The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed a lower court’s order to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline until a full environmental review was completed to address impacts on Standing Rock’s subsistence and water rights. The D.C. district court sided with pipeline owner, Energy Transfer to keep the oil flowing, saying the lower court judge “did not make the findings necessary for injunctive relief.”
Native advocates are condemning the move by the Federal Communications Commission extending the spectrum broadband priority window by only 30 days. Advocates are asking for a 180-day extension instead, especially due to the impact of COVID-19 on tribal lands.
As tribal communities across the country continue to face issues with attaining broadband and high-speed internet connectivity, the American Library Association discussed the need “for broadband access among tribal communities and the central role libraries can play in connecting diverse populations with high-speed internet access.”
The Alaska Federation of Natives Convention will be held online in October as organizers aim to help stop the spread of COVID-19 as cases continue to rise in the state.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Alaska Federation Of Natives Convention Will Go Virtual As Coronavirus Surges
Anchorage Daily News, August 6
The Alaska Federation of Natives Convention will be held online in October as organizers aim to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Tribe, Economy, Even Cemeteries Hurt As Virus Hits Choctaws
Houston Chronicle, Leah Willingham, August 5
When Sharon Taylor died of coronavirus, her family — standing apart, wearing masks — sang her favorite hymns at her graveside, next to a tiny headstone for her stillborn daughter, buried 26 years ago. Fresh flowers marked row after row of new graves. Holy Rosary is one of the only cemeteries in this Choctaw Indian family’s community, and it’s running out of space — a sign of the virus’s massive toll on the Choctaw people.
As Many Navajos Face Pandemic Without Running Water, Tribal Members Urged To ‘Lift Each Other Up’
Cronkite News, McKenzie Allen-Charmley, August 5
By now, you’ve probably heard it more times than you can count: One of the simplest ways to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection is to wash your hands. But for the nearly one in three Navajo Nation households without indoor plumbing, that’s easier said than done. “People (here) call it a luxury to be able to have running water,” said Yolanda Tso, a Navajo Nation member and community advocate. “I don’t really believe that should be considered a luxury in this day and age, especially in this country.”
14 New COVID-19 Cases Reported On Fort Hall Indian Reservation
Native News Online, August 5
The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes’ Tribal Office of Emergency Management reported on Tuesday 14 new COVID-19 cases on the Fort Hall Reservation, bringing the total to 84 overall positive cases since the pandemic started in early April. Of the 84 cases, 29 are currently being monitored, 44 have recovered, two are currently hospitalized and there is one confirmed death.
The Pandemic Is Creating A Mental Health Crisis
Indian Country Today, Mary Pember, August 5
As the U.S. struggles with wave after wave of health and economic fallout from the COVID-19 virus, a silent epidemic of mental illness is looming. Native Americans, already in crisis mode due to limited access to health care and disparities in both physical and mental health, are especially vulnerable. Health care professionals and grassroots leaders in Indian Country, however, are reporting surprising bright spots in ways that Native people are responding to mental health challenges generated by COVID-19 .
Inmate In Southern Illinois US Prison Dies Of Covid-19
AP News, August 5
An inmate at the Federal Bureau of Prisons facility in the southern Illinois city of Marion has died of complications from COVID-19, the agency revealed Wednesday. The Bureau of Prisons said Earl James, 65, died Sunday after testing positive for the virus on July 22. Prison officials did not say why James, a Native American, was incarcerated at the prison or give his home town.
Point Of View: No Need For Congressional Fix After McGirt Ruling
The Oklahoman, Truman Carter, August 6
The U.S. Supreme Court decision in McGirt v Oklahoma has generated renewed interest in the investigation and prosecution of crimes in Indian country in Oklahoma. This decision provides clarity and guidance for those officers charged with the shared responsibility and provide law and order on Indian lands.
Court Reverses Order To Shut Down Dakota Access Pipeline
AP News, James MacPherson, August 4
A federal appeals court on Wednesday reversed a judge’s order that shut down the Dakota Access pipeline pending a full environmental review. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sided with pipeline owner Energy Transfer to keep the oil flowing, saying a lower-court judge “did not make the findings necessary for injunctive relief.” But the appellate court declined to grant Energy Transfer’s motion to block the review, saying the company had “failed to make a strong showing of likely success.”
Comment: After Covid, Tribal Casinos Recovery Still Long Shot
HeraldNet, Adam Minter, August 6
On March 19, the Bay Mills Indian Community in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula closed down its two casinos to protect employees and patrons from Covid-19.
Native Advocates Criticize FCC’s ‘Flawed Logic’ In Short-Term Extension For Tribes’ Wireless Spectrum Applications
Native News Online, Joe Boomgaard, August 5
Native American advocates are decrying a move by the Federal Communications Commission to extend by only 30 days a “priority window” for tribes to gain access to unassigned wireless broadband spectrum over their lands. Citing the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in Indian Country, about 100 groups including the National Congress of American Indians and National Tribal Telecommunications Association had called on the FCC to extend the deadline by as much as 180 days to allow tribes time to safely submit applications. However, the FCC instead opted for a 30-day extension, with the window now closing on Sept. 2.
Reservation Libraries Provide Internet Lifeline
Indian Country Today, Kolby Kickingwoman, August 5
Broadband and high-speed internet connectivity has long been an issue tribes across the country have faced. The COVID-19 pandemic only amplified tribal leaders’ concerns, especially as schools look to adapt to distance learning with the start of classes just around the corner. As part of a 12-stop virtual tour across the nation, the American Library Association held an event Tuesday discussing the need “for broadband access among tribal communities and the central role libraries can play in connecting diverse populations with high-speed internet access.”
The ‘Virtual’ Success Of This Years’ Santa Fe Indian Market
Indian Country Today, August 5
For nearly 100 years, the Santa Fe Indian Market has taken over not just downtown and the plaza, but the entire city. Except this year. This year the pandemic prevents people from gathering in large crowds. The three-day weekend event typically brings in approximately 100,000 people each year and hundreds of artists. Organizers are taking the market to the virtual world where more than 400 artists will show and sell their art.
Mills Wants Activism To Be Remembered More Than Gold Medal
AP News, Stephen Wade, August 4
Mills remains the only American to win Olympic gold at 10,000 meters. But the medal is barely an asterisk in a life working for Native Americans. “The gold medal fits in there because I healed a broken soul, but far behind it was winning the gold medal as an athlete,” Mills said. “That is so far behind.” He’d rather talk about co-founding “Running Strong for American Indian Youth,“and being honored in 2014 by the Anti-Defamation League for his work “against hate and bigotry.” Add to that, President Barack Obama awarding him the Presidential Citizens Medal.