Happy Wednesday! Here’s a look at what’s happening today:

More Native graduates means more quilts

The pandemic has changed the venue but high school graduates from the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Wisconsin will still know they are loved and honored by their community.

Since 2011, volunteer seamstresses from the tribe have been making star quilts for graduates. Normally, students would be wrapped in the handmade quilts and presented with eagle feathers during an honoring ceremony inside the tribe’s community center.

In 2020, however, due to COVID-19 restrictions, tribal leaders convened the ceremony outdoors and included a car parade of graduates throughout the community.

(Related: Graduations shouldn't be 'another form' of erasure)

This year’s graduation ceremony will again take place outside. Another year of pandemic restrictions, however, isn’t dampening the spirits of those preparing for the ceremony.

To read more, click here.

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Interior: Alaska Native veteran land process to proceed

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Native Vietnam War veterans can continue applying for federal land allotments, including on lands under review by the Biden administration, according to the U.S. Interior Department.

The department last month said it was halting plans advanced during the Trump administration that proposed opening 28 million acres in Alaska to mineral development and for land selections. It cited issues including “inadequate review of potential impacts on subsistence hunting and fishing,” and said the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which falls under the department, would “engage the public” and consult with tribes. The decision called for a two-year delay.

Members of Alaska’s congressional delegation raised concerns with possible land allotment delays.

(Previous: Land exchange for Alaska Native veterans)

The department later said it would accept applications from Native veterans seeking lands in the area during the two-year review. Tyler Cherry, a department spokesperson, told the Anchorage Daily News Monday allotments can be awarded before the review is complete. Lands are available for selection until late 2025.

Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians council member dies

Rose Salgade, a longtime member of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians Tribal Council, has died, according to the Press-Enterprise.

Salgado died on May 14. She was 65, and had served on the council for 28 years.

“She was such a strong and dedicated person and I admired her strength and courage in all that she dealt with in her life,” Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians Chairman Isaiah Vivanco said.

To read more, click here.

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Cherokee Nation offers vaccine incentive

The Cherokee Nation is offering tribal government employees an incentive to get vaccinated, according to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians' newspaper the Cherokee One Feather.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. signed an executive order, effective May 25, providing a COVID-19 vaccine reward and incentive program for the 4,300 tribal government employees.

Hoskin said 40 percent of tribal government employees have been vaccinated and the goal is to reach at least 70 percent, according to the report.

To read more, click here.

Navajo Nation reports 2 more COVID-19 deaths

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Wednesday reported nine new confirmed COVID-19 cases and two more deaths.

Tribal health officials said the latest figures pushed the total number of cases since the pandemic began more than a year ago to 30,747 on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

The known death toll is now 1,297.

Do I still have to wear a mask? What about kids?

Have questions about the government's new mask guidelines? 

With some limits, fully vaccinated individuals can go without masks indoors and out of doors. They are still required to wear masks in health care settings, in congregate settings such as prisons and homeless shelters, and while on planes, buses and trains and in transportation hubs such as airports or bus stations. 

People who have not been vaccinated or have only received the first Pfizer or Moderna shot should continue to wear masks in crowded outdoor spaces and while indoors to limit exposure. Also, government regulations, business rules or workplace guidance may require masks regardless of your vaccination status.

About 123 million Americans — 37 percent of the population — are fully vaccinated against coronavirus, and more than 157 million, or 47 percent, have received at least one dose.

The Associated Press has more about the new guidelines here.

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