NPR reported last night that the Census Bureau is cutting non-response follow up (NRFU) short by a month. The NPR report confirmed with three census employees that NRFU will end on September 30, not October 31, which the Census Bureau previously indicated in April would be necessary in order to complete an accurate count. The Census Bureau has yet to make an official statement.
Alaska Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon has named Alaska Federation of Natives attorney Nicole Borromeo to the board in charge of redrawing the state’s House and Senate districts after the 2020 Census. This will be Alaska’s first redistricting since a U.S. Supreme Court decision threw out a requirement that the federal government preapprove redistricting plans to protect Alaska Native representation.
Oklahoma’s Attorney General Mike Hunter is disputing the importance in negotiating jurisdictional responsibility between tribes and states following the Supreme Court’s McGirt v. Oklahoma ruling. Hunter described some of those concerned about the impact of proposed federal legislation related to the case as “sovereignty hobbyists.” Under the proposed legislation, the state would have criminal jurisdiction over non-Native offenses, and overlapping jurisdiction over most crimes committed by tribal citizens.
Tribal leaders on the Spirit Lake Reservation in North Dakota are requiring residents to wear masks to help slow the spread of the COVID-19. The reservation is located primarily in Benson County, which has seen the state’s most new cases per capita in the last two weeks.
A judge with the Court of Indian Offenses for the Southern Plains has issued a preliminary injunction, thus temporarily blocking the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma from spending any more of its CARES Act funds until a budget is approved by the Kiowa Indian Council, which is open to all adult tribal citizens.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Census Door Knocking Cut A Month Short Amid Pressure To Finish Count
NPR.org, Hansi Wang, July 30
The Census Bureau is cutting short critical door-knocking efforts for the 2020 census amid growing concerns among Democrats in Congress that the White House is pressuring the bureau to wrap up counting soon for political gain, NPR has learned. “It’s going to be impossible to complete the count in time,” says one of the bureau employees, an area manager who oversees local census offices. “I’m very fearful we’re going to have a massive undercount.”
How Our Indian Country Flattened The Curve
The Atlantic, Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, July 31
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has for centuries practiced the Booger Dance to ward off illnesses and other malevolent forces. As night descends, men selected as “boogers,” or evil entities, appear in tattered clothing and absurd masks made from gourds, wood, or hornets’ nests. They mimic outsiders (typically Euro-Americans) and exaggerate lewd behavior as they dance. I was taught growing up that the dance stemmed from the tribe’s experiences with devastating sickness such as smallpox, which Europeans brought to American soil. The ceremony is a reminder that we must always work to keep our home and people safe.
Navajo Nation Surpasses 9,000 COVID-19 Cases
Native News Online, July 30
On Thursday, the Navajo Department of Health, in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, reported 51 new COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and one more death. The total number of deaths has reached 454 as of Thursday. Reports indicate that 6,627 individuals have recovered from COVID-19. 80,280 people have been tested for COVID-19. The total number of COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation is 9,019.
North Dakota Reservation Orders Masks After Covid-19 Spike
AP News, Dave Kolpack, July 30
Tribal leaders on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation in northeastern North Dakota are requiring residents to wear masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19, a rare move in a state where face coverings have not been mandated despite a steady increase in overall cases. The reservation is located primarily in Benson County, which according to The COVID Tracking Project has seen the state’s most new cases per capita in the last two weeks.
Annual Run4salmon Goes Virtual Due To Pandemic
Native News Online, Nanette Kelley, July 30
Due to COVID-19 precautions, Run4Salmon, a 300-mile trek led by Winnemem Wintu Chief Caleen Sisk and the Run4Salmon community to restore salmon runs, protect waters and protect Indigenous lifeways has gone virtual. The Sacramento River winter-run Chinook Salmon have been unable to return to their home in the Winnemem Wintu’s ancestral watershed since Shasta Dam was built 75 years ago. In California, climate change, dam projects and large agricultural irrigation projects have pushed the salmon to the verge of extinction.
BMRC Hotel Employee Tests Positive For COVID-19
Indianz.com, July 30
A Bay Mills Resort & Casino hotel employee tested positive for COVID-19 today, Thursday, July 30. This is the first positive test result of a BMRC employee. Officials from Bay Mills Indian Community immediately notified health authorities of the positive case and began a review of BMRC surveillance footage. After meeting with the Chippewa County Health Dept. and consulting with BMIC health authorities, tribal officials have decided the casino and hotel will remain open.
AFN’s Top Lawyer Is Fourth Pick For Board That Will Rewrite Alaska’s Political Boundaries
Anchorage Daily News, James Brooks, July 30
Alaska Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham, has named Alaska Federation of Natives attorney Nicole Borromeo to the board in charge of redrawing the state’s House and Senate districts after the 2020 census.
Judge Hits Pause On Kiowa Tribe’s CARES Act Spending
Native News Online, Lenzy Burton, July 30
A judge with the Court of Indian Offenses for the Southern Plains has issued a preliminary injunction, thus temporarily blocking the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma from spending any more of its CARES Act funds. Chief Magistrate Shannon Edwards sided with the seven members of the Kiowa Tribe’s legislature and ruled that Chairman Matthew Komalty cannot spend any more CARES Act money until a budget is approved by the Kiowa Indian Council, which is open to all adult tribal citizens.
Oneida Tribe Wins Closely Watched Wisconsin Legal Fight
AP News, Scott Bauer, July 30
A federal appeals court on Thursday sided with the Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin in its fight over a village’s authority to require a special events permit for an apple festival, in a case that could have wide-ranging impacts across the U.S. While the lawsuit on its face was about whether the tribe needed a permit for its annual Big Apple Fest, the underlying issue was tribal sovereignty.
Kiowa Chairman’s Impeachment Hearing Delayed
The impeachment trial for Matthew Komalty, chairman of the 14,000-member Kiowa Tribe in Oklahoma, was halted Thursday after the Court of Indian Offenses ordered a delay. Komalty sought the delay because of a concern that two legislators were reportedly exposed to COVID-19, one receiving a false positive test result, according to Angela McCarthy, the legislature’s speaker.
Lack Of Awareness, Data Hinders Cases Of Missing And Murdered Native American Women, Study Finds
NBC News, Erik Ortiz, July 30
Tammy Carpenter was in tears as she drove through a rural stretch of Northern California two years ago to Shasta County, near where her adult daughter, Angela McConnell, was found shot to death with her boyfriend in an encampment favored by transients. She still remembers the way a sheriff’s detective, who was not Native American, like herself, handled the delicate conversation.
Oklahoma Attorney General Dismisses Legislation Critics As ‘sovereignty Hobbyists
Indian Country Today, Mary Pember, July 30
The Supreme Court’s McGirt v. Oklahoma ruling affirmed tribal sovereignty, but the state’s attorney general, Republican Mike Hunter, is disputing its importance in negotiating jurisdictional responsibility with tribes and the state. Hunter described some of those concerned about the impact of proposed federal legislation related to the case as “sovereignty hobbyists,” during an interview with reporter Scott Mitchell on News 9 in Tulsa.
Indian Country Leaders Pay Tribute To John Lewis
Indian Country Today, Dalton Walker, July 30
The legacy of civil rights legend John Lewis has impacted many in Indian Country. Lewis died July 17 at age 80. The long-serving Georgia Democratic congressman will be buried Thursday at a private ceremony in Atlanta. Lewis was the youngest and last survivor of the Big Six civil rights activists, a group led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that had the greatest impact on the movement. He was best known for leading some 600 protesters in the Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.
‘Milestone’ For Diné LGBTQ+
Indian Country Today, Kalle Benallie, July 30
The Navajo Nation Council is signing a resolution to officially recognize “Diné Pride Week” as a recurring celebration every third week of June. Council Speaker Seth Damon will sign the legislation at a socially distanced event in front of the Navajo Nation Council Chamber in Window Rock, Arizona, at 9 a.m. MDT Friday. The gathering will be livestreamed on Vimeo, Youtube and Facebook.