Good morning, NUNAverse:
Following weeks of pressure from Native organizations like the National Congress of American Indians, the Native American Journalists Association, and IllumiNative, CNN has terminated its contract with senior political commentator Rick Santorum after he made racist and inaccurate remarks about Native peoples. Last Thursday, Indigenous-led groups teamed up with several Hollywood celebrities for a “day of action” to pressure CNN to fire Santorum. They held a day-long tweet storm with the hashtag #RemoveRick, and a Twitter chat with Native journalists to talk about the impact of Native erasure in the media.
The Indian Health Service (IHS) announced it has approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents who are 12 and above and said the vaccination is available at IHS facilities. The IHS views this next wave of vaccinations as important so that Native youth can return to social activities. The organization says it has ample supply of the Pfizer vaccine and are working with IHS Area Offices and tribal, federal, and urban sites to distribute the vaccine.
Oil will continue flowing through the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) during an environmental impact study previously ordered by the Federal District Court of the District of Columbia. Judge James Boasberg wrote in his decision released on Friday that in order to get a shutdown, the tribes “must demonstrate a likelihood of irreparable injury from the action they seek to enjoin — to wit, the pipeline’s operation.” Friday’s opinion was opposite to the judge’s ruling last year that said that the pipeline should be shut down while the review is underway. The shutdown was stayed by a federal appeals court that upheld Judge Boasberg’s decision that a review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must be conducted but reversed the shutdown order.
The Cherokee Nation is set to receive $1.8 billion of the historic $31.2 billion allocated for Indian Country under the American Rescue Plan Act. Part of the $1.8 billion will be allocated directly to the tribal citizens of the Cherokee Nation spread over two payments. Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner’s proposed spending plan for the funds will provide every Cherokee citizen with a total of $2,000 in direct relief assistance, allocating $1,000 each year for two years. Other Cherokee Nation programs, such as tribe’s health, mental health, employment, housing, education, and small business assistance will benefit from the funds.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Indian Health Service Announces COVID-19 Vaccine Approved For Adolescents
Native News Online, May 22
The Indian Health Service (IHS) announced it has approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents who are 12 and above and said the vaccination is available at IHS facilities throughout Indian Country. The IHS views this next wave of vaccinations as important so that Native youth can return to social activities safely and provides parents and caregivers peace of mind knowing their children are protected from the COVID-19 virus. IHS says it has ample supply of the Pfizer vaccine and are working with IHS Area Offices and federal, tribal and urban sites to distribute the vaccine.
Federal District Judge Allows Oil To Continue To Flow Through Dakota Access Pipeline
Native News Online, Levi Rickert, May 22
A U.S. district judge on Friday allowed oil to keep flowing through the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) during an environmental impact study ordered previously by the court. Last October, Earthjustice on behalf of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe filed a lawsuit to shut down the DAPL. Judge James Boasberg, of the Federal District Court of the District of Columbia, wrote in his decision released on Friday that in order to get a shutdown, the tribes “must demonstrate a likelihood of irreparable injury from the action they seek to enjoin — to wit, the pipeline’s operation.” Friday’s opinion was opposite to the judge’s ruling last year that said that the pipeline should be shut down while the review is underway. The shutdown was stayed by a federal appeals court that upheld Judge Boasberg’s decision that a review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must be conducted but reversed the shut down order.
Federal Judge: Tribe Allowed To Join Mount Rushmore Lawsuit
AP News, Stephen Groves, May 21
A federal judge will allow a Native American tribe to join legal arguments opposing South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s efforts to put on a July Fourth fireworks display at Mount Rushmore. The Republican governor has sued the Department of the Interior after the National Park Service denied the state a permit to hold a fireworks display at the monument. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe had asked the judge to allow it to join the legal arguments, arguing it had a stake in the decision because the Black Hills, which include Mount Rushmore, are sacred for the tribe. It argued the fireworks event would violate the religious and first amendment rights of Native American people. Noem’s lawyers had opposed the tribe’s request in the U.S. District Court for South Dakota. But Chief Judge Roberto Lange, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, ruled Thursday the tribe could intervene. Lange granted the tribe’s request in part because the Park Service cited concerns from local Native American tribes for denying the state’s application.
CNN Drops Rick Santorum After Racist Comments About Native Americans
Huffington Post, Jennifer Bendery, May 22
CNN has terminated its contract with senior political commentator Rick Santorum after racist, inaccurate remarks he made about Native Americans, HuffPost has learned.
CNN Drops Rick Santorum After Dismissive Comments About Native Americans
The New York Times, Jesus Jiménez, May 22
Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator and Republican presidential candidate, has been dropped from his role as a CNN political commentator amid controversy over recent remarks in which he seemed to erase the role of Native Americans in U.S. history. Matt Dornic, head of strategic communications at CNN, confirmed in an email on Saturday that the network had “parted ways” with the former senator. Mr. Santorum’s departure from CNN came after comments he made about Native Americans at a Young America’s Foundation event last month. “We birthed a nation from nothing — I mean, there was nothing here,” Mr. Santorum said at the event. “I mean, yes, we have Native Americans, but candidly, there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.” After Mr. Santorum’s comments were made public, many called for him to be dropped from the network, including Fawn R. Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians.
CNN Cuts Ties With Rick Santorum Over Disparaging Comments
AP News, Mark Kennedy, May 22
CNN is cutting ties with former Republican senator and current TV analyst Rick Santorum over disparaging comments he made about Native American culture. On CNN, Santorum was a senior political commentator who was often tasked with giving the Republican point of view during campaign coverage. His parting ways with the network was confirmed Saturday by Alison Rudnick, vice president of HLN Communications and CNN Diversity and Inclusion. He sparked controversy in an April 23 speech before the Young America’s Foundation, a conservative youth organization. Santorum said immigrants created a nation based on the Judeo-Christian ethic from a blank slate. “We birthed a nation from nothing,” he said. “Yes, there were Native Americans, but there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”
After Making Racist Statement About Native Americans, Rick Santorum Fired By CNN
Native News Online, Levi Rikert, May 22
CNN has fired Rick Santorum, its conservative senior political correspondent, almost a month after the former Pennsylvania U.S. senator and twice-failed presidential candidate made disparaging comments about Native Americans during an event on April 23 at a Young America’s Foundation event. At the event, Santorum said the country was set up based on Judeo-Christian principles, and that White settlers “birthed a nation from nothing. I mean, there was nothing here,” he said, adding, “I mean, yes, we have Native Americans, but candidly, there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.” A video emerged days later that was shared thousands of time on social media platforms. His comments drew the ire of Native Americans across Indian Country and many called for his immediate firing.
Cherokee Nation Receiving $1.8 Billion Through American Rescue Plan Act Funds; Citizens To Receive $2,000 Directly
Native News Online, May 22
The American Rescue Plan Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden for COVID-19 recovery funds. Overall from the Act’s funds, Indian Country will receive a historic $31.2 billion. The Cherokee Nation will receive $1.8 billion of those funds. Part of the $1.8 billion will be allocated directly to the tribal citizens of the Cherokee Nation spread over two payments. Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner’s proposed spending plan for the funds will provide every Cherokee citizen with a total of $2,000 in direct relief assistance, allocating $1,000 each year for two years. Other Cherokee Nation programs, such as tribe’s health, mental health, employment, housing, education and small business assistance, will benefit from the funds.
Minnesota Woman Receives $100,000 Bush Foundation Fellowship To Enhance Women’s Health For American Indians
Duluth News Tribune, Dennis Doeden, May 22
Natalie Nicholson envisions a new model of health care for Indigenous women, and she plans to use a $100,000 Bush Foundation Fellowships she received this month to help her pursue that vision. The Bush Foundation provides Fellows with up to $100,000 over 12 to 24 months to pursue education and learning experiences that help them develop the skills and relationships to foster change in their communities and region. Fellows can use the funding to pursue such things as education, leadership training, networking and mentorship. Nicholson, 45, works at Mewinzha Ondaadiziike Wiigaming, an American Indian nonprofit organization co-founded by her mother, Millicent Simenson. Its mission is to give women and families more choice, control and confidence when it comes to the birthing process.
Pueblo-Designed Hot Air Balloon Takes Flight
Indian Country Today, Aliyah Chavez, May 22
A giant hot air balloon that is 86 feet tall (or nearly twice as high as the Hollywood sign) is the latest attraction that can be seen flying across the sky in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
In September, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center announced its Pueblo-inspired and designed hot air balloon. The balloon’s name is “Eyahne on the Horizon,” which means blessing in the Keres, a language spoken by seven Pueblo nations. The balloon serves as a “ambassador” for the cultural center to attract business and attention in a city where hot air balloons can be seen almost every morning. The black, white and red balloon is adorned with iconic patterns such as arrows and cloud steps. It hopes to attract attention to the cultural center, a world-class museum that serves as head of tourism in the state.
Enbridge Pipeline Showdown Looms In Michigan
Indian Country Today, Mary Annette Pember, May 22
When Enbridge Line 5 was built in 1953, the notion of tribal consultation was often overlooked by states and corporations. In those days, pipeline construction was a simple matter. The company paid the state of Michigan $2,450 for an easement for a portion of its pipeline on the lake bottom of the Straits of Mackinac. Today, however, the state of Michigan and 12 tribes are demanding more from Enbridge than money; they want accountability, meaningful consultation and the right to stop the flow of oil through the aging pipeline. Treaties — long-ignored and often drawn out in extended court fights — may be key to the dispute. After winning reaffirmation of treaty rights in federal court during the 1970s and 1980s, Michigan tribes have been actively exerting and protecting their rights to hunt and fish in unpolluted ceded territory as guaranteed by the Treaty of 1836. Now a showdown is looming over Enbridge’s continued operation of Line 5 as well as its plans to build a tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac to house a segment of the pipeline. Enbridge officials say they have tried repeatedly to open dialogue with Michigan tribal governments and insist the company supports the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Tribal leaders, however, say otherwise.
Cinda Hughes, Native Americans With Disabilities Advocate, Passes Away At 59
Native News Online, Jenna Kunze, May 21
Indian Country lost a social advocate, a brain, and a fierce defender of Native American rights on Wednesday, May 19, when Cinda Hughes (Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma) died in her home in Alexandria, Virginia, after a yearlong battle with cancer. She was 59. Hughes worked from the time she was in high school to advocate for rights of Native Americans with disabilities. Hughes herself was a quadriplegic—she was born with a condition that impacted the use and growth of her limbs, rendering her wheelchair dependent—which contributed to her dedication to advocacy work. Her career also included jobs as the Program Specialist at Office of Disability Employment Policy, Dept. of Labor; Legislative Associate for the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI); legislative affairs director at CANAR, an organization providing vocational rehabilitation and training to Indigenous peoples living with disabilities; and, most recently, Tribal Relations Specialist at the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Regalia Seized At Anchorage Graduation Ceremony Forces School District To Look Deeper
Native News Online, Jenna Kunze, May 21
Last week, 17-year-old David Paoli should have accepted his diploma at his West Anchorage High School graduation ceremony with pride in both his milestone accomplishment, and in his culture—expressed through the sealskin-adorned mortarboard graduation cap his mother Indigenized the year before to wear at her own master’s graduation. Instead, the cap was confiscated immediately prior to the ceremony by a staff member who incorrectly believed it went against policy. That night, Qassataq emailed school officials and the following morning, with her son’s permission, shared their story on Facebook, including the systemic oppression Alaska Natives have faced in the school system for generations. The family got their cap back—it had been held among other confiscated items from the ceremony. One week later, the post (subsequently printed as an op-ed in the Anchorage Daily News) had been liked and shared more than six thousand times.
Some Representations Of Native Americans Erase Their History
The Washington Post, Hayley Negrin, May 21
After last summer’s reckonings around racism, many U.S. cities are reexamining their public memorial landscapes. For example, a Chicago monuments commission is now in its fourth month of soliciting public comments on 41 monuments throughout the city that have been flagged as controversial. Among the statues under review are the Bowman and the Spearman sculptures on Michigan Avenue in Chicago’s downtown. Two 17-foot-tall anonymous figures in romantic Plains Indian headdresses sit atop horses guarding the entrance to Grant Park, where thousands of city residents stroll each week. Chicago Indigenous history experts, art historians and Croatian heritage leaders have met to discuss the Bowman and the Spearman, with some defenders of the sculptures pleading that the pieces are objects of Croatian pride rather than an attempt to harm Native American people. But, as this debate unfolds, it is clear that the problem is about more than one artist, one immigrant group and one monument. What is at stake in the debate is how Indigenous history is understood in American society more broadly.
Big Indigenous Wins At Canadian Screen Awards
Indian Country Today, Vincent Schilling, May 21
The Canadian Screen Awards, considered widely to be Canada’s version of the Academy Awards saw major wins for Indigenous artists and filmmakers. Michael Greyeyes has just effectively been named the best actor in Canada in 2021 after taking home a Canadian Screen Award for his role in “Blood Quantum.” Mohawk director Tracey Deer has just received a similar honor for two awards for her film “Beans” based on the Mohawk Oka crisis. And Jeff Barnaby has received seven Canadian Screen Awards for his movie “Blood Quantum” in production and art direction, make-up, costuming, direction and editing.