The Trump administration issued a memorandum yesterday that called for the exclusion of undocumented immigrants counted in the 2020 Census from the numbers used to divide up seats in Congress among the 50 states. The move is expected to face a quick legal challenge from civil rights groups across the country.
Meanwhile, after ceasing field operations in March due to COVID-19, the U.S. Census Bureau is increasing efforts to get an accurate count of Indian Country, and has begun house visits to tribal communities in Montana. As much as 20% of Montana is an Update Leave area, including a number of Native communities, and in person visits to residences will hopefully increase the response rates.
Despite taking strong actions to protect their communities from COVID-19 since early March, a number of Alaska’s rural villages and communities are seeing case rates rise. Fort Yukon, a community of about 600, reported 21 new cases as of Tuesday morning, with the first symptomatic case appearing just this week. More than two dozen people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Copper River region, according to the Copper River Native Association, including 15 new cases this past week.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled that Governor Kevin Stitt overstepped his authority when he reached a casino gambling agreement with the Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribes. In a 7-1 decision the court determined that the compacts are “invalid under Oklahoma law.” The deals would have allowed the two tribes to offer wagering on sporting events and house-banked card and table games, but because these have not been authorized by the Legislature, any revenue from such games is prohibited, the court ruled.
Following last week’s historic Supreme Court decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma, Native protestors gathered outside the Cherokee Nation’s headquarters to voice their displeasure with tribal leadership’s endorsement of an agreement released last Thursday by Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter. The protestors felt the deal was giving up too much of their tribal sovereignty to the state of Oklahoma.
The state of Maine has changed the names of two islands that included a derogatory word for a Native woman, and three islands that included a racist slur against Black people. As recently as July 9 the five islands were listed in Maine’s Coastal Island Registry, despite a law banning the use of certain racial slurs in place names that was passed in 1977, and updated in 2001 and 2009.
A Miami Beach man who worked at Miccosukee Resort & Gaming has been sentenced to federal prison for stealing more than $5 million from the tribally-owned casino. A federal judge sentenced Lester Lavin to four years and three months in prison, and his girlfriend Anisleydi Vergel Hermida to six months for helping Lavin launder his cut of the stolen money.
Indianola, Iowa leaders have approved a measure to remove Native imagery from its city logo, including from police cars, badges and patches. The Indianola City Council voted unanimously to remove the depiction of a Native chief in full feathered headdress.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Protests Held At Cherokee Nation Over Proposed Deal With Oklahoma AG
Native News Online, Levi Rickert, July 21
Enduring extreme summer temperatures under a blue Oklahoma sky, with a heat index of more than 100 degrees, nearly a hundred tribal citizens protested outside the W.W. Keeler Complex, the Cherokee Nation’s headquarters in Tahlequah, on Monday afternoon. They arrived to voice their displeasure with tribal leadership’s endorsement of the agreement released last Thursday by Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter.
Maine Finally Changes Racist Island Names 43 Years Late
AP News, July 21
Maine has changed the names of three islands that included a racist slur against Black people, 43 years after a state law banned the use of the word in place names. State officials also instructed two other localities to change the names of two islands that include a derogatory word for a Native American woman, the Portland Press Herald reported on Monday. On July 9, the five island names were listed in Maine’s Coastal Island Registry, despite a law first passed in 1977 and updated in 2001 and 2009, which banned the use of certain racial slurs in place names in Maine.
Iowa City Of Indianola To Remove Indian Head From City Logo
AP News, July 21
Leaders in the south-central Iowa city of Indianola have approved a measure to remove Native American imagery from its city logo, including from police cars, badges and patches. The Indianola City Council voted unanimously Monday to remove the depiction of a Native American chief in full feathered headdress, television station KCCI reported. The move comes as corporations and sports teams around the country face increasing pressure to dump nicknames and depictions that reference American Indians amid a nationwide movement calling for racial justice.
Canadian Football Team ‘Discontinues’ Nickname
Indian Country Today, Kolby KickingWoman, July 21
In the wake of the Washington NFL team retiring their racist, Native-themed mascot a professional Canadian football team has also decided to discontinue their Native-themed mascot. Things have changed quickly for the Edmonton football franchise.
Earlier this month, the team announced they would not be changing the name, citing an “extensive yearlong formal research and engagement program with Inuit leaders and community members across Canada,” according to The Associated Press.
Memorandum On Excluding Illegal Aliens From The Apportionment Base Following The 2020 Census
White House, July 21
Trump Tries To Restrict Undocumented Immigrates From The Census
Politico, Anita Kumar, July 21
President Donald Trump signed a memorandum Tuesday that seeks to ban undocumented immigrants from being counted in the census, excluding them from the process that determines how many members of Congress are allocated to each state.
Census To Begin Household Visits In Indian Country
Billings Gazette, Juliana Sukut, July 21
After ceasing field operations in March due to COVID-19, the U.S. Census Bureau is redoubling efforts to get Indian Country counted, including doing house visits to tribal communities in Montana.
The Oklahoma Decision Reveals Why Native Americans Have A Hard Time Seeking Justice
The Washington Post, Dominga Cruz, Sarah Deer, Kathleen Tipler, July 22
On July 9, the Supreme Court ruled in McGirt v. Oklahoma that 19th century treaties that the United States signed with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation (MCN) remain binding, and the MCN Reservation that Congress promised in 1866 exists today. Critics of the decision, such as Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R), claim McGirt will disrupt Oklahoma’s criminal justice system and free dangerous criminals.
Oklahoma High Court: Governor Overstepped With Tribal Deal
AP News, Sean Murphy, July 21
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt overstepped his authority when he reached a casino gambling agreement with two Native American tribes, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday. In a 7-1 decision, the high court determined the compacts Stitt signed with the Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribes are “invalid under Oklahoma law.” The deals would have allowed the two tribes to offer wagering on sporting events and house-banked card and table games.
Oklahoma Governor Taps Commission To Make Recommendations On Path Forward After Mcgirt Decision
Native News Online, Levi Rickert, July 21
The U.S. Supreme Court’s historic July 9 decision that ruled the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation was never disestablished by Congress, thereby altering the state of Oklahoma’s legal jurisdiction in the eastern portion of the state, has created a need for tribal, state and federal officials to establish new ground rules moving forward. The McGirt v. Oklahoma decision has, in essence, moved legal jurisdiction in much of eastern Oklahoma to the federal government since tribes in Indian Country fall under the federal jurisdiction.
Deb Haaland Has More Than Twice Money Edge In Reelection Bid
AP News, Russell Contreras,July 21
Democratic U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland has a more than a 2-to-1 money advantage over her Republican opponent for her central New Mexico seat. According to the last federal campaign finance reports released last week, the first-term Albuquerque Democrat raised $205,663 from mid-May to June 30. She has more than $352,053 cash-on-hand but has already burned through $850,000 in her bid for re-election. Retired police officer and Republican Michelle Garcia Holmes reported raising $40,792 during the same time period. She reported having $145,363 following her GOP primary victory.
Miami Beach Couple Sentenced For Stealing $5 Million From Miccosukee Casino
Native News Online, Kyle Edwards, July 21
A Miami Beach man who worked at Miccosukee Indian Gaming has been sentenced to federal prison for stealing more than $5 million from the tribally owned casino. On Monday, a federal judge in Miami sentenced Lester Lavin, 44, to four years and three months in prison, and his girlfriend Anisleydi Vergel Hermida, 31, also of Miami Beach, to six months for helping Lavin launder his cut of the stolen money, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.
2 Sentenced In $5m Casino Fraud Theft; 6 Others Also Guilty
AP News, July 21
A woman and a former worker at a Florida casino operated by a Native American tribe have been sentenced to federal prison for their roles in stealing more than $5 million from the business. A federal judge in Miami sentenced Lester Lavin, 44, on Monday to 4 years and 3 months and girlfriend Anisleydi Vergel Hermida, 31, to six months, according to court records. Three of Lester’s former co-workers at Miccosukee Resort & Gaming and their three respective spouses have also pleaded guilty in the case and are set to be sentenced by the end of next month.
Fort Yukon And Copper River Communities Avoided Coronavirus For Months. Now Cases Are Rising In Both
Anchorage Daily News, Zaz Hollander, July 21
Nearly two dozen coronavirus cases have popped up in the past 10 days at Fort Yukon after community leaders took extreme measures months ago to avoid the disease.
Like other rural villages scattered around Alaska, leaders in March imposed travel bans and other restrictions far beyond those imposed by the state to protect residents in a place without an emergency room.
Navajo Nation Reports 22 New COVID-19 Cases On Tuesday; Slower Pace Than State Of Arizona
Native News Online, July 21
On Tuesday, the Navajo Department of Health, in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, reported 22 new COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and three more deaths. The total number of deaths has reached 425 as of Tuesday. The Navajo Department of Health has issued Public Health Emergency Order No. 2020-018, implementing two additional 57-hour weekend lockdowns from July 24, 2020 to July 27, 2020 and from July 31, 2020 to August 3, 2020, starting at 8:00 P.M. MDT on Friday and ending at 5:00 A.M. MDT on Monday.
Oregon Tops 15,000 Coronavirus Cases; Warm Springs Tribes Impose Quarantine
The Seattle Times, July 21
The Oregon Health Authority has reported 299 additional confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases in the state, bringing the state’s total number of cases since the pandemic began to more than 15,000. In addition on Tuesday, seven more deaths were reported, bringing the state’s death toll to 269 people. That ties the state’s record for the most deaths reported in a single day, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. Oregon’s total number of coronavirus cases is now 15,139.
Winnebago Tribe (Nebraska)
Indianz.com, July 21
“After 15 days of no new cases, we unfortunately have one new positive COVID-19 case,” the Twelve Clans Unity Hospital said in a July 20, 2020, update on social media.
According to the hospital, a total of 75 people within the Winnebago Tribe have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 69 have recovered. The last time the tribe reported a positive case was July 4. There have been 3 COVID-19 deaths within the Winnebago community, the hospital said.
A Digital Circle Of Healing
Indian Country Today, Patty Talahongva, July 21
When cases of the coronavirus started appearing in March, many organizations had to quickly adjust. At the Native Wellness Institute, 80 percent of their work is done by going to tribal communities to meet with the people and work directly with everyone from youth to elders. Clearly that could no longer happen, so the leaders adjusted and switched to social media to reach out and help Indian Country cope with this pandemic. One of the founders is Theda New Breast.
Lawmakers Seek Extension For Tribes To Spend Stimulus Money Following Treasury Delays
The Hill, Rebecca Beitsch, July 21
Lawmakers are stepping in to seek more time for tribal governments to spend coronavirus relief money after funding slated for Native American communities was delayed by the Treasury Department. A new bill, which has been introduced by bipartisan teams in both the House and Senate, would give tribal governments until Dec. 30, 2022, to spend funds that would otherwise need to be spent by the end of this year.
Congress Urged To Reauthorize Diabetes Programs For Native Americans
Tucson Sentinel, Deagan Urbatsch, July 21
Arizona’s U.S. senators are pushing legislation to renew a federal program that fights diabetes in Indian Country – an initiative tribal leaders say is vital amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jill Biden Says ‘Joe Biden Stands With Indian Country’ At Tuesday Virtual Campaign Event
Grand Forks Herald, Sarah Mearhoff, July 21
On a virtual campaign round-table with the Democratic National Committee’s Native American Caucus, Jill Biden said that should her husband Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden win in November, he will commit to increasing Native representation in Washington, upholding tribal sovereignty and meeting treaty obligations.
Feds Give 65 Acres Of Land For Border Wall Infrastructure
AP News, Astrid Galvan, July 21
The federal Bureau of Land Management said on Tuesday that it has transferred over 65 acres of public land in Arizona and New Mexico to the Army for construction of border wall infrastructure. Environmental and conservation groups, along with Native American tribes, have criticized the government heavily for waiving laws to build on protected lands. Brian Segee, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said the land management bureau should be safeguarding the public lands, “not handing them over to be butchered for the border wall.”
Corps To Release Review Of Alaska Mine Project This Week
AP News, Becky Bohrer, July 21
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to release its final environmental review of a proposed copper and gold mine near the headwaters of a major salmon fishery in southwest Alaska, a review a corps official says will inform a permit decision expected later this year. For years, the proposed Pebble Mine has been shrouded in controversy that release of the review expected Friday is unlikely to clear up. Some tribes, tribal groups, fishermen and others say the review has been rushed and is superficial.
Apple Finances ‘Killers Of The Flower Moon’ Film
Indian Country Today, Sandra Hale Schulman, July 21
An upcoming Martin Scorsese film about the Osage Nation and founding of the Federal Bureau of Investigation will be an Apple original film. “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which is based on the 1920s story about the murders of Osage Nation tribal citizens over oil rights, has secured $225 million in funding through Apple TV, where the movie will be streamed, and Paramount Pictures will distribute it in theaters. It’s the second largest movie deal for Apple, Deadline reported.
Oglala Sioux Tribal Police Seek Help Locating Missing Native American Man
Native News Online, July 21
The Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety is seeking the public’s assistance to locate a 21-year-old man who went missing on July 12, 2020. Sinte Wambli White Butterfly, 21, was last seen at the Big Bats Convenience Store in the village of Pine Ridge, South Dakota on Sunday, July 12, 2020 at approximately 4 p.m. local time. White Butterfly was wearing tan-colored khaki pants, a black T-Shirt and black shoes. He was possibly with an unknown female with long hair.