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Diné soldier was 'very, very loving'

A Diné soldier who died last week after collapsing during a training exercise at a U.S. Army base loved fitness and was devoted to his fiancée and two young sons, his family said.

Pvt. Corlton L. Chee died Wednesday after collapsing at Fort Hood on Aug. 28, his 25th birthday. He leaves behind two sons, a 2-year-old and a 3-week-old. Chee was looking forward to meeting his newborn son for the first time later this year.

“He was always adventurous, very healthy, wanting to do something courageous, and very, very loving,” said Carma Johnson, Chee’s older sister. “I know all he wanted was the best for his boys and fiancée.”

Chee was raised with five sisters in Pinehill, New Mexico, part of the Ramah Navajo Nation.

According to data obtained by The Associated Press from Fort Hood officials, he is the 28th soldier from the Central Texas base to die this year. An investigation is underway.

Pvt. Corlton L. Chee leaves behind two sons, a 2-year-old and a 3-week-old: Thielen and Kozak Chee. (Photo courtesy of Carma Johnson)

Tribes sue for extension of Census count

Two tribes joined cities, counties and nonprofit organizations in a lawsuit against the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Commerce for calling an early end to the 2020 Census.

The Navajo Nation and Gila River Indian Community in Arizona announced Sept. 2 that they want the bureau to continue its operations until Oct. 31, the date set in April as part of the bureau’s COVID-19 plan. On Aug. 3 the bureau moved the deadline to Sept. 30 to stop data collection and ensure a Dec. 31 delivery as required by law.

The bureau also asked Congress in April to extend the deadline for turning in apportionment data used for drawing congressional districts from Dec. 31, 2020, to April 30, 2021. The request passed the Democratic-controlled House but hasn’t gone anywhere in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Navajo Nation president Jonathan Nez said, “Unfortunately, the federal government has undermined the time, planning, and resources that the Navajo Nation had dedicated to the Census count by shortening the time period by an entire month and now we are seeking a resolution through the courts.”

Gila River governor Stephen Roe Lewis said cutting the census short when tribes are notably the most undercounted but also the most impacted by COVID-19 is a “breach of the government relationship that exists between the federal government and tribal nations.”

2020 Census advertising and outreach campaign launch in Washington, D.C., on January, 14, 2020. (Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye)

COVID-19 puts casino revenue at risk

Revenue from casinos often helps fund services like healthcare and education in Indigenous communities. Tribal governments nationwide could lose more than half of projected revenue.

Nearly all open Indigenous-run casinos in the U.S. are operating at half capacity, putting essential money at risk according to tribal leaders. Tribal governments nationwide could lose $22.4 billion this year alone.

When the pandemic first hit, Indigenous tribes across the U.S. had to shut down their casinos, resulting in an estimated $4.4 billion loss in revenue and close to 300,000 people out of work.

Tribes started to reopen casinos at half capacity in June to ensure physical distancing could be maintained, and the new reality continues to threaten essential tribal revenue and hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Navajo Nation extends weekend curfews

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A few days before Labor Day weekend, Navajo Nation leaders announced the tribe is stretching weekend curfews through September.

A new public health order extended the tribe's 32-hour curfews to September weekends between 9 p.m. on Saturdays and 5 a.m. on Mondays, according to a news release. The Navajo Nation's nightly weekday curfew between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. was also continued.

“As long as there is no vaccine available, there will remain substantial risk of contracting COVID-19," Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez stated in the news release. "We have to keep doing everything we can to prevent the spread of the coronavirus."

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez (Bryan Pietsch/Cronkite News, File)

Houlton Band of Maliseet to receive $50,000 for center

A tribe and seven organizations in Maine are slated to receive a combined $5 million in federal grants and loans intended to boost rural institutions.

The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians in Littleton has been selected to receive $50,000 to improve the community center it operates on tribal lands in Houlton.

The 1,700 members of the Houlton Band call the Meduxnekeag River home. A larger number of Maliseet live across the U.S. border with New Brunswick, Canada.

The money is from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Coming up: Webinar focuses on protecting ideas

Indigenous traditional knowledge, cultural expression, songs, designs, and Indigenous laws and customs belong to the creators of them and other forms of intellectual property.

The Native American Rights Fund is hosting a webinar on intellectual property and Indigenous people Sept. 10 and Sept. 24. Speakers include experts in intellectual property and representatives of the U.S. Patents and Trademark Office and the World Intellectual Property Organization.

The World Property organization will introduce its intergovernmental process for intellectual property. The sessions will be geared specifically to Indigenous leaders, lawyers and community members.

Reporters' roundtable: Fires, census, entertainment

On our latest reporter’s roundtable, host Patty Telehongva talks with Luella Brien, general manager of Bighorn County News in Hardin, Montana, and Ramona Marozas, a multiplatform producer at WDSE and WRPT in Duluth, Minnesota.

Topics include: low census counts in parts of Indian Country; wildfires; financial hardships for families faced with the rising cost of funerals; and several art projects.

Also on Indian Country Today's newscast, Deputy Managing Editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye has the latest COVID-19 numbers in Indian Country.

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