Navajo president lays out expectations for new administration
Navajo Native President Jonathan Nez began his interview on CNN on Sunday by saying the news service erred when it categorized Native Americans as “something else” in exit polling on Tuesday. It was “very offensive to all of us throughout Indian Country,” he said.
Nez quickly moved on to say tribes have had “some great outreach” from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, who recently met with tribal leaders in Phoenix, where Biden told him the Navajo Nation would have a seat at the table in his administration.
News sources have reported high turnout for Biden among Arizona tribes. Nez is working to pin down details about Navajo votes for Biden and Trump across the reservation, which spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
Nez laid out his expectations for the new administration, the first being the appointment of a tribal leader to the transition team.
“Our priority is getting infrastructure, and there should be a plan to improve the quality of life in terms of water, electricity, broadband throughout Indian Country.” Some 30 to 40 percent of the Navajo people don't have running water, said Nez, and aging roads and bridges also need attention.
Nez noted the tribe has helpful experience and knowledge to share. It was hit hard by the coronavirus but had some success in beating back the disease. While the United States as a whole is going through its third wave, Navajo people are experiencing a second wave, “and it is because we listen to our public health professionals, our scientists,” and mandated masks and curfews, said Nez.
“So here's an opportunity to share lessons learned from our nation to this country, the United States of America as well.”
Todd Gloria, Tlingit, takes helm in San Diego
Todd Gloria, Tlingit, has been elected mayor of San Diego, California’s second-largest city.
He is the first person of color and the first member of the LGBTQ community to win a San Diego mayoral race.
Gloria, a Democrat, was minority whip in the California Assembly, the state’s legislative body. He was the Assembly’s only enrolled tribal member and just its second Filipino-American member.
He served as president of the San Diego City Council from 2012 to 2014, and was interim mayor in 2013.
Before that, Gloria was district director for U.S. Rep. Susan A. Davis. He also worked for San Diego County's Health and Human Services Agency. Throughout his career, Gloria has worked on the issues of housing, homelessness, racial justice and climate.
He was born in San Diego, the son of a hotel maid and gardener. He said in a statement his lifelong career in public service was inspired by his parents, who taught him: If you truly care about something, then you should leave it better than you found it. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of San Diego.
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Election Day times two in Indian Country
Several tribal nations across the U.S. have new leadership, including one in Montana that elected a slate of female leaders.
At least six tribes held tribal elections Nov. 3, the same day voters cast ballots in federal, state and local races.
In Arizona, the Gila River Indian Community considered axing an old law that disenrolls citizens who live off the reservation for long periods. The results of that vote could be known as soon as this week.
Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes suspend chairman
In Northeastern Montana, the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribal Executive Board has issued a “statement of charges” for removal of tribal Chairman Floyd Azure, Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux.
Azure was suspended last week and faces a removal hearing in December.
The allegations include “inappropriate official action” on behalf of a construction company that the tribe has litigation against for alleged breach of contract and a series of violations of the board’s code of ethics, according to a news release.
Eight of the 12 executive board members signed the statement.
An attempt to reach Azure for comment by Indian Country Today was unsuccessful. The board appointed Vice Chairman Charlie Headdress as acting chairman during Azure’s suspension, according to the release. A message sent to Headdress wasn’t immediately returned.
New TV programming on Native Americans
PBS stations and the World Channel have both recently announced that KCET in Southern California (PBS SoCal) in partnership with Link TV, and the World Channel, in partnership with Vision Maker Media — have listed a specific series of programs honoring Native American Heritage Month in November.
Native programs starting this month on KCET will include “Without a Whisper: Konnon:Kwe,” “The Warrior Tradition,” “The People’s Protectors,” and the original series “Tending Nature.”
The World Channel will broadcast and stream more than 40 films showcasing a part of American culture that is often overlooked and real-life stories of Indigenous men and women, according to the joint news release.
Programming will also include a special Veterans Day presentation of the films “The People’s Protectors” and “Choctaw Code Talkers,” spotlighting the stories of Native American veterans. On Tuesday, Nov. 17, the World Channel will host a special live panel discussion called, "Tribal Sovereignty and Home."
American Indian Film Festival continues through Saturday
The American Indian Film Festival, the first and oldest film festival of its kind, is hosting a virtual online festival through Saturday.
The nine-day festival features 102 films, including 55 world premieres.
The festival celebrates its 45-year anniversary this year and is hosted by the American Indian Film Institute, an organization whose goal is to advocate for authentic representation of Native people in media.
On Friday, the festival opened with Monkey Beach starring Adam Beach, a novel turned to movie by award-winning director Loretta Todd.
To attend the virtual event, one must purchase a film program, costing $10 with some programs having up to 7 films included. After ordering, attendees are able to stream content on-demand online.
As Indian Country Today wrapped up election week and examined results, we were joined on our newscast by two journalists who could add to the conversation.
Dana Hedgpeth is a reporter with the Washington Post, and Savannah Maher is a reporter with Wyoming Public Radio.
"Never before have swing states played such a crucial role pre-election, and now we're still dealing with counts in some of these swing states: Georgia, Colorado, North Carolina and Arizona,” Hedgpeth said. “We're still in the midst of all of this. And these were important states even before, and they're still remaining very important."
Meanwhile, Maher noted the “Something Else” label that appeared on a graphic on CNN last week, referring to a category of voters that included tribal citizens.
“Arizona is one place where the 'something else' vote could really be making a pretty huge difference," she said.
Maher also remarked on Lynette Grey Bull’s run for a U.S. House seat in Wyoming.
The Democrat lost by a wide margin in her bid to unseat Republican Liz Cheney. “But I will say it was pretty special to see just how much her candidacy energized voters on the Wind River Reservation,” Maher said.
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