South Dakota lawmakers called for formal consultation processes between tribal and state governments following Governor Kristi Noem’s handling of a conflict over coronavirus checkpoints set up by tribes. Legislators on a committee tasked with navigating the relationship between tribes and the state criticized the governor for escalating the conflict and suggested that an established process for reaching agreements could help avoid future disputes.
Navajo Nation President Nez extended the Navajo Nation’s declaration of a state of emergency and the closure of Navajo Nation government offices following increases in COVID-19 cases within the reservation and surrounding areas. Meanwhile the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma announced Tuesday morning it was temporarily closing its tribal complex for the rest of the week and will reopen next Monday. The closure does not extend to the tribe’s three casinos.
The tribal leaders from the Miꞌkmaq, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot Nation announced the formation of the Wabanaki Alliance, whose goal is to educate the people of Maine about the need for securing the sovereignty of tribes in Maine.
A U.S. District Court dismissed a defamation lawsuit against the owners of three publications involving plaintiff John Dossett, former general counsel of the National Congress of American Indians. Dossett sued Ho-Chunk, Inc, High Country News, and the National Congress of American Indians over the publication of stories regarding sexual harassment allegations that led to the termination of his employment.
Keep reading for a full news update.
South Dakota Lawmakers Criticize Noem On Tribal Checkpoints
AP News, Stephen Groves, July 22
South Dakota lawmakers on Tuesday called for formal consultation processes between tribal and state governments following Gov. Kristi Noem’s handling of a conflict over coronavirus checkpoints set up by tribes. Legislators on a committee tasked with navigating the relationship between tribes and the state criticized the governor for escalating the conflict and suggested that an established process for reaching agreements could help avoid future disputes.
State Of Emergency Extended On Navajo Nation Until At Least Aug. 16
Native News Online, July 22
On Wednesday, the Navajo Department of Health, in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, reported 45 new COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and six more deaths. The total number of deaths has reached 431 as of Wednesday. Reports indicate that approximately 6,456 individuals have recovered from COVID-19. 75,177 people have been tested for COVID-19. The total number of COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation is 8,684.
After Man Refuses To Wear A Mask In Store, Tribal Members Say ‘Wear A Mask When You Visit Us’
Native News Online, Darren Thompson, July 22
On Tuesday, Newsweek magazine published a story about an incident that occurred on the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation in northern Wisconsin, where a man was escorted out of the LDF Country Market by tribal police for not wearing a mask. According to an article in Newsweek, an LDF Country Market employee reportedly said, “There’s an irate white man on the reservation trying to boss us around right here folks.”
Tribes In Oklahoma Take More Steps To Stop Spread Of COVID-19
Native News Online, July 22
Two east-central Oklahoma tribes are taking additional steps to address the spread of COVID-19 in their communities. Citing the continued rise in local COVID-19 cases, the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma announced Tuesday morning it was temporarily closing its tribal complex for the rest of the week and will reopen next Monday. The closure does not extend to the tribe’s three casinos.
COVID-19 Stay-at-home Order Kept In Effect, Wind River Hotel & Casino To Remain Closed For Now
Indianz.com, July 22
“The Wind River Inter-Tribal Council decided Tuesday to keep its existing stay-at-home order temporarily in place due to coronavirus concerns and rising case counts in Wyoming. This order means the Wind River Hotel & Casino and Little Wind Casino, initially hoped to reopen to the public today, will instead remain closed for the time being.
Task Force On Missing And Murdered American Indians And Alaska Natives Announces Virtual Consultations
Muskogee Phoenix, July 22
The Presidential Task Force on Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives announced 12 Tribal consultations to occur virtually across the United States in the coming months.
American Indians and Alaska Natives experience disproportionately high rates of violence. President Trump has called the crisis of missing and murdered Native Americans “sobering and heartbreaking.”
Court Dismisses Defamation Lawsuit Against National Congress Of American Indians And Others
Indian Country Today, Richard Walker, July 22
A U.S. District Court dismissed a defamation lawsuit earlier this month against the owners of three publications involving plaintiff John Dossett, former general counsel of the National Congress of American Indians. Dossett sued Ho-Chunk, Inc, the owner of Indianz.com, High Country News and the National Congress of American Indians, owners of Indian Country Today over publication of stories regarding sexual harassment allegations that led to termination of his employment.
Sierra Club Apologizes For Founder John Muir’s Racist Views
AP News, Brian Melley, July 22
The Sierra Club apologized Wednesday for racist remarks its founder, naturalist John Muir, made more than a century ago as the influential environmental group grapples with a harmful history that perpetuated white supremacy. Executive Director Michael Brune said it was “time to take down some of our own monuments” as statues of Confederate officers and colonists are toppled across the U.S. “He made derogatory comments about Black people and Indigenous peoples that drew on deeply harmful racist stereotypes, though his views evolved later in his life,” Brune wrote on the group’s website.
Tribal leaders form the Wabanaki Alliance
News Center Maine, July 22
Tribal leaders from across Maine held a virtual news conference today to discuss the formation of the Wabanaki Alliance. The alliance, they say, is for educating the people of Maine about the need for securing the sovereignty of the tribes in Maine. In 1980, the Maine Indian Claim Settlement Act was passed by Congress, signed by President Jimmy Carter and ratified by the tribes and the State of Maine.
Joe Biden Campaign Steps Up In Indian Country
Indian Country Today, July 22
Former Second Lady Jill Biden spoke to Native leaders Tuesday afternoon affirming a commitment to “uphold tribal sovereignty” under a Joe Biden administration. She spoke as a surrogate for her husband who is the presumed Democratic nominee for president.
Jill Biden’s virtual remarks were given at the July meeting of the Democratic National Committee’s Native American Caucus.
‘An Icon In Indian Country’: Noted Radio Host And Journalist Harlan Mckosato Passes On
Indianz.com, Kevin Abourezk, July 22
A man who spent 12 years as the host and producer of the nationally broadcast radio show Native America Calling and was once considered the “voice of Indian Country” died Tuesday, surrounded by friends and family. Harlan McKosato, 54, was a citizen of the Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma. He grew up on the Iowa Reservation in the north-central part of the state. “Harlan was an icon in Indian Country for his award-winning contributions to world news outlets,” his family said in a statement following his passing in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Tuesday. “He possessed a unique storytelling ability that enabled him to report on any subject in profound ways.”
Banks want to do the right thing, serve tribes
Indian Country Today, July 22
As tribes continue to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, one thing has become evident, there is a lack of housing on reservations nationwide. What resources are there besides tribal housing that can alleviate this shortage? In 2003, tribal leaders in Arizona and New Mexico met to discuss the issue of the lack of capital from the private sector for projects on reservations. The result was identifying the need for a business to help bridge that gap.