A federal judge ruled on Friday that Alaska Native Corporations are eligible to receive relief funds from the CARES Act that was passed in March. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta’s decision said the Alaska Native Corporations “are ‘Indian Tribes,’ and that their boards of directors are ‘Tribal governments,’ for the purposes of the CARES Act,” according to the 36-page court document.

The White Mountain Apache Tribe is taking some of the most drastic actions in Arizona to protect its 13,500 residents, more than one-eighth of whom have already tested positive for COVID-19. Residents of the tribe’s reservation faced the risk of fines and other penalties if they ventured beyond their own yards this past weekend and the reservation is closing to summertime visitors.

Mississippi lawmakers voted yesterday to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag, with legislation receiving bipartisan support in both the State Senate and House. Republican Governor Tate Reeves has said he will sign the bill, and the flag will lose its official status as soon as he does.

The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indian’s Office of Economic Development has co-invested in E-Line Media’s newest video game, Beyond Blue, an immersive game focused on oceans and the scientists trying to preserve them. The tribe has been working with E-Line Media since 2018 to develop a video game based on Choctaw history and culture.

A national press release announced a joint study by The Center for Women in Law and The NALP (National Association for Law Placement) Foundation titled, “Women of Color – A Study of Law Student Experiences.” Noticeably missing from this study are Native American/Alaska Native women. The researchers defended the study and proposed adding language explaining the statistically low number of responses from female Native law students to justify their exclusion. According to a review by Indian Country Today, “every chart, graph and qualitative representation excludes Native American women law students.”

Keep reading for a full news update.

Nationwide Protests:

Look Away, Dixie: Mississippi To Lose Rebel Emblem From Flag

AP News, Emily Pettus, June 28

Mississippi lawmakers voted Sunday to surrender the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag, more than a century after white supremacist legislators adopted the design a generation after the South lost the Civil War. Spectators cheered and applauded after the historic votes in the House and Senate. Each chamber had broad bipartisan support for the landmark decision. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves has said he will sign the bill, and the state flag will lose its official status as soon as he acts. That could happen “in coming days,” said his spokeswoman, Renae Eze.

Democrats Want John Wayne’s Name, Statue Taken Off Airport

AP News, June 27

In the latest move to change place names in light of U.S. racial history, leaders of Orange County’s Democratic Party are pushing to drop film legend John Wayne’s name, statue and other likenesses from the county’s airport because of his racist and bigoted comments. The Los Angeles Times reported that earlier this week, officials passed an emergency resolution condemning Wayne’s “racist and bigoted statements” made in a 1971 interview and are calling on the Orange County Board of Supervisors to drop his name, statue and other likenesses from the international airport.

Washington NFL Team Name Is The ‘Equivalent Of The Confederate Flag’

Indian Country Today, Kolby KickingWoman, June 27

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. And wow. The heat has been turned up over the last few weeks. Statues and logos with racist depictions are being dropped like bad habits as momentum continues to grow across the country for racial justice and equality. On Friday, nearly 90 investors representing more than $620 billion in assets sent letters to three NFL sponsors: Nike, FedEx and Pepsi. The investors are calling for the termination of business and public relationships to the Washington NFL franchise until they change their controversial and racist team name.

Native American Leader Challenges Players On Washington’s NFL Team To Sit

Washingtonian, Andrew Beaujon, June 26

It’s somewhat amazing that the national reckoning on race has barely brushed Washington’s NFL team. On Juneteenth, Events DC removed a statue of the team’s rabid segregationist former owner George Preston Marshall from their former stadium. The team followed suit by scrubbing Marshall’s name from its “Ring of Fame” and other locations. And while the team has stepped on a number of rakes with its recent social media efforts, there’s another racist name it still has not dealt with: its own.

County Leader Wants Jackson Statues Removed From Courthouses

AP News, June 26

Jackson County Executive Frank White plans to ask county officials to remove statues of Andrew Jackson that stand in front of two county courthouses. White issued a statement about the statues late Thursday, shortly after two men were arrested when the Jackson statue in front of the county courthouse in Kansas City was vandalized. The statue was spray-painted with expletives and the words “Slave Owner.” The vandalism comes as statues of historic figures have been defaced and torn down across the country during demonstrations against racial injustice.


Masking In Glory: Alaska Native Artists Make Museum-Worthy Masks That Reflect, Protect Their Culture

Native News Online, Tamara Ikenberg, June 28

Alaska Native artists have been mask-making like mad since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of their ingeniously indigenized masks have already become highly significant signs of the times. Major museums in Washington D.C. and Seattle have acquired at least three Alaska Native-made masks made in the past few months. In late April, The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C. came calling for Vicki Soboleff’s (Haida) woven cedar mask, “Just Ovoid It,” a few days after it appeared in First American Art Magazine’s online exhibition called “Masked Heroes.”

Saturday Navajo Nation COVID-19 Update: 12 More Deaths – Death Toll At 362

Native News Online, Levi Rickert, June 28 

On Saturday, the Navajo Department of Health, in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, reported 94 new COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and 12 more deaths. The total number of deaths is 362 as of Saturday. Reports from all 12 health care facilities on and near the Navajo Nation indicate that approximately 5,068 individuals have recovered from COVID-19. 53,913 people have been tested for COVID-19. The total number of COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation is 7,414.

Hard-Hit Tribe Takes Strict Steps As Virus Surges In Arizona

AP News, Felicia Fonseca, June 27

People in the deserts of Arizona flee to the White Mountains when the triple-digit heat is too much to bear, cooling off in the forest a few hours away. That worries a Native American tribe that calls the area home, as coronavirus infections and temperatures have both spiked in one of the hardest-hit states. The White Mountain Apache Tribe is taking some of the most drastic actions in Arizona to protect its 13,500 residents, more than one-eighth of whom have already tested positive for COVID-19. It’s taking cues from severe measures imposed by other tribes nationwide, including the Navajo Nation, which has curtailed an outbreak that once made it a national hot spot.

COVID-19-Free Tribal Nations

Indian Country Today, Joaqlin Estus, June 26

Three months ago in Montana, the Blackfeet Indian Nation moved quickly to set up defenses against COVID-19. Like the two other tribes described here, the 10,000 tribal members living on the Blackfeet reservation have no COVID-19 cases. All three of these tribes have come up with wide-ranging, sometimes creative safeguards against the infectious disease. In mid-March the Blackfeet tribal council issued a declaration that put its emergency response plan into play. That made their emergency services director Robert DesRosier, Blackfeet, the tribe’s COVID-19 incident commander. A former firefighter, he’s been handling disasters such as wildfires, blizzards, floods, and now a pandemic for more than 40 years.

‘Wear Your Mask, Do Your Part’: Tribal Citizens In New Mexico Bear Brunt Of Coronavirus

Indianz.com, Acee Agoyo, June 26

Tribal citizens continue to feel disproportionate effects of the coronavirus in New Mexico, more than three months into a pandemic that continues to spread throughout Indian Country. According to the New Mexico Department of Health, Native Americans account for 52 percent of COVID-19 cases as of June 25. That’s the highest proportion of any racial or ethnic group in the state. The number is even more startling given that Native Americans account for just 9.6 percent of the overall population in the Land of Enchantment, based on figures U.S. Census Bureau. No other racial or ethnic group is as over-represented as citizens of the  Apache, Navajo and Pueblo tribal nations that have resided there for generations.

Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council Adopts Reopening Guidelines

Indianz.com, June 26

On Enniskó:wa/March 16, 2020 the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council enacted a State of Emergency on for the community of Akwesasne (TCR 2020-17), in response to the global Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Subsequently, the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe implemented protocols and restrictions to protect community members. Today, the Tribal Council adopted reopening guidelines for Akwesasne (TCR 2020-39). Over the course of the next several weeks, community members can expect a gradual lifting of these restrictions.


Judge: Alaska Native Corporations Can Get Relief Funds

Indian Country Today, Dalton Walker, June 26

A federal judge has ruled Friday that Alaska Native corporations are eligible to receive relief funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The judge initially ruled to halt distribution for part of the $8 billion relief funds to the corporations, a request from tribal nations. Nearly two months later, the same judge ruled on Friday that the corporations are eligible to receive funds. U.S District Judge Amit Mehta’s decision said the Alaska Native corporations “are ‘Indian Tribes,’ and that their boards of directors are ‘Tribal governments,’ for the purposes of the CARES Act,” according to the 36-page court document.

CARES Act Litigation: Chehalis Confederated Tribes Of The Chehalis Reservation V. Mnuchin

Indianz.com, June 26

A federal judge on June 26, 2020, sided with the Trump administration, holding that Alaska Native corporations are eligible for shares of the $8 billion coronavirus relief fund.

The 36-page ruling is a major win for the for-profit entities. They stand to gain about $533 million from the fund. The money has been set aside by the Department of the Treasury during the litigation. The decision rejects claims made by federally recognized Indian nations, which asserted that the corporations did not qualify for shares because they are not “tribal governments.” “The court’s decision simply recognizes that ANCs are eligible for CARES Act funds, as Congress intended—no more, no less,” Judge Amit P. Mehta wrote, responding to tribal concerns about the erosion of their sovereignty.


Indian Lives Matter: Pandemics And Inherent Tribal Powers 

Stanford Review Online, Matthew L.M. Fletcher, June 29

American Indian people know all too well the impact of pandemics on human populations, having barely survived smallpox outbreaks and other diseases transmitted during the generations of early contact between themselves and Europeans. Indian people also suffered disproportionately from the last pandemic to hit the United States about a century ago. Some things have changed for the better for Indian people, namely tribal self-governance, but many things are not much better, including the public health situation that many Indian people face.

New Mexico Governor Signs 3 Bills From Special Session

AP News, June 26

The creation of a state commission on civil rights and changes aimed at ensuring access to Election Day polls on Native American lands were among the measures signed into law Friday by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. The governor also signed a bill that would authorize the issuance of short-term bonds as part of an effort to stabilize state finances amid the economic upheaval prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. The three bills were among eight that lawmakers passed during the recent special session, which focused primarily on solvency issues for state government.


What John Wayne Said About Indians And His Support Of White Supremacy In His 1971 Interview

Native News Online, Levi Rickert, June 28

Many of the younger generation may have no point of reference for John Wayne, the B-movie actor who because of Hollywood became the “greatest” cowboy of all time. The kind of cowboy who fought the Indians in western movies. The kind of cowboy real American Indians never root for in real life. John Wayne, nicknamed Duke, died in 1979. This past Sunday a 1971 Playboy magazine interview with John Wayne became fodder on Twitter because of some of the outrageous racists things he said were revealed in snippets. By week’s end, critics are calling for the John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California to be renamed.

‘Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible’ Airing On ESPN

Indian Country Today, June 28

ESPN has just released a press announcement that ‘Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible,’ will premiere on ESPN on June 30 at 7:30 pm EDT. The documentary follows a group of women practicing and training in self-defense as the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women continues to threaten lives within their community — is directed by Kristen Lappas and Tom Rinaldi. It was recently presented with the Audience Award for Best Short at AFI Docs.  

What Does It Mean To Be Black And Native In 2020?

Indian Country Today, Dalton Walker, June 28

It ain’t easy being Native on stolen land. And being Black in America has its own set of challenges. Both identities can bring a list of obstacles few others face.

What does it mean to be a Black Native or Afro-Indigenous in 2020? For some, it’s a complicated answer that’s steeped in a dark history, past and current prejudices and acceptance and pride through connection. Also factor in systemic racism, racial profiling, that Native people and Black people are most likely to be killed by law enforcement, and underlying health conditions making Native and Black people more susceptible to COVID-19.

Approximately 270,000 people in the country identified as Black and Native in the last U.S. census.

Lizer Defends Attendance At Trump Event As Lobbying

Navajo Times, Cindy Yurth, June 27 

Vice President Myron Lizer was roundly criticized on social media Tuesday for attending a “Students for Trump” event in Phoenix on the Navajo Nation’s tab, but Lizer said Wednesday he used the event as an opportunity to corner some key congress people. He said he wanted to keep the Navajo Nation in the forefront as the Nation lobbies for an extension of the deadline to spend the $714 million it recently received from the federal government in coronavirus relief.

Inaugural ‘Indigenous Screenwriting List’ Spotlights Film, Television Talent

Native News Online, Rich Tupica, June 26 

There is still a lack of Indigenous voices in the mainstream entertainment industry — fact that several organizations diligently working to fix that problem. Yesterday, The Black List announced a new collaboration with IllumiNative and Sundance Institute to create The Indigenous List, highlighting the very best Indigenous screenwriters from both feature films and television. Filmmakers and content creators are invited to submit a script for consideration by uploading it to The Black List website. Submissions will be accepted until September 27, 2020. Eligible writers should be Indigenous film artists working within the United States. Writers selected for the Indigenous List will be notified of their placement in Fall 2020, followed by a public announcement.

Northern Michigan University Among 5 Recipients Of Humanities Funding For Native American-Related Programs

Native News Online, June 26

Northern Michigan University plans to use $170,000 in new grant funding to help transition its Center for Native American Studies curriculum to an online format. The Center’s programming has traditionally been offered only on campus, but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced faculty to rethink how they delivered the course work, according to NMU. “Because many of our Native American studies courses incorporate oral traditions and place-based learning, it is challenging to figure out appropriate ways to transform the curriculum from onsite to online,” Project Director Martin Reinhardt said in a statement.

Search For Missing Katelyn Kelley Continues

Native News Online, June 26

Menominee Tribal Police continue the investigation to try and obtain new information to help push the case of missing Katelyn Kelley forward. Menominee Tribal Police are asking for the public’s assistance in locating missing Katelyn Kelley. As, June 26, marks the 10th day since 22 year old Katelyn Kelley was last seen on the Menominee Indian Reservation, in the area of County Highway VV (East) and Silver Canoe Road, June 16, 2020 at about 10:30 pm.  

Mississippi Band Of Choctaw Indians Invests In Video Games To Fuel Opportunities For Tribal Youths

Native News Online, June 26

A process that started off with identifying ways to encourage youth members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians to get more interested in STEM education eventually led to a new business strategy for the tribe. The tribe’s Office of Economic Development has been working with New York City-based E-Line Media since May 2018 to develop a video game based on the Choctaw’s history and culture. Through that process, the Tribe’s Office of Economic Development decided to develop an investment portfolio focused on video games, resulting in a co-investment in E-Line Media’s latest offering, Beyond Blue, an immersive game focused on oceans and the scientists trying to preserve them.

Native Women Law Students Excluded From So-called “Women Of Color In Law Schools” Study

Indian Country Today, Angelique Eaglewoman, June 26

On Wednesday, June 15, 2020, a national press release announced a joint study by The Center for Women in Law and The NALP (National Association for Law Placement) Foundation titled, “Women of Color – A Study of Law Student Experiences.” The press release stated the analysis within the study was focused on “Asian/Pacific Islander, Black/African-American and Hispanic women/Latinas comprised the majority of the women of color respondent.” Noticeably absent from this list are Native American/American Indian/Alaskan Native women who are on every checklist also women of color.