President-elect Joe Biden announced yesterday that he will nominate former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg to be the next Secretary of Transportation. This makes Buttigieg the first of President-elect Biden’s former opponents for the Democratic Presidential Nomination to land a role in his Cabinet. Buttigieg would also make history as the first openly LGBTQ+ Cabinet secretary to be approved by the Senate.
On Monday, Alaska received 35,100 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, and around 1,000 of them will go straight to the Yukon-Kuskokwim region which serves 56 tribes. Yukon-Kuskokwim delta’s 56 villages have an infection rate of 172.6 cases per 100,000 people, and the region’s elders, health care providers, and frontline workers will be the first to receive the vaccine.
NCAI President Fawn Sharp spoke to TMZ Live about Cleveland’s Baseball Team changing their name after 105 years – noting how important this progress is for the psyche and mental health of Native Youth across the country. Other Native leaders from across the country have also voiced their support for the change, with many saying it is long overdue.
United States Attorney Erica MacDonald for the District of Minnesota alleges that Jennifer Lynn Boutto, 32, of Willow Valley Township, Minnesota, stole more than $315,000 from the Fortune Bay Resort & Casino operated by the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa in northern Minnesota. The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges the theft occurred over a period of six years—from June 2013 through October 2019.
Lawyers representing New Mexico students say the state’s attempts to provide internet access and learning devices to children are “woefully insufficient,” while a top education officials argues that progress has been made during the pandemic. The inability to access remote classes has been a challenge for many rural and low-income students, particularly Native children living on tribal lands.
Keep reading for a full news update.
Biden Taps Former Rival Pete Buttigieg For U.S. Transportation Secretary
Reuters, Jarret Renshaw and David Shepardson, December 15
President-elect Joe Biden announced Pete Buttigieg on Tuesday as his nominee to lead the U.S. Transportation Department, making him the first of Biden’s Democratic rivals for the presidency to land a role in his Cabinet.
Hard Hit Southwest Alaska Receives Vaccine
Indian Country Today, Meghan Sullivan, December 15
As millions across the nation await details about the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, remote Western Alaskan villages prepare to be among the first to get it. On Monday, Alaska received 35,100 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, making it one of the initial states to obtain a shipment of the long awaited vaccine. Around 1,000 doses will go straight to the Yukon-Kuskokwim region, which serves 56 tribes, said Dr. Ellen Hodges, Chief of Staff for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation. Elders, health care providers and frontline workers are first in line to receive it.
77 Navajo Communities With Uncontrolled Spread Of COVID-19 As Vaccine Arrives
Native News Online, December 15
The Navajo Department of Health reported 160 new COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and five more deaths. The total number of deaths is now 727 as of Tuesday. Reports indicate that 10,726 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, and 185,366 COVID-19 tests have been administered. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases is now 19,929, including three delayed reported cases.
First Shipment Of COVID-19 Vaccine Reaches Navajo Nation
Native News Online, December 14
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer visited the Gallup Indian Medical Center as the Navajo Area IHS received the first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for COVID-19. The process of distributing the vaccine to other health care facilities on the Navajo Nation, including health care clinics, also began on Monday. The vaccine will be administered based on the Centers for Disease Control’s phased distribution plan that calls for health care workers and those living in long-term assisted living facilities to receive the vaccine first, on a volunteer basis.
Cleveland Indians Name Change Will Reduce Suicides. NCAI Prez Hits It Home
TMZ, December 15
We spoke with Fawn Sharp Tuesday on “TMZ Live,” and she reinforced just how damaging the dichotomy can be on Native American youths … who grow up learning the importance of headdresses, ceremonies and the like, but then see it taken as a joke in public.Sharp tells us that it’s a two steps forward, one step back type of deal — she says Natives learn the rich history of their people, and know its inherent value, but then get a gut punch when they see that — after all these years of supposed progress — it’s all co-opted for exploitation and fun.
Cleveland’s Plans To Drop ‘Indians’ From Team Name Is A Welcome Change But It’s Long Overdue, Native Americans Say
CNN, Nickel Terry Ellis, December 15
A Major League Baseball team’s decision to change their name is being hailed as historic, but Native American advocacy groups insist their fight to remove all racist sports mascots is far from over. Philip Yenyo, the executive director of the Cleveland-based American Indian Movement of Ohio, said he’s confident that other teams will follow the franchise’s example once they watch the name change process play out. Yet, the team will continue using the existing name and branding through the 2021 season until a new one is chosen.
He’s Why Cleveland Came To Be Called The Indians. How Should They Honor Him?
NBC News, Erik Ortiz, December 15
Cleveland’s major-league baseball team announced Monday that it will drop its nickname — in place for more than a century — to “unify our community,” a decision quickly praised byNative American groups, including some members of a Maine tribe with a historic connection to the team.
Education Lawsuit Demands Internet For New Mexico Students
AP News, Cedar Attanasio, December 15
Lawyers representing New Mexico students say the state’s attempts to provide internet access and learning devices to children are “woefully insufficient,” while a top education officials argues that progress has been made during the pandemic. With in-person learning banned by state officials until mid-January and plans for hybrid learning scrapped for the vast majority of students earlier this year, the inability to access remote classes has been a challenge for many rural and low-income students, particularly Native American children living on tribal lands.
Native American Film Producer/Actor Gets Prison In Rape Case
AP News, December 15
Native American film producer and actor Redwolf Pope was sentenced to four years in prison Tuesday after being convicted of sexually assaulting a Seattle woman in New Mexico in 2017. A jury found the 44-year-old Pope guilty of rape and voyeurism three months ago.
Bois Forte Casino Employee Charged In Federal Court For Embezzlement
Native News Online, Darren Thompson, December 15
Fortune Bay Resort & Casino employee was charged in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis for Embezzlement and Theft from Tribal Organization. United States Attorney Erica MacDonald for the District of Minnesota alleges that Jennifer Lynn Boutto, 32, of Willow Valley Township, Minnesota, stole more than $315,000 from the casino owned and operated by the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa in northern Minnesota. The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges the theft occurred over a period of six years—from June 2013 through October 2019.
BIA Approves Tule River Indian Tribe’s Fee-To-Trust For Gaming Application
Native News Online, December 15
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has approved the Tule River Indian Tribe’s land-into-trust application for gaming and other purposes. The Tule River Tribe is planning to replace its existing casino with a new casino hotel and resort project near the city of Porterville, Calif. In 2016, the Tule River Indian Tribe of the Tule River Reservation submitted an application to the Department of the Interior requesting the United States acquire in trust approximately 40 acres of land near the city of Porterville for gaming and other purposes.