NPR reports that career officials at the Census Bureau tried to send warnings to the Trump administration about how the last-minute decision to shorten the enumeration window by a full month would lead to “fatal” problems with the nationwide headcount. Internal emails recently released as part of a federal lawsuit in California show that Census Bureau officials tried to hold together the decennial count amid mounting pressure from the administration to abandon the extended timeline it had previously approved in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2020 California Native American Day Celebration starts today! The event will run entirely virtually from today, September 23, through Friday, September 25. This year’s theme is Healing Nations – Protecting Elders, Women, and Children which will carry through three days of virtual celebration in video snippets via the California Native American Day Facebook page. For more information, read the full press release here.

After passing in the House of Representatives earlier this week, Savanna’s Act – a bipartisan bill aimed at addressing cases of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women – has been sent to the President’s desk for final approval.

The Native American Business Incubators Program Act passed the House on Monday, and has also been sent to the President’s desk for final approval. The bill would establish and fund business incubators in Indian Country to help start and cultivate Native American-owned small businesses.

Five fires that started during a wind event over Labor Day weekend have destroyed over 80 homes and burned over 200,000 acres on the Colville Reservation in northern Washington. In total, the fires in Washington have 766 firefighters working to stop the blazes, and have claimed more acres than 12 of the last 18 fire seasons already.

U.S. District Judge Murray Snow is mulling over whether to order election officials to count mail-in ballots from the Navajo Nation in Arizona up to 10 days extra after election day. A lawyer representing six Navajo Nation citizens argued on Tuesday that mail service on the reservation is much slower and less accessible than other parts of the state, noting that the slower speed of mail delivery in Navajo Nation would mean citizens have approximately 10 fewer days to return their mail-in ballots than people in non-reservation communities such as Scottsdale.

Keep reading for a full news update.

Census 2020: 

Census Could Look ‘Manipulated’ If Cut Short By Trump Officials, Bureau Warned 

NPR, Hansi Lo Wang, September 20

Weeks before the Trump administration announced it was cutting the 2020 census schedule short, career officials at the Census Bureau attempted to send signal flares about how that last-minute decision would lead to “fatal” data problems with the national head count and the perception of “politically-manipulated results.”


Coronavirus Places Indian Country On Pause 

Duluth News Tribune, Simon Moya-Smith, September 23

On any normal day in summer, all across this North American continent Natives refer to as “Turtle Island,” Ojibwes and Choctaws and Cherokees and hundreds of other tribes are somewhere kicking up dirt at the powwow grounds. A drum group belts out harmonies into the hot air and bangs the drum, which acts as both music and signal to the folks who are lost in the distance, desperate to get to the food, vendors, and maybe a bit of shade. “Listen … I hear the drum. It’s this way.”

Federal COVID-19 Relief Poured Millions Of Dollars Into Indian Country. Was It Enough?

Mitchell Republic, Jeremy Fugleberg, September 23

Federal pandemic relief legislation has poured billions of dollars into Indian Country this year, as tribes fight to keep COVID-19 away from their families, support already limited health systems and reduce the virus’ damage to their economies.

Navajo To Extend Weekend Lockdown Because Of New Virus Cases

AP News, September 22

The Navajo Nation is implementing a stricter weekend lockdown as it looks into new clusters of coronavirus cases from family gatherings and off-reservation travel. Residents will be required to stay home from Friday evening until early Monday morning. More recent weekend lockdowns were a day shorter.

Coronavirus Aid: Too Many Strings, Not Enough Relief For Tribes

Indian Country Today, Joaqlin Estus, September 22

Tribal leaders are struggling to spend the $8 billion in COVID-19 relief allocated earlier this year by Congress, as changing federal rules and guidelines raise concerns they could be forced to pay back any money misspent.


Judge Mulls Giving More Time To Count Navajo Nation Ballots

AP News, September 22

A judge is mulling whether to order officials to count mail-in ballots up to 10 extra days after election day for Navajo Nation members who live on the tribe’s reservation in Arizona and whose ballots are postmarked by the close of voting on November 3.

House Sends Bipartisan Bill To Address Missing And Murdered Native Americans To Trump’s Desk

CNN, Jessica Campisi, September 22

A bipartisan bill aimed at addressing cases of missing and murdered Native Americans has been sent to President Donald Trump’s desk for final approval. The measure requires the Justice Department to develop guidelines for responding to cases of missing or murdered Native Americans and report statistics on those cases. The bill also instructs the department to provide trainings for law enforcement agencies and to work with tribes and tribal organizations in implementing its strategy.

MMIW Bills Head To President’s Desk

Indian Country Today, Kolby Kickingwoman, September 22

Two critical pieces of legislation addressing the missing and murdered Indigenous women crisis are heading to President Donald Trump’s desk to be signed into law. Both Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act passed the U.S. House Monday, while their companion bills in the Senate passed earlier this year.

Savanna’s Act Passes House, Headed To President’s Desk

AP News, September 22 

A bill named for a Fargo murder victim to address cases of missing and murdered Native Americans is heading to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature. Savanna’s Act, which is named for Savanna Greywind, passed the House Monday after passing the Senate earlier this year.

New Push To Retire Native Team Names Headed To Legislature

AP News, September 22 

The first Native American woman elected to the Washington state House of Representatives says she is drafting legislation to remove Native-themed mascots and team names at public schools. This has been a goal of Native American leaders, but has new-found momentum after the Washington, DC, NFL football team’s name change. 

House Passes Native American Business Incubators Act

Native News Online, September 22

A bill to jumpstart Native American-owned small business creation passed the House on Monday and is on its way to the White House for the president’s signature. The Native American Business Incubators Program Act will establish and fund business incubators in Indian Country to help start and cultivate Native American-owned small businesses.

Senate Committee On Indian Affairs To Hold Hearing To Receive Testimony On Digital Divide And Four Other Bills

Native News Online, September 22

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will hold a committee legislative hearing Wednesday to receive testimony on the Bridging the Tribal Digital Divide Act of 2020 as well as four other bills pending in Congress now.

Historic Settlement Inches Closer In South Dakota Land Dispute

Indian Country Today, Stewart Huntington, September 22

Black Hills city, Lakota researchers were able to trace a string of transactions that show how municipal power brokers kept out of Indian hands all of the 1,200 acres left behind when the federal government quit the property — despite a 1948 federal law spelling out how Natives could share the wealth. Today, the tightly argued legal claim for small parcels of the vast acreage has brought the city to the negotiating table to discuss terms of a land and asset transfer.


Fires Burn Over 80 Homes, 180,000 Acres On Colville Reservation

Tribal Tribune, Justus Caudell, September 21

As of this print, the five fires that started during a wind event over the long Labor Day Weekend have destroyed over 80 homes and burned over 200,000 acres on the Colville Indian Reservation. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee published a tweet noting on Sept. 7 “330,000 acres burned in WA. That’s more than 12 of the last 18 entire fire seasons. In a single day.”

Why A Former Olympic Site Is Finally Removing This Native American Slur From Its Name

ESPN, Aishwarya Kumar, September 22

When a ski resort which hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics, announced that it will be changing its name at the end of the 2020 season, citing that the word was “derogatory toward Native American women,” it was a moment to celebrate.