Good morning, NUNAverse:
Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eased its guidelines on wearing masks outdoors, saying that fully vaccinated individuals do not need to cover their faces anymore while outside, unless they are in a large crowd. The change comes as more than half of U.S. adults — or about 140 million people — have received at least one dose of vaccine, and more than a third have been fully vaccinated. CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the decision was driven by rising vaccination numbers; declines in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths; and research showing that less than 10% of documented instances of transmission of the virus happened outdoors.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland removed restrictions set in place last year in order to allow restoration of tribal homelands and reinstate policies that promote the federal government’s obligation to tribal nations. Secretary’s Order 3400 withdrew two Department of the Interior Solicitor’s Opinions issued last year under the Trump administration, without tribal consultation, which replaced a 2-part process and interpretation of the meaning of “under federal jurisdiction” under the Indian Reorganization Act with a new 4-part process.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg held a hearing to give the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers an opportunity to explain whether oil should continue to flow through the Dakota Access Pipeline while they conduct an environmental review study, and the Corps instead told the judge it wasn’t sure if the pipeline should be shut down. Now, in a one sentence order filed late Monday, Boasberg said that the Corps has until May 3 to tell him when it expects the environmental review to be completed and give “its position, if it has one,” on whether the pipeline should be shut down. The Corps said earlier it expected the review to be done by March 2022.
A tour guide with the Moab Tour Company discovered the words “white power” — a phrase associated with white supremacists — on Monday and other graphic images on “The Birthing Scene,” a panel on a slab covered on four sides with Native art and one of the most popular rock art panels in Moab. The Utah Bureau of Land Management is offering a reward to find who is responsible. The person who graffitied the racist message had to cross out their first attempt after misspelling the word “white.”
Keep reading for a full news update.
Interior Sec. Haaland Removes Restrictions Put In Place By Trump To Restore Tribal Homelands
Native News Online, April 27
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Tuesday removed restrictions set in place by the Trump administration last year to allow restoration of tribal homelands and reinstated policies that promote the federal government’s obligation to tribal nations. The Secretary’s Order withdrew two Dept. of the Interior Solicitor’s Opinions issued last year without tribal consultation, which replaced a 2-part process and interpretation of the meaning of “under federal jurisdiction” under the Indian Reorganization Act following the decision in Carcieri v. Salazar with a new, arduous 4-part process. Tribes maintained the delays caused increased costs to develop housing projects, manage law enforcement agencies and develop local economies as a result of unnecessary hurdles in the land-into-trust process.
US Agency Seeks To Speed Up Native American Land Decisions
AP News, Matthew Brown, April 27
U.S. Interior Department officials on Tuesday moved to reverse policies adopted under former President Donald Trump that Native American leaders said were hindering efforts by tribes to establish, consolidate and govern their homelands. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland issued an order that allows regional Bureau of Indian Affairs officials to approve the transfer of private land that’s not on a designated reservation into federal trust for tribes. Putting land into trust gives the federal government legal title to the property, while allowing tribes or individual Native Americans to use it for their own interests and not have to pay state and local taxes.
Alaska Legislators Consider State Recognition Of Tribes
Indian Country Today, Joaqlin Estus, April 27
Tribes exist and have the right to make their own laws and live by them. So say the U.S. Constitution and countless laws, regulations, and programs that fund tribes to exercise self-governance and tribal sovereignty. Getting the state of Alaska to acknowledge that is the intent of a bill moving through the state legislature. The legislation would require state recognition of the long-standing legal status of Alaska’s 229 federally recognized tribes and wouldn’t affect how tribal governments work. During the past few weeks supporters have talked about the importance of the bill at hearings before the House State Affairs and Tribal Affairs committees, and at a forum hosted by the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida.
Montana Marijuana Legalization Bill Passes In Senate
AP News, Iris Samuels April 26
The Montana Senate on Friday passed a bill to implement a recreational marijuana program in the state, which would reserve tax revenue from sales for addiction treatment and statewide conservation efforts. Voters approved a ballot measure last year to legalize recreational marijuana sales. The ballot measure also sought to divert a significant portion of tax revenue toward conservation efforts. The state’s eight federally-recognized Native American tribes would receive sales licenses, which could be used within 150 miles (241 kilometers) of a reservation. Because recreational marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, sales remain prohibited on reservations, which are governed by federal law. Native American lawmakers advocated for the provision in the bill, saying it would allow them to benefit financially from legalization.
First-Ever Paid Holiday On California Native American Day For Court Workers Moves To State Senate
Lake County News, April 27
California’s state Assembly on Monday approved a historic measure to grant state judicial branch employees the first-ever paid holiday on California Native American Day, which falls on the fourth Friday of September every year. The measure, by Assemblymember James C. Ramos, heads to the state Senate on a unanimous 72-0 bipartisan vote. Ramos, a member of the Serrano/Cahuilla tribe, is the first California Native American lawmaker elected in the state’s 170-year history. He has been laboring to enact a California Native American Day since 1998.
Native American Lawmakers Seek Federal Help On Montana Bison
AP News, Matthew Brown, April 27
Native American lawmakers in Montana on Tuesday called on the Biden administration to help craft a plan to reintroduce wild bison to the landscape in and around Glacier National Park and the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. The request was made by eight members of the Legislature’s American Indian Caucus in a letter to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. It comes after Gov. Greg Gianforte and his fellow Republicans in the Legislature have sought to make it harder to reintroduce bison to areas of the state that the burly animals once roamed.
CDC Says Many Americans Can Now Go Outside Without A Mask
AP News, Mike Stobbe, April 27
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased its guidelines Tuesday on the wearing of masks outdoors, saying fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to cover their faces anymore unless they are in a big crowd of strangers. And those who are unvaccinated can go outside without masks in some situations, too. The new guidance represents another carefully calibrated step on the road back to normal from the coronavirus outbreak that has killed over 570,000 people in U.S.
Tuesday Navajo Nation COVID-19 Update: 0 New Cases, No Recent Deaths
Native News Online, April 27
On Tuesday, the Navajo Department of Health, in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, reported zero new COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and no recent deaths. The total number of deaths remains 1,273 as previously reported. Reports indicate that 16,565 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, and 264,041 COVID-19 tests have been administered. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases is now 30,470.
Judge Gives Corps 2nd Chance To Offer Oil Pipeline Opinion
AP News, Dave Kolpack, April 27
A federal judge faced with a motion on whether the Dakota Access oil pipeline north of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation should be shut down during an environmental review is giving the Biden administration another chance to weigh in on the issue. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg held a hearing earlier this month to give the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers an opportunity to explain whether oil should continue to flow during its study, after an appeals panel upheld Boasberg’s ruling that the pipeline was operating without a key federal permit. The Corps instead told the judge it wasn’t sure if it should be shut down. The decision not to intervene came as a bitter disappointment to Standing Rock, other tribes involved in the lawsuit and environmental groups.
Advocates Detail ‘Shadow Pandemic’ Of Violence Against Women
AP News, Susan Montoya Bryan, April 27
Cases of domestic violence against Indigenous women and children and instances of sexual assault increased over the past year as nonprofit groups and social workers scrambled to meet the added challenges that stemmed from the coronavirus pandemic, advocates said Tuesday. Their testimony came in the opening session of a two-day summit focused on ending violence against Indigenous women and children. Native American leaders from pueblos throughout New Mexico and from the Navajo Nation gathered virtually for the event. The victim advocates who shared their stories pointed to lockdowns and stay-at-home orders that were instituted in the early months of the pandemic. They called it a “shadow pandemic,” saying it has had ripple effects for victims, law enforcement and advocacy groups.
Racist Message Found On Ancient Utah Petroglyph
AP News, April 27
Racist graffiti has been found covering ancient Native American petroglyphs in Utah on one of the most popular rock art panels in Moab, according to officials. A tour guide with the Moab Tour Company discovered the words “white power” — a phrase associated with white supremacists — on Monday and graphic images on “The Birthing Scene,” a panel on a slab covered on four sides with Native American art. The Utah Bureau of Land Management is offering a reward to find who is responsible. The art features figures from the Anasazi period nearly 2,000 years ago. The person who graffitied the racist message had to cross out their first attempt after misspelling the word “white.”
Native American Basketball Invitational Set To Return In July
Native News Online, Jenna Kunze, April 27
One hundred and twenty-eight Native youth leagues from all corners of the U.S.—and even into Canada and island country Samoa—will come together for a week of competition and educational speakers July 11-17 in Phoenix, Ariz. The Native American Basketball Invitational—a week-long camp typically showcasing topical workshops specific to Indigenous health and wellness, motivational speakers, and a college and career fair is the largest Indigenous basketball tournament in North America. High school teams will travel to the southwest city from Alaska, California, New York, Florida, and many states in between, said Director of Program Operations at NABI, Lynette Lewis.