Good morning, NUNAverse:
The Biden administration announced yesterday that they intend to make up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine available to other countries if federal regulators deem the doses safe. The announcement comes after increasing pressure for the White House to do more to address the surging pandemic abroad. With some states on the verge of reporting that their vaccine supplies exceed demand, the American vaccination campaign is at an inflection point, and the President appears more willing to send surplus doses overseas. That may be especially true of the vaccine made by AstraZeneca, which is not authorized for use in the United States.
Yesterday, the Census Bureau released the first numbers from the 2020 count, with 13 states either gaining or losing political power in Congress. Texas gained two seats in Congress, while Florida, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon each gained one. California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia each lost a seat.
Ten Cabinet secretaries and other top ranking officials met recently for the first convening of the White House Council on Native American Affairs under the Biden administration. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice co-led the virtual meeting. The discussion focused on improving tribal consultation and formalizing working committees of the council, the White House said in a statement. A key function of the council is to assist in organizing an annual White House Tribal Nations Conference each year, a hallmark event for tribal leaders to speak with the President and Cabinet members.
Former U.S. Senator and current CNN senior political commentator Rick Santorum said last week that there was “nothing” in America before colonizers arrived, and that while there were Native people there already “there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.” Multiple tribal organizations quicky condemned Santorum’s remarks, correcting the record and shining a spotlight on the continuation of false history surrounding tribal nations. Both NCAI President Fawn Sharp and IllumiNative CEO Crystal Echo Hawk called on CNN to fire Santorum.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee has signed a bill to ban the use of Native names, symbols and images as school mascots, logos, and team names at most public schools in the state. Inslee signed the measure Monday afternoon in Olympia, Washington, and the ban will 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.
Keep reading for a full news update.
As Virus Rages Abroad, Biden Promises To Ship Millions Of Vaccine Doses
New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, April 26
President Biden, under intense pressure to do more to address the surging pandemic abroad, including a humanitarian crisis in India, intends to make up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine available to other countries, so long as federal regulators deem the doses safe, officials said Monday.
‘It Taps Into A Lot Of Trauma’: Indigenous People In The D.C. Region Say Vaccines Came Too Late
DCist, Jenny Gathright, April 26
Tribes across Indian Country have been able to vaccinate their elders and citizens so quickly that they rapidly expanded eligibility and began offering vaccines to non-Natives in their areas who were otherwise struggling to access the vaccine. But for the 70% of American Indians and Alaska Natives who live in urban areas, away from reservations, the story has been different. In the D.C. region, which the Indian Health Service (IHS) estimates is home to about 40,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives over 18 years old, advocates say that efforts to provide the vaccine to Indigenous people took far too long to come to fruition. They say the delay in vaccine access is a symptom of a much larger problem: chronic underfunding of urban Indian health care and the lack of a full ambulatory care center for Natives living in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.
Rick Santorum Says ‘Nothing’ Was In America Before White Colonizers Arrived
Huffington Post, Jennifer Bendery, April 26
CNN senior political commentator Rick Santorum said Friday that there was “nothing” in America before white colonizers arrived and that Native Americans haven’t contributed much to American culture anyway.
White House Convened First Native Affairs Meeting
Indian Country Today, Aliyah Chavez, April 26
Ten Cabinet secretaries and other top ranking officials met Friday for the first convening of the White House Council on Native American Affairs under President Joe Biden’s administration. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Laguna Pueblo and chair of the council, and Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice co-led the virtual meeting. The discussion focused on improving tribal consultation and formalizing working committees of the council, the White House said in a statement. A key function of the council is to assist in organizing an annual White House Tribal Nations Conference each year, a hallmark event for tribal leaders to speak with the president and Cabinet members.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Signs Ban On Native American School Mascots
AP News, Nicholas Geranios, April 26
Gov. Jay Inslee has signed a bill to ban the use of Native American names, symbols and images as school mascots, logos and team names at most public schools in Washington. Inslee signed the measure Monday afternoon in Olympia, Washington, and 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.
Tribes Draw Name For Legal Representation
AP News, April 26
On rare occasions, determining who will argue a case can come down to flipping a coin, or fishing a name out of a bowl. That’s how the Supreme Court’s clerk resolved an impasse over who would represent the position of 17 Native American tribes Monday in a case about coronavirus relief money. Sixteen tribes were being represented by lawyer Riyaz Kanji, a former Supreme Court law clerk who last year won a major Indian Country case before the court. The other choice was Jeffrey S. Rasmussen, who represents the Ute Indian Tribe and would be making his first argument. With less than three days until argument, the court’s clerk put the name of each tribe on a slip of paper, put the slips in a bowl and pull one out. Against the odds, the tribe’s name on the paper that got pulled: the Ute. Rasmussen got his first argument.
Winners And Losers from First Release Of 2020 Census Data
AP News, Mike Schneider, April 26
More than a year since the 2020 census began in a remote Alaska village, the first numbers to emerge from the nation’s once-a-decade head count were released on Monday, showing how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state is getting based on its population.
Census Winners, Losers
Indian Country Today, Joaqlin Estus, April 26
The results of the 2020 U.S. Census has been released and there are some losers, winners and a few near misses. The count is used to determine each state’s representation in the U.S. House and the Electoral College. In two instances, the Native vote is credited with helping a state either gain or keep a Congressional seat in close calls. Counting U.S. residents in 2020 was challenging for the U.S. Census Bureau. The pandemic, and record-setting wildfire and hurricane seasons disrupted the count. A last-minute attempt by the former president to add a citizenship question to the census form confused people. “Our tribes did everything that they could, tribal people did everything they could to get counted,” while keeping public health and safety paramount, said Taj’in Perez, Totonac Indigenous, of the non-partisan, nonprofit Western Native Voice in Montana. That paid off with an added seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and an additional electoral college vote for the state. Montana’s population is 6.7 percent Native American.
Rick Santorum Says ‘There Isn’t Much Native American Culture In American Culture’
NBC News, Tim Fitzsimons, April 26
Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum drew criticism for comments last week that “there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.” In remarks to conservative group the Young America’s Foundation on Friday, Santorum argued that the culture of the United States is largely unchanged since it was birthed by “Judeo-Christian” values. Santorum, 62, a Republican from Pennsylvania who served in the Senate from 1995 to 2007 and is now a CNN commentator, said there was “nothing here” before European settlers arrived. The reaction to Santorum’s comments was swift.
CNN Commentator Rick Santorum Says ‘There Isn’t Much Native American Culture In American Culture’
Native News Online, Levi Rickert, April 26
Rick Santorum, former Pennsylvania U.S. senator turned CNN political commentator, seems to have his own twist on the origins of the United States, which includes the erasure of Native American culture. In a speech last Friday at the Standing Up For Faith & Freedom Conference for the Young America’s Foundation, a conservative youth organization, Santorum portrayed a country built on faith and freedom. Santorum said the country was set up based on Judeo-Christian principles, and that white settlers “birthed a nation from nothing.”
Santorum said non-Native people came to the country and created a clean slate. Ignoring agriculture items introduced to Europeans upon arrival in the western hemisphere and the influence the Iroquois Confederacy had on American democracy, Santorum said “that there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”
Standing Rock Disputes New Figures By Dakota Access Owners
AP News, April 25
Attorneys for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota and South Dakota say the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers unlawfully authorized the Dakota Access pipeline without fully assessing the risks and are asking a judge to shut down the flow of oil while the Corps conducts a second environmental review. Standing Rock and other tribes filed a response in federal court Friday to a document by owners of the pipeline who said shuttering the pipeline would be a crushing economic blow to several entities, including the state of North Dakota and the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation. Also Friday, a federal appeals court denied a request from the pipeline to reconsider a panel’s ruling requiring a new environmental review while one of its permits remains revoked. The decision clears the way for U.S. District Judge James Boasberg to rule on whether the pipeline must shut down during the review process.
Utah City To Honor Slain Native American Chief With Monument
AP News, April 26
A city in northern Utah has announced plans to re-erect a monument this weekend to honor a Native American chief of the Northwestern Shoshone tribe who was killed more than 170 years ago. The city of Harrisville partnered with the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation and the Weber County Heritage Foundation to dedicate the historical marker at the site where Chief Terikee was killed in 1850.
Native Aspects Of The Oscars, Films Not Included
Indian Country Today, Vincent Schilling, April 26
Months ago, the powers that be at the Academy Awards announced that there would be no Zoom calls for Oscar recipients and nominees. The awards this year were certainly more subdued and Rolling Stone even called the lack of pomp and circumstance “refreshing.” During the awards ceremony, there was an Indigenous land acknowledgement for the Tongva people stated by Academy President David Rubin. Additionally, Navajo tribal citizen Shandiin Herrara appeared in a Verizon ad, and told Indian Country Today that she was excited to have represented her Navajo people and represent Native people at a national level. She expressed appreciation that her efforts with the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief was garnering attention.
A Wenatchi Designer’s Plan To Buy Back Native Lands
Native News Online, Manola Secaira, April 26
Just outside her shop in Wenatchee, Mary Big Bull-Lewis can see the Cascade foothills on the western edge of her hometown. Along the crest, only a little bigger than the size of a thumbnail from this distance, she can see Two Bears. The iconic shape has inspired the fascination of many, and it’s central to a P’squosa story — the Native people whose ancestral lands lie along the Wenatchee River and who are frequently referred to by the exonym Wenatchi. But its original Two Bears name is overshadowed by another given by white settlers: Saddle Rock, and Big Bull-Lewis, an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and a member of its Wenatchi, Entiat and Moses bands wants to change that.