Navajo Nation filed a lawsuit in New Mexico against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, arguing that the new “2020 Waters of the United States Rule” diminishes the number and extent of Navajo waters protected by the Clean Air Act. The lawsuit alleges that the new rule could also adversely impact the amount of federal funding that the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency receives for its water programs. Yesterday, NUNA reported on a similar lawsuit filed in Washington State by five tribes that asked a federal court to set aside the Trump Administration’s “Navigable Waters Protection Rule” that narrows the scope of federally protected waterways.
Mvskoke Media reports on the recently published guidance from the U.S. Treasury Department that states a per capita distribution of CARES Act funds was not allowable. The guidelines indicated that governmental entities could distribute relief through programs and would have scope and authority to shape programs to fit their needs.
Several groups led by Native American activists are planning protests for Trump’s July 3 visit to Mount Rushmore to kick off Independence Day. The protestors claim Mount Rushmore is a desecration of land violently stolen from them and used to pay homage to leaders hostile to Indigenous people, with many likening Mount Rushmore to the Confederate monuments that are being removed and torn down across the country.
After an online push for Anchorage, Alaska Mayor Ethan Berkowitz to remove the statue of Captain James Cook, Berkowitz has asked the Native Village of Eklutna, the only tribal government within the boundaries of Anchorage, to decide what to do with the statue.
The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs wants to encourage tribes and Alaska Native Corporations to identify potential economic development projects or activities inside designated Opportunity Zones. DOI is seeking proposals from tribes via the Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development and its Native American Business Development Institute (NABDI), and expects to issue 20-25 grants ranging from $25,000 to $75,000.
The Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey announced it has received a $320,000 grant from The Henry Luce Foundation to support a new project built around its collection of Native Art of North America. The award is the Museum’s largest ever one-time foundation grant.
The wall along the U.S.-Mexico Border that is currently under construction by the Trump Administration will not split the Cocopah Reservation along the Colorado River after the Trump administration attorneys removed funding for the Cocopah section in a response to lawsuits brought by the Sierra Club, the State of California, and other parties. While the administration cited issues with terrain and high building costs, Representative Raul Grijalva says that tribal sovereignty is the real reason.
“It would be foolish of Homeland Security of this administration to challenge sovereignty, because you’re challenging sovereignty at all levels if you do that,” Rep. Grijalva said. “[That is] a project they can’t win.”
Keep reading for a full news update.
CARES Act Funding:
US Treasury Says No To Per Cap
Mvskoke Media, Angel Ellis, June 24
Approximately 100 peaceful demonstrators gathered at the bow shoot fields on the Muscogee (Creek) Nation tribal complex on June 22 to voice their dissatisfaction with the amount of CARES Act funding that was approved for individual relief in an Extraordinary Session on June 11.
Haskell Indian Nations University To Go Fully Online Due To COVID-19 Pandemic
Native News Online, June 25
Citing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Haskell Indian Nations University announced today that its administration has decided to shift exclusively to online/distance learning courses for the fall 2020 semester. “We are planning to support our students’ academic progress and success in the most effective means available to us until the imminent threat of the spread of COVID-19 passes,” the announcement reads.
11 More Die On Navajo Nation From COVID-19 – Death Toll At 347
Native News Online, June 25
On Wednesday, the Navajo Department of Health, in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, reported 69 new COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and 11 more deaths. The total number of deaths is 347 as of Wednesday. Reports from 11 health care facilities on and near the Navajo Nation indicate that 3,802 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, with one health care facility report still pending. 51,144 people have been tested for COVID-19. The total number of COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation is 7,157.
From Ribbon Skirts To Cloth Masks, Junior Miss Indian Chicago Makes A Difference
Native News Online, Monica Whitepigeon, June 25
Multi-talented high school sophomore Nizhoni Ward has a passion for using her skills to effect change and to help others better themselves. Between advocating for Native causes and Indigenous women, speaking openly about her battles with depression and sewing traditional clothing for girls attending reservation schools, Ward (Navajo/Choctaw) fills her time with myriad creative pursuits that aim to make a difference. That’s why it was a natural move for Ward, 15, to use her free time during the COVID-19 pandemic to put her skills to use in a way that helped others.
Navajo Nation Sues EPA, Army Corps Over The Clean Water Act
Native News Online, June 25
Navajo Nation filed a federal lawsuit this week against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, arguing that the new “2020 Waters of the United States Rule” diminishes the number and extent of Navajo waters protected by the Clean Air Act. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico, alleges that the new rule could also adversely impact the amount of federal funding that the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency receives for its water programs. “At this point in time, with climate change occurring around the world, it’s more prudent than ever to protect our land, water and air,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a statement.
Cheyenne River Sioux River Sues Trump And Team Over Checkpoint
Native News Online, June 25
The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (Tribe) on Tuesday filed a complaint against President Donald Trump and 10 other members of his administration, including Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff; David Bernhardt, secretary of the Interior; Tara MacLean Sweeney, assistant secretary-Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior; and Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator. The lawsuit alleges the Trump administration abused federal authority to force the Tribe to dismantle health checkpoints it uses to screen people for COVID-19 coming onto its reservation in central South Dakota.
The Sioux Sue – And Lives Depend On The Outcome
Fawn Sharp, June 25
In the sacred homelands of the mighty Sioux, a line has been drawn that will be defended by a nation of tribal nations – and held. At stake is the survival of the sovereignty of all tribes and the literal survival of their citizens. The line was drawn by the sovereign-elected governments of two federally recognized tribal nations, the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, that have instituted strict stay-at-home orders and curfews to arrest the spread of COVID-19 in their communities. Because both of the impacted Sioux tribes are surrounded in South Dakota by state and local governments that have refused to issue stay-at-home orders despite major regional outbreaks, the tribes have instituted brief public safety checkpoints on highways entering their lands to prevent access to those who present a high medical risk or who are not executing an essential service.
Tribe, Environmentalists Fight Rollback Of US Water Rule
AP News, Susan Bryan, June 24
The nation’s largest Native American tribe and several environmental groups are waging a legal challenge to a revised federal rule that lifts protections for many streams, creeks and wetlands across the U.S. The rule, which took effect Monday, narrows the types of waterways that qualify for federal protection under the half-century-old Clean Water Act. As a result, critics say the number of waterways across the Navajo Nation and other arid states in the West that were previously protected under the act have been drastically reduced.
Those Statues Didn’t Topple Overnight
Indian Country Today, Mary Annette Pember, June 25
Carol Welsh has been protesting Christopher Columbus in his namesake Ohio city for decades. Her husband even received death threats in the early 1990s, when the community became ground zero for celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of “Columbus’ voyages of discovery.” “I could never understand the non-Native’s anger; I felt as though we bent over backwards to be caring and respectful,” Welsh said. She and other Natives in the Columbus, Ohio, area are celebrating Mayor Andrew Ginther’s announcement last week that the city will remove a large statue of Columbus that stands in front of the community’s city hall.
Native Americans Protesting Trump Trip To Mount Rushmore
AP News, Stephen Groves, June 24
President Donald Trump’s plans to kick off Independence Day with a showy display at Mount Rushmore have angered Native Americans, who view the monument as a desecration of land violently stolen from them and used to pay homage to leaders hostile to Indigenous people. Several groups led by Native American activists are planning protests for Trump’s July 3 visit, part of Trump’s “comeback” campaign for a nation reeling from sickness, unemployment and, recently, social unrest. The event is slated to include fighter jets thundering over the 79-year-old stone monument in South Dakota’s Black Hills and the first fireworks display at the site since 2009.
Minnesota Tribes Ask For More Autonomy With CARES Act Funding
Inforum, Sarah Mearhoff, June 24
After weeks of waiting for delayed federal dollars from Congress’s CARES Act to help amid the coronavirus pandemic, leaders of Minnesota’s Native American tribes say they wish their allocations didn’t come with so many strings attached. On a Wednesday, June 24 virtual meeting, leaders of Minnesota’s 11 tribal nations said they felt left behind earlier this spring as the federal government began allocating billions in federal aid to local and state governments throughout the country. Congress in the massive bill passed in March approved $8 billion to be allocated to tribal nations, but because of apparent confusion, tribes didn’t begin seeing their money until May.
Native Village OF Eklutna Will Decide What To Do With Captain Cook Statue In Downtown Anchorage
Anchorage Daily News, Aubrey Wieber, June 25
Following calls on social media for the statue of Captain James Cook to be removed from downtown Anchorage, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz has asked the Native Village of Eklutna to decide what to do with the statue.
Anchorage Woman Accused Of Embezzling Nearly $175K From Now-Defunct Tribal Organization
Anchorage Daily News, June 25
An Anchorage woman accused of embezzling nearly $175,000 from a now-defunct tribal organization that she once led faces federal charges, prosecutors said Thursday.
BIA Seeks Proposals To Study Tribal Economic Development Projects In Opportunity Zones
Native News Online, June 25
The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs wants to encourage tribes and Alaska Native Corporations to identify potential economic development projects or activities inside designated Opportunity Zones. Via the Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development and its Native American Business Development Institute (NABDI), the department is seeking proposals from tribes for technical assistance to hire consultants to perform feasibility studies for Opportunity Zone projects. The agency has $900,000 allocated for the program. “These grants are also intended to fund applicants to obtain qualified guidance on how the development projects, businesses, or technologies they propose can attract investments from an Opportunity Fund,” according to a notice of the request for proposals (RFP) posted in the Federal Register.
New Jersey Art Museum Nets Its Largest-ever Grant For Native Art Collection
Native News Online, June 25
The Montclair Art Museum announced it has received a $320,000 grant from The Henry Luce Foundation to support a new project built around its collection of Native Art of North America.
The award is the Museum’s largest ever one-time foundation grant. The grant-funded project seeks to “indigenize the curatorial process” by collaborating with Indigenous artists, scholars and communities, according to a statement. The grant will fund project personnel, honoraria, and travel expenses to develop and execute an Advisory Board for Native American Art, a Project Curator of Native American Art, and two scholarly assemblies over a three-year period.
Higher Education And The Legacy Of Land Theft
Indian Country Today, June 25
American universities such as Iowa State University, Ohio State University, The University of Florida, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Arizona are all land grant institutions. What does this mean? How did they get funding to start or expand their schools? The answer is they all benefited from the violent taking of Indian lands which was prompted by several acts signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln.
After a two year investigation by High Country News, the story Land Grab Universities was published at the end of March of this year. It shows how the U.S. Government took away lands from Tribal Nations and helped states created endowments for these universities. Those endowments and the money trail remain on the books today.
Native News Online Gets Knight Foundation Grant For New Website, Digital Platform
Native News Online, June 25
Native News Online has been selected as one of 24 newsrooms nationwide to receive a $20,000 digital publishing grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. One of the most-read news sites covering Indian Country, Native News Online will use the grant to overhaul its website with an updated design and numerous other technical changes to make it more reader-friendly and more useful for marketers. The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based publication also intends to expand its use of multimedia on the revamped site with projects involving photography, video, surveys and streaming technology. The publication plans to launch its new website and digital tools in July.
Tribes’ Human Remains And Cultural Items Have Been Scattered Across The U.S. Here’s How They Get Returned
AZ Central, Debra Krol, June 25
Alida Monteil was visiting an Arizona museum several years ago when she encountered an exhibit that shocked her. “I remember seeing human remains, human skulls, full skeletal remains inside,” said Monteil, a citizen of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and the cultural resources coordinator at the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona. Monteil said she felt that even though she was upset by the display, she could imagine how much more troubling it would have been to the descendants of the people who had been dug out of their graves and put in a museum. “It was disturbing to the O’odham who went there to see their relatives like that, in the glass case,” she said. “And it’s hard to believe that used to happen.”
For Now, No Border Wall Will Split Cocopah Reservation Along The Colorado River
Cronkite News, Alisa Reznick, June 24
President Donald Trump’s border wall now stretches along just more than 200 miles of U.S.-Mexico borderland. Progress hasn’t slowed during the COVID-19 pandemic; in some places it’s even accelerating. But there’s a tiny swath of tribal land along the lower Colorado River where that’s not the case. The Cocopah Reservation sits in the river’s delta, a corner of the borderland where California, Arizona and Mexico meet. Members of the Cocopah Indian Tribe are among the 40 million residents of Western states who receive a share of water from the vast Colorado River basin. But the Cocopah, who call themselves “the river people,” have been tied to the river far longer than those states have existed.
Arizona Starts Talks On Addressing Dwindling Colorado River
AP News, Felicia Fonseca, June 24
Arizona is getting a jump start on what will be a yearslong process to address a dwindling but key water source in the U.S. West. Several states and Mexico rely on the Colorado River for drinking water and growing crops. But climate change, drought and demand have taken a toll on the river that no longer can deliver what was promised in the 1920s. Two groups that will do modeling and analysis of the river and develop Arizona’s strategy for negotiations with other states are expected to meet before a planned September committee meeting. Those on the strategy team will be required to sign confidentiality agreements.
Daryl Vigil, water administrator for the Jicarilla Apache Nation in New Mexico, said he would like to see all Arizona tribes represented on the committee. Buschatzke said that would become unwieldy.
Warm Springs Advised To Boil Water After Mainline Break
AP News, June 24
Residents on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation have been advised to boil water before using it because of a break in the water delivery system. The notice was issued after a mainline break where the water pipes cross Shitike Creek, according to the public utilities branch of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. The break could allow harmful microbes into the water system, which if consumed could cause diarrhea, cramps, headaches and other symptoms, and could pose a special health risk to infants, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems. Warm Springs were issued boil water notices multiple times last year due to breaks in the water infrastructure that required emergency repairs in Shitike Creek, The Bulletin reported.