in Oregon — are ahead of the game. As of early March, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians had inoculated one fourth of enrolled members and the Chinook Wind Casino had reopened, firing up one of the tribe’s biggest economic engines. The Oregon Health Authority said that as of March 9, 14,077 people identifying as American Indian or Alaska Native have been vaccinated against COVID-19, 2% of the 750,486 people vaccinated so far. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1.8% of Oregon’s 4 million residents identify as American Indian or Alaska Native.
Nevada To Open Vaccination To Everyone Over 16
American Press, March 29
Health officials for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the federal Indian Health Service plan to provide 4,000 coronavirus vaccinations to Native Americans and members of their households during a two-day clinic in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Officials said Wednesday that any member of a federally recognized tribe as well as members of their households, whether tribal members are not, are eligible for an appointment to receive the vaccine. About 21,000 of the Creek nation’s estimated 65,000 Oklahoma citizens have received at least one vaccine dose and the clinic is an effort to reach out to a larger population of Native Americans.
All Pueblo Council of Governors Backs Georgene Louis to Fill Congressional Seat Vacated by Deb Haaland
Native News Online, March 29
Days before the Democratic Party chooses its nominee to fill the 1st congressional district seat vacated by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the All Pueblo Council of Governors (APCG) endorsed Acoma Pueblo citizen Georgene Louis for the nomination. Louis is serving her fifth term as a state representative in the New Mexico state legislature. Seven other Democrats are seeking the nomination to run in a special election to fill the congressional seat on June 1. The State Central Committee’s 170 members, with 20 other elected officials, will meet on Tuesday to interview the eight candidates and will cast their votes.
Pueblo Woman Running For New Mexico Special Election
Indian Country Today, Aliyah Chavez, March 29
The race to fill Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s previous seat in Congress is a crowded one — and it’s gaining national attention from tribal leaders, even celebrities. Every major party in New Mexico is tasked with choosing one person to represent them in a June 1 special election, according to rules set by the state’s secretary. State lawmaker and attorney Georgene Louis, Acoma Pueblo, is running as a Democrat for the position. If selected on Tuesday by the state’s Democratic Party, she will be on the ballot in June and will ultimately pave the way for one pueblo woman to succeed another in Congress.
Historic Dakota Land Returns To Tribe
Indian Country Today, Stewart Huntington, March 29
For the first time since 1862, the site of the first clashes of what became known as the Dakota War is back in Native care after the state of Minnesota last month returned it to the Lower Sioux Indian Community. It’s a move tribal citizens call a small but important step in a long, difficult and complicated road toward healing. Talks to repatriate the historic 120-acre site along the Minnesota River began back in 2004 and last month, after getting legislative approval in 2017, the Minnesota Historical Society turned over the property to the Lower Sioux Indian Community. The tribe held a small ceremony on Feb. 12 to mark the handover and a larger celebration is planned after the COVID-19 threat subsides.
Montana House Advances Bill To Aid Native American Voting
AP News, Iris Samuels, March 29
The Montana House narrowly advanced a bill Monday that seeks to make it easier for Native Americans to vote, even as Republican lawmakers are pushing election restrictions. The bill aims to reduce travel time for tribal members to access voting services by requiring at least one satellite elections office to be available on each reservation in the state – with the same services as county elections offices – at least 30 days before election day. The measure was advanced with a preliminary vote in a 53-47 split, with several Republicans joining Democrats in voting in favor of the measure. The House is expected to vote on the bill for a third and final time this week.
Two KXL Protesters In South Dakota Face Criminal Charges
AP News, March 27
A pair of people protesting the Keystone XL pipeline are facing criminal charges in South Dakota. Construction on the long-disputed oil pipeline planned by Canada-based TC Energy halted in January as President Joe Biden revoked its permit on his first day in office, but a small group of protesters plan to maintain an encampment on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation nearby the pipeline route until all pipeline infrastructure is removed. Two of the protesters, Oscar High Elk and Jasilyn Charger, face criminal charges from confrontations with law enforcement, TC Energy workers and local residents. Charger faces a misdemeanor charge for allegedly trespassing on property and attaching herself to a pump station last year.
High Elk, who had a preliminary hearing this week, faces an aggravated assault felony charge and 11 misdemeanors for several incidents last year.
Arizona Declares State Holiday To Honor Native Code Talkers
AP News, March 29
Arizona has a new state holiday. Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill Monday to honor Native Americans who used their language to transmit coded messages during World War II.
Arizona has recognized code talkers by proclamation and through legislation for years. The bill sponsored by state Sen. Jamescita Peshlakai makes Aug. 14 a state holiday. It will be observed on a Sunday when state offices already are closed. While hundreds of Navajos were recruited as code talkers, about a dozen Hopis and members of other tribes also covertly sent wartime messages.
Historical Report Released As Part Of Reparations Effort
AP News, Philip Marcelo, March 29
Providence released a lengthy historical report on racism on Monday as part of the Rhode Island capital city’s efforts to provide reparations to Black and Native American residents. The 194-page “ A Matter of Truth ” report details more than four centuries of cultural, political, and economic harm against people of color by the city, the state and their institutions, from the 1600s to present. Democratic Mayor Jorge Elorza said the city will next hire a consultant to help facilitate community discussion and gather feedback as it weighs what its reparations program should look like.
Tribal Broadband As A Cyber Superhighway To Sovereignty
Native News Online, Valerie Vande Panne, March 28
The digital divide is great in the United States, often separating the rural from the urban, the rich from the poor. Indian Country is no different, with just 60 percent of residents living on tribal lands in the lower 48 states having access to broadband internet at the end of 2018. That was tough enough pre-pandemic. Today, not having in-home access to the internet can mean long drives to places like McDonald’s for internet service, just so children can do homework assignments. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) decided to examine the issue of tribal internet access, and made their findings accessible in their new case studies report “Building Indigenous Future Zones.” The report points to some solutions Native nations might want to look for, including accessing unrestricted capital and viewing the creation of their own internet service provider as a job creator.