Vox reports that Democratic members of the Senate Rules Committee, led by ranking member Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tom Udall (D-NM), wrote a letter to Attorney General William Barr asking for more information on the recent closure of in-person polling places on reservations. Read the full letter here.

“We write to express serious concern regarding the mass closures of polling locations in Tribal communities due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” the letter states. “We request a commitment from the Department of Justice to work with Tribal governments to find solutions that do not disenfranchise voters in Indian Country.”

On Tuesday, NUNA covered an NPR piece that detailed the difficulties that many Native Americans face when trying to vote, including the lack of street addresses on many reservations, internet access creating a barrier to registration, and the need for translations on mail-in-ballots for Indigenous languages.

A statue of Christopher Columbus that stood outside City Hall in Columbus, Ohio for almost 65 years was removed without incident. Supporters credited Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther for the peaceful removal of the Columbus statue in the state’s capital. Columbus city officials say a participatory process will help determine how to best replace the statue and evaluate the diversity and inclusiveness of all public art moving forward.

Roger Fragua, a Jemez Pueblo activist is seeking to start talks with a New Mexico town around a conquistador image, which is also the town’s seal, on a water tank as protesters pressure local towns and cities to remove Spanish colonial references that Native Americans find offensive.

The Tesuque Pueblo recently converted an old casino building into a movie studio campus called “Camel Rock Studios” with more than 25,000 square feet of filming space. The pueblo’s lands have been used for scenes in movies dating back to the 1950’s, and scenes from the Universal Pictures western movie “News of the World” starring Tom Hanks were filmed last year in the Camel Rock Casino, which closed in 2018.

Detroit’s American Indian Services will close its doors after nearly 50-years of service to the local Native community. The nonprofit was already vulnerable from funding shortfalls before additional budget cuts and dwindling Medicaid funding appeared on the immediate horizon, but the economic constraints of COVID-19 proved too much to bear. Families utilized the organization’s services and participated in cultural events there for decades.

The American Indian College Fund (College Fund) has received a $350,000 contribution from AT&T to continue its “Braided Success: Fostering Native Student Success from High School to College and Career” program.

NFL Hall of Fame Coach and current host on NBC’s “Football Night in America” Tony Dungy has said he is done calling Washington’s Football team by its name, saying “if the team doesn’t want to change, the least I can do is try not to use it.”

Keep reading for a full news update. 

Nationwide Protests:

Christopher Columbus Statue Peacefully Removed In Columbus, Ohio

Native News Online, July 1

A statue of Christopher Columbus that stood outside City Hall in Columbus for almost 65 years was removed without incident by a crane on Wednesday morning. Supporters credited Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther for the peaceful removal of the Columbus statue in the city that is also the state capital of Ohio. Working with the guidance of the Columbus Art Commission, McKay Lodge Art Conservation Laboratory and Smoot Construction, the statue was removed Wednesday morning. 

Winners And Losers (Hint It’s DC’s NFL Team)

Indian Country Today, Patty Talahongva, July 1

As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, in the midst of a global pandemic, it’s also just four months away from the presidential election. Two reporter-producers at Indian Country Today talk about some of the stories making headlines. Kolby KickingWoman is based in Washington, D.C. He’s been on the Supreme Court beat as well as following the civil uprising across the country. Aliyah Chavez is based in Phoenix. She’s covering the primary elections leading up to the general election. There are a record number of Native Americans running for a variety of offices.

‘Conquistador’ Image On New Mexico Water Tank Targeted

AP News, Russell Contreras, July 1 

A Jemez Pueblo activist is seeking to start talks with a New Mexico town around a conquistador image on a water tank as protesters pressure local towns and cities to remove Spanish colonial references some Native Americans find offensive. Roger Fragua, a Jemez Pueblo member and executive director of the nonprofit group Flower Hill Institute, recently sent a letter to Bernalillo asking the mayor to talk about the large depiction on a state highway that runs through many Pueblo lands. The logo, which is the town’s seal, shows a conquistador helmet resting on top of an ax used by invading Spanish soldiers in the 1500s.

NFL’s Tony Dungy Won’t Say Wash. Team Name On TV…It’s Offensive

TMZ Sports, July 1

Tony Dungy says he’s done calling the Washington Redskins by their nickname … explaining, “If the team doesn’t want to change, the least I can do is try not to use it.”

Besides being an NFL Hall of Fame coach, Dungy is also part of NBC’s “Football Night In America” … the pre-game show for the biggest game of the week.

Living On An Indian Reservation Changed My Mind About Christopher Columbus | Perspective 

Philadelphia Inquirer, Dino Pinto, July 1

As a son of two Italian immigrants, I am unabashedly proud to be an Italian American. My parents have instilled deeply in me the Italian values of family bonds, hard work, and frugality. My mother came to America in her teens and my father moved in his 20s; they both worked hard to support their families and owned and operated successful restaurants in the Philadelphia area from 1970 through the 1990s.


Navajo Nation Reports 64 New COVID-19 Cases; Five More Covid-19 Related Deaths

Native News Online, July 1

On Wednesday, the Navajo Department of Health, in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, reported 64 new COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and five more death. The total number of deaths is 369 as of Wednesday. Reports from all 12 health care facilities on and near the Navajo Nation indicate that approximately 5,455 individuals have recovered from COVID-19. 56,599 people have been tested for COVID-19. The total number of COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation is 7,613.

Navajo Nation Calls For 3 Additional Weekend Lockdowns In July To Help Flatten The Curve

Native News Online, Levi Rickert, July 1

Coupled with a surge of COVID-19 cases in Arizona and on the Navajo Indian Reservation, Navajo Nation officials on Tuesday have extended a state of emergency that keeps government offices and entities closed until July 26, 2020. The Department of Health also issued another Public Health Emergency Order to implement full 57-hour weekend lockdowns from July 3, 2020 to July 6, 2020 from July 10, 2020 to July 13, 2020, and from July 17, 2020 to July 20, 2020, starting at 8:00 P.M. (MDT) on Friday and ending at 5:00 A.M. (MDT) on Monday. Additional weekend lockdowns may follow.

‘Left Out And Left Behind’: Trump Administration Faces Questions About Covid-19 In Indian Country

Indianz.com, Acee Agoyo, July 1

The Trump administration’s COVID-19 response efforts in Indian Country are back in the spotlight again. Key lawmakers are hearing from two agencies that have been forced to toe the line by a president who continues to send mixed and conflicting messages about a disease that has affected the first Americans at disproportionate rates. The Indian Health Service has repeatedly touted its coronavirus initiatives in more than a dozen conference calls with tribal leaders. But the agency has faced repeated complaints about a proprietary machine that provides inconsistent COVID-19 results, a lack of contract tracing for those infected and little to no discussion about bringing antibodies testing to reservations and urban Indian communities.

COVID-19 In Arizona: Navajo Will Not Ease Restrictions, Despite Improving Numbers

Cronkite News, Lisa Diethelm, July 1 

The number of new COVID-19 cases on the Navajo Nation is on a downward trend, but tribal leaders said Tuesday that does not mean they are ready to ease up on health restrictions. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a Facebook live town hall that the tribe will continue its 57-hour weekend lockdown for the next three weeks, meaning most businesses will be closed, people will be encouraged to stay home and visitors will be discouraged. Closure of tribal government offices will also continue. “What we’re showing you here is that now is not the time to travel. I know it’s summer – we want to travel,” Nez said. “We’ve been sitting in our homes for over three months now, but now is not the time.”


California Legislation Would Encourage Schools, Parks, Libraries And Other Public Institutions To Recognize Tribes As Traditional Stewards Of The Land

Native News Online, Nanette Kelly, July 1

Bipartisan legislation in the California Assembly would encourage the state’s public institutions to recognize Native American tribes as traditional stewards of the land where schools, parks, libraries or museums are located. The legislation would encourage such public institutions to present accurate historical information that concedes past wrongs and broadens cultural understanding by recognizing past tribal guardianship of lands where their facilities are located.


New Mexico Tribe Transforms Old Casino Into Movie Studio

U.S. News & World Report, June 30

A small northern New Mexico Native American tribe has opened a movie studio in a former casino that it hopes will lure big productions.

Navajo Nation Gaming Extends Closure Through July 27

Indianz.com, June 30

The Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise (Navajo Nation Gaming) Board of Directors extended the closure of all Navajo Nation Gaming properties through July 27. “We made this decision based on a number of factors, but our priority remains the safety of our team members, patrons and most importantly, our Diné people,” stated Quincy Natay, Chairman of the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise Board of Directors. Navajo Nation Gaming remains in constant communication with the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President (OPVP) and Navajo Nation tribal leadership, as well as following all COVID-19 pandemic executive orders and protocols issued by the OPVP, the Navajo Nation Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).


Exclusive: Senate Democrats Press AG Barr For Answers About Poll Closures On Native American Reservations

Vox, Ella Nilsen, July 1

Alarmed by the recent closure of in-person polling places on Native American reservations due to Covid-19, Senate Democrats are pressing Attorney General William Barr for more information.

Detroit’s American Indian Services Closes Doors After Nearly 50 Years

Native News Online, Monica Pigeon, July 1

For 27 years, Fay Givens (Choctaw/Cherokee) has walked the hallways of American Indian Services, Inc. (AIS), which provides health and wellness services, youth programs and other resources for the Urban Native population in metro Detroit. As one of only two executive directors in the organization’s 49-year history, Givens maintained a positive and supportive workplace with little employee turnover. Families utilized the organization’s services and participated in cultural events there for decades.

AT&T Contributes $350k To American Indian College Fund

Native News Online, July 1

The American Indian College Fund (College Fund) has received a $350,000 contribution from AT&T to continue its “Braided Success: Fostering Native Student Success from High School to College and Career” program. The Braided Success program helps fund high school and college students in the Tohono O’odham Community College in Sells, Ariz. and the College of Muscogee Nation in Okmulgee, Okla. to achieve their quest for higher education. 

This Year’s Shoshone-Bannock Indian Festival Cancelled Due To COVID-19

Native News Online, July 1

Due the COVID-19 pandemic, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribeson Tuesday announced the cancellation of the 57th Annual Shoshone-Bannock Indian Festival that was scheduled for August. The Tribe’s annual event is the largest outdoor festival and powwow in the State of Idaho.

Native Sun News Today: Bruce Long Fox To Join South Dakota Hall Of Fame

Indianz.com, Travis Dewes, July 1 

Bruce Long Fox, executive director of Rural America Initiatives (RAI), has been named an inductee to the South Dakota Hall of Fame in the class of 2020.

Long Fox is described on the Hall of Fame’s website as having “developed and managed educational programs that have impacted the lives of approximately 9000 at-risk Native American children, from newborn through high school.”

RAI, having been founded in 1986, is the largest, non-profit, continuously operating Native American organization in Rapid City. RAI’s programming serves families and at-risk youth through education that addresses the needs of the whole family. The programming is rooted in the Seven Lakota Values of respect, generosity, wisdom, humility, compassion, service, and honesty.