Good morning, NUNAverse:
The MIT Solve 2021 Indigenous Communities Fellowship is looking for its next class of Fellows! Six to eight fellows are chosen every year and receive a $10,000 award along MIT Solve support. Join us this Wednesday, May 12 from 4:00 to 4:45 PM EST for the second of four Community Engagement Clinics leading up to the application deadline. Register to learn more about the Fellowship and application process here.
The Navajo Nation reported on Friday that they have fully vaccinated more than 100,000 individuals of Thursday. The first shipment of Pfzier COVID-19 vaccines arrived on the Navajo Nation on December 14, 2020. Since then, the Navajo Area Indian Health Service worked aggressively with Navajo Nation officials get the vaccines into the arms of Navajo citizens. The Navajo Area Indian Health Service reported that 247,165 total vaccine doses have been received, 225,819 administered, which represents over 91 percent. 100,101 individuals have been fully vaccinated.
A number of tribal leaders were quick to endorse plans released by the Biden administration last week for how the United States can work collaboratively to conserve and restore the lands, waters, and wildlife that support and sustain the nation. The recommendations are contained in the 22-page “Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful” report, outlining a locally led and voluntary nationwide conservation goal to conserve 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030 that was submitted to the National Climate Task Force. Among the leaders are Aaron Payment, Chairperson of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe; W. Ron Allen, Tribal Chair and CEO of Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe; Shannon Holsey, President of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians; Cheryl Andres-Maltais, Chairwoman of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head Aqinnah; and Erik Stegman, Executive Director of the Native Americans in Philanthropy.
The Water & Tribes Initiative is working with members of Congress to pass resolutions that affirm the need to provide clean water to all Native people, and is asking lawmakers to earmark funding for tribal water infrastructure and maintenance in President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan. The text of President Biden’s bill has not been released yet, but the administration has released an overview that includes $111 billion for water infrastructure around the country. The Water & Tribes Initiative said the cost to connect all of the homes in Indian Country to water is likely in the range of $6-10 billion.
Maine Senator Angus King has recently co-sponsored a proposal to give tribes more time to meet requirements to expand broadband on their lands. Senator King said the Extending Tribal Broadband Priority Act of 2021 would give the tribal nations and Native Hawaiian organizations more time to apply for spectrum licenses for unassigned spectrum over their lands.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Navajo Nation Reaches 100,000 Fully Vaccinated Individuals Threshold
Native News Online, May 7
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer reported on Friday that the Navajo Nation now has over 100,000 individuals who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 as of Thursday. The first shipment of Pfzier COVID-19 vaccines arrived on the Navajo Nation on Dec. 14, 2021. Since then, the Navajo Area Indian Health Service worked aggressively with Navajo Nation officials get the vaccines into the arms of Navajo citizens. The Navajo Area Indian Health Service reported that 247,165 total vaccine doses have been received, 225,819 administered, which represents over 91 percent. 100,101 individuals have been fully vaccinated.
Explosive New MMIW Documentary “Say Her Name” Dubbed Eye-Opening By Mainstream Media As It Spotlights An Epicenter Of The Crisis
Native News Online, Jessica Prah, May 8
President Biden has said of the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) crisis, “What’s happening to Indigenous women on reservations and across the United States is unconscionable and outrageous. And it is devastating that families are conducting their own searches for missing loved ones. It must end.” President Biden’s statement epitomizes what a new documentary film, Say Her Name, exposes in Bighorn County, Montana. The county, which includes parts of the Crow and Northern Cheyenne reservations, has been called “an epicenter of MMIWG cases” by the Sovereign Bodies Institute. “Say Her Name” peels back the layers of platitudes and obfuscation that has become standard operating procedure for authorities with jurisdictional responsibility for MMIW/MMIP cases, and instead provides an insight that is both heart wrenching and inspiring, as the families of loved ones demonstrate incredible strength and spirit as they recount their experiences.
Native Americans Gathering To Honor Victims Of Violence
AP News, May 7
Native Americans are gathering in Boston on Friday to remember Indigenous peoples who have been killed, gone missing or subjected to violence. The afternoon event outside the North American Indian Center in the city’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood is part of a national week of action honoring missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Participants are being asked to wear red in a show of support. Indigenous women are murdered at 10 times the national average in some areas of the country and at least 80% of Native American women have experienced violence, according to Mahtowin Munro, a leader of United American Indians of New England. They also experience disproportionately high rates of sexual assault, organizers said.
MMIWG Posts Removed From Instagram On Missing And Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day
Native News Online, May 6
The seriousness of missing and murdered Indigenous persons in the country was recognized through a White House proclamation issued by President Joe Biden, who on Tuesday declared Wednesday, May 5, “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day.” Unfortunately, the powers that be at Instagram, owned by Facebook, did not understand the gravity of the issue that the White House acknowledged. As Native Americans were attempting to bring awareness to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons epidemic by making posts to Instagram, many of the posts were removed on Wednesday, May 5. IllumiNative, a nonprofit initiative designed to increase the visibility of – and challenge the negative narrative about – Native Nations and peoples in American society, issued a statement Thursday evening that said, “erasure of Native peoples and issues is violence and is rooted in white supremacy. Instagram must be held accountable.”
Waubay Woman Sentenced To Prison For Program Theft
AP News, May 9
Federal authorities say a Waubay woman accused of stealing money from an American Indian agency has been sentenced to more than two years in prison. Dawn Block, 53, pleaded guilty earlier to program theft. Authorities say the embezzlement occurred while she was acting director for the United Sioux Tribes of South Dakota Development Corp. from October 2018 to May 2019. A judge ordered Block to serve 27 months in prison and three years of supervised release. She must also pay back more than $222,000. Block allegedly took payroll advances, cash withdrawals, awards and bonuses, duplicate pay and unsupported payments.
‘It’s Derogatory’: One Man’s Four-Decade Fight Against His Town’s Native ‘Mascot’
The Guardian, Hallie Golden, May 9
Ted Trujillo has been fighting for years against the use of a racist mascot in a high school in Morris, Illinois. Current and former students told the Guardian most home football games involve a white student who has been named “chief” dressed in an outfit meant to resemble Native regalia. But it is this practice, along with the school’s mascot, that Ted Trujillo – considered the only enrolled tribal member of a federally recognized tribe living in the small city and an alumnus of the school – has been fighting against for nearly four decades.
The Washington Football Team Should Engage Native Americans On A New Name
The Washington Post, Josh Silver, May 7
Rebrand Washington Football appreciates that Robert McCartney, in his May 3 Regional Memo column, “ ‘Red Wolves’ sounds better to me than WFT,” urged the Washington Football Team to avoid names that have associations with Native American themes and imagery. It is not enough to get rid of racial slurs as names. A new name must be devoid of reference to or connotation of Native American culture, physical attributes or stereotypical characteristics. Even if the name “Warriors” is used without a Native American logo, people will cling to stereotypical and harmful images of Native Americans as “brave warriors” that lack the sophistication and cultural breadth of the Native American community. The team continues to make the mistake of not reaching out to Native American leaders
Maine Senator Looks To Expand Tribal Broadand Access
AP News, May 9
Maine’s independent senator has co-sponsored a proposal to give Native American tribes more time to meet requirements to expand broadband on their lands.
Sen. Angus King said the Extending Tribal Broadband Priority Act of 2021 would give the tribal nations and native Hawaii organizations more time to apply for spectrum licenses for unassigned spectrum over their lands. King said that is a pivotal step to growing broadband.
Tribal Leaders Endorse Biden Administration’s 30×30 Proposed Policy
Native News Online, May 9
The Biden administration on Thursday released its vision for how the United States can work collaboratively to conserve and restore the lands, waters, and wildlife that support and sustain the nation. A number of tribal leaders were quick to endorse the principles of the 30×30 Policy in a statement also released on Thursday. The recommendations are contained in the 22-page “Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful” report, outlining a locally led and voluntary nationwide conservation goal to conserve 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030 that was submitted to the National Climate Task Force. The report calls for a decade-long effort to support locally led and voluntary conservation and restoration efforts across public, private, and tribal lands and waters in order to create jobs and strengthen the economy’s foundation; tackle the climate and nature crises; and address inequitable access to the outdoors.
Indigenous Helmed Shows Mark ‘Significant Moment’
APTN National News, Dennis Ward, May 8
Three decades into his acting career, Michael Greyeyes believes we’ve arrived at a landmark moment for Indigenous people on the screen and behind the scenes. The sitcom has garnered a lot of attention for being the first comedy to have a Native American management and creative control, a position in the industry known as showrunners. Half of the writing team behind the first season of 10 episodes are also Indigenous. Greyeyes, Nêhiyaw and originally from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada, plays Terry Thomas, the CEO of the fictional Minishonka casino. The show was co-created and is co-produced by Sierra Teller Ornelas, Navajo.
NYC Schools Try Compromise On Columbus Day, Displeasing Some
AP News, Karen Matthews, May 8
In a possibly futile effort to please both Italian Americans who celebrate Christopher Columbus and racial justice advocates who accuse him of genocide, the New York City public school system has designated Oct. 11 as Italian Heritage Day/Indigenous People’s Day. The double-naming of the school holiday happened Tuesday after a calendar for the 2021-2022 school year was initially posted with Oct. 11, which is Columbus Day, a state holiday, labeled simply Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The change, which was made without the knowledge of the city’s mayor, drew swift condemnation from elected officials, including Democratic state senators Diane Savino and Joe Addabbo, who called the renaming of Columbus Day “block-headed” and said it did “terrible disservice to a difficult and complex conversation.”
Three Affiliated Tribes Hit By Ransomware Attack, Holding Tribal Information Hostage
Native News Online, Darren Thompson, May 7
On April 28, the Three Affiliated Tribes—the Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nation—announced to its staff and employees that its server was hacked and believe it was by malicious software called ransomware. Since the server was hacked, the tribe has been unable to access files, email and critical information. Ransomware is a type of malware from crypto-virology that threatens to publish data or perpetually block access to it unless a ransom is paid, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that there are 4,000 ransomware attacks launched every day. An attack is launched every 40 seconds.
Joy Harjo, Marcella LeBeau Among National Native American Hall Of Fame 2021 Inductees
Native News Online, Jenna Kunze, May 7
The National Native American Hall of Fame (NNAHOF) this week announced eight new inductees from across Indian Country, celebrated for their contributions in Native advocacy, politics, athletics, arts, health, and culture preservation and revitalization. The Native American Hall of Fame was incorporated as a nonprofit in 2016, and has since held three cycles of awards. This year’s cycle will bring the total number of Hall of Fame members to 32 living and dead Native American and Alaska Natives that have made significant contributions to Indian Country. Inductees are selected by a board of eight members, based on public input, research, and a matrix to ensure fair representation among tribal nations, according to the group’s founder and CEO, James Parker Shield (Little Shell Chippewa).
Native American Lawyer Calls On Harvard To Return Ancestral Relic
The Guardian, Aliya Uteuova, May 7
A descendant of a Native American chief and civil rights leader urges Harvard University to repatriate an ancestral heirloom. Ponca chief Standing Bear’s tomahawk – a single-handed axe, is currently displayed at Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. On 29 April, the attorney sent a letter to Jane Pickering, the director of the museum where the tomahawk is displayed. In the letter, Chapman laid out challenges to Harvard’s moral right to possess the relic. The repatriation demand comes in the wake of the Peabody Museum’s apology for the “pain” the museum caused by its refusal to return Native American objects amid accusations of violating the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
Mississippi Officials Apologize For Gross Mistreatment Of Native Americans
MPB, Kobee Vance, May 7
The prayer observance was opened with the pledge of allegiance, and remarks from the governor. Then, Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson took to the podium to offer an apology for past acts against the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and all Native Americans. Gipson recalled a 2009 resolution passed by the United States Congress that recognized the oppression and mistreatment of Native Americans. He says apologizing will help continue reconciliation efforts in the state. Chief Cyrus Ben of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians embraced Gipson after the apology. He then took the stand to speak about his Christian faith and unifying Mississippi.
Advocates For Tribal Water Access Are Asking Congress To Earmark Money For Projects On Native Land
KUER, Kate Groetzinger, May 7
The COVID-19 pandemic revealed a clear connection between access to clean water and public health, according to Navajo tribal member Bidtah Becker.
Becker is part of a group called the Water & Tribes Initiative that advocates for water access in Indian Country. She said the pandemic has made it easier to ask Congress for money to solve the problem.