Indian Country headlines for Friday

(Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Indian Country Today, File)

Indian Country Today

Stories we're following for Dec. 18: Rep. Deb Haaland chosen to lead Department of Interior, tribal leaders receive COVID-19 vaccine, Interior Secretary Bernhardt and Muscogee (Creek) Nation Chief Hill test positive for virus and more

Rep. Haaland poised to become the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency

President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Rep. Deb Haaland to lead the U.S. Interior Department. If confirmed by the Senate, the New Mexico Democrat would make history as the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet secretary.

"A voice like mine has never been a Cabinet secretary or at the head of the Department of Interior," Haaland tweeted Thursday night.

"Growing up in my mother’s Pueblo household made me fierce. I’ll be fierce for all of us, our planet, and all of our protected land. I am honored and ready to serve."

Haaland, who is from the Pueblos of Laguna and Jemez, became one of the first two Native women elected to Congress in 2018.

Read more.

‘Happy tears’: Indian Country cheers Interior pick

Native people are crying happy tears — on their apartment floor, on social media, in their cars — for Rep. Deb Haaland’s selection as head of the Interior Department.

This decision is historic for many reasons. One, a Native person in a Cabinet-level position. Two, it’s a win for Native women across Turtle Island. Three, Nick Tilsen, CEO and president of NDN Collective, sums up:

“Haaland’s appointment gives us a voice in a Department that has long been responsible for our exploitation,” Tilsen tweeted.

Read more.

The Cass Lake Hospital received the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, Dec. 14. (Photo courtesy of Vince Rock)
The Cass Lake Hospital received the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, Dec. 14. (Photo courtesy of Vince Rock)

Tribal leaders receive COVID-19 vaccine

White Mountain Apache Tribe Chairwoman Gwendena Lee-Gatewood, San Carlos Apache Chairman Terry Rambler and Red Lake Nation Chairman Darrell Seki were some of the first tribal leaders to share that they received the COVID-19 vaccine.

Lee-Gatewood documented her vaccine Tuesday on her public Facebook page. The Red Lake Tribal Council Facebook page posted photos on Wednesday of elected leadership receiving the vaccine. Rambler posted a short Facebook video Thursday of receiving the vaccine.

The Cass Lake Hospital on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation was the first to administer the vaccine to staff and tribal elders on Monday.

Interior Secretary Bernhardt, Muscogee Nation leader Hill have COVID

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt tested positive for COVID-119. Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief David Hill also tested positive.

Hill had experienced minor symptoms before being tested and will work remotely until he’s fully recovered, according to a Muscogee news release. Multiple reports say Bernhardt is asymptomatic and will work in quarantine.

hemp, cannibis, marijuana
(Photo: chrisbeez)

Eastern Cherokees green-light medical pot

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has started the process of legalizing medical marijuana, joining a growing number of U.S. tribes eying the drug's economic and medicinal potential.

The Tribal Council this fall passed a resolution submitted by Principal Chief Richard Sneed and two others to legalize marijuana’s medical use.

Read more.

Will children be able to get virus vaccines?

More data is needed before children will be able to safely get COVID-19 vaccines, according to the AP. Pfizer and Moderna have both begun testing on youth. Pfizer’s vaccine is for people aged 16 and older.

Read more.

Redwolf Pope sentenced to four years for rape, voyeurism

Redwolf Pope was convicted of rape and voyeurism in September and sentenced to four years in prison by a district court judge in Santa Fe.

The case against Pope was the result of a joint investigation between the Seattle and Santa Fe police department after women brought video to the Santa Fe police that appeared to show Pope raping unconcious women in both cities.

Pope also faces two charges for rape in Seattle for which he will stand trial after serving time for the conviction in New Mexico.

Read more.

Gary Norris Gray at an Oakland protest for 'Not Your Mascot'
Gary Norris Gray at an Oakland protest for 'Not Your Mascot'

Teams say Indian names show respect, history says otherwise

Because of pressure from activists, the public or their corporate sponsors, most sports teams have shed overtly racist names of the past. More than a dozen major college or pro sports teams made the move over the last 50 years, according to the AP.

But a few have clung to Native American names and imagery, arguing they reflect honor and respect. History says otherwise.

Read more.

Defense, HHS medical personnel to help Navajo COVID-19 fight

The Defense Department and Health and Human Services are deploying medical personnel to the Navajo Nation to provide relief and resources for health care workers fighting the spread of COVID-19.

Read more.

Debunked COVID-19 myths

The AP examines five myths around COVID-19.

Myth one: Masks don’t offer protection from the coronavirus

In fact, they do.

Read more.

Newscast: Alaska eyes its permanent fund

Joaqlin Estus, Tlingit national correspondent for Indian Country Today, is on the show. She'll tell us more about why Alaska's governor is aiming to punish financiers opposed to Arctic drilling.

Plus, freelance Koyukon Athabascan journalist Meghan Sullivan is on the newscast and has more on how the distribution of COVID-19 vaccine is going for Alaskan Natives.

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