Good morning, NUNAverse:
Yesterday, President Biden set a new vaccination goal to deliver at least one shot to 70% of adult Americans by July Fourth. Demand for vaccines has dropped off markedly nationwide, with some states leaving more than half their available doses unordered. Aiming to make it easier to get shots, President Biden called for states to make vaccines available on a walk-in basis and he will direct many pharmacies to do likewise.
Also yesterday, the President issued a proclamation recognizing Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons AwarenessDay – May 5th, 2021 – and calling on all Americans and levels of government to “support Tribal governments and Tribal communities’ efforts to increase awareness of the issue of missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives through appropriate programs and activities.”
During a call with press yesterday, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland expressed optimism about the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ recently-announced Missing and Murdered Unit. Secretary Haaland said the unit was part of a “whole-of-government” approach to addressing issues, saying that “for too long, Indian issues were relegated to tribal offices within federal agencies.” Asked how the unit would measure its success, the Secretary said the department would prioritize closing unsolved cases.
Following the U.S. Department of Treasury’s announcement that they will reverse the distribution methodology for the $8 billion in CARES Act funding for tribal governments, some tribes will receive more money from the relief package approved last year. While it is unclear exactly how many tribes will benefit from the revised calculation or how much they’ll get, the Treasury Department said it will look at the difference between the federal data and the enrollment data provided by tribes and rank them, so the top 15% get an additional payment. The higher the ratio between the two data sets, the larger the percentage of funding a tribe will get, the department said.
On Monday, Mexico marked the anniversary of a 1901 battle that ended one of the last Indigenous rebellions in North America by issuing an apology for centuries of brutal exploitation and discrimination. The Mayas of Quintana Roo — who fought an 1847-1901 rebellion against Mexican settlers and the government known as “the War of the Castes” — still live on the Caribbean coast. The rebellion was finally ended when Mexican troops captured Felipe Carrillo Puerto between May 4-5, 1901.“For centuries, these people have suffered exploitation and abuse,” said Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero. “Today we recognize something which we have denied for a long time, the wrongs and injustices committed against the Mayan people. Today, we ask forgiveness in the name of the Mexican government for the injustices committed against you throughout our history and for the discrimination which even now you are victims of.”
Keep reading for a full news update.
Biden Aims To Vaccinate 70% Of American Adults By July 4
AP News, Zeke Miller, May 4
President Joe Biden on Tuesday set a new vaccination goal to deliver at least one shot to 70% of adult Americans by July Fourth as he tackles the vexing problem of winning over the “doubters” and those unmotivated to get inoculated. Demand for vaccines has dropped off markedly nationwide, with some states leaving more than half their available doses unordered. Aiming to make it easier to get shots, Biden called for states to make vaccines available on a walk-in basis and he will direct many pharmacies to do likewise.
FDA Expected To OK Pfizer Vaccine For Teens Within Week
AP News, Zeke Miller, May 4
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize Pfizer’s covid-19 vaccine for youngsters ages 12 to 15 by next week, according to a federal official and a person familiar with the process, setting up shots for many before the beginning of the next school year. The announcement is set to come a month after the company found that its shot, which is already authorized for those age 16 and older, also provided protection for the younger group. The federal official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to preview the FDA’s action, said the agency was expected to expand its emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s two-dose vaccine by early next week, and perhaps even sooner.
Pfizer Reaps Hundreds Of Millions In Profits From COVID Vaccine
New York Times, Rebecca Robbins, Peter S. Goodman, May 4
Last year, racing to develop a vaccine in record time, Pfizer made a big decision: Unlike several rival manufacturers, which vowed to forgo profits on their shots during the Covid-19 pandemic, Pfizer planned to profit on its vaccine.
Navaj0 Nation Sends Masks To COVID-Stricken India
KNAU NPR, Melissa Sevigny, May 4
India now leads the world in coronavirus cases, with hundreds of thousands of people falling ill every day and a devestating death toll from the disease. The Navajo Nation is doing what it can to assist. President Jonathan Nez spoke with KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny about how Navajo citizens understand India’s suffering from their own experiences during the pandemic.
Bill To Replace Junipero Serra Statue In California’s Capitol Park Approved By Assembly Panel
Native News Online, Alina Bykova, May 4
A bill to replace a toppled statue of Junipero Serra that once stood in Sacramento’s Capitol Park with a monument honoring Indigenous tribes in the Sacramento region won committee approval last week in a unanimous bipartisan vote. Assemblymember James C. Ramos, the first California Native American elected to the California Legislature, introduced the bill. The bill is sponsored by six tribes in the Sacramento region and whose ancestors lived on the land where California’s capitol is now located, including the Wilton Rancheria, Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians, Chicken Ranch Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians, Ione Band of Miwok Indians, Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians and the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians.
New Mexico Must Give At-Home Students Fast Internet
AP News, Cedar Attanasio, May 4
A New Mexico judge has ordered education officials to provide computers and high-speed internet to students who still don’t have them in a landmark ruling that for the first time in the state has set a standard for internet speeds for public school children. The ruling requires state officials to immediately determine which students covered by the sweeping lawsuit are still lacking quality internet, or devices, and to provide them with what they need, including transportation if they can’t get fast internet from home. About 10 percent of New Mexico children are Native American and often confront major barriers to online and in-person learning.
A Proclamation On Missing And Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day, 2021
The White House, Joe Biden, May 4
“Today, thousands of unsolved cases of missing and murdered Native Americans continue to cry out for justice and healing. On Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day, we remember the Indigenous people who we have lost to murder and those who remain missing and commit to working with Tribal Nations to ensure any instance of a missing or murdered person is met with swift and effective action.”
“Now, Therefore, I, Joseph R. Biden Jr., President of the United States of America,… do hereby proclaim May 5, 2021, as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day. I call on all Americans and ask all levels of government to support Tribal governments and Tribal communities’ efforts to increase awareness of the issue of missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives through appropriate programs and activities.”
Haaland: Government ‘Ready To Solve’ Crisis Of Missing And Murdered Native Americans
The Hill, Zack Budryk, May 4
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland expressed optimism about the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ recently-announced Missing and Murdered Unit on a press call Tuesday, saying the federal government was “ready to solve this crisis.” Haaland said the unit was part of a “whole-of-government” approach to addressing issues, saying that “for too long, Indian issues were relegated to tribal offices within federal agencies.” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland, a member of the Bay Mills Indian Community, told reporters the new unit“will allow us to coordinate our resources across the nation,” enabling the Bureau to focus its resources on both new and unsolved cases. Haaland, asked how the unit would measure its success, said the department would prioritize closing unsolved cases.
A ‘Call For Justice’: MMIWG Awareness Day
Indian Country Today, Vincent Schilling, May 4
May 5 is recognized by national Native and grassroots organizations and advocates and activists in Indian Country as the day to bring awareness to the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Here is a list of events, campaigns and artists recognizing National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls, May 5.
Remains Found In North Carolina Storage Unit Identified As Turtle Mountain Chippewa Woman Missing For 15 Years
Native News Online, Darren Thompson, May 4
Human remains were identified on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 as Melissa “Missy” Ann Poitra, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa—more than 1,600 miles away from her home in Durham, N.C. She had been missing since 2005 and was living with her boyfriend in the Durham area at the time of her disappearance. When an online article was published in 2016 about an unidentified woman in Durham being discovered in a plastic tote concealed in a storage unit, Missy’s sister Jessica Poitra had suspicions that the person was her sister, who had been missing for more than 10 years. It is unclear how long the remains may have been hidden in the storage unit in Durham County, but the unit was rented by the same person since 2010.
CARES Act Funding:
Treasury: Some Tribes Will Get More Money From CARES Act
AP News, Felicia Fonseca, May 4
Some Native American tribes will receive more money from a federal virus relief package approved last year after the U.S. Treasury Department revised it’s methodology that tribal nations contend was badly skewed. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act set aside $8 billion for tribes. The Treasury Department distributed 60% of it, or $4.8 billion, based on population data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Three tribes sued over the methodology, alleging they were shortchanged by millions because tribal enrollment figures were higher than those reflected in federal data. It’s unclear exactly how many tribes, aside from the trio of plaintiffs, will benefit from the revised calculation or how much they’ll get.
Santorum’s Comments On Native Americans Don’t Quiet Critics
AP News, David Bauder, May 4
CNN analyst Rick Santorum’s claim that he misspoke during a recent speech where he said there was “nothing here” when the United States was founded did little to diminish anger against him. The National Congress of American Indians on Tuesday renewed calls for CNN to fire the former Pennsylvania senator. The group’s president, Fawn Sharp, called Santorum arrogant for comments made to Chris Cuomo on Monday night. CNN has not commented on Santorum’s initial remarks in an April 23 speech before Young America’s Foundation, a conservative youth organization, and did not on Tuesday, either. There’s been no indication of a change in status for Santorum, a commentator who was often tasked with giving the Republican point of view during campaign coverage.
Santorum On Comments About Native American Culture: ‘i Misspoke’
The Hill, Joseph Choi, May 4
Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) in an interview late Monday said he “misspoke” during recent remarks dismissing the influence of Native American culture on the U.S. Santorum, a senior political commentator at CNN, appeared on the network to discuss the comments, which sparked criticism late last month. Soon after the initial remarks were made, many online viewers called for Santorum to be removed from his position at CNN. In a statement to The Hill shortly after, Santorum said he had “no intention of minimizing or in any way devaluing Native American culture.” Following Santorum’s interview with Cuomo, fellow CNN host Don Lemon expressed his displeasure with the former senator’s latest comments.
‘Journey Of The Freckled Indian’
Indian Country Today, Richard Arlin Walker, May 4
When Alyssa London, Tlingit, was growing up, she didn’t meet her peers’ expectations of what an Indigenous person would look like. The future Miss Alaska USA grew up in a suburb of Seattle, Washington, some 1,100 miles from her Tlingit homeland. She has freckles, brown hair, hazel eyes and, through her mother, Czech and Norwegian ancestry. She’s written about the multicultural experience in a children’s book, “Journey of the Freckled Indian,” published last year by her company, Culture Story. A book series and television show are in the works.The book follows Freckles, a 10-year-old girl of Tlingit and European ancestry, in her search for her own identity.
Mexico Marks End Of Last Indigenous Revolt With Apology
AP News, May 4
Mexico on Monday marked the anniversary of a 1901 battle that ended one of the last Indigenous rebellions in North America, by issuing an apology for centuries of brutal exploitation and discrimination. Monday’s ceremony was held in the hamlet of Tihosuco in the Mayan township of Felipe Carrillo Puerto, the headquarters of the rebellion. It comes amid broader commemorations of the 500th anniversary of the 1519-1521 Spanish Conquest of Mexico, and 200 years of Mexico’s 1821 independence from Spain. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was accompanied by President Alejandro Giammattei of Guatemala, the neighboring country that has a majority Mayan population.