Good morning, NUNAverse:
As of yesterday, all adults in every U.S. state, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, meeting the April 19 deadline that President Biden set two weeks ago. Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont were the last states to expand eligibility, opening vaccinations to all adults on Monday.
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments over whether Alaska Native Corporations should receive a portion of the CARES Act’s $8 billion tribal allocation, and while the justices agreed that Congress could have chosen clearer language to describe who should get money, both conservative and liberal justices also seemed to conclude that Congress intended Alaska Native Corporations to get funds.
The White House announced over the weekend that First Lady Jill Biden will visit Window Rock, Arizona, the capital of the Navajo Nation, on Thursday and Friday of this week. The White House released few details of the First Lady’s trip, and said additional details will follow.
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland addressed leaders from across the world at the largest global gathering on Indigenous Issues hosted by the United Nations on Monday to deliver a keynote address. Haaland said that the COVID-19 crisis has shone a spotlight on the disparities that exist in Indigenous and marginalized communities across the nation and challenged leaders to address the interlocking challenges of injustice and the climate emergency.
Finally, the NUNA team is happily celebrating one year of our media clips today! What started as a way to monitor COVID and CARES Act developments has evolved into what you see in your inbox every day – thank you so much for reading over the past twelve months!
Keep reading for a full news update.
High Court Seems Ready To Send Virus Funds To Alaska Natives
AP News, Jessica Gresko, April 19
The Supreme Court seemed inclined Monday to say that hundreds of millions of dollars in coronavirus relief money tied up in court should benefit Alaska Natives rather than be spread more broadly among Native American tribes around the U.S. The justices heard arguments in a case involving the massive pandemic relief package passed last year and signed into law by then-President Donald Trump. The $2.2 trillion legislation earmarked $8 billion for “Tribal governments” to cover expenses related to the pandemic. The question for the court is whether Alaska Native corporations, which are for-profit companies that provide benefits and social services to more than 100,000 Alaska Natives, count as “Indian tribes.”
Deb Haaland Delivers Keynote Address At 20th Session Of UN Forum On Indigenous Issues
Native News Online, Jenna Kunze, April 19
Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (Pueblo of Laguna) addressed leaders from across the world at the largest global gathering on Indigenous Issues hosted by the United Nations on Monday to deliver a keynote address. The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) is an advisory council, established in 2000, that advocates for the social, economic and cultural rights of Indigenous peoples. Secretary Haalanad addressed the forum via live stream from Washington D.C., first acknowledging where she stood as the ancestral homelands of the Anacostia and Piscataway people.
Adults In All U.S. States Are Now Eligible For Vaccination, Hitting Biden’s Target. Half Have Had At Least One Dose.
The New York Times, Emily Anthes, April 19
All adults in every U.S. state, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, meeting the April 19 deadline that President Biden set two weeks ago. The United States is administering an average of 3.2 million doses a day, up from roughly 2.5 million a month before. More than 131 million people, or half of all American adults, had received at least one shot as of Sunday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and about 84.3 million people have been fully vaccinated.
Alaska Tribal Health Groups Distribute Vaccine Far And Wide
AP News, Becky Bohrer, April 19
Alaska’s highest vaccination rates have been in some of its remotest, hardest-to-access communities, where the toll of past flu and tuberculosis outbreaks hasn’t been forgotten. With the COVID-19 pandemic, health officials say local leaders have helped share information, and they cite the importance of residents getting shots from providers they know and at convenient locations, including their homes and grocery stores. Tribal health organizations had flexibility in deciding how best to distribute vaccine allocations they received from the federal Indian Health Service. And they played a significant role in Alaska’s overall vaccine rollout, sharing doses with outside communities and in some cases expanding eligibility faster than the state.
Navajo Nation Reports No COVID-19 Related Deaths For 9th Day
AP News, April 19
The Navajo Nation on Monday reported finding no new COVID-19 related deaths for the ninth consecutive day. The tribe reported four new confirmed coronavirus cases, but no additional deaths on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The latest numbers bring the Navajo Nation’s pandemic case total to 30,371 with the death toll remaining at 1,262. Tribal officials said nearly 16,500 people have recovered from COVID-19 thus far. The tribe had been easing into reopening but that slowed somewhat after coronavirus variants were confirmed on the reservation.
First Lady Jill Biden To Visit Navajo Nation On Thursday & Friday
Native News Online, April 18
The White House announced on Saturday that First Lady Jill Biden will visit the Window Rock, Ariz. on Thursday, April 22 and Friday, April 23. Window Rock is the capital of the Navajo Nation, home of the largest Indian reservation in the United States. The White House released few details of the First Lady’s trip, but said additional details will follow. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez told The Arizona Republic on Sunday that Mrs. Biden planned to meet with the tribe’s leaders, including Navajo Nation First Lady Phefelia Nez and Second Lady Dottie Lizer.
Education Leaders Discuss Making Native Education Mandatory In Public Schools
Mitchell Republic, Danielle Ferguson, April 19
South Dakota educators who were part of a recent statewide panel say a new initiative regarding civics and history education proposed by Gov. Kristi Noem should seek to increase the focus on teaching of Native American history and culture in the K-12 public school system.