Good morning, NUNAverse:
Founded in 2018, Canada’s first Indigenous female-founded airline will soon be buzzing in and out of an airport on Vancouver Island. Iskwew recently announced that it will begin operating non-stop scheduled service between Qualicum Beach Airport and Vancouver International Airport as early as next week. Teara Fraser (Métis), the airline’s founder and chief executive officer, said she has been eyeing starting service to Qualicum Beach for years and believes the central Vancouver Island town is the right place to begin the Iskwew Air’s first-ever service.
Facing a surge of new COVID-19 cases, the Navajo Nation has decided to return to “Orange Status” restrictions. The restrictions will include capacity levels for businesses from 50 percent to 25 percent. According to Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez the details are still being worked out but contact tracers are finding many new cases are due to in-person social and family gatherings. According to Navajo Nation health officials, 75 percent of the Navajo Nation is fully vaccinated.
Native News Online reports 9,949 Native Hawaiʻian families across Hawaiʻi hold their lease to their land under the 1920 Hawaiʻian Homes Commission Act (HHCA), which reserved approximately 200,000 acres on the islands for Native Hawaiʻians who have at least 50 percent Hawaiʻian blood. Families who have obtained leases under the program can pass them on to relatives who have at least one-quarter Native Hawai‘ian blood. In 2017, the Hawai‘i legislature found that fewer Native Hawaiʻians have the required blood quantum because of interracial marriages and blended families. It concluded that the inability of Native Hawaiʻians to inherit a lease unnecessarily displaces them from their land and interferes with their ability to maintain the value of their homes.
Arizona State University has been awarded two new grants to support education among 140 Indigenous educators of Arizona’s tribal communities. The Arizona Department of Education is allocating $1 million to the Preparing Educators for Arizona’s Indigenous Communities Project. The U.S. Department of Education has allocated $1.4 million to the same project through its Indian Educational Professional Development Program. Both grants reflect the Arizona Board of Regents’ commitment to increase access to higher education and educational attainment throughout Arizona.
On Wednesday, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. spoke with President Joe Biden and leaders from throughout the nation, expressing his excitement that the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will lead to greater broadband connectivity in rural areas. The White House virtual meeting focused on the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, which includes around $550 billion in new federal investment in America’s roads and bridges, water infrastructure, resilience, internet and more, according to the official White House website.
Keep reading for a full news update.
A Proposed Federal Law Could Lower The Barrier Between Native Hawaiians and Homeownership
Native News Online, Andrew Kennard, August 11
Even so, Sterling’s land may not remain in her family for more than a generation. Approximately 9,949 Native Hawaiian families across Hawaii hold leases to land under the 1920 Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA), which reserved approximately 200,000 acres on the islands for Native Hawaiians who have at least 50 percent Hawaiian blood. Families who have obtained leases under the program can pass them on to relatives who have at least one-quarter Hawaiian blood. But while the next generation of Native Hawaiians would qualify to inherit land lease under the blood quantum requirements, most — possibly, all — the subsequent generation won’t meet them. If family members who own leases pass away without an eligible successor, the land will be returned to the state trust rather than passed on to next grandchildren. However, a new bill proposed by U.S. Rep. Kaiali’i Kahele (D-Hawaii) would lower the blood quantum requirement from one quarter to 1/32, or around 3 percent. The legislation is co-sponsored by six Republicans and 10 Democrats, including three American Indian representatives: Tom Cole (R-OK), Markwayne Mullen (R-OK) and Sharice Davids (D-KS).
Infrastructure Bill Brings Cheers, Criticism From Indian Country
Indian Country Today, Mary Annette Pember, August 11
After weeks of fits and starts, the Senate approved a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan for states on Aug. 10. A day later, the Senate approved a $3.5 trillion budget resolution sending funding into family, health and environmental programs. All in all, the actions represent delivering a cornerstone of President Joe Biden’s agenda. The impact on Indian Country is significant. Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr. called the bill a “historic, potentially transformational investment for tribes across this country” in a virtual meeting with President Joe Biden and other leaders Wednesday.
Vice Chairman Murkowski Secures Significant Investments In Native Communities
US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, August 10
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, secured the U.S. Senate passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which includes substantial funding for Federal programs and Native communities to address water and sanitation, transportation, broadband, climate and energy resilience, Indian water settlements, new energy technology, drought mitigation, mine and well cleanup, wildfire mitigation, and ecosystem restoration. After a strong bipartisan vote of 69-30, the bill now moves back to the House for further consideration. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes significant investments in Native communities, such as: Major Investments in Indian Health Service’s Sanitation Facilities Construction Program; Funds Congressionally Authorized Indian Water Settlements; Building Climate Change Resilience in Native Communities; Connecting Indian Communities by Investing in Rural Broadband; Cleaning Up Orphan and Legacy Wells; Reducing Wildfire Risk and Enhancing Native Communities; Investments in BIA Irrigation, Power, and Sanitation; and Tribal Transportation Investments.
Due To Rise In COVID-19 Cases, The Navajo Nation To Return To “Orange Status” Restrictions
Native News Online, August 11
Facing a new surge of new Covid-19 cases, the Navajo Nation has decided to return to “Orange Status” restrictions. According to Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez the details are still being worked out. The restrictions will include capacity levels for businesses. Dropping business occupancy limits from 50 percent to 25 percent is under consideration. According to Navajo Nation health officials, 75 percent of the Navajo Nation is fully vaccinated.
Despite Tragedies In Midst Of Pandemic, Woman Continues To Help Others
Gaylord News, Keegan Williams, August 11
Holmes has faced what many would say is unbelievable tragedy, yet continues to push through. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Holmes lost 20 blood relatives and many more friends, yet continued to show up for those who needed her most. Holmes’ job as a property manager for the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma (MHAOK) requires compassion, patience, and of course, resilience. Growing up as a part of the Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes, going to school at Sequoyah High School, and being an enrolled member of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees, Holmes had her own experiences with mental health, abuse and other issues that members of the homeless community deal with, which led to her decision to break the cycle and begin to help others heal, especially within her tribal community.
Retired NBA Star A.C. Green Delivers Schools Supplies, Toys To San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation
Native News Online, Levi Rickert, August 11
Even though they were wearing facial masks due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the smiles of some 900 Native youth could be seen coming from their eyes on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. Their delight came from picking up school supplies and toys made possible by legendary NBA all-star A.C. Green who showed up to help give away the items. Green, who is part Choctaw and Cherokee from his mother’s side of the family, donated the items through his A.C. Green Youth Foundation, which works to provide underserved youth and the communities they live in with resources, materials and support. The school supplies and toys were distributed to Native American students in grades K-12 in the San Carlos Unified School District as part of a larger collective effort to offer aid Native American students across Arizona for the upcoming new school year.
ASU Awarded Funds To Support Indigenous Educators
Native News Online, August 11
Arizona State University has been awarded two new grants to support education among Arizona’s tribal communities. The Arizona Department of Education is allocating $1 million to the Preparing Educators for Arizona’s Indigenous Communities Project. The U.S. Department of Education has allocated $1.4 million to the same project through its Indian Educational Professional Development Program. Both grants reflect the Arizona Board of Regents’ commitment to increase access to higher education and educational attainment throughout Arizona. Combined, the funds will help the program (abbreviated PEAIC and pronounced “peak”) prepare 140 Indigenous educators.
Jemez Pueblo Sculptor Reveals Souls Through Stone
Native News Online, Monica Whitepigeon, August 11
When a young Cliff Fragua (Jemez Pueblo) began chipping away at a soft stone for the first time four decades ago, he envisioned something beautiful and provocative that would stun the art world. An hour into the process, he came across a large fissure and watched as his efforts crumbled into pieces. Disappointed but not deterred, Fragua continued with a partial piece until the form revealed a bear. It was not what he had set out to create, but it’s what he had to work with and he was still able to make it his own. Nearly 40 years later, Fragua’s stylized sculptures are nationally and internationally celebrated. He is the only Native sculptor to have his work installed in the National Statuary Hall in Washington, DC. His seven-foot-tall Tennessee marble sculpture there represents Po’pay, the leader of the 1680 Pueblo Revolt against the Spaniards.