Despite a ruling by Judge Koh last week the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said yesterday that the 2020 Census will wrap up enumeration efforts on October 5. The Oct. 5 deadline does not necessarily violate the judge’s order because the injunction just suspended the Sept. 30 deadline for field operations, as well as a Dec. 31 deadline the Census Bureau has for turning in the final count.
According to Census beat NPR reporter Hansi Lo Wang via his Twitter account, “during a court conference, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh said she’s ordering the Trump admin to release all internal documents related to its decision to set Oct. 5 as a “target date” by 10 a.m. PT tomorrow (9/29), as well as to finish filing other docs for the case by 10/4. DOJ attorney August Flentje pushed back on Judge Koh’s order for an administrative record on 10/5 “target date,” calling it “outrageous” that every time Census Bureau adjusts ops it needs to show record. Judge said that’s what’s required in Administrative Procedures Act case…” to which Judge Koh replied, “I would expect that if you had done reasoned decision-making, [you would be] “proud of your work” [and want to show the court].” Read the full thread here.
U.S. District Judge Murray Snow refused to give election officials an extra 10 days to count mail-in ballots for Navajo Nation citizens, stating that those pushing for the change compared only mail delivery times on the reservation to cities, not other rural areas in the state.
At least five BIE-operated schools in Arizona and five in other states were not prepared to start online because of the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ late disbursement of federal relief funding to purchase needed laptops and internet hot spots. Many families share a single computer among siblings in communities where fewer than half of rural households have access to broadband internet.
Native leaders and archaeologists released some details from a summer pilot project that surveyed an area around Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico that is considered sacred by some tribes in the Southwest. They noted that there are thousands of sites outside the park’s boundaries that deserve protection, and said that more work needs to be done as there are still aspects of early Chaco culture and its connections to modern Pueblo communities that need to be discovered and preserved.
The Tribal Health Data improvement Act is expected to pass the U.S. House of Representatives by a voice vote this week, and if signed into law would ensure that tribal authorities have access to the same public health data as states and local governments, an issue that has arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keep reading for a full news update.
US Official: 2020 Census To End Oct. 5 Despite Court Order
Associated Press, Mike Schneider, September 29
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross says the 2020 census will end Oct. 5, despite a federal judge’s ruling last week allowing the head count of every U.S. resident to continue through the end of October, according to a tweet posted by the Census Bureau on Monday.
Tribal Health Data Improvement Act Up For Passage In House
Indianz.com, Acee Agoyo, September 28
The Tribal Health Data Improvement Act is slated for passage in the U.S. House of Representatives this week. The bill ensures that tribal authorities have access to the same public health data as states and local governments, an issue that has arisen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Montana Court Permanently Strikes Down State Law That Restricts Native Voting Rights
Native News Online, September 28
With less than 40 days before the 2020 general election, a Montana court on Friday, Sept. 25 permanently struck down a state law that was viewed by many as a form of voter suppression of American Indians living on rural reservations. The ruling is viewed as a major victory for Montana tribal citizens.
Judge Won’t Extend Time To Count Ballots From Navajo Nation
AP News, Jacques Billeaud, September 25
A judge has refused to give officials an extra 10 days after election day to count mail-in ballots 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.
Tribes See Ballot Collection As Lifeline In Indian Country
Salt Lake Tribune, Sam Metz, September 28
Many older people living on the expansive Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation in northern Nevada relied on the tribe’s senior services van to get to the grocery store or the doctor before the coronavirus pandemic ended that option.
Cherokee Voters Are Critical Voices In 2020 Election
Cherokee.org, Chuck Huskin Jr., September 28
A message from Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. on the importance of the Native vote in the upcoming elections.
The Federal Government Promised Native American Students Computers And Internet. Many Are Still Waiting.
Pro Publica, Alden Woods, September 28
Native American students in BIE operated schools were forced to start the school year without adequate technology, sometimes sharing a single computer among siblings, because the agency disbursed funding late and failed to purchase equipment in time.
Montana Indian Caucus: Don’t Vote On U.S. Supreme Court Nominee
Indianz.com, American Indian Caucus of the Montana State Legislature, September 28
A letter sent by members of the American Indian Caucus of the Montana State Legislature to Senator Steve Daines (R-Montana) requesting to vote “no” on filling the recently vacant Supreme Court seat until after the inauguration.
Building A Foundation For Tribal General Welfare: Highlights From The Quarterly Treasury Tribal Advisory Committee
Native News Online, September 28
The Treasury Tribal Advisory Committee (TTAC) met virtually for its quarterly meeting with the Treasury, IRS staff, and tribal representatives throughout Indian Country. Viewers heard various TTAC subcommittee reports focused on the overall components of the General Welfare Exclusion Act (GWEA), dual taxation, and tribal pension programs. This also provided a forum for tribal leaders to advocate and express policy recommendations that directly affect the Treasury Dept.
Survey Cited In Push To Protect Sites Sacred To Tribes
AP News, Susan Montoya Bryan, September 28
Native American leaders and archaeologists on Monday pointed to a recent survey of an area around Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico that is considered sacred by some tribes in the Southwest, saying there are thousands of sites outside the park’s boundaries that deserve protection.
‘Manoomin Will Carry You Through’
Indian Country Today, Mary Annette Pember, September 28
Every fall, Ojibwe go down to the river and lake sloughs surrounding the Great Lakes region to manoominike, or make wild rice, in two-person teams in canoes. Since harvesting manoomin is by nature a safe, social-distanced activity, it is providing a much-needed sense of normalcy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Latter-Day Saints Participate In ‘Operation Firewood Rescue’ To Help Native Americans
KUTV, Jennifer Weaver, September 28
Nearly 10,000 volunteers collected and delivered 3 million pounds of firewood to Native American tribes across the state of Utah. Volunteers donated their time and resources to help neighbors and strangers with the massive cleanup and downed tree removal.
Why New Mexico’s 1680 Pueblo Revolt Is Echoing In 2020 Protests
The New York Times, Simon Romero, September 27
Indigenous groups are referring to the Pueblo Revolt in organizing drives over such issues as stolen lands, the Justice Department’s deployment of federal agents to Albuquerque, and the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit Native peoples especially hard.