Indian Country headlines for Monday

A team from Northern Cheyenne picks up COVID-19 emergency request supplies at the Partnership With Native Americans warehouse in Rapid City, South Dakota. Left to right: Dean Small, Cleve McManus, Jule Spang and Javan Ryan. (Photo courtesy of Partnership With Native Americans)

Indian Country Today

Stories we’re following on Oct. 19, 2020: National Congress of American Indians calls for investigation in SD COVID handling, Red Lake Chippewa boundary sign defaced , new study shows Indigenous peoples' priorities, needs, and more

Indian Country Today

NCAI calls for investigation in South Dakota's COVID-19 handling

Fawn Sharp
NCAI President Fawn Sharp (Courtesy image)

The National Congress of American Indians stands with the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in calling for an investigation into South Dakota’s handling of COVID-19 cases in the state’s Native population.

Earlier this month, the Associated Press reported that a small hospital serving the tribe sent two coronavirus patients to an out-of-state hospital for advanced care even as South Dakota's top health officials insisted the state had plenty of hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Health Department reported it was turned away by 14 facilities before finding one in Minnesota that would accept patients.

“Cheyenne River Sioux tribal members should not be treated like second-class citizens at any time, especially when seeking care for an infectious disease that has already caused more than 2,000 deaths among Native people across the country,” NCAI President Fawn Sharp said in a statement. “Not only are Native people experiencing COVID-19 infections at higher rates than the national average, the lack of access to quality healthcare and the discrimination Native people face when attempting to access care is unfathomable.”

“2020 Trump,” and swastika deface Red Lake Chippewa boundary sign in Minnesota

A Red Lake Band of Chippewa reservation boundary sign in Ponemah, Minnesota, was defaced with the message “2020” Trump,” along with a Nazi swastika.

The tribe said in a statement, “The nature of these racist messages is very concerning to the Red Lake Band, in light of the fact that white supremacists have recently been emboldened throughout the United States to carry out extreme actions. The Red Lake Band believes it is important to nip this behavior in the bud.”

The Red Lake tribe is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the person(s) who defaced the sign.

New study identifies US Indigenous peoples' priorities, needs

The 2020 Indigenous Futures Project Monday is releasing a study aimed at understanding the priorities and needs of Indigenous US individuals and communities.

The aim is to “learn from Indigenous peoples how we think about ourselves, what we think is important, and what galvanizes us to make change. It gives Indigenous peoples a platform to hold politicians, educators, policy makers and researchers accountable to hear Natives’ collective voice and to prevent them from claiming a death of data,” said the authors in a prepared statement.

The project is a joint effort of Illuminative, Native Organizers Alliance, and the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute.

Tribes step back from cooperating agency status over logging in the Tongass National Forest

Tongass National Forest (Photo by Seth Andeson, courtesy of Creative Commons)
Tongass National Forest (Photo by Seth Andeson, courtesy of Creative Commons)

The Trump administration is poised to approve the opening of 9 million acres in the Tongass National Forest to logging.

Last week, five tribal nations of Southeast Alaska Tuesday sent a strongly worded letter to the Secretary of Agriculture and chief of the U.S. Forest Service over the process used to decide whether to permit logging in the Tongass. They opted out of the cooperating agency status that had given them a seat at the table during the process.

The tribes said they’re deeply disappointed with the agency’s choice of an alternative that would lift a logging ban. 

New Alaska Federation of Natives co-chairs elected

Delegates to the annual Alaska Federation of Natives convention last week elected two new co-chairs.

Loretta Bullard, Inupiaq, is the former head of the regional non-profit Kawerak, which services 20 villages in Northwest Alaska. She was elected co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives at its 2020 convention.  (Photo courtesy of Kawerak)
Loretta Bullard, Inupiaq. (Photo courtesy of Kawerak)
Joe Nelson, Tlingit, is chairman of the board of directors for the Southeast Alaska regional corporation Sealaska. He was elected co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives at its 2020 Convention. (Photo courtesy of Sealaska)
Joe Nelson, Tlingit, (Photo courtesy of Sealaska)

Joe Nelson, Tlingit, Teikweidí (Brown Bear clan), has served on the board of the Southeast Alaska Native regional corporation Sealaska since 2003 and was elected its board chair in 2014. He’s a practicing attorney and works for the University of Alaska Southeast.

Loretta Ublugiaq Bullard, Inupiaq, is a Nome Eskimo Community tribal member and a shareholder in four Native corporations including the Bering Straits regional and Nome village corporations. She is the retired former president of Kawerak Inc., a regional nonprofit organization serving 20 villages in Northwest Alaska.

The ch-chair positions entail chairing the convention and board meetings, and representing the statewide organization in various forums, among other duties.

Oglala Sioux Tribe primary election results

The Oglala Sioux Tribe’s Facebook page shows preliminary primary election results. The two top vote getters for the office of president are Kevin Killer, with 660 votes, and John Yellow Bird Steel, with 413 votes. The incumbent president, Jullian Bear Runner got 363 votes.

In the race for vice president of the North Dakota tribe, Alicia Mousseau received 1,029 votes, and Bryan Brewer had 735.

The tribe’s general election is on November 3.

Pascua Yaqui Tribe seeks early voting site on reservation

Pascua Yaqui tribal officials are raising a new argument in their two-year fight to reinstate an early voting site on the reservation, saying the COVID-19 pandemic makes it essential. The county recorder disagrees, and now the tribe is trying to enlist the support of county supervisors. (Photo by Erik (HASH) Hersman/Creative Commons)
Pascua Yaqui tribal officials are raising a new argument in their two-year fight to reinstate an early voting site on the reservation, saying the COVID-19 pandemic makes it essential. The county recorder disagrees, and now the tribe is trying to enlist the support of county supervisors. (Photo by Erik (HASH) Hersman/Creative Commons)

A judge will hear arguments Monday over whether to order an election official in southern Arizona to open an early voting and ballot collection operation for the Nov. 3 election on a reservation on the edge of Tucson that hasn't had an early voting site since 2016.

The Pascua Yaqui Tribe asked a federal court in Tucson to force Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez to operate early voting and ballot collection sites on its reservation from Oct. 26 through Nov. 2.

The tribe, which had early voting from 2010 through 2016, was told by Rodriguez's office weeks before the 2018 primary election that it was closing the reservation's only early voting site and instead was opening a new site off tribal land.

The lawsuit said many tribal citizens who don't have a vehicle will have to take two buses to travel the eight miles to the nearest polling place and that the early voting site's closure results in an unequal opportunity for Native Americans to participate in the election.

In an unrelated case with Navajo ties in Arizona, a court ruled against a Navajo vote count extension.

The ruling Thursday by a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld a lower court decision that rejected the suit by six Navajo voters. The courts said the plaintiffs failed to show that their voting rights would be harmed by postal delays or helped by an extension – or even that they planned to vote by mail this election.

Watch: Fighting the frontlines of COVID

Dr Lyle Ignace_10-15-2020
Dr. Lyle Ignace (Indian Country Today)

With Wisconsin experiencing a spike in positive coronavirus cases, Dr. Lyle Ignace joins the Indian Country Today newscast to better explain how he is addressing the pandemic in a way that respects cultural and traditional methods of healing.

“There were several instances of tribes putting out curfews to mitigate the transmissions,” Ignance said. “Specifically with traffic and commerce concerns in the transmission of the virus. Tribes did what they felt was most urgent and appropriate."

Plus, reporter Carina Dominguez talks about a Choctaw and Cherokee citizen known for the text work in his art, as well as his political views.

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