The Trump Administration will open up all 16.7 million acres of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest to logging and other forms of development, reversing protections that have been in place since 2001 and allowing logging companies to build roads and cut and remove timber. According to a Taxpayer for Common Sense analysis of the Forest Service’s accounts, the current Tongass timber program has lost roughly $1.7 billion over the last 40 years.
Dr. John Molina (Pascua Yaqui and Yavapai-Apache) – CEO of the Phoenix Indian Medical Center from 2010 to 2013 – is questioning the hospital’s long-term decision-making that resulted in the abrupt closure of its obstetrics services. The Indian Health Service hasn’t shared many details about the closure, except that it’s temporary and related to “facility infrastructure, equipment and challenges with staffing.” It’s unclear when the birthing center will reopen.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation of Northern California released a report yesterday giving a “failing grade” to Native education in Humboldt County. The report cited higher rates of exclusionary discipline, lower academic outcomes, higher suspension rates, chronic absenteeism and overwhelming systemic barriers for Native students. Read the full report here.
A Lac du Flambeau woman recently died at the Vilas County Jail in Wisconsin, becoming one of several Lac du Flambeau tribal citizens who have died in recent years while inmates at the Jail. The Jail was built to house 120 inmates, according to the Vilas County Sheriff’s Department website, but routinely houses a disproportionate number of inmates from Lac du Flambeau. Approximately 50% of the current inmates at the Vilas County Jail are Lac du Flambeau tribal members.
Native News Online reports that the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs will announce plans to file a Final Environmental Impact Statement on the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians’ request that the federal government to take into trust 60 acres of land to develop a $180 million casino in West Michigan.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Navajo Nation Reports 63 New Covid-19 Cases On Monday
Native News Online, October 27
The Navajo Department of Health, in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, reported 63 new COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and no recent deaths. The total number of deaths remains 574 as previously reported on Oct. 19. Reports indicate that 7,497 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, and 121,827 COVID-19 tests have been administered. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases is now 11,362, which includes one delayed reported case.
Biden Campaign Launches Ads Targeting Native American Voters
Native News Online, October 27
The Biden-Harris campaign has launched ads targeting voters in Indian Country, rolling out digital, radio, and print campaign advertisements to engage “persuadable voters, and mobilize members of tribal communities to support Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.” The ads allow the campaign to reach voters in Indian Country, especially those who the campaign may not be able to reach through traditional voter outreach efforts.
With North Carolina Up For Grabs, Trump And Biden Support Federal Recognition For Lumbee Tribe
Native News Online, October 27
Within days of each other earlier this month, Vice President Joe Biden, followed by President Donald Trump, announced their support for federal recognition for the Lumbee Tribe in North Carolina, which has been pushing to be federally recognized for more than 100 years. In a statement released by Lumbee Tribal Chairman Harvey Godwin Jr., he called the support from Trump and Biden “deeply meaningful to our people, who have suffered without federal recognition for too many generations,” he said.
Voting By Mail Isn’t So Easy On Native American Reservations
AP News, Stephen Groves, October 27
The small, brick post office in Mission, South Dakota, sees steady business most days as people wait outside to allow one family at a time to check for mail at one of just four such depots scattered across the Rosebud Indian Reservation.
Federal Process Moves Forward For Little River Band Of Ottawa Indians’ Proposed $180M Muskegon Casino
Native News Online, Joe Boomgaard, October 27
The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians has reached a critical milestone in the more than a decade long process to develop a $180 million casino in West Michigan.
Trump To Strip Protections From Tongass National Forest, One Of The biggest Intact Temperate Rainforests [Subscription]
Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin, October 28
President Trump will open up all 16.7 million acres of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest to logging and other forms of development, according to a notice posted Wednesday, stripping protections that had safeguarded one of the world’s largest intact temperate rainforests for nearly two decades.
Ex-Hospital CEO Questions Leadership In Obstetrics Closure
Indian Country Today, Dalton Walker, October 27
A former Phoenix Indian Medical Center leader is questioning the hospital’s long-term decision-making that resulted in the abrupt closure of its obstetrics services. Dr. John Molina, Pascua Yaqui and Yavapai-Apache, was CEO of the Phoenix Indian Medical Center from 2010 to 2013. The hospital closed its inpatient obstetrics services Aug. 26 with no public notice.
Lac Du Flambeau Tribal Citizen Found Dead In Jail, Tribe Wants Answers
Native News Online, Darren Thompson, October 27
A Lac du Flambeau woman recently died at the Vilas County Jail, according to the Vilas County Sheriff’s Office. Donna Christensen, 20, was discovered deceased by Vilas County Correctional Officers last night, before mandatory lockdown at 11 p.m. She allegedly hung herself.
Growth Of Cherokee Nation Agribusiness Means Access To Healthy Food, Jobs
Indianz.com, Chuck Hoskin Jr., October 27
The Cherokee Nation launched an elder emergency food distribution program so Cherokee elders could shelter in place and stay safe without worrying about access to food. Under this program, Cherokee Nation has distributed more than 30,000 boxes with enough food to provide almost 6 million meals. Additionally, we served more than 28,000 ready-made meals after many senior nutrition sites were temporarily closed.