The Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association has announced the closure of tribal casinos in Oklahoma due to the COVID-19 pandemic caused a drop of nearly $30 million in fees paid to the state. The Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association reported payments totaling $123 million during the fiscal year that ended on June 30, down from about $150 million last year.

Tribal group Gwich’in Steering Committee and environmentalists filed a pair of lawsuits against the Trump administration over its decision to permit oil drilling throughout the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Gwich’in committee argues that the Native way of life is dependent on the continued viability of the caribou herds and calls the refuge “the sacred place where life begins.”

A Federal Investigation has found Lovelace Women’s Hospital violated patients’ rights by singling out pregnant Native women for COVID-19 testing and separating them from their newborns without adequate consent until test results became available.

The family of Zachary Bear Heels, a 29-year old Lakota and Kiowa man who died in 2017 as a result of being punched in the head and tased by police officers, will receive a $550,000 settlement after the Omaha, Nebraska city council voted 7-0 in the family’s favor.

Keep reading for a full news update.


RNC Features Navajo Leader, Support For Columbus Day

Indian Country Today, Kolby Kickingwoman, August 24

This year’s scaled-back RNC kicked off Monday with 336 delegates gathered in Charlotte, North Carolina — six from each state, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. territories. Besides formally awarding President Donald Trump the Republican nomination, delegates approved a handful of resolutions, including one that seeks to preserve Columbus Day as a national holiday. In recent years, cities and states across the country have passed motions declaring the day Indigenous People’s Day. The resolution states that “men and women who have made historically significant, positive contributions to humanity are universally complex figures,” and encourages the continued public education and celebration of Columbus.

Cherokee Candidate Seeks To Unseat Oklahoma Incumbent

Indian Country Today, Dalton Walker, August 24

A Cherokee man is hoping to return to the Oklahoma Legislature by defeating an incumbent state senator in a Republican primary runoff Tuesday. June’s primary results for Senate District 17, which includes Oklahoma and Pottawatomie counties in the central part of the state, reveal that Shane Jett has a path to doing just that. Jett received 4,580 votes, or 44 percent, of the primary vote on June 30, compared to second-place finisher and incumbent Ron Sharp’s 33 percent. 

Chuck Hoskin: Commemorating A Tumultuous And Resolute First Year In Office, Chuck Hoskin Jr., August 24

“I believe that more today than ever before. Our Nation is strong because, for generations, we have looked towards the horizon and prepared as one people to meet the challenges ahead.”

Congress Urged To Expand COVID Resources To Tribal Governments 

KNSS News, August 24

U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs – led a group of 11 Senators in urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to include priorities for tribal governments in a future COVID-19 relief package, especially providing flexibility for tribal governments in how they use funds provided in the CARES Act. 


‘No Amount Of Money Is Ever Going To Bring Him Back’: City Settles Lawsuit For Death Of Native Man Beaten By Police Officers, Kevin Abourezk, August 24

A three-year legal effort to gain restitution for the death of a 29-year-old Lakota and Kiowa man who died in June 2017 after an encounter with four police officers ended last week when the city council here voted to approve a $550,000 settlement with the man’s family. The council’s 7-0 vote on August 18 effectively ended one phase of the effort to gain justice for Zachary Bear Heels, who died after being Tased 12 times and punched 13 times in the head by police officers before dying.

Alaska Tribal Groups Oppose State’s Lawsuit Over Hunting

AP News, August 24

Alaska tribal governments and organizations have asked the state to withdraw a lawsuit alleging a federal agency overstepped its authority by granting an Alaska Native village a special hunting permission during the coronavirus pandemic. The lawsuit opposes the special action granted to the Organized Village of Kake by the federal Office of Subsistence Management, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported. The federal agency granted a request for Kake residents to hunt up to two moose and five male Sitka black-tailed deer.

Federal Investigation Finds Hospital Violated Patients’ Rights By Profiling, Separating Native Mothers And Newborns, August 24

A prominent women’s hospital here violated patients’ rights by singling out pregnant Native American women for COVID-19 testing and separating them from their newborns without adequate consent until test results became available, according to a federal investigation disclosed to New Mexico In Depth and ProPublica. Lovelace Women’s Hospital did not admit to any wrongdoing but reported that the practice has been halted. Hospital officials submitted a plan to fix problems identified by investigators, including a promise to conduct internal audits to ensure compliance with state and federal regulations and COVID-19 screening guidance.

Mount Rushmore Protest Organizer Faces New Charges, Up To 17 Years In Prison

Native News Online, August 24 

Nick Tilsen (Oglala Sioux Tribe), the 38-year old president and chief executive officer of NDN Collective, will go to trial for three felony charges stemming from a July 3 protest in the Black Hills in the hours leading up to President Donald Trump’s visit to Mount Rushmore. Tilsen was in court on Friday at the Pennington County Courthouse in Rapid City, S.D. for a preliminary hearing. Originally charged with two felonies last month, the county prosecutor added an additional felony against Tilsen for allegedly assaulting a law enforcement officer during the protest.

Census 2020:

Why Are Rural North Dakotans Not Responding To The 2020 Census? 

Grand Forks Herald, Michelle Griffith, August 24

For every resident who fills out the census, North Dakota will receive almost $20,000 in federal funding over the next decade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. However, census officials are finding this financial incentive has not been enticing enough for North Dakotans to fill out their 2020 census. 


COVID-19 Blamed For Drop In Oklahoma Tribal Gaming Fees

AP News, August 24

The closure of tribal casinos in Oklahoma due to the coronavirus pandemic caused a drop of nearly $30 million in fees paid to the state, the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association said Monday. The Office of Management and Enterprise Services reported payments totaling nearly $123 million during the fiscal year that ended June 30, down from a record high of about $150 million the previous year, according to the agency’s data.

Eagle Mountain Casino Reopens, August 23

The Tule River Tribal Council and Eagle Mountain Casino Management have been closely monitoring COVID 19 cases in Tulare County and the state since closing its door on July 16, 2020. In a meeting this week, Tribal Council has approved to reopen the casino doors on 21 August.


Native Colleges Take Mixed Approach To Fall Semester

Indian Country Today, Eddie Chuculate, August 24

Much like the nation itself, Native American colleges and universities across the country have a mixed approach as they open the fall semester amid the coronavirus pandemic. Some schools, such as Haskell Indian Nations University, decided in July to stay off campus with online instruction only. Others, such as the Institute of American Indian Arts, will have a mixture of virtual learning and on-campus classes.

Hoopa Valley Tribe Works To Reduce COVID-19 Spread, Reservation Remains Closed

Native News Online, Nanette Kelley, August 24 

With COVID-19 cases on the rise, the Hoopa Valley Tribe is working to flatten the curve.

The tribe has reported 46 positive COVID-19 cases as of Aug. 24, which is nearly double their case count at the beginning of the month. The tribe previously reported 24 cases on Aug. 6, an outbreak which helped elevate the entire county to its highest daily COVID-19 case record. Seven cases are currently active, with no deaths. The reservation is currently closed, with a stay-at-home order in place for residents. Only essential businesses are allowed to be open.

Quinault Indian Nation Closes To Visitors Amid COVID-19 Rise

AP News, August 24

The Quinault Indian Nation (QIN) is now closed to visitors in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases among households on the reservation. KOMO-TV reports the shutdown was announced by the QIN government on Saturday. According to officials with the QIN, the Nation reported its first positive COVID-19 case last week, which required some households to enter a 14-day quarantine period.


Trump Administration Seized More Than 2,600 Pounds Of Illegal Narcotics In Indian Country Last Year 

Red Lake Nation News, August 25

Today, the Trump Administration highlighted the efforts made in 2019 by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Joint Opioid Reduction Task Force in Indian Country, as law enforcement officials successfully led 14 operations across seven states, resulting in more than 313 arrests and the seizure of 2,607 pounds of illegal narcotics with an estimated street value of $19.6 million, more than double the price tag from the previous year. President Donald J. Trump has made it a priority of his administration to end the drug overdose epidemic that kills approximately 70,000 Americans each year.

To Manage Wildfire, California Looks To What Tribes Have Known All Along 

NPR, Lauren Sommer, August 24

On a cool February morning, around 60 people gathered in the Sierra Nevada foothills to take part in a ceremony that, for many decades, was banned.

Native American Group Gwich’in Steering Committee, Environmentalists To Fight Arctic Drilling

International Business Times, Marcy Kreiter, August 24

Environmental groups and Native Americans filed a pair of lawsuits against the Trump administration over its decision to permit oil drilling throughout the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The administration last week opened up to drilling 1.6 million acres along the coastal plain of nearly pristine wilderness, home to migrating caribou and waterfowl, along with polar bears and foxes that live there full time. Drilling in the area has been prohibited for more than 30 years.

They Gave The World The Creator’s Game. Now They’re Fighting To Be Allowed To Play.

Native News Online, Monica Whitepigeon, August 24

On Aug. 14, the International World Games Association (IWGA), World Lacrosse (WL) and the organizing committee for the World Games (TWG) released a statement saying that the Haudenosaunee Nation will be eligible to compete in the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Ala. should they qualify under criteria set by WL and approved by IWGA. The decision came after the circulation of a petition, which has been signed more than 50,000 times, called for the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team to be included in the upcoming games.

Corps: Alaska Mine Would Have Adverse Impacts On Salmon Site

AP News, Mark Thiessen, August 24 

A proposed gold and copper mine at the headwaters of the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery in Alaska would cause “unavoidable adverse impacts,” the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said in a letter to the developer released Monday. The corps is giving Pebble Limited Partnership 90 days to come up with a mitigation plan for thousands of acres and nearly 200 miles of streams to secure a key federal permit to proceed.

Association On American Indian Affairs To Highlight NAGPRA’s 30th Anniversary At Conference

Native News Online, August 24

Thirty years ago this November, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) was passed by Congress. NAGPRA provides a legal process of repatriation for tribal ancestors’ remains, burial belongings, sacred objects and cultural patrimony that have been looted, stolen and taken in unconscionable ways from tribal nations. The Association on American Indian Affairs’ Sixth Annual Repatriation Conference: “Growing Community & Moving Forward after 30 Years of NAGPRA” will provide a look back, address where NAGPRA is now and examine what work still needs to be done with this significant human rights law.