Schools on the Navajo Nation that are operated by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) will open next week under a distance-learning plan, not in-person classes as was the plan previously announced by the BIE. While neither Navajo Nation nor the BIE issued public statements about the change, Indian Country Today reports that a discussion between Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and BIE Director Tony Dearman led to the shift. 

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Friday afternoon in the case of Confederated Tribes of Chehalis Reservation v. Mnuchin, marking the latest in a months-long legal dispute over whether Alaska Native Corporations can be treated as tribal governments for the purposes of COVID-19 CARES Act Funding.

The Navajo Nation announced on Friday that the tribe will be participating in a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine trial on a patient-volunteer basis. There are several potential vaccines currently in development, but there is currently no licensed vaccine that prevents COVID-19. The New York Times reports that Pfizer could know if the vaccine works as soon as October, and if approved, it would manufacture more than 1.3 billion doses worldwide by the end of next year.

The Not In Our Honor Coalition, a group formed 15 years ago that advocates against the use of Native imagery in sports, released a statement this week calling on the Kansas City Football team to change their name and logo. Last month, the Kansas City Football team issued new guidance barring fans from wearing Native regalia and face paint to the stadium. This past Thursday, prior to kickoff in the NFL’s first game of the year, Kansas City fans in attendance booed players during a moment of silence “dedicated to the ongoing fight for equality.”

Keep reading for a full news update. 


Navajo Nation Takes Part In COVID Vaccine Study

Indian Country Today, Dalton Walker, September 12

The Navajo Nation, which has lost more than 500 citizens to the COVID-19 pandemic, is on the frontlines of a volunteer vaccine study. Only a few days after reporting no new daily cases for the first time in months, the tribe announced Friday that it is participating in a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine trial on a patient-volunteer basis.

Covid-19 Strikes Hard At Crow Creek

Native Sun News Today, Travis Dewes, September 11

In a short amount of time, nearly 25 of the 80 residents of Big Bend, a community on the Crow Creek Reservation, had tested positive for COVID-19 in June and July. A majority of the people that tested positive in Bed Bend were COVID-19 security team members or close to someone who was.

Native Mascots:

Change NFL Team’s Name And Logo, Says Native Coalition In Kansas City

Native News Online, September 11

Last month, the Kansas City NFL franchise announced it would prohibit fans from wearing American Indian headdresses this season at Arrowhead Stadium. For several years, American Indians have called on the team to drop their team name. The Not In Our Honor Coalition, an organization formed 15 years ago by a group of Native American college students at the University of Kansas and Haskell Indian Nations University, has advocated against the use of Native American imagery in sports since its inception.


Appeals Court Hears Arguments In COVID-19 Funding Dispute, Acee Agoyo, September 11

Tribal governments remain united as a federal appeals court determines the fate of more than a half-billion dollars in COVID-19 funding that’s been at the center of one of the most bitter Indian law and policy disputes in decades. At issue in the lawsuit is whether Alaska Native corporations, which are for-profit entities, can be treated the same as tribal governments, whose inherent sovereignty pre-dates the existence of the United States. And at stake are the remaining shares of an $8 billion coronavirus relief fund that Congress authorized almost six months ago to help the first Americans address the worst public health crisis to affect their communities in decades.

Tribal Corporation Secures Victory In Gaming Initiative Dispute, Kevin Abourezk, September 11

A decision by the Nebraska Supreme Court on Thursday approving three related gaming initiatives will pave the way for casino gambling at racetracks if approved by voters in November. The 4-3 ruling overturned an August 25 determination made by Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen, who refused to allow the three gaming initiatives to be included on the general election ballot, despite the initiatives’ supporters gaining enough signatures to add them to the ballot.


Yvette Herrell Faces Tough Rematch In Swing Congressional Race

Indian Country Today, Joaqlin Estus, September 13

Republican Yvette Herrell, Cherokee, faces a tough rematch in November in a U.S. House race that will help determine which party controls the chamber. The former state lawmaker is seeking to represent New Mexico’s Congressional District 2, which sits along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Leader Of Oglala Sioux Tribe Under Scrutiny Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations, Kevin Abourezk, September 11

Just days ahead of an impeachment hearing for the embattled president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, the FBI has reportedly begun an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Julian Bear Runner. Pine Ridge residents with knowledge about the investigation said FBI agents have interviewed the alleged victim and others who may know about his allegations.


Longtime Leader In Native Higher Education Dies

Indian Country Today, Kolby Kickwingwoman, September 13

David Gipp, Hunkpapa Lakota, a longtime advocate for Natives in higher education, has died. He was 74. Gipp was one of the nation’s longest-serving college presidents, holding the title at the United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, North Dakota, for more than 37 years, from 1977 to 2014. He was founder of the American Indian College Fund, appointed permanent executive director of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium and was a past board member for the National Indian Education Association.

Native American Behavioral Health Focus Of New Mexico, Harvard University Partnership

KRQE, September 12 

The New Mexico Indian Affairs Department announced Friday their partnership with Harvard University to conduct research on both behavioral health and sacred sites issues impacting New Mexico’s Nations, Tribes, and Pueblos. The NMIAD conducted two research projects with two graduate student teams as part of Harvard University’s “Native Americans in the 21st Century: Nation-Building II” course.

Native American Journalists Association Elects New Leaders

Indian Country Today, September 12

The nation’s leading association dedicated to Native journalism has elected new leadership, including a president and two new board members. Francine Compton, Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation, will serve as president of the Native American Journalists Association for the year. She is the executive producer of APTN News, an award-winning television program headquartered in Winnipeg on the world’s first national Indigenous broadcaster. 

Agency Abruptly Changes Course On Navajo Schooling

Indian Country Today, Mary Annette Pember, September 12

Schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Education on the Navajo Nation will be opening under a distance-learning plan next week, a stunning reversal of the agency’s plans to hold classes in person. The agency apparently changed course after a discussion between Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and BIE Director Tony Dearman. Neither the Navajo Nation nor the BIE have issued public statements about the new plan, and officials did not respond to emailed requests for confirmation or comment.

Acoma Pueblo Stays True To Namesake And ‘Prepare’ A Space For Future Generations

Native News Online, September 11

For one of Indian Country’s oldest living communities, knowing when to isolate and when to engage has kept the Acoma Pueblos and their traditional practices alive and thriving. In spite of the pandemic, Acoma’s tribal government and community organizers made a conscious decision last week to make its traditional Feast Day a virtual and modified in-person celebration. 

Suicide Is The 8th Leading Cause Of Death For Native Americans

Mvskoke Media, Lani Hansen, September 11

Suicide is the 8th leading cause of death for Native Americans, and the month of September is recognized as National Suicide Prevention Month. Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s Native Connection grants program primary focus is on suicide prevention and substance prevention amongst Native’s 10 to 24. The grant program focuses on the 10 to 24 age group, because they make up 64 percent of suicides that happen in Indian Territory. The stats are not focused on Oklahoma but other states that have tribal representation.

Rosebud Sioux Tribal Citizen Named Native American Affairs Liaison At National Park Service

Native News Online, September 11

Dorothy FireCloud, a tribal citizen of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, has been named the National Park Service (NPS) Native American Affairs Liaison, assistant to the director. The NPS Office of Native American Affairs (formerly the American Indian Liaison Office) provides guidance and support to NPS field and program managers to strengthen relationships with Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and other Indigenous communities.