Good morning, NUNAverse:
On Sunday, 20-year-old Duante Wright was shot and killed in Brooklyn Center, a Minneapolis suburb, during a traffic stop. Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon described the shooting as “an accidental discharge” during a press conference yesterday, saying that the police officer intended to fire their taser, not their handgun. Despite the Governor’s dusk-to-dawn curfew, hundreds gathered to protest outside of the Brooklyn Center police station yesterday evening. About 90 minutes after the curfew deadline, police began firing gas canisters and flash-bang grenades, sending clouds over the crowd and chasing some away.
Federal health agencies are calling for an immediate pause on the use of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine today after six recipients in the United States developed a rare disorder involving blood clots within about two weeks of vaccination. All six recipients were women between the ages of 18 and 48. One woman died and a second woman in Nebraska has been hospitalized in critical condition. Nearly seven million people in the United States have received Johnson & Johnson shots so far, and roughly nine million more doses have been shipped out to the states, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports on how different U.S. Colleges and Universities are weighing the decision of if they should – or legally can – require students to get vaccinated before returning to campus next fall. Universities including Rutgers, Brown, Cornell, and Northeastern recently told students they must get vaccinated before returning to campus next fall, but some colleges are leaving the decision to students, and others believe they can’t legally require vaccinations. At Virginia Tech, officials determined that they can’t because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has only allowed the emergency use of the vaccines and hasn’t given them its full approval.
In Washington, the state legislature has approved a measure to ban the use of Native names, symbols, and images as school mascots, logos, and team names at most public schools in Washington. Once the measure is signed by Governor Jay Inslee, the ban would take effect January 1. Under the measure, school districts would have some time to phase out the mascot, team name or logo, but they would be required to select a new mascot by December 31 to take effect by the end of the 2021-22 school year.
After an online petition was signed by over 600 people, The Lost Colony, a popular outdoor play that tells the story of the Roanoke Colony in North Carolina, will no longer cast white actors in ‘redface’ for Native roles. The petition calls the play out for bronzing or painting the skin of white actors so that they appear “like Native Americans.” The production has around 60 roles, of which 20 will now be filled by Indigenous actors.
Keep reading for a full news update.
U.S. Calls For Pause On Johnson & Johnson Vaccine After Clotting Cases
New York Times, Noah Weiland, Sharon LaFranniere, Carl Zimmer, April 13
Federal health agencies on Tuesday called for an immediate pause in use of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose coronavirus vaccine after six recipients in the United States developed a rare disorder involving blood clots within about two weeks of vaccination.
US Colleges Divided Over Requiring Student Vaccinations
AP News, Collin Binkley, April 12
U.S. colleges hoping for a return to normalcy next fall are weighing how far they should go in urging students to get the COVID-19 vaccine, including whether they should — or legally can — require it. Universities including Rutgers, Brown, Cornell and Northeastern recently told students they must get vaccinated before returning to campus next fall. They hope to achieve herd immunity on campus, which they say would allow them to loosen spacing restrictions in classrooms and dorms.
Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition Works To Increase Vaccine Accessibility
WOWT, Leigh Waldman, April 11
The Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition is working to bring vaccines to those who have been underserved throughout this pandemic. Approximately 120 people came for either their first or second dose of the COVID vaccine at the NUIHC campus at 24th and Landon Ct. with the help of NOAH, North Omaha Area Health. They’re hosting the clinic here for a number of reasons, it’s a place that is trusted and its location. At this weekend’s clinic, that was a big focus. Dr. Donna Polk knew the Native American population and others needed to have more access to life-saving vaccines.
Navajo Nation Reports 2 More COVID-19 Deaths
AP News, April 11
The Navajo Nation has reported 16 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths. The latest numbers released Saturday night brought the pandemic totals on the tribe’s reservation to 30,255 cases and 1,262 known deaths. Tribal officials had ordered a weekend lockdown over fears that a new variant could drive another deadly surge. The Stay-At-Home order required all Navajo Nation residents to refrain from unnecessary travel to help limit the spread of the virus, including a new and more contagious strain.
Legislature Approves Ban On Native American School Mascots
AP News, April 12
The Washington Legislature has approved a measure to ban the use of Native American names, symbols and images as school mascots, logos and team names at most public schools in Washington. On a 90-8 vote, the House concurred with changes made in the Senate. Once the measure is signed by Gov. Jay Inslee, the ban would take effect Jan. 1. Under the measure, school districts would have some time to phase out the mascot, team name or logo, but they would be required to select a new mascot by Dec. 31 to take effect by the end of the 2021-22 school year. The ban does not apply to schools located within Native American areas or to schools in counties adjacent to Native American areas, as long as the nearest tribe is consulted and authorizes the use of the name.
Minnesota Officer Meant To Draw Taser, Not Handgun
AP News, Mohamed Ibrahim, April 12
The police officer who fatally shot a Black man during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb apparently intended to fire a Taser, not a handgun, as the man struggled with police, the city’s police chief said Monday. Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon described the shooting death Sunday of 20-year-old Daunte Wright as “an accidental discharge.” It happened as police were trying to arrest Wright on an outstanding warrant. The shooting sparked violent protests in a metropolitan area already on edge because of the trial of the first of four police officers charged in George Floyd’s death.
Native Communities Confront Painful Choice: Move Away, Or Succumb To Rising Waters?
The Guardian, Richard Arlin Walker, April 12
Throughout Indian Country, where cultures are tied to land and water, plans to relocate are under way as the climate crisis worsens. At any moment, on any school day, the entire future of the Quileute Tribe is at risk. The Quileute tribal school is located within a stone’s throw from the Pacific Ocean, which has been a source of life for the Quileute people since the beginning of time. The Quileutes regularly harvest fish and shellfish off the coast of north-west Washington, and their ancestors hunted whales and traveled in ocean-going canoes from Alaska to California for trade. But the ocean is increasingly becoming a threat.
A Push To Move The Golf Course Atop A Native American ‘Stonehenge
The New York Times, Sarah Bahr, April 12
The third hole at the Moundbuilders Country Club is a tricky par 4: The green is protected by a six-foot-high mound that almost completely encircles the hole and requires a deft chip shot to clear if your approach shot goes awry. The topography of the course is built around the mounds, which were prescribed by the cosmology of the Native Americans who created them approximately 2,000 years ago as a way to measure the movement of the sun and the moon. But now the club, which has leased the land for more than a century, is being asked to relocate so that the mounds can be properly embraced as an archaeological treasure, a move club members understand but one that they say will be difficult for them to undertake unless representatives of the state kick up the ante for the cost of creating a new golf venue.
Crowning Blow: Pageants Hit By Lockdowns
Indian Country Today, Sandra Hale Schulman, April 12
Cheyenne Eete Kippenberger took the responsibilities of Miss Indian World in stride. The title took her around the world as an ambassador, visiting New Zealand, Alaska and tribal lands across the United States. She met dignitaries and movie stars, rock stars and politicians. But the impact of the pandemic on her reign – and on other pageants across Indian Country – may have topped them all. Kippenberger will step down on April 24 after serving an additional year of what would have been a one-year reign, and she won’t be handing the crown off to anyone when she leaves. The Miss Indian World title – the undisputed highlight of the Native pageants – will sit vacant until a new winner is crowned as expected in 2022.
No More Redface:’ Lost Colony Production Will No Longer Hire White Actors For Native American Roles
WRAL, April 11
After 83 years of production, The Lost Colony will no longer cast white actors in ‘redface’ for Native American roles. First staged in 1937, the popular outdoor play tells the mysterious and tragic story of the Roanoke Colony in North Carolina. The historic change was prompted by an online petition that demanded the play “stop performing racist, redface performances.” The petition, which has been signed by over 600 people, calls the play out for bronzing or painting the skin of white actors so that they appear “like Native Americans.” The petition says this is a form of blackface, coined as “redface.”