Good morning, NUNAverse:
In response to more than 40 State Legislatures moving forward with legislation that would make it more difficult for many people to vote, two Native voter advocacy organizations, Four Directions and the Global Indigenous Council, launched an educational campaign to support federal legislation that seeks to protect the Native vote last week. The two groups announced on Thursday the placement of their first two billboards in the Phoenix area at I-10 between Guadalupe and Elliot, and Route 202 near the Route 101 loop. The billboards carry a powerful message — “You took away our land. You took away our children. Now you’re taking our vote?” — overlaid on an image of the children’s graveyard at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania.
Following Georgia’s passage of a law that, among other things, would criminalize giving food and water to voters waiting in line, Major League Baseball announced last week that the MLB All-Star Game and the 2021 MLB Draft will no longer take place in Atlanta. While many people expressed their disappointment in the MLB using their platform to apply political pressure, others pointed out that Atlanta’s baseball team was only able to move there in the first place in 1965 on the condition that they integrate seating at their stadium.
In a written statement, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said:
“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box. In 2020, MLB became the first professional sports league to join the non-partisan Civic Alliance to help build a future in which everyone participates in shaping the United States. We proudly used our platform to encourage baseball fans and communities throughout our country to perform their civic duty and actively participate in the voting process. Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support.”
The Catawba Indian Nation – the only federally recognized tribe in South Carolina – will now offer COVID-19 vaccines to members of other tribes and their families. The Catawba Indian Nation will vaccinate anyone over age 18 who is a member of any federally recognized tribe, or those living with or married to registered members of the Catawba Nation. Those eligible can provide a tribal identification card or proof of address to the clinic.
Indian Country Today published a piece covering Susan and Dan Ninham, two educators who, after four decades working in education, created an online course to teach teachers how to reach Indigenous students by using culture, language, and traditions. Today, their Indigenous Pedagogy Virtual Academy is entering its third quarter of classes with such offerings as “Seeing Ourselves in the Math We Do: Designing Math Lessons Reflecting the Cultures/Communities of our Students.”
Keep reading for a full news update.
Navajo Nation President Nez Urges Caution During Easter Holiday
Native News Online, April 4
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez knows holidays have caused Covid-19 surges after holiday celebrations during the past year. “If you plan to celebrate the Easter holiday, please do so safely and only with those who live under your immediate household,” Nez said on Friday. “We do not want to see a large surge in new Covid-19 cases after the Easter holiday, so please be safe.” On Friday, the Navajo Department of Health reported 17 new Covid-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and one more death.
Navajo Nation President: Disparities In Health Care System Contribute To Covid-19’s Impact On Indigenous Americans
The Hill, Mychael Schnell, April 4
Navajo Nation president Jonathan Nez on Sunday said the pandemic has revealed disparities in the health care system across the United States, especially in Native American communities. Nez also pointed out that the Indian Health Service has been underfunded since it was established, adding that these health care professions are using the limited resources they have to fight the virus. Nez also reported that the Indian Health Service has distributed 89.3 percent of the vaccines given to the Navajo people. More than 88,000 Navajo people, he added, are fully vaccinated.
Catawba Indian Nation To Offer Vaccine To Other Tribes
AP News, April 2
The Catawba Indian Nation will now offer COVID-19 vaccines to other Native American tribe members and their families. South Carolina’s only federally recognized tribe has received vaccine supply directly from the federal government and administers the shots through its on-site clinic at its Rock Hill reservation. The Rock Hill Herald reports that the clinic will vaccinate anyone over age 18 who is a member of any federally recognized tribe, or those living with or married to registered members of the Catawba Nation.
Two Native Groups Launch Effort To Protect The Native Vote
Native News Online, April 2
With efforts underway in over 40 state legislatures across the United States to suppress the vote of people of color, two Native American voter advocacy organizations, Four Directions and the Global Indigenous Council, launched on Thursday an educational campaign to support federal legislation that seeks to protect the Native vote. “Native Americans have never had equality at the ballot box and the actions taken now are a perfect example of why,” said OJ Semans (Lakota), a co-founder of Four Directions, a nonpartisan organization that took a leading role in Native American voter registration and turnout effort.
Oscar-Winning Filmmaker Louie Psihoyos Backs Interior Sec. Haaland As Sen. Daines Uses The Grizzly Bear In “Proxy War” Against Her
Native News Online, Arianna Amehae, April 4
After incensing tribal leaders and members of the Indigenous community with his conduct during Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland’s confirmation hearing, Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), Montana’s junior senator, has introduced federal legislation to overturn tribes’ landmark court victory that returned Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections to the grizzly bear in Greater Yellowstone. Tom Rodgers, president of the Global Indigenous Council (GIC), accused Daines of “waging a proxy war” against Secretary Haaland through the grizzly. Daines first line of attack in Haaland’s confirmation hearing was to question her support of The Tribal Heritage and Grizzly Bear Protection Act.
Native Cast, Native Writers Galore On ‘Rutherford Falls’
Indian Country Today, Vincent Schilling, April 4
“Rutherford Falls,” a comedy coming exclusively to NBC’s streaming platform channel Peacock, will be premiering on April 22, Earth Day. The show is about two lifelong friends, Nathan Rutherford, played by Ed Helms (known for his role as Andy on “The Office”) and Reagan Wells who is played by Jana Schmieding, Cheyenne River Lakota. The full synopsis is as follows: A small town in the Northeast and the Native American reservation it borders are turned upside down when local legend and town namesake, Nathan Rutherford (Ed Helms), fights the moving of a historical statue.
Fire On Ft. Berthold Reservation Destroys New Apartment Complex, Tenants Evacuated
Native News Online, April 4
A fire on the Ft. Berthold Reservation destroyed a new apartment complex early Sunday morning causing dozens of families to evacuate to the nearby Northern Lights Wellness Center in New Town, N.D. Hawk Estates is owned by the Three Affiliated Tribes—Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara (MHA)—and opened on July 17, 2017. The apartment complex has 36 units with 34 units occupied. All tenants were evacuated.
After Fewer Bison Left Yellowstone, Population Set To Grow
AP News, April 4
Fewer bison migrated out of Yellowstone National Park this winter than in years past, leading officials to drop plans to capture and remove some of the animals as part of a population control program. Park officials have tried to avoid such slaughters by relocating some bison to Native American tribes. But the program has had only limited success, in part because the number of animals migrating out of the park varies from year to year and also because of past resistance from Montana’s livestock industry.
Teaching Teachers To Reach Indigenous Youth
Indian Country Today, Stewart Huntington, April 3
When Susan and Dan Ninham got married, they each made two vows: One to each other and one to their people, as they pledged to devote a lifetime to Native education. The educators have kept those vows for nearly four decades, but working as a schoolteacher or administrator over the years helped them see disturbing patterns that plague education in Indian Country. Now they’ve created an online course to teach teachers how to reach Indigenous students by using culture, language and traditions.
Confederate Symbols Prove Difficult To Remove In Many States
AP News, Acacia Coronado, April 3
Just past the gate at an entrance to the Texas Capitol, a large monument honoring the soldiers of the Confederacy looms, with towering statues and an inscription that reads, “Died for state rights guaranteed under the Constitution.” The movement to remove Confederate monuments and depictions of historical figures who mistreated Native Americans became part of the national reckoning over racial injustice following George Floyd’s death last year in Minneapolis. While many have been removed — or torn down by protesters — it’s proven difficult to remove those that remain.
First Native American Poet Laureate Appointed In WA
AP News, April 2
Rena Priest, a member of the Lummi Nation and a Bellingham writer, has become the first Native American poet to serve as Washington state’s poet laureate. Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Priest to be the state’s sixth poet laureate, the Washington State Arts Commission and Humanities Washington announced Thursday. Priest said she was “excited and honored” by the appointment. One of her main goals as poet laureate will be to celebrate poetry in tribal communities in the state.
Comcaac Nation In Sonora Demands Water With Historic Gathering
Cronkite News, Kendal Blust, April 2
Separated by more than 40 miles of rough desert road along the Sea of Cortez, members of the Comcaac Nation from El Desemboque and Punta Chueca left their homes at 4 a.m. Saturday, their path lit only by moonlight. Some walked nearly eight hours to reach their destination, an ancestral meeting place between the two villages known as Saaps, or Playa Dos Amigos – a pristine beach surrounded by towering cardon cactus. With the wind kicking up dust around them in the midday sun, family members and friends cheered, embraced and lifted ceremonial sticks in the air, a sign of victory and brotherhood in honor of the historic reunion of the two Comcaac communities.
Idaho’s Federal, State And Tribal Partners Join To Stop Violence Against Native Americans
CBS2, April 2
Idaho’s federal and state court systems and Idaho tribal partners are working together in 2021 to stop all kinds of violence against Native Americans. This year’s actions will aim to curtail domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and other violent crime on Idaho’s reservations. Federal, state and tribal judges, prosecutors; court staff, law enforcement officers, victim assistance officers, treatment and social workers, law professors, and Idaho State Bar representatives have met to learn and plan how to stop domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and other violent crime on Idaho’s reservations.
New Mexico Schools Expand In-Person Learning
AP News, Cedar Attanasio, April 2
New Mexico public schools have a long way to go if they are to meet goals for returning students to the classroom set by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the administration of President Joe Biden. An analysis by The Associated Press shows that 5% of students from kindergarten through grade 8 can walk through school doors full time. The national average for a similar age group was around 45% in February. The governor has urged schools to open their doors to in-person learning for all students on April 5.
Championship Within Reach For Lumbee Coach
Indian Country Today, Kolby Kickingwoman, April 2
The postseason tournament for college basketball is often referred to as “March Madness” and “The Big Dance.” While none of the four Native ball players made it to the tournament’s final weekend, Division I’s lone Native coach still has his dancing shoes on. Kelvin Sampson, Lumbee, will be coaching in his second Final Four as his second-seeded University of Houston Cougars squad is set to take on no. 1 seed Baylor Bears on Saturday evening in Indianapolis.
Arts Group Brings Back Inuit Tradition
APTN, Kent Driscoll, April 2
The Qaggiq that towered over the land in Iqaluit over the weekend is a testimony to Inuit everything. Architecture, engineering, art and culture all come together when you build an igloo big enough to host a party. Qaggiavuut are a Nunavut group trying to build a performing arts centre in Iqaluit. To draw attention to their efforts, they decided to build a traditional performing space, a qaggiq. It has been a very long time since anyone saw one of those in Iqaluit.
MLB Moving 2021 All-Star Game From Atlanta Over Georgia Voting Law
ESPN, Alden Gonzalez, April 2
Major League Baseball announced Friday that it is moving the 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta in response to a new Georgia law that has civil rights groups concerned about its potential to restrict voting access for people of color.