Good morning, NUNAverse:
Yesterday, an advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted to recommend the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for use in children ages 12 to 15. The C.D.C. director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, formally adopted the recommendation on Wednesday evening. Vaccinations of adolescents have already begun in a few states, like Maine, while others plan to offer the vaccine as early as today.
President Joe Biden has announced yesterday that he has nominated Lauren J. King, a tribal citizen of the Muscogee Nation, to become a federal district judge for the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. If confirmed, King would be the third active Native federal district court judge in the country, the fifth in the history of the federal judiciary, and the first Native federal judge in the Western District of Washington. King currently is a principal at Foster Garvey, P.C. based in Seattle, Washington, where she has practiced since 2012. She chairs the firm’s Native Law Practice Group and has served as a pro tem appellate judge for the Northwest Intertribal Court System since 2013.
During his State of the Tribes address in the Wisconsin State Assembly, Lac du Flambeau President John Johnson focused on racism and stereotypes. He used examples to talk about these issues, saying that while tribal citizens have rights to fishing and harvesting, “We’re still harassed every year, threatened, sometimes we’re shot at, or even assaulted for harvesting fish other resources to provide for our communities. Even though we restock countless lakes and fish. And seek to manage and sustain natural resources for future generations. This behavior stems from ignorance.”
Gameloft Brisbane, the team behind the new version of the classic Oregon Trail video game that is available through the Apple Arcade, spoke to NPR about updating the game to address its representation of Native people. Creative director Jarrad Trudgen said the team wanted to weed out historical inaccuracies and other cliches about Native culture, and to do so they brought in three Indigenous historians to consult on various aspects of the game, including the music, naming conventions, speech patterns, and more.
Keep reading for a full news update.
President Biden Nominates Muscogee Citizen Lauren J. King To Federal Bench For The Western District Of Washington
Native News Online, May 12
Lauren J. King, a tribal citizen of the Muscogee Nation, was nominated by President Joe Biden on Wednesday to become a federal district judge for the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. She must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. If confirmed, King would be the third active Native American federal district court judge in the country, the fifth in the history of the federal judiciary, and the first Native American federal judge in the Western District of Washington. King currently is a principal at Foster Garvey, P.C. based in Seattle, Wash., where she has practiced since 2012. She chairs the firm’s Native American Law Practice Group and has served as a pro tem appellate judge for the Northwest Intertribal Court System since 2013.
100 Days On Capitol Hill
Native News Online, Aliyah Chavez, May 12
It’s been a little more than 100 days since the five Indigenous members were sworn into the 117th Congress. A lot has happened since then. Indian Country and nation reached a notable milestone when Interior Secretary Deb Haaland took office in March, the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency. The five Indigenous voting members of Congress all serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, and a majority come from the Republican party. Reps. Tom Cole, Markwayne Mullin, Sharice Davids, Yvette Herrell and Kai Kahele have worked through the national and state hurdles of the last few months. On major pieces of legislation like the American Rescue Plan, the Indigenous members of Congress voted along party lines, with the Republicans opposing the legislation and the Democrats supporting it. On other bills affecting Indian Country, many Indigenous Congress members have crossed party lines to advocate for tribal communities.
C.D.C. Advisers Endorse Pfizer Vaccine For Children Ages 12 To 15
New York Times, Apoorva Mandavilli, May 12
The federal government on Wednesday took a final step toward making the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine available to adolescents in the United States, removing an obstacle to school reopenings and cheering millions of families weary of pandemic restrictions.
US Deaths Hit Lowest Level In 10 Months
AP News, Heather Hollingsworth, May 12
COVID-19 deaths in the United States have tumbled to an average of around 600 per day — the lowest level in 10 months — with the number of lives lost dropping to single digits in well over half the states and, on some days, hitting zero. Confirmed infections have fallen to about 38,000 per day on average, their lowest mark since mid-September. While that is still cause for concern, reported cases have plummeted 85% from a daily peak of more than a quarter-million in early January. The last time U.S. deaths from the pandemic were this low was in early July of last year. The number of people with COVID-19 who died topped out in mid-January at an average of more than 3,400 a day, just a month into the biggest vaccination drive in the nation’s history.
Navajo Nation Health Facilities To Offer Vaccines For Adolescents This Week
Native News Online, May 12
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended the use of the Pfizer vaccine for the 12-15 years old adolescent population on Wednesday, which was also approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday. Several health care facilities on the Navajo Nation will begin offering the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents as early as Thursday, while others will begin on Friday and Saturday. On Wednesday, the Navajo Department of Health reported 20 new Covid-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and no recent deaths.
Navajo Area IHS Prepares To Begin Vaccinating 12-15 Years Old Adolescents
Native News Online, May 11
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for 12- to 15-year-old adolescents on Monday. The Navajo Area Indian Health Service is awaiting forthcoming guidance from the Advisory Council on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and adoption by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) before implementing vaccinations for this age group. ACIP is scheduled to meet on Wednesday and will conduct an independent review and recommendation to the CDC about the appropriate use of the Pfizer vaccine in this adolescent population.
Controversial Arizona Voting Bill Explained
AP News, Jonathan J. Cooper, May 12
Arizona is the latest Republican-controlled state in the crosshairs of voting rights advocates after Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation Tuesday allowing potentially tens of thousands of people to be purged from a list of voters who automatically get a mail ballot. Republicans said the measure will save money and further trust in elections at a time when a substantial share of the GOP base distrusts Donald Trump’s 2020 loss, despite no evidence of problems that could have affected the results. Critics said the bill will make it harder for people to vote, with an especially strong impact on new or infrequent voters, especially people of color and those living in poverty. Voters on the popular permanent early voting list will be removed if they sit out two consecutive election cycles. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez questioned the bill, saying it was voter suppression, according to a news release.
The Oregon Trial On Apple Arcade Addresses Native American Stereotypes
Gamespot, Jeremy Winslow, May 12
Oregon Trail has been a staple in the classroom for decades, and a new mobile version has updated the game’s representation of Native Americans.
Former Governor To Be New Anchorage University Chancellor
Indian Country Today, Joaqlin Estus, May 12
The next leader of University of Alaska Anchorage has a controversial history with tribes. The University of Alaska Anchorage announced former Gov. Sean Parnell as the new chancellor of the campus. Wednesday’s announcement means the university passed over the lone Indigenous candidate in Pearl Kiyawn Nageak Brower, one of eight finalists. Brower is the former president of the tribal college Ilisagvik in Utqiagvik. Parnell, a Republican, was governor of Alaska from 2009 to 2014. During his five years in office, his administration set up policies, waged lawsuits, and filed court appeals (see examples listed below), to oppose Alaska Native people and Alaska tribes’ rights. The state settled or lost lawsuits over its opposition to tribal court jurisdiction, subsistence rights, and tribes putting land into trust (protected) status.
Tribal Leader Says Pandemic Has Increased Drug Abuse
AP News, May 12
Native Americans in Wisconsin are struggling to overcome increased drug abuse related to the COVID-19 pandemic, a tribal leader said in the annual State of the Tribes address.
Speaking to Assembly lawmakers at the Capitol Tuesday afternoon, Lac du Flambeau President John Johnson Sr. said increased drug abuse has claimed those most vulnerable during the public health crisis. Johnson also said tribes continue to face harassment and racism as they defend their federal treaty rights to hunt, fish and gather and he also called on all organizations and schools to retire the use of race-based mascots.
State Of The Tribes Address Calls Attention To Hate Crimes Against Native Americans
WSAU, Chris Conley, May 12
The Lac du Flambeau Tribal president says people have made strides in addressing racism towards Native Americans, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. Racism and stereotypes were the central theme of John Johnson Senior’s State of the Tribes address in the Wisconsin Assembly. He used examples of his own experiences here in the Northwoods to talk of these issues. Johnson says tribal members have rights to spearing fishing and other harvesting that are often challenged. One recent positive change Johnson has seen is the renaming of an offensive lake that was derogatory towards Native women.
‘We Can Infer An Apology From A $50,000 Check’
Indian Country Today, Richard Allan Walker, May 12
The settlement is small, but the message is big. “The message is: Go away. And if you consider coming back, you will be fought tooth and nail,” attorney Gabe Galanda said of the $50,000 the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife paid on April 23 to settle the false-arrest claims of two Tulalip Tribes fishermen who owned and operated a seafood distribution business. Although the state Fish and Wildlife Department did not admit liability, “we can infer an apology from a $50,000 check,” said Galanda, a citizen of Round Valley Indian Tribes and managing lawyer at the Seattle-based Galanda Broadman firm. Fishermen Hazen Shopbell and Anthony Paul, who owned the now-defunct Puget Sound Seafood Distributors, were arrested and their homes on the reservation were searched by state fish and wildlife officers in 2016 during an investigation into allegations they unlawfully used their fish-buying license and trafficked in fish or shellfish. The arrests made tribal fishermen fearful of selling their shellfish to Puget Sound Seafood Distributors, Galanda said, and the business died.