Good morning, NUNAverse:
New voter restrictions currently being pushed by Arizona Republicans will make it more difficult for Native people who live in remote areas to vote, and Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said that the new laws belittle tribes and fail to recognize the unique challenges Native people face when casting ballots, including driving hours to reach polling places, unreliable mail service, and the need for more Native language translators.
Small museums and private institutions that accept federal CARES Act money or other stimulus funds could be forced to relinquish thousands of Indigenous items and ancestral remains currently in their collections. Under the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990, museums or other institutions that accept federal funding must compile an inventory of Indigenous cultural items and initiate repatriation of the collections and remains to tribes or family members.
During a graduation ceremony for Emory University, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that “the undeniable effects of racism” have led to unacceptable health disparities that especially hurt Native people, African Americans, and Hispanics during the pandemic. Fauci said that once society returns to “some form of normality,” people should not forget that infectious disease has disproportionally hospitalized and killed people of color.
Eleven men whose murder convictions in Oklahoma were overturned because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on state jurisdiction in tribal territories have been charged with federal murder counts, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday. A federal grand jury in Muskogee issued indictments in the cases that had been either reversed by a state appeals court or dismissed by state prosecutors, the department said in a news release. The reversals and dismissals were based on the McGirt v. Oklahoma decision, that found Oklahoma lacks jurisdiction for crimes committed on tribal lands in which the defendants or victims were tribal citizens.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Private Museums Could Face NAGPRA Scrutiny
Indian Country Today, Nannette Kelly, May 16
Small museums and private institutions that accept federal CARES Act money or other stimulus funds could be forced to relinquish thousands of Indigenous items and ancestral remains now in their collections. Under the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990, museums or other institutions that accept federal funding must compile an inventory of Indigenous cultural items and initiate repatriation of the collections and remains to tribes or family members. At least two museums are now facing possible scrutiny – the nonprofit Favell Museum of Native American Artifacts and Contemporary Western Art in Klamath Falls, Oregon, and the End of the Trail Museum, which is connected to the Trees of Mystery gift shop in the redwood forest in Klamath, California. Hundreds of other small museums and institutions could also face scrutiny of their Indigenous collections if they have accepted federal funds.
Navajos Say New Arizona Restrictions Will Complicate Voting
AP News, Felicia Fonseca, May 15
Arizona Republicans say the voter restrictions they’re pushing after President Joe Biden’s win in the state last year are designed to strengthen the integrity of future elections. To some, the changes will make voting more difficult than it already is. The bills, some signed into law this past week by Gov. Doug Ducey, are worrisome for Native Americans who live in remote areas, other communities of color and voters whose first language isn’t English. One codifies the existing practice of giving voters who didn’t sign mail-in ballots until 7 p.m. on Election Day to do so, defying a recently settled lawsuit that would have given voters additional days to provide a signature. Another will result in potentially tens of thousands of people being purged from a list of voters who automatically get a ballot by mail. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said Ducey’s actions belittle tribes and fail to recognize the unique challenges Native Americans face when casting ballots.
Federal Murder Charges In 11 Oklahoma Cases Due To McGirt
AP News, May 14
Eleven men whose murder convictions in Oklahoma were overturned because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on state jurisdiction in tribal territories have been charged with federal murder counts, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday. A federal grand jury in Muskogee issued indictments in the cases that had been either reversed by a state appeals court or dismissed by state prosecutors, the department said in a news release. The reversals and dismissals were based on the McGirt decision, that found Oklahoma lacks jurisdiction for crimes committed on tribal reservations in which the defendants or victims were tribal citizens. State appellate court rulings overturning criminal convictions based on McGirt have led to a dramatic increase in workload for federal prosecutors who must retry the cases in federal court. U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, on Tuesday introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that would allow the Chickasaw and Cherokee nations compact with the state on criminal jurisdiction.
‘No Small Task’: Working In The White House
Indian Country Today, Aliyah Chavez, May 15
In President Joe Biden’s White House, there are hundreds of staffers working in the executive office to help him run the nation. In this sea of staffers, four Native professionals are working to make sure Indian Country has a seat in these important discussions. Every day, staffers research and write memos for President Biden to read overnight — many involving topics ranging from coronavirus case numbers and vaccination rates to national security threats. Aides brief him on meetings he may attend the next day or experts he may speak to, while members of the press team send the president’s schedule to reporters so news organizations can plan their coverage accordingly. For the Native staffers, holding high-level positions within the executive office serves as a point of pride for themselves, their families, tribal nations and communities.
New Nielsen Poll Offers Hope That We’ll ‘See The End Of Native Mascots’
USA Today, Mike Freeman, May 16
Crystal Echo Hawk, the founder and executive director of IllumiNative, which fights negative stereotypes of Indigenous peoples, has hope. She has hope that one day, the use of Native people as mascots will end. Her hope is justified by a new and important Nielsen survey, provided to USA TODAY Sports, that shows a large swath of younger Americans see the use of Native people as mascots as wrong. The Nielsen mascot survey is one of the most comprehensive, but also one of the most important, because it shows that younger people are understanding the name is an offensive slur. And if they understand that it means a future where Indigenous peoples aren’t caricatured is that much closer.
Fauci Says Pandemic Exposed ‘Undeniable Effects Of Racism’
WPTV, May 16
The immunologist who leads the COVID-19 response in the United States said Sunday that “the undeniable effects of racism” have led to unacceptable health disparities that especially hurt African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans during the pandemic. Speaking by webcast from Washington, Fauci told the graduates in Atlanta that many members of minority groups work in essential jobs where they might be exposed to the coronavirus. He also said they are more likely to become infected if exposed because of medical conditions such as hypertension, chronic lung disease, diabetes or obesity.
Native Justice Coalition Bringing Awareness To MMIWG2S Issue
Native News Online, Levi Rickert, May 16
On a cool Saturday evening, some three-dozen gathered at Ah-Nab-Awan Park that sits between the Grand River and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in downtown Grand Rapids for MMIWG2S event that included speakers and then finally a vigil. The event was part of a month-long series of activities hosted by the Native Justice Coalition to bring awareness to the serious issue of missing and murdered Indigenous persons. Several speakers recounted stories of their own stories of how the issue has affected them on a personal level.
Witnessing The Next Evolution In Television: Black And Indigenous Writers Take Risks And Think Of Inventive Solutions
Native News Online, Monica Whitepigeon, May 16
Many people today are reexamining what it means to show solidarity, especially within Black and Native communities. There is an underlying and overlooked shared history between the two groups that American culture needs to acknowledge and incorporate into its narrative. As with any progressive societal movement, it takes multiple voices to speak up and form alliances to make impactful change. Emerging and veteran BIPOC writers are reassessing their approaches to representing these stories on television.
‘Rudy’ And ‘Hoosiers’ Screenwriter Heads Groundbreaking Project About Indigenous Football Stars
USA Today, Mike Freeman, May 15
You may not know the name Ray Halbritter, but you should, because what he’s doing now is one of the most important and groundbreaking things in sports and beyond. What Halbritter’s done centers around a book, positive representation of Indigenous people, the screenwriter for two of the most beloved sports movies of all time, and a group of Indigenous football stars that once dominated the sport. Halbritter is a graduate of Harvard Law School and the Nation Representative of the Oneida Indian Nation. For almost a decade, he was one of the leading voices in fighting Indigenous people being used as sports mascots. His stubborn efforts, along with others, is a big reason why the Washington Football Team stopped using its racist nickname. Now, Halbritter is attacking a different challenge, and its one that could have an even bigger impact. His production company, Standing Arrow Productions, is bringing to life journalist Sally Jenkins’ book The Real All Americans: The Team That Changed a Game, a People, a Nation.
America’s Tribal Colleges And Universities Hope For Transformation Under Biden Administration
Forbes, Michael Nietzel, May 14
Among the thousands of institutions that will receive nearly $40 billion in new funding for higher education as part of the recently passed American Rescue Plan, America’s Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) stand out as having some of the greatest need and also perhaps the greatest opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime transformation. The 35 TCUs will receive about $50 million in total from the $36 billion provided under the recently passed American Rescue Plan to all accredited public and private nonprofit, two-year and four-year institutions. And they are estimated eventually to receive another $143 million from the approximately $3 billion set aside for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), TCUs, Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), and the Strengthening Institutions Program (SIPs) institutions. With new and equitable investments, along with other aspects of President Biden’s Plan for Tribal Nations, the TCUs have reason to hope that not only will their historical problems of being under-resourced begin to be addressed, but that their unique strengths and mission also will be advanced at levels not previously seen.
Captain America Kickapoo Grass Dancer In Marvel
Indian Country Today, Vincent Schilling, May 14
Next month the Marvel universe is celebrating the 80th anniversary of Captain America by introducing a new mini-series titled “The United States of Captain America.” The series has an Indigenous touch in issue #3 and will be written by Marvel writer Christopher Cantwell and largely drawn by Dale Eaglesham, with supplements by additional artists and writers. In the case of issue #3 a character from the Kickapoo tribe, named Joe Gomez, is a grass dancer and construction worker for his community. Gomez’s outfit is a combination of Gomez’s recognition of Captain America and what the mantle stands for and a personal honor for his Kickapoo traditions as a grass dancer. Last week, Marvel released the first images of the upcoming Joe Gomez character. Some on Twitter said the red, white and blue celebrated colonization, but others cited Natives as the original Americans.