Good morning, NUNAverse:
Yesterday afternoon the Biden administration announced that half of all adults in the United States are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Nearly 130 million people age 18 and older have completed their vaccine regimens since the first doses were administered to the public in December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Another 70 million vaccine doses are currently in the distribution pipeline, according to the agency.
Tribal Chairman David Sickey of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana was appointed to chair the state’s Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) task force by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. The Governor signed an Executive Order creating the task force on May 5, 2021, as well as a Proclamation establishing May 5 as MMIWG Day in the State of Louisiana. The MMIWG task force will consist of 25 key state and local leaders, with representation from all of Louisiana’s federally-recognized tribes and state recognized tribes.
The Cherokee Nation, a leading employer in northeastern Oklahoma, is now providing all of its government employees with a total of two hours of paid mental wellness leave each month. Top leadership at the Cherokee Nation recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic has added stress and barriers in the lives of its employees. So, on Tuesday Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner signed an executive order that adds the two hours paid for mental wellness. The new benefit allows employees to use the two hours at their discretion each month. The mental wellness leave is intended to provide employees with opportunities for personal growth outside of the workplace, including additional family time, health and wellness activities, therapy or counseling appointments, or other activities focused on improving morale and mental wellness.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will hear testimony later today on the impact COVID-19 has had on tribal languagesin a hearing entitled “Examining the Covid-19 Response in Native Communities: Native Languages One Year Later.” The Committee will hear from the Department of Health & Human Services’ Administration for Native Americans and Native language leaders from Hawaiʻi, Alaska, and Indian Country on COVID-19 impacts to Native communities’ language revitalization efforts, Native language resources in the American Rescue Plan Act, and the two bills on the legislative agenda. The hearing is scheduled to start at 2:30 P.M. EST today.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Half Of All U.S. Adults Are Now Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19
NPR, Bill Chappell, May 25
The U.S. COVID-19 vaccination program has gone from zero to 50% in less than six months.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Biden administration said, half of the country’s adults are now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Coushatta Chairman David Sickey Appointed By Louisiana Governor To Chair The State’s Murdered And Missing Indigenous Women And Girls Task Force
Native News Online, May 25
Tribal Chairman David Sickey of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana was appointed to chair the state’s Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) task force by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. Gov. Edwards signed an Executive Order creating the task force on May 5, 2021, as well as a Proclamation establishing May 5th as MMIWG Day in the State of Louisiana. The MMIWG task force will consist of 25 key state and local leaders, with representation from all of Louisiana’s federally-recognized tribes and state recognized tribes.
Chairman Sickey and his staff have worked with the Governor’s Office to help launch the Louisiana’s MMIWG task force.
Senate Committee On Indian Affairs To Hear Testimony On COVID-19’s Impact On Native Languages
Native News Online, May 26
The Covid-19 pandemic has negatively impacted tribes across Indian Country in ways beyond just the physical well-being of tribal citizens. With the loss of life during the pandemic came loss of culture, as well. Several tribal communities lost elders who were fluent speakers of their languages, which put tremendous strain on efforts to keep the Native languages alive.
Fantasy Sports Industry Says Bill Will Put Games On Hold
AP News, Susan Haigh, May 25
Thousands of Connecticut residents who play fantasy sports for money using online companies could be sidelined for the upcoming NFL season if legislation moving through the state General Assembly becomes law, the industry is warning. Last week, the state House of Representatives voted 122-to-21 in favor of a long-awaited gambling agreement that the Democratic governor his administration reached in March with the state’s two federally recognized Native American tribes. It creates a new framework for legalizing and regulating in-person and online sports wagering, online casino gambling, in-person and online keno, online lottery draw games and fantasy sports. Ultimately the 10-year deal, which essentially authorizes the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribes and the Connecticut Lottery Corporation to operate these games, will need approval by the U.S. Department of Interior. The bill allows the tribes to conduct fantasy contests at their casinos on reservation land, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino, and outside the reservations, online. In return, the state will receive a share of those revenues.
Okemos School District Near Lansing Drops Chiefs Nickname
AP News, May 25
A Lansing-area school district named for a Native American leader is dropping its Chiefs nickname, following similar changes at other Michigan schools. The Okemos school board voted Monday to stop using Chiefs or Chieftains and pick a new nickname in a few years. The switch could cost more than $400,000 to remove the name and image from buildings, uniforms and other school properties, the Lansing State Journal reported. Okemos is an unincorporated community in Meridian Township. It is named for Chief Okemos, who lived in the area and led the Saginaw Chippewas. He died in 1858. Deborah Guthrie, who serves as township clerk, designed the school logo, which is an ‘O’ with ‘Chiefs’ running through it. She said the nickname honored the chief.
Rallies, Moments Of Silence Honor George Floyd A Year Later
AP News, Mohamad Ibrahim, May 25
A family-friendly street festival, musical performances and moments of silence were held Tuesday to honor George Floyd and mark the year since he died at the hands of Minneapolis police, a death captured on wrenching bystander video that galvanized the racial justice movement and continues to bring calls for change. Floyd’s sister Bridgett and other family members held a moment of silence at a “Celebration of Life” event at a downtown Minneapolis park that included music, food trucks, an inflatable bouncy house and a vaccination stand. A few miles away, at the site of the intersection where Floyd died, dozens of people kneeled around a steel fist sculpture for several minutes — symbolizing the 9 minutes, 29 seconds during which Floyd was pinned down.
Cherokee Nation Employees Qualify For Two Hours Of Paid Mental Wellness Leave Monthly
Native News Online, May 25
The Cherokee Nation, a leading employer in northeastern Oklahoma, is now providing all of its government employees with a total of two hours of paid mental wellness leave each month. Top leadership at the Cherokee Nation recognize that the Covid-19 pandemic has added stress and barriers in the lives of its employees. So, on Tuesday Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner signed an executive order that adds the two hours paid for mental wellness. The new benefit allows employees to use the two hours at their discretion each month. The mental wellness leave is intended to provide employees with opportunities for personal growth outside of the workplace, including additional family time, health and wellness activities, therapy or counseling appointments, or other activities focused on improving morale and mental wellness.
Boosting Indigenous Creativity
Indian Country Today, Gianluca D’Elia, May 25
There have been more than 225 recipients of a grant from the Natives in Entertainment COVID-19 Relief Fund, created in a partnership between the Native American Media Alliance and Netflix to support Indigenous writers, directors, actors and other industry professionals who lost jobs to the pandemic. Ian Skorodin, Choctaw, a filmmaker who is the director of strategy for the alliance, said he encourages all Natives who have lost work to apply, even if it just provides some short-term relief. More than $450,000 worth of grants distributed as of April, and there are still more grants available. Both during the pandemic and long before it, parity for Native people in entertainment has been a significant issue, Skorodin said. The COVID-19 relief grant has illuminated the need to protect and advance Indigenous people’s presence in the industry.
Chickahominy Indian Tribe Cancels Annual Powwow Amid The Pandemic
Daily Press, Em Holter, May 25
The Chickahominy Indian Tribe announced Tuesday it will not host its annual fall festival and powwow this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The two-day event, which serves as a way to celebrate Native American culture, educate non-Native Americans and bring other tribes together, is typically hosted in late September. While COVID-19 cases are declining and more people are getting vaccinated, Chickahominy Tribal Chief Stephen Adkins stated in a release that there is still a risk of exposure and because of that, the tribe is canceling the event. As of right now, the next powwow is scheduled for Sept. 24-25, 2022.
Cedar City Family Upset After School Removes Daughter’s Graduation Cap With Native American Symbols
FOX 13, Spencer Joseph, May 25
Graduation day for Canyon View High School was Monday, and students lined up early to get ready. One of those was Trinidad Cervantes, a good student who was also a varsity basketball player. She was ready to graduate with her family watching when a teacher instructed her to move her graduation cap that had been decorated. She had added bead work and an eagle feather to her cap to symbolize her Native American heritage. While normally the designs wouldn’t be allowed, Trinidad’s aunt had called the school and ask them if it would be okay to make those additions and had gotten approval.
1,000-Year-Old Native American Handmade Canoe Found At The Bottom Of A Polk County Lake
Bay News 9, Ashonti Ford, May 25
A handmade canoe built by Native Americans was found in Lake Hancock. “Our state archeologist estimates this is about 1,000 years old,” said Lake Wales History Museum curator, Bartholomew Delcamp. The canoe is about 21 feet long and is thought to have been able to hold seven people at once. Delcamp said that Polk County was home to many Native Americans before the Spanish settlement.
Committee Proposes Removal Of Civil War Memorial Statue
AP News, May 25
A citizens committee in western Michigan has proposed removing a park statue of a Union soldier and Confederate soldier standing back to back as a slave child kneels between them. In addition to removing the current statue, the committee also recommended that a replacement statue featuring three Union soldiers — one white, one Black and one Native American — be erected. Calls for the statue to come down began last year following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and anti-police brutality protests around the country.