Earlier this morning, Moderna Therapeutics released data showing their COVID-19 vaccine is 94.5% effective against the novel coronavirus, with Dr. Anthony Fauci saying that “it’s as good as it gets – 94.5% is truly outstanding.” Fauci also said that vaccinations could begin in the second half of December for high-risk groups, and would be available for the rest of the population next spring.
On Friday, the Navajo Nation reported 97 new positive COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths, bringing the total number of Navajo Nation cases over 13,000 and total deaths to 598.
Longtime Chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in Massachusetts, Cedric Cromwell, has been charged in a bribery scheme involving the tribe’s plans to build a resort casino, federal prosecutors said on Friday. Cromwell is accused of using his position as chairman to extort tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from David DeQuattro, a 54-year-old Warwick, Rhode Island, resident who owns an architecture-and-design company. Both men have pleaded not guilty.
Officials at Acoma Pueblo say that federal authorities have suspended emergency and in-patient medical care at a hospital on Acoma tribal lands. Acoma Governor Brian Vallo condemned the suspension of services at Acoma-Canoncito-Laguna Service Unit hospital by Indian Health Service as reckless in the midst of a major coronavirus infection surge. The Indigenous community of about 3,000 people says it has experienced a surge of COVID-19 cases, with about 100 positive tests in November.
After a one-year absence due to COVID-19, the Native American Basketball Invitational is set to return in July of 2021. The Invitational showcases Indigenous basketball players from across the U.S., Canada and New Zealand. The championship games will take place at the newly renovated arena of the Phoenix Suns and Mercury.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Moderna’s Coronavirus Vaccine IS 94.5% Effective, According To Company Data
CNN, Elizabeth Cohen, November 16
The Moderna vaccine is 94.5% effective against coronavirus, according to early data released Monday by the company, making it the second vaccine in the United States to have a stunningly high success rate.
The Deadly Loss Of Navajo Women
Native News Online, Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi, November 14
Women have long been front and center when it comes to making things happen on the Navajo Nation. But never has that role been so apparent — or so perilous — as during the pandemic. Ever since the coronavirus arrived on the 27,000-square-mile reservation, women in this matriarchal society have been putting themselves at risk, taking on ever more responsibilities, culturally and in everyday life.
Navajo Nation Reports 172 New COVID-19 Cases – Pres. Nez: “We Cannot Give Up”
Native News Online, November 14
In the midst of a surge of Covid-19 cases on the nation’s largest Indian reservation, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez says, “We cannot give up. We have to keep fighting no matter how difficult this pandemic gets. Our public health officials are pleading with everyone to stay home as much as possible.”
New President, Congress Must Help Indian Country Fight Coronavirus
The Hill, Ted Gover, November 14
Among the many imperatives deserving of attention from the coming Biden administration and new Congress is the need to provide coronavirus relief to Native Americans who have suffered disproportionately from COVID-19. As the pandemic continues throughout the U.S., existing CARES Act funding that had been appropriated for tribes has become tied up in various litigation and red tape, preventing badly needed aid from reaching people.
Navajo Nation Surpasses 13,000 COVID-19 Cases; Death Toll Nears 600
Native News Online, November 13
The Navajo Department of Health reported 97 new COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and two more deaths. The total number of deaths is now 598 as of Friday. Reports indicate that 7,910 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, and 136,897 COVID-19 tests have been administered. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases is now 13,069, including one delayed unreported case.
Tribe Chairman Charged With Bribery In Casino Development
AP News, Philip Marcelo, November 13
The longtime chairman of a Massachusetts tribe and an architecture firm owner have been charged in a bribery scheme involving the tribe’s plans to build a resort casino. Cedric Cromwell is accused of using his position as chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe to extort tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from David DeQuattro, a 54-year-old Warwick, Rhode Island, resident who owns an architecture-and-design company.
Cedric Cromwell, Chairman Of Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, Arrested On Bribery, Extortion Charges
Native News Online, November 13
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell was arrested Friday morning on two counts of accepting or paying bribes. The arrest came after an indictment was issued by the U.S. Attorney’s office charging Cromwell and David DeQuarttro of Warwick, R.I., owner of an architecture firm used by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe for a casino project, on two counts of accepting or paying bribes as an agent (or to an agent) of an Indian tribal government and one count of conspiring to commit bribery.
Native American Voters Were Crucial To Joe Biden’s Victory
Huffpost, Jennifer Bendery, November 14
President-elect Joe Biden won the November 3 election by flipping key battleground states to Democrats and trouncing President Donald Trump in the popular vote. He likely couldn’t have pulled it off without Native American voters.
Native American Voters In Arizona Showed Up In Force For Biden As Covid-19 Ravaged Tribal Nations
Buzzfeed News, Clarissa-Jan Lim, November 13
The coronavirus pandemic has spread like wildfire through the Navajo reservation, infecting thousands and killing hundreds. Still, Diné, the Navajo people, voted in huge numbers this election, and largely in favor of Joe Biden, helping turn Arizona, a longtime deep red state, blue.
Wells Fargo Offers Native American Designs On Credit Cards
Indian Country Today, Joaqlin Estus, November 15
For Native American Heritage Month, one of the largest banking firms in the U.S. is offering its first credit and debit card dedicated to Native American customers. The Wells Fargo Working for Generations card is one of several bank initiatives aimed at American Indians and Alaska Natives.
Minn. State Authorities Approve Enbridge Line 3 Permits, Protesters Met With Counter Trump Protesters Front Of Governor’s Mansion
Native News Online, Darren Thompson, November 14
Protesters against Line 3 clashed with pro-Trump counter-protestors in front of the Governor’s Mansion in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Enbridge’s Line 3 is the largest project in the company’s history, and would be one of the largest crude oil pipelines in the continent. Line 3 is expected to transport up to 760,000 barrels a day through Northern Minnesota, passing through treaty lands of several Ojibwe bands.
Tribal Leaders Call For Truth, Healing
Indian Country Today, Kolby Kickingwoman, November 14
Truth and reconciliation.
During the National Congress of American Indians’ 77th Annual Convention & Marketplace, organization president Fawn Sharp, Quinault, called for “a new era, a new chapter” of Indian Country’s advancement and growth using truth and reconciliation. Sharp stated the need to deal with COVID-19 and economic recovery from it, infrastructure, racial justice and equality, sacred sites and natural resource protection, and environmental justice and climate change.
Vermont To Issue Free Hunting Licenses To Native Americans
AP News, November 14
The state of Vermont is set to begin issuing free hunting licenses to Native Americans. Members of state-recognized Native American tribes still have to buy hunting and fishing licenses if they want to hunt or fish this year. But free tribal citizen hunting and fishing licenses will become available in January.
New Mural Celebrates Connectedness
Indian Country Today, Sandra Hale Schulman, November 14
Three vibrant pairs of festooned moccasins dance across a 111-foot wall in a kicky new mural in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma. Artist Nanibah Chacon, Diné and Chicana, spent 10 days painting the Indigenous mural, next to the city’s Indian health clinic. The Albuquerque, New Mexico, woman says a public art initiative curated and organized by Yatika Fields approached her a year ago, citing a lack of representation of Native artists and art in an area with a high urban Native population.
Acoma Tribal Governor Says Hospital Cut Vital Services
AP News, November 14
Native American officials at Acoma Pueblo say that federal authorities have suspended emergency and in-patient medical care at a hospital on Acoma tribal lands. Acoma Governor Brian Vallo condemned the suspension of services at Acoma-Canoncito-Laguna Service Unit hospital by Indian Health Service as reckless in the midst of a major coronavirus infection surge.
Hospital Closure A ‘Complete Abandonment’ By Indian Health Service
Indian Country Today, Dalton Walker, November 13
The Indian Health Service has shut down key services at a hospital in Acoma Pueblo, according to New Mexico tribal officials, including one who called the move “reckless” and “immoral.” The Acoma-Canoncito-Laguna Service Unit in Acoma, about 60 miles west of Albuquerque, no longer offers emergency room and in-patient services for non-COVID-19 patients, the Pueblo of Acoma Office of the Governor said in a release.
Suspect Killed By Law Enforcement, But Mashpee Wampanoag Woman Still Missing
Native News Online, November 13
Mashpee Wampanoag officials still seek to locate tribal citizen Jalajhia Finklea, who has been missing since October 20. In a development related to the case, a 37-year-old Fort Lauderdale, Florida. man, who has been identified as the person Finklea was seen getting into a vehicle with in New Bedford, died in a McDonald’s parking lot in Crestview, Florida while U.S. marshals attempted to take him into custody.
Association Of Native American Medical Students Urges UC Medical Schools To Create New Admissions Policy
The Triton, Sarah Naighten, November 13
In an effort to increase Native American representation in the University of California’s (UC) medical schools, the Association of Native American Medical Students (ANAMS), sent a letter to the UC medical schools on August 21. The ANAMS, which represents Native American health profession students in the US and Canada, called for the implementation of a new admissions policy that would increase the number of Native American students at UC medical schools.
Investigators Probe Threats To Marin Native American Museum
Marin Independent Journal, Will Houston, November 15
Authorities are investigating two suspicious letters that were sent to the Marin Museum of the American Indian that contained the words “smallpox” and “anthrax” on the envelopes. The Novato museum reported that the anonymous letters arrived after protesters toppled the Junipero Serra statue at Mission San Rafael Arcangel last month. The museum also received racist emails after the protest, according Doug Fryday, the museum’s president.
‘It’s A Sovereign Place’
Indian Country Today, Stewart Huntington, November 13
When Lakota activists set up a camp for homeless relatives in this Black Hills town last month, the police descended immediately and shut it down. The response? The activists quickly moved the encampment to trust land just outside of town. Today the camp, built on traditional values and teachings, is flourishing.
Native American Basketball Invitational Returns In 2021 After ‘Devastating’ Decision To Cancel
Cronkite News, Averi Roberts, November 12
After a one-year absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Native American Basketball Invitational will return in July, showcasing indigenous basketball players from across the U.S., Canada and New Zealand at venues around the Valley. The championship games will take place at the newly renovated downtown arena of the Phoenix Suns and Mercury.