Following the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of their COVID-19 vaccine last week, Pfizer began shipping doses from their Michigan warehouse on Sunday. The first doses of the vaccine in the United States were administered this morning, with health care workers across the country receiving the first of two necessary doses. 

Meanwhile, the Indian Health Service said on Friday that it will receive enough vaccines to protect all doctors, nurses, and support staff working in hospitals and clinics that they operate across Indian Country. 

The New York Times reports that Cleveland’s Baseball Team will drop their name after 105 years. An announcement is expected as soon as this week, and it remains unclear when the change would take effect. One source said that Cleveland planned to keep the name and uniforms for the 2021 season while working to shift as early as 2022.

The Presidential Task Force on Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives, “Operation Lady Justice,” released its one-year report that described the activities and accomplishments during the past year. In its first year, the task force held more than 15 in-person and remote meetings with tribes, individuals and stakeholder groups, and established and convened 10 working groups to address specific mandates of the executive order, including developing protocols, solving cold cases, and expanding outreach and awareness.

The Friendship House in San Francisco – the longest-running social-service organization in the United States run by and for Native people – will undergo a multi-year expansion to become “The Village,” a physical space that will provide full medical services plus youth services, elder services, a women’s lodge, and more

Keep reading for a full news update.


US Administers 1st Doses Of Pfizer Coronavirus Vaccine 

ABC News, Ivan Pereira, December 14 

The rollout of the first coronavirus vaccine began Monday morning as the first doses of the Pfizer medication was administered to health care workers and nursing home staffers.

Death Toll Surpasses 700 On Navajo Nation; Help Is On The Way As Pfizer Vaccine Approved By FDA

Native News Online, December 12

With Friday’s approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19, preparations are underway to receive the first shipment on Monday and Tuesday to the nation’s largest Indian reservation. The Navajo Nation has been particularly hit hard by the coronavirus. On Friday, the Navajo Nation surpassed 700 deaths from COVID-19. As of Saturday evening, the deadly virus has claimed 718 Navajo citizens since March 2020.

Indian Health Service Plans For COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

AP News, Felicia Fonseca, December 11

The federal agency that provides health care to Native Americans said Friday it will receive more than enough vaccines to protect all the people working in hospitals and clinics, including doctors, nurses and support staff. The Indian Health Service, treated much like a state for distribution purposes, submitted a plan to vaccinate more than 2 million Native Americans and Alaska Natives. The agency expects to receive 22,425 doses of the Pfizer vaccine next week and 46,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine before the end of the year, officials said.

Vaccine Is On Its Way

Indian Country Today, Joaqlin Estus, December 11

As a vaccine against COVID-19 nears final approval, Native American health care providers are putting the final touches on their vaccination plans. A panel of independent experts recommended approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Thursday. The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are expected to approve it and issue final distribution guidelines in the next few days. The vaccine will be in short supply at first so people will get vaccinated in groups.

Native Mascots: 

Cleveland’s Baseball Team Will Drop Its Indians Team Name 

New York Times, David Waldstein and Michael S. Schmidt, December 13 

After years of protests from fans and Native American groups, the Cleveland Indians have decided to change their team name, moving away from a moniker that has long been criticized as racist, three people familiar with the decision said Sunday.

2020 Elections:

Rep. Mullin, Cherokee, Is Among 106 GOP Members Of Congress Seeking To Overturn The Presidential Election

Native News Online, December 11

Rep. Markwayne Mullin (Cherokee), who represents Oklahoma’s 2nd congressional district in Congress, signed his name to an amicus brief supporting the Texas Attorney General’s lawsuit against four battleground states that supported President-elect Biden for president in the 2020 presidential election. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wants the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. The lawsuit seeks to delay certification of presidential electors in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin. 


Internet Declares ‘Deb For Interior’ Week

Indian Country Today, Aliyah Chavez, December 12

Hashtags, memes, and a twitterstorm. That was the case this week as Indigenous leaders, advocates and allies declared “Deb for Interior” week. Many social media posts strongly urged President-elect Joe Biden to nominate Rep. Deb Haaland as Secretary of the Interior, a position no Native person has held before. Supporters, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Kerry Washington, tweeted their support to millions of followers with the same hashtag: “#DebForInterior.”

Haaland, Eyed For Interior, Stresses Need For Native American Representation

The Hill, Rebecca Beitsch, December 11

Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) on Friday stressed the importance of having Native American representation in government — nodding to the role she could play in a Biden administration that has come under increased pressure to select her to lead the Interior Department.

“I think it’s wonderful that our country is progressing in that manner, that a Cabinet-level position filled by a Native American is a conversation that we’re having right now,” Haaland said in a Washington Post Live event.


More US Churches Commit To Racism-Linked Reparations

AP News, David Crary, December 12

The Episcopal Diocese of Texas acknowledges that its first bishop in 1859 was a slaveholder. An Episcopal church erects a plaque noting the building’s creation in New York City in 1810 was made possible by wealth resulting from slavery. And the Minnesota Council of Churches cites a host of injustices, from mid-19th century atrocities against Native Americans to police killings of Black people, in launching a first-of-its kind “truth and reparations” initiative engaging its 25 member denominations.

Presidential Task Force On Missing And Murdered Indigenous People Releases First-Year Report

Native News Online, December 12

The Presidential Task Force on Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives, called Operation Lady Justice, released on Thursday its one-year report that described the activities and accomplishments during the past year. The task force was established through a presidential executive order on November 26, 2019 by President Donald Trump.

Kaw Nation Asks For Return Of Sacred Prayer Rock

AP News, December 12

A Native American tribe is seeking the return of a prayer rock that was transformed into a monument honoring Kansas settlers. Before the Kaw people were forcibly moved from Kansas to what is now Oklahoma in 1873, they held ceremonies and gatherings before the 23-ton boulder known as the “Big Red Rock.” A letter from the Kaw Nation says the intent is to bring the rock to Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park in Council Grove as part of a long-range goal to develop the site into an educational resource for all Kansans and visitors to learn about the state’s original inhabitants.

Black List, Illuminative And Sundance Announce Inaugural Indigenous Screenwriters List

Indian Country Today, Vincent Schilling, December 12

As part of a collaborative effort to highlight some of the most talented Indigenous screenwriters in the U.S., The Black List, IllumiNative and the Sundance Institute have unveiled their latest selections of The Indigenous List for 2020. Ianeta Le’i, the senior manager for the Sundance Institute’s Indigenous program says an important aspect of these screenwriters being selected for 2020’s Indigenous list is increased exposure in the industry. But getting the list together wasn’t an easy process.

U Of Illinois To Develop New Relationships To Tribes

AP News, December 12

The University of Illinois says it will establish new traditions related to Native Americans some 13 years after it retired its divisive Chief Illiniwek. An implementation plan released last week was developed from recommendations of the university’s commission on Native American imagery. Among the plan’s highlights is to make in-state tuition rates available to students who enroll as citizens of a federally recognized tribe. It also calls for the university to strengthen its partnership with the Peoria Tribe of Oklahoma and develop new relationships with other tribes that once lived in Illinois.

Lumbee Goes Before Congress For Federal Recognition. Again.

Indian Country Today, Mary Annette Pember, December 11

In 2020, the House of Representatives has once again passed the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina Recognition Act. The bill now awaits consideration by the Senate.  Unlike past efforts by the Lumbee, however, this go round has attracted the support of a phalanx of powerful politicians on both sides of the aisle. For instance, it appears that the Lumbee were the only tribe visited by President Donald J. Trump during his campaign. Both Trump and President-elect Joe Biden have stated publicly that they would support the tribe’s recognition.

Ryan Zinke Portrait A Reminder Of The Trump Administration’s Disrespect Toward Tribes

Native News Online, December 11

Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s official portrait was unveiled on Wednesday in a ceremony at the Interior Department with him riding a black and white horse with a lot of symbolism in the background. The portrait shows Zinke riding a horse with Bears Ears National Monument in the background. Zinke visited the national monument in 2017, the same year he worked vigorously to reduce the size of the Bear Ears to the dismay of five American Indian tribes who maintain the butte is sacred ceremonial land to their tribal citizens.

‘I Am That Character’: New Marvel Heroes Battle Underrepresentation Of Native Americans In Comics

Cronkite News, Johnny Messiha, December 11

Penned by Native American artists and writers, “Marvel’s Voices: Indigenous Voices #1” was released Nov. 18, to the delight of Native Americans who feel underrepresented in the comic book universe. The new release features several new Indigenous heroes and address their involvement in X-Men stories. Keith Jim, a Navajo comic book artist who became interested in comics at an early age, is proud to see Native Americans breaking through into the superhero world.

A Crisis Of Invisibility: Inside San Francisco’s Planned Native American Cultural Center

The Guardian, Pater-Astrid Kane, December 11

The Bay Area is among the most racially and ethnically diverse regions in the US, but it is only slowly grappling with its self-understanding as a home for significant populations of Native Americans. An ambitious project is hoping to help address a challenge that the region’s Native population has grappled with since the occupation of Alcatraz Island in the late 1960s and early 70s: a crisis of invisibility. In creating a physical space that provides full medical services plus youth services, elder services, a women’s lodge, and other elements, the Village will have what Bratt calls “a cultural center where we can celebrate and thrive and simply be indigenous”.