Good morning, NUNAverse:
On Thursday, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland visited Bears Ears National Monument and met with tribes and elected officials as she prepares to submit recommendations on whether to reverse President Donald Trump’s decision to downsize that site and Grand Staircase-Escalante, another Utah national monument. Tribal and environmental organizations are suing to restore the monuments’ original boundaries, arguing that President Trump didn’t have legal authority to change monuments his predecessor created. The outcome of Haaland’s negotiations will shed light on how the Biden administration plans to respond to other public lands disputes and will likely impact subsequent conversations with other states on natural resources.
The Biden administration has halted its predecessor’s decision to sell the federal archives building in Seattle, following months of opposition from tribes across the Pacific Northwest. The records at the National Archives facility date to the 1840s and include documents key to the histories of 272 federally recognized tribes in Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Idaho who have often resorted to the archives to vindicate their treaty rights and their oral traditions.
The Indigenous Peoples Day Newton Committee is calling on the organizers of the Boston Marathon to move the twice rescheduled date for the race because it now conflicts with a day meant to commemorate the contributions of Indigenous people. The group said its first planned celebration of the Oct. 11 holiday in the Boston suburb of Newton has to be canceled because of the marathon’s new date. Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said the city, which has the longest stretch of the marathon course, can handle both events, and is offering to host an Indigenous Peoples Day celebration on a field at a local high school.
J.C. Seneca, owner of the Seneca Nation’s Tallchief Territory, home of Native Pride Travel Plaza, partnered with the president of G-Health Enterprises to hold a COVID-19 vaccination pop-up site at Seneca’s truck stop on Wednesday. It was one of the first COVID-19 pop-up vaccination sites held at a truck stop in the country. Throughout the day, some 400 tribal citizens, truckers and motorists received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the busy truck stop, located south of Buffalo, N.Y. on the Seneca Nation.
Finally, the United States Space Force (USSF) welcomed its first female American Indian Intelligence Officer, Captain Haida StarEagle, member of the Matinecock Tribe. The U.S. Space Force is the newest branch of the Armed Forces and was established within the Department of the Air Force, meaning the Secretary of the Air Force has overall responsibility for the USSF, under the guidance and direction of the Secretary of Defense.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Interior Secretary Steps Into Utah Public Lands Tug-Of-War
AP News, Sophia Eppolito, April 8
For decades, a public lands tug-of-war has played out over a vast expanse of southern Utah where red rocks reveal petroglyphs and cliff dwellings and distinctive twin buttes bulge from a grassy valley. A string of U.S. officials has heard from those who advocate for broadening national monuments to protect the area’s many archaeological and cultural sites, considered sacred to surrounding tribes, and those who fiercely oppose what they see as federal overreach. On Thursday, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland was the latest cabinet official to visit Bears Ears National Monument. Haaland, a member of Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, met with tribes and elected officials at Bears Ears as she prepares to submit recommendations on whether to reverse President Donald Trump’s decision to downsize that site and Grand Staircase-Escalante, another Utah national monument.
Indigenous Lawyer Nominated As Solicitor Of Interior Dept.
Native News Online, Alina Bykova, April 8
The Department of the Interior announced Wednesday that Robert Anderson (Bois Forte Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe) has been formally nominated as Solicitor of the Interior Department. He has served as Interior’s Principal Deputy Solicitor since Jan. 20, 2021. Anderson’s nomination has been transmitted by the White House to the United States Senate, the Interior Department said in a statement. Anderson worked as a law professor at the University of Washington for 20 years and also directed its Native American Law Center. He has been the Oneida Indian Nation Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School for the past 12 years.
One Of The First Truck Stop Vaccination Pop-Up Sites Held On Seneca Nation
Native News Online, April 8
J.C. Seneca, owner of the Seneca Nation’s Tallchief Territory, home of Native Pride Travel Plaza, wants to do his part to stop further spread of COVID-19. On Wednesday, he partnered with Dr. Raul Vazquez, president of G-Health Enterprises, to hold a COVID-19 vaccination pop-up site at Seneca’s truck stop. It was one of the first COVID-19 pop-up vaccination sites was held at a truck stop in the country. Throughout the day, some 400 individuals received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the busy truck stop, located south of Buffalo, N.Y. on the Seneca Nation. The vaccine was offered to tribal citizens, truckers and motorists who shop at the truck stop.
How One Native American Tribe Fought Off The Pandemic To Save Its Culture
The Hill, Anagha Srikanth, April 8
For centuries, Indigenous peoples have fought to preserve their languages and cultures from erasure in textbooks and classrooms. In Wisconsin, where schools have begun reopening and some campuses are no longer requiring face masks despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Ojibwe immersion school Waadookodaading is staying virtual, despite the challenges remote learning has posed for the community.
Child Welfare Law Is Battered By Court. Still Standing
Indian Country Today, Mary Annette Pember, April 8
Along with her new title, Deb Haaland, secretary of the Interior inherited top billing as the lead defendant in the latest decision in an ongoing case challenging the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act. Previously the case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit was entitled Brackeen v. Bernhardt naming Haaland’s predecessor David Bernhardt as lead defendant. The baton has passed; the case is now entitled Brackeen v. Haaland. On April 6, the 5th Circuit issued an unusually lengthy decision in this complicated case leaving experts in Indian child welfare law busy trying to fully unwind the implications for the act, American Indian law and the U.S. Constitution.
Fifth Circuit Court Keeps And Strikes Portions Of Indian Child Welfare Act
Native News Online, Jenna Kunze, April 8
The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that Congress has the authority to enact the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), while striking down a portion of the law that gives preference to Indigenous families in the adoption of Native American children. The lawsuit—Brackeen v. Haaland, formerly Brackeen v. Bernhardt— was brought by Texas, Indiana, Louisiana, and individual plaintiffs, alleging that ICWA is unconstitutional for discriminating against non-Native families in the placement of Native children.
Fishing Rights Untouched In Alaska Takeover Of Navigable Waters
Indian Country Today, Joaqlin Estus, April 8
The state of Alaska has announced it’s taking over management of navigable waters from the federal government. Gov. Mike Dunleavy in late March accused the federal government of ignoring state rights and delaying conveyance of title to land under navigable waters to the state despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Sturgeon v. Frost two years ago. Sturgeon’s case and Dunleavy’s announcement don’t change management of subsistence fisheries, a vital economic, social and cultural activity for Alaska Natives, Miller said.
Space Force Swears In First Indigenous Female Intelligence Officer
Native News Online, Darren Thompson, April 8
On March 12, the United States Space Force (USSF) welcomed its first female American Indian Intelligence Officer: Captain Haida StarEagle, member of the Matinecock Tribe. Her father, Chief Samuel Little Fox, led the invocation during the induction ceremony. Established on Dec. 20, 2019, the U.S. Space Force is the newest branch of the Armed Forces. The USSF was established within the Department of the Air Force, meaning the Secretary of the Air Force has overall responsibility for the USSF, under the guidance and direction of the Secretary of Defense. According to Public Affairs Advisor to the Vice Chief of Space Operations Lynn Kirby, Captain StarEagle is not the first Native American woman in the Space Force.
Biden Halts Sale Of National Archives Center In Seattle
AP News, Gene Johnson, April 8
The Biden administration has halted its predecessor’s decision to sell the federal archives building in Seattle, following months of opposition from people across the Pacific Northwest and a lawsuit. A federal judge had already temporarily blocked the sale, pending a lawsuit by Washington, Oregon and more than two dozen Native American and Alaska Native tribes. The records at National Archives facility date to the 1840s and include documents key to the histories of 272 federally recognized tribes in Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Idaho.
Native Americans: Move Boston Marathon From Oct. 11 Holiday
AP News, Philip Marcelo, April 8
Native Americans in Massachusetts are calling on the organizers of the Boston Marathon to move the already rescheduled date for the storied race because it now conflicts with a day meant to commemorate the contributions of Indigenous people. The Boston Athletic Association announced in January that the 125th edition of the marathon would be pushed back from its traditional April running to Oct. 11, assuming road races are allowed to take place under Massachusetts’ COVID-19 restrictions by then. But the Indigenous Peoples Day Newton Committee complained the new day undercuts a day reserved for recognizing the contributions of Native Americans, past and present. The group said its first planned celebration of the Oct. 11 holiday in the Boston suburb of Newton has to be canceled because of the marathon’s new date.
Sun, Tribal Owners Add Native American Images To Jerseys
AP News, Pat Eaton-Robb, April 8
While many teams have been moving away from using Native American names and symbols, the Connecticut Sun have added them to their jerseys as a way to honor the heritage of the team’s tribal owners. The Sun are owned by the Mohegan Tribe and play their games at Mohegan Sun Arena, which is part of a casino resort on tribal land. Chief Many Hearts Lynn Malerba said it’s important to the Mohegans that they be the ones to determine the images associated with the tribe and the team. The team’s three looks will each include references to the tribe, including a Mohegan symbol first painted on bark and traditional baskets hundreds of years ago. The mark’s 13 dots have several meanings to the tribe, including the 13 moons of the year and the 13 sections on the shell of the turtle on which, according to tribal belief, mother Earth was created, the chief said.
Plans Move Forward For Indigenous-Led School In Rapid City
AP News, April 8
Grassroots organizers are planning to open the first Indigenous-led community school in Rapid City which will be focused on building educational equity for Native American students. After two years of attempting to pass legislation that would establish and fund such schools in South Dakota, the NDN Collective organization is taking steps to open the school in the fall of 2022 with 40 kindergarten students. NDN Collective, an Indigenous team of grassroots organizers, says the school will help close the “opportunity gap” between American Indian students and those of other races.
Michigan City Seeks Expert To Discuss Future Of Custer Site
AP News, April 8
A city in southeastern Michigan wants to hire an expert to try to reach a community consensus over the future of a monument dedicated to Gen. George Custer. Custer, who lived in Monroe, has long been recognized as a heroic Army officer, first during the Civil War. But critics note that he also went to war against Native Americans before dying at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. Custer is immortalized in a statue that shows him on a horse in St. Mary’s Park in downtown Monroe. The city council voted Monday to seek a consultant who would work with the community. Options include adding more information about the Indian wars, moving the monument to another location or removing it from public view.
U.S. Forest Service Investigating Defacing Of Ancient Native American Site In Georgia
Native News Online, April 8
The U.S. Forest Service law enforcement is investigating the defacing of pre-European contact petroglyphs done in Track Rock Gap, located in Chattahoochee National Forest in northern Georgia. The petroglyphs are historic pieces of art that were carved by Creek and Cherokee over 1,000 years ago, according to the U.S. Forest Service. When the vandalism took place is not known, but the defacing was announced on the U.S. Forest Service Facebook page on Monday. Petroglyphs are protected by the Archaeological Resources Protection Act. The Muscogee Creek and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians work closely with the U.S. Forest Service to preserve the Track Rock Gap petroglyphs.
Pandemic Hinders Vet Service On Navajo Nation, Dogs Multiply
Indian Country Today, Vida Volkert, April 8
Last year, the pandemic forced Navajo authorities to shut down three of four animal shelters, leaving the only open shelter in Fort Defiance, Arizona with only two officers working for the most part of 2020. Navajo Nation Animal Control manager Kevin Gleason stated that homeowners are allowed to have up to four dogs, but the policy is difficult to enforce when the Navajo Nation has only six animal control officers for an area that spans about 27,000 square miles. Gleason said his officers normally pick up or receive about 20,000 to 30,000 dogs a year. In 2020, his program picked up or received about 7,000. Gleason estimates the dog population on the reservation to be back at 250,000 dogs, just like 10 years ago.
Federal Official Rescinds Haskell Orders On Employee Speech
AP News, April 7
The director of the Bureau of Indian Education has rescinded directives that regulated public communication for employees at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence. BIE director Tony Dearman notified Haskell faculty and staff in a letter Tuesday that he was rescinding a directive that forbid Haskell employees from publicly discussing issues they had with the school without going through a chain of command. A second directive said Haskell employees could not talk to the media without prior permission.
CPN: Disproportionate Representation Of Native Americans In Foster Care
The Shawnee News Star, Mary Belle Zook, April 7
Native Americans are up to four times more likely to have their children taken and placed into foster care than their non-Native counterparts. Oklahoma Department of Human Services reported in 2020 that Native children represented more than 35 percent of those in foster care, yet Native Americans make up only around 9 percent of Oklahoma’s population. While the Indian Child Welfare Act has existed since 1978 and provides added protections, numerous factors continue to impact the unequal rate of Native American representation within the foster care system.