Good morning/afternoon, NUNAverse:
Pfizer announced today that new clinical trials of their COVID-19 vaccine show “100% efficacy and robust antibody responses” in adolescents from 12-15 years old. Pfizer and its vaccine partner BioNTech say they will submit the results “as soon as possible” to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency, asking regulators to expand their authorizations for the vaccine’s use in young people.
The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe has taken down the COVID-19 checkpoints on its South Dakota reservation that were a point of contention between the tribe and Republican Governor Kristi Noem and the Trump administration. Cheyenne River spokesman Remi Bald Eagle said the tribal council made the decision to remove the nine checkpoints because of declining infection rates and the arrival of vaccines on the reservation.
The first case of the COVID-19 U.K. variant, known as the Covid-19, SARS-CoV-2 Strain Variant B.1.1.7, was confirmed on the Navajo Nation yesterday. According to the Navajo Department of Health, the individual who tested positive for the variant received a COVID-19 vaccine in February and was initially hospitalized. They are currently recovering at home.
About 90 tribal residents on Warm Springs Indian Reservation in northern Oregon were without clean water for several weeks after an electrical failure in its pump system put a section of the tribe on a boil water notice. Some sections of the 1,000-square-mile reservation — the largest in the state — have been on a boil water notice on and off since last January, and pipes have been failing since 2017, according to tribal Emergency Manager Dan Martinez. To replace the water system, Martinez said the appraised estimate is between $40 million to $200 million, depending on what needs to be replaced to bring the system up to standards. In the last three years, he has counted about 12 breaks that have impacted tribal residents.
Keep reading for a full news update.
DC Tenure A Gentle Snow, ‘Fierce Blizzard’
Indian Country Today, March 30
From Operation Lady Justice to Twitter attacks, Tara Sweeney reflects on her time as assistant secretary of Indian affairs during the Trump administration. When Sweeney stepped into the position in 2018, she was prepared to take on such challenges. Some would be familiar to Indian Country, like broadband inconsistencies and land disputes. Others would turn out to be unique to the past two years, including a global pandemic that disproportionately affected Native communities, and an increasingly polarized political landscape.
New California Native American Legislative Caucus Announced By Rendon & Ramos
Yuba Net, Anthony Rendon, March 30
California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) and Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland) today announced formation of the California Native American Legislative Caucus. Ramos will lead the new group. “I feel a solemn obligation as the first California Native American legislator in the state’s 170-year history to advocate for California’s first people and to be that voice that has been absent in the many policy discussions that have shaped the state,” Ramos said.
Pfizer Says COVID-19 Vaccine Shows ‘100% Efficacy’ In Adolescents
NPR, Bill Chappell, March 31
New clinical trials showed that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine elicits “100% efficacy and robust antibody responses” in adolescents from 12-15 years old, the drug company announced Wednesday. The trial included 2,260 trial participants; the results are even better than earlier responses from participants ages 16-25.
First Case Of COVID-19 U.K. Variant Confirmed On The Navajo Nation
Native News Online, March 30
The Navajo Nation on Tuesday announced the first case of the COVID-19 U.K. variant, known as the COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 Strain Variant B.1.1.7, was confirmed on the country’s largest Indian reservation. The U.K. variant was first spotted in the United Kingdom in Sept. 2020 and now has made its way to all 50 states in the United States. According to the Navajo Department of Health the individual who tested positive for the U.K. variant received the COVID-19 vaccine in February was initially hospitalized but is now recovering at home.
Approaching Policy With Equity In Mind
The White House, Kalisha Dessources Figures, March 30
The converging crises our nation faces today have exposed and exacerbated inequities that have long been with us. As we work to overcome those crises and build back better, we have an opportunity before us to pursue bold and necessary change to advance equity and opportunity for all. That change must be driven by policies that weave together racial justice, gender equity, and other dimensions of equity to ensure that they lift up every single community and leave no one behind. Together, the White House Gender Policy Council and the Domestic Policy Council work every day to implement the comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all that President Biden and Vice President Harris have prioritized since day one.
Tribe Removes Disputed Coronavirus Reservation Checkpoints
AP News, March 30
The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe has taken down the coronavirus checkpoints on its South Dakota reservation that were a point of contention between the tribe and Republican Gov. Kristi Noem and the Trump administration. Cheyenne River spokesman Remi Bald Eagle said the tribal council made the decision to remove the nine checkpoints because of declining infection rates and the arrival of coronavirus vaccines on the reservation. Bald Eagle said the approximately 175 workers who staffed the checkpoints around the clock, seven days a week will be offered jobs helping with vaccination sites, contact tracing and quarantine support.
Oregon’s Largest Reservation Has Faced A Water Crisis Amid COVID-19 And Record Wildfires
Native News Online, Jenna Kunz, March 30
As the globe recognized World Water Day last week, about 90 tribal residents on Warm Springs Indian Reservation in northern Oregon were without clean water for several weeks after an electrical failure in its pump system put a section of the tribe on a boil water notice. Some sections of the 1,000-square-mile reservation — the largest in the state — have been on a boil water notice on and off since last January, but pipes have been failing since 2017, according to tribal Emergency Manager Dan Martinez.
Three Affiliated Tribes Continues To Distribute Care Packages To Community
Native News Online, Darren Thompson, March 30
In an effort to prevent additional spread of COVID-19, the Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara — Three Affiliated Tribes — distributed their fifth care package to tribal members on Monday in preparation for Easter weekend. The MHA organized, packaged and distributed 700 dinner packages for the community and 250 elder packages. Since the start of the pandemic, the MHA Nation has distributed five elder care packages to their elders.
Newhouse Renews Plea For Special Federal Office In Yakima To Focus On Missing, Murdered Indigenous Women
The Seattle Times, Tammy Ayer, March 30
U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse of Sunnyside has renewed his plea for a federal cold-case task force office in Central Washington focused on missing and murdered Indigenous women. Newhouse, a Republican, sent a letter Dec. 8, 2020, to then-Attorney General William Barr and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt requesting that a cold-case task force office for missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives be established in Yakima. Newhouse recently sent another letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Interior Department Secretary Deb Haaland asking for their continued support in addressing the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, according to a news release last week. Native women have faced disproportionate rates of murder and violence for decades.
Years Later, Chickasaw Remains Returning To Mississippi Home
AP News, Leah Willingham, March 30
A man and a woman were found buried among wolf teeth and turtle shells. Other graves contained mothers and infants. Some tribal members were laid to rest with beloved dogs. Over the last century, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History has stored the remains of hundreds of Native Americans who once inhabited the state. Most of the remains were found in the Mississippi Delta and range from 750 to 1,800 years old. For decades, they sat on shelves in the state’s collections. Now, 403 Chickasaw ancestors have been returned to their people and will be laid in their final resting place on Mississippi soil.
Bush Foundation Granting $100m To Black And Native Americans To Help Close Wealth Gap
Bring Me The News, Melissa Turtinen, March 30
The St. Paul-based Bush Foundation is committing $100 million in an effort to help close the wealth gap between white people and Black and Native Americans in a “reparative action.” The foundation is committing the money — which it says is “above and beyond” its regular grantmaking — to set up two community trust funds for Black and Native Americans in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations in the three states. The Bush Foundation will seek “one or two steward organizations” to receive the funds and design and operate grant programs to distribute the money. The grant programs are intended to serve people who need a financial boost to access wealth-building opportunities like education, homeownership and entrepreneurship.