The Trump Administration announced this morning that it would open up 1.5 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling, a move critics say will harm local animal species and damage the landscape itself.
A recent downward trend of positive COVID-19 cases continued over the weekend for the Navajo Nation, who has now reached 51 consecutive days with fewer than 100 daily cases and 16 consecutive days with fewer than 50.
The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the Association on American Indian Affairs, and six other tribal organizations wrote to Republican Senator Jim Inhofe outlining concerns that legislation being discussed by members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation threatens to undermine tribal sovereignty after the landmark Supreme Court decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma.
With the announcement by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) that schools will reopen on September 16 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, NCAI and the National Indian Education Association (NIEA) released a joint statement expressing deep concern regarding the BIE’s reopening plans and the safety and health of all students, teachers, administrators, and community members.
The Washington Football Team announced the hiring of Jason Wright as team president, making him the first Black team president in NFL history, and the fourth former player to ascend to that role.
A group that will recommend a new flag for the state of Mississippi narrowed the field of proposed designs submitted by the public. One of the nine finalist submissions honors the state’s Indigenous history featuring a diamond pattern that is often used in Choctaw art.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Oklahoma GOP Candidate Alleges In Lawsuit He Was Fired By Tribe For Opposing Face Mask Mandate
Native News Online, Levi Rickert, August 14
Shane Jett (Cherokee), who is running for the Republican nomination in the Oklahoma state senate district 17, filed a lawsuit this week alleging he was fired by the Citizen Potawatomi Nation (CPN), based in Shawnee, Okla., for voicing his opposition to a city face mask mandate. Jett was fired on Monday from his position as the CEO of the tribal nation’s Community Development Corporation by CPN Chairman John “Rocky” Barrett. In his lawsuit, Jett alleges Barrett referenced a July 20 Shawnee city commission meeting where Jett spoke during a public comment portion of the meeting against wearing masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
US Allows Killing Sea Lions Eating At-Risk Northwest Salmon
AP News, Gene Johnson, August 14
U.S. authorities on Friday gave wildlife managers in Washington, Oregon and Idaho permission to start killing hundreds of sea lions in the Columbia River basin in hopes of helping struggling salmon and steelhead trout. The bulky marine mammals long ago figured out that they could feast on the migrating fish where they bottleneck at dams or where they head up tributaries to spawn.
Tribal Groups Warn Inhofe Bill Could Undermine Sovereignty
AP News, August 14
Legislation being discussed by some members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation to address a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision threatens to undermine tribal sovereignty, several Native American groups warned in a letter this week to Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe. The leaders of eight separate tribal organizations, including the National Congress of American Indians and the Association on American Indian Affairs, wrote to Inhofe on Thursday outlining their concerns.
Positive Downward Trend Of COVID-19 Cases Continues On Navajo Nation
Native News Online, Levi Rickert, August 15
With the reported 11 new cases announced on the Navajo Nation, the downward trend is being viewed as a positive direction by Navajo Nation leadership. “Having only 11 new cases does not mean that we are in the clear. Instead, we should challenge ourselves to continue holding our loved ones accountable for complying with the public health orders and recommendations from the health care experts.” Navajo Nation President Nez said on Saturday.
Miss Navajo Nation Is A ‘Glimmer Of Hope’ For Community During Pandemic
Cronkite News, McKenzie Allen-Charmle, August 14
After winning the title of Miss Navajo Nation in September, Shaandiin Parrish immediately got to work on the cultural preservation and advocacy efforts central to the role. At times, she attended five or more events in a single day, traveling across the 27,000-square-mile reservation to speak to elementary school students and attend conferences. “You really hit the ground running,” Parrish recalled. “There’s no event too small. There’s no event too big.”
More Oklahoma Tribes Issue Mask Mandates, Cancel Annual Celebrations Due To Pandemic
Native News Online, Lenzy Burton, August 14
With COVID-19 cases still climbing across Oklahoma, tribes are continuing to take additional mitigation efforts to try to slow the spread. As part of a recently amended executive order from Gov. Reggie Wassana, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes are now requiring all employees, visitors and patrons to wear masks at its offices and businesses, including its two travel plazas and four casinos. The executive order also closes the Cheyenne and Arapaho powwow grounds until further notice for any kind of gatherings, including funerals and tribally sponsored dances.
Emotions Run High Over New Beer Can
Indian Country Today, Natasha Brennan, August 15
In honor of National Navajo Code Talkers Day, a Washington, D.C., craft brewery has rereleased its Code Talker American Pale Ale — this time in a can — drawing some rave reviews but also backlash. The beer was formulated and brewed by LT Goodluck in honor of his late grandfather and Navajo Code Talker John V. Goodluck. The Hellbender Brewing Company announced the ale’s third annual release this week, debuting a bright red can featuring John V. Goodluck’s image. Some have commented that the product’s name makes it representative of all code talkers, not just the Navajo, and is tone-deaf because it creates another Native mascot.
University Of Oregon To Cover Racist Library Murals
AP News, August 14
The University of Oregon will cover four murals in a library after years of outcry from students, staff, faculty and community members who felt the murals’ language and portrayal of Indigenous people was racist. One mural in the Knight Library, titled the “Mission of a University,” mentions conserving “our racial heritage.” Two other murals illustrate humanity’s development of the arts and the sciences, with dozens of people underneath the branches of growing trees. At the bottom of the tree in the “arts” mural, Indigenous people paint on cave walls and sew animal skins.
Sacred Lands Must Be Preserved, Not Bombed
Indian Country Today, Greg Anderson, August 14
The Desert National Wildlife Refuge, and the Sheep Mountain Range within, are known as Tuhut in the Nuwu (Southern Paiute) language, a landscape and mountain range that holds special meaning for our people. A landscape central to our Nuwu history, stories, culture and beliefs, this is a landscape that has been under constant attack by the United States Air Force for decades.
Trump Administration Finalizes Plan To Open Up Alaska Wildlife Refuge To Drilling
The Hill, Rachel Frazin, August 17
The Trump administration announced Monday it would open up 1.5 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas drilling.
Washington Hires Jason Wright As NFL’s First Black President
ESPN, John Keim, August 17
Washington has hired Jason Wright as team president, making him the first Black team president in NFL history and only the fourth former player to ascend to that role.
NCAI And NIEA Statement On BIE School Reopenings
NCAI, August 14
The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the National Indian Education Association (NIEA) express deep concern regarding reopening plans for Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools and the safety and health of all students, teachers, administrators, and community members.
NCAI And NIEA Statement On BIE School Reopenings
Native News Online, August 15
With the announcement by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) that schools will reopen on September 16 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the National Indian Education Association (NIEA) released a joint statement on Friday expressing deep concern regarding the BIE’s reopening plans its schools and the safety and health of all students, teachers, administrators, and community members.
Artist Jeffrey Gibson Unveils Giant Sculpture In New York
Indian Country Today, Sandra Schulman, August 15
A massive new pyramid mound-shaped sculpture has arisen in New York’s Socrates Park by Choctaw-Cherokee artist Jeffrey Gibson, who was the recipient of a MacArthur Genius Grant in 2019. Known for his beaded punching bags and other Indigenous-based multimedia works, Gibson has been exhibiting for decades, with numerous solo museum shows.
Mississippi Flag Could Have Choctaw-Inspired Diamond Shape
AP News, Emily Pettus, August 14
The new Mississippi flag could include a magnolia or stars or representations of rivers. Or it could reflect the state’s Native American heritage with a diamond shape that is important to the Choctaw community. A group that will recommend a new flag met Friday and narrowed the field of proposed designs submitted by the public. Commissioners intended to select the final five, but gave themselves a bit more time.
Popular Tourist Sites On The Navajo Nation Can Reopen Soon
AP News, Felicia Fonseca, August 14
Popular tourist destinations on the Navajo Nation, including Canyon de Chelly, can welcome back tourists Monday under the tribe’s reopening plan. Much of the Navajo Nation has been closed since March as the coronavirus swept through the reservation that extends into New Mexico, Utah and Arizona. The tribe released a plan this week that allows hair salons and barber shops to open by appointment only, businesses to operate at 25% of maximum capacity, and the reopening of marinas and parks with safeguards.
Water Pipeline Held Up In Navajo Community Due To Two Companies
Native News Online, Levi Rickert, August 14
To’hajiilee, a Navajo Nation community with 2,500 residents, is in desperate need of safe drinking water. Located 24 miles west of Albuquerque, N.M., the community’s water supply problem has become exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as essential health and safety guidelines call for frequent hand washing and proper sanitization. Last month, To’hajiilee Chapter President Mark Begay told the Navajo Times that the water in their community is “dirty” and “smells like rotten eggs.”
Million-Dollar Campaign Launched To Protect Bears Ears
Indian Country Today, Joaqlin Estus, August 14
An international cultural conservation fund has put $300,000 toward a $1 million campaign to help protect and restore areas of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. The World Monuments Fund donated the money in late July, saying Bears Ears is a world-class “irreplaceable treasure,” one of a select group of architectural and cultural sites that span the history of human civilization. “Bears Ears is the first national monument created at the request of and with input from Native American governments,” according to a Washington Post article.
‘We’ve Already Survived An Apocalypse’: Indigenous Writers Are Changing Sci-fi
The New York Times, Alexandra Alter, August 14
When Cherie Dimaline was growing up near Penetanguishene, a small town on the Georgian Bay in Ontario, her grandmother and great-aunts told her stories about a werewolf-like monster called the rogarou. It wasn’t spoken of as a mythical creature but as an actual threat, the embodiment of danger in a place where Indigenous women face heightened risk of violence. “This wasn’t like, here’s a metaphor,” she said. “They would say, ‘The rogarou’s out, and he’s really hungry.’”
In A First, Transgender Inmate Receives Court-ordered Surgery
Indian Country Today, Amanda Peacher, August 14
For the first time in U.S. history, a transgender inmate has been provided court-ordered gender confirmation surgery. Adree Edmo, a Shoshone-Bannock citizen and transgender woman, was treated with the surgery in July. She was then transferred to a women’s correctional facility in Pocatello, Idaho, on July 31 and is still recovering. Edmo has previously been housed in prisons for men.