Good morning, NUNAverse:
An expert advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention met yesterday and declined to vote on whether to continue vaccinations with the Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, effectively leaving the current pause in vaccinations in place after six recipients in the United States developed a rare disorder involving blood clots within about two weeks of vaccination. The committee will reconsider a recommendation within the next 10 days.
Meanwhile, a new study from the University of Oxford found that those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 have a higher risk of blood clots than those who have received vaccines against the disease. COVID patients saw a clot risk of 39 in a million, compared with four in a million in mRNA vaccines like those developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech or Moderna Inc., and five in a million people after AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine. The study suggests that the risk of a clot among those with the disease is about eight to 10 times higher than after vaccination.
Native and environmental activists shared their frustrations over development on federal land that’s considered sacredsurrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park in northwestern New Mexico yesterday and renewed their demands for more meaningful talks with Indigenous leaders and other communities on the front lines of fossil fuel development. The activists said U.S. officials must engage in meaningful consultation with tribes and other groups given that increased oil and gas development has the potential to destroy parts of the landscape outside the park.
Alaska State Judge Z. Kent Sullivan ruled Monday that the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation erred when it issued a clean water certificate to Donlin Gold, invalidating a key permit for what could be one of the largest gold mines in the world in western Alaska. Judge Sullivan found in favor of the Orutsararmiut Council’s argument that the project wouldn’t meet state water quality standards. Read the full decision here.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed a measure yesterday that starts the process of honoring the late Billy Frank Jr — a Nisqually tribal member who championed treaty rights and protecting the environment — with a statue at the U.S. Capitol. The measure, which was approved by the Legislature with bipartisan support, starts the legal process to replace Washington’s Marcus Whitman statue in the National Statuary Hall Collection with a statue of Frank, who died in 2014 at age 83.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Interior Department Becomes Battlefield In Fight Over Response To Climate Change
The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin, April 14
The oil and gas industry is pushing back against the Biden administration’s desire to reassess — and perhaps increase — royalty rates for drilling on federal lands, which have remained unchanged for a century. It is hostile to the possibility of Biden curtailing new leases. It also has objected to his proposal to eliminate certain industry tax breaks. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland called the federal oil and gas program “fundamentally broken” in a call with reporters this month. Haaland, who served as a House member from the oil-and-gas-rich state of New Mexico before joining Biden’s Cabinet, said she understands how her home state and others depend on their share of drilling revenue. At the same time, “I also recognize that demand and energy innovations are diversifying and so are states’ revenue sources and economies,” she said. “We have to reduce the reliance on the booms and busts of the oil industry.”
U.S. Health Officials Continue Pause Of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine
NPR, Laurel Wamsley, April 14
An expert advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided Wednesday it needed more time to consider whether to recommend to resume administering the COVID-19 vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson.
Risk Of Clots Higher With COVID Than After Vaccine, Study Says
Bloomberg, Todd Gillespie, April 15
The risk of blood clots among those who’ve been diagnosed with Covid-19 is higher than among those who’ve received vaccines against the disease, according to a new study from the University of Oxford.
Navajo Nation Reports No COVID-19 Deaths For 4th Day In Row
AP News, April 14
The Navajo Nation on Wednesday reported 10 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, but no additional deaths for the fourth consecutive day. The latest numbers brought the pandemic totals on the tribe’s reservation to 30,279 cases and 1,262 known deaths. Tribal officials had ordered a lockdown last weekend 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.
Navajo Nation Pauses Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Usage
Native News Online, April 14
The Navajo Nation on Tuesday paused the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommendation was announced. Earlier Tuesday, both federal health agencies recommended the pause in the use of the vaccine based on six reported U.S. cases, out of 6.8 million doses administered nationally, of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Nez said there have been no major side effects reported on the nation’s largest Indian reservation.
Tribal Lawsuit Halts Donlin Gold
Indian Country Today, Joaqlin Estus, April 14
A lawsuit filed by the Orutsararmiut Native Council has led to a judgment that invalidates a key permit for what could be one of the largest gold mines in the world: Donlin Gold in western Alaska. The proposed mine has tribes, villages and for-profit Alaska Native corporations at odds with each other. Some say the project would harm the critically important salmon fisheries, a mainstay of locals’ diets. However, it would also bring infrastructure, jobs, and other benefits to the region. And two Alaska Native corporations would profit from it.
Bill Advancing To Governor’s Desk Aims To Ramp Up Resources To Find Missing Native Americans
News9, Storme Jones, April 13
Closure can be hard to come by for families of missing or murdered Native Americans. But, those behind a legislation heading to Governor Stitt hopes to help them navigate what lawmakers call the overwhelming process of getting justice. According to the bill’s co-author Sen. Paul Rosino, R-OKC, there are more than 220 missing Native Americans like Stephen across the state. Rosino said there are 14 people missing in his Oklahoma City metro district. The bill directs the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to coordinate with federal partners to obtain funding to gather data to address the issue of missing and murdered indigenous persons. The legislation also creates the Office of Liaison for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons under the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
Missouri Town Decides To Keep Native Mascot, Ditch Logo
AP News, Heather Hollingsworth, April 14
Leaders of a nearly all-white northwest Missouri school district have narrowly voted to keep the high school’s offensive nickname but will phase out the use of Native American imagery. The Savannah R-3 Board of Education’s 4-3 vote on Tuesday night came after months of dueling petitions and heated debates over the mascot and amid a national movement calling for racial justice. Savannah, a town of about 5,000 residents about 65 miles (105 kilometers) north of Kansas City, was built on land that once belonged to several Native American tribes. The logo, versions of which date back to the 1930s, features the head of a Native American with a partially painted face and a feather in his hair.
Bellefonte School District Votes To Remove Native American Imagery Related To Mascot
WJAC, April 14
The Bellefonte School District Board of directors held a special meeting Tuesday to vote on the possible change to the school’s mascot. The current mascot is “the Red Raiders” and contains a Native American image. The meeting gave residents a chance to voice their opinions. Last summer, a petition was created to change the mascot’s name, saying it is racist towards Native Americans. According to the district superintendent’s office, the school board voted to remove any Native American imagery related to the school within the next year.
Statue Of Native American Leader Step Closer To U.S. Capitol
AP News, Rachel La Corte, April 14
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday signed a measure that starts the process of honoring the late Billy Frank Jr — a Nisqually tribal member who championed treaty rights and protecting the environment — with a statue at the U.S. Capitol. Inslee signed the measure at Wa He Lut Indian School in the Nisqually community north of Olympia, joined by Nisqually tribal leaders. The measure, which was overwhelmingly approved by the Legislature with bipartisan support, starts the legal process to replace Washington’s Marcus Whitman statue in the National Statuary Hall Collection with a statue of Frank, who died in 2014 at age 83.
Groups Take Aim At New Mexico Drilling Plan Amid Us Review
AP News, Susan Montoya Bryan, April 14
Environmentalists and Native American activists on Wednesday renewed their demands for more meaningful talks with Indigenous leaders and other communities on the front lines of fossil fuel development as the Biden administration reviews the nation’s oil and gas leasing program in response to climate change. Several groups shared their frustrations over development on federal land that’s considered sacred surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park in northwestern New Mexico. The virtual gathering was meant to send a message to the administration as the comment period closes on the nationwide leasing review.
Chickasaw Nation Of Oklahoma Repatriates 403 Human Remains From Mississippi
Native News Online, Darren Thompson, April 14
Last month, the state of Mississippi returned the largest collection of human remains and other items of significant cultural value in the state’s history, citing the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). The Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma repatriated 403 human remains and 83 lots of funerary items from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) in Jackson, Miss. It is the first repatriation by the state. NAGRPA is a federal law that requires any institution that receives federal funding, which can include museums and schools, to consult with federally recognized tribes, Alaskan Natives, and Native Hawaiians. Tribes that have items in archives in an institution must be consulted with by law.
‘A Bridge Between Cultures’
Indian Country Today, Richard Alan Walker, April 14
A channel of water in an archipelago north of Puget Sound carries the name of 19th century U.S. Army Gen. William S. Harney, notorious for whipping to death a Black woman in Missouri, leading the killing of Sicangu Lakota men, women and children in Nebraska, and taking the U.S. to the brink of armed conflict with Great Britain over a jurisdictional dispute in the Pacific Northwest. If a proposal is approved by the Washington state Board of Geographic Names, however, the channel would be renamed in honor of Henry Cayou, a fishing, maritime and political leader of Lummi and Saanich First Nation ancestry. The channel is located east of Canada’s Vancouver Island, between Orcas and Shaw islands in San Juan County, Washington – a point of origin for several Coast Salish peoples, including the Lhaq’temish, or Lummi.
A Century Of Federal Indifference Left Generations Of Navajo Homes Without Running Water
Native News Online, Elizabeth Miller, April 14
A group of 800 to 900 people in Tohatchi, New Mexico and another 600 to 800 in Mexican Springs, eight miles to the west, all depend on a single well and single pump. If the pump running it fails, or if the water level in it drops — both issues that have troubled nearby Gallup this year — water will cut out for the homes, the head-start center, the schools, the clinic, the senior center, five churches, and the convenience store and gas station. It’s a tenuous situation common across the Navajo Nation, and one that also keeps Tohatchi from growing.