Indian Country headlines for Monday

The Biden administration's nominee for Interior secretary, Rep. Deb Haaland, speaks at The Queen Theater in Wilmington Delaware, on Saturday. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Indian Country Today

Stories we're following for Dec. 21: Haaland addresses historic nomination, CARES Act deadline looms, a very special winter solstice, Udall helps pass bills for Native veterans and more

'This moment is profound'

Rep. Deb Haaland's confirmation as Interior secretary would break a 245-year record of non-Natives, mostly men, serving as the top federal official over Indian affairs in a government that worked to dispossess Indigenous people of their land and, until recently, assimilate them into White culture.

Those points are definitely not lost on Haaland.

On Saturday, President-elect Joe Biden introduced the New Mexico Democrat and other key members of his environmental team.

Haaland began her remarks with a Lenape land acknowledgment. She then spoke about her background and values, and the Interior Department's role in addressing climate change and environmental injustice. 

Haaland also noted the historic nature of her nomination, referencing Alexander H.H. Stuart, who headed the agency in the early 1850s.

"This moment is profound when we consider the fact that a former secretary of the Interior once proclaimed his goal to 'civilize or exterminate' us," she said. "I’m a living testament to the failure of that horrific ideology.”

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Deadline looms for tribes’ CARES Act funding

The deadline to spend CARES Act money is impending; a potential extension appears less likely each day.

Some leaders have asked Congress to intervene but have little to no response.

“If this legislation is not passed, our tribe, along with numerous others, may have to return unused funds to the Department of Treasury,” Spokane Tribal Business Council Chairwoman Evans wrote in a letter to Congress.

“This would be devastating given how much we are trying to do to assist our tribal members, community and employees.”

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A cup-shaped moon heralds the winter solstice, and storytelling season begins.
A cup-shaped moon heralds the winter solstice, and storytelling season begins.

Why this year's winter solstice is extra special

The winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, occurs on Dec. 21. This year’s event includes a rare celestial event in which Jupiter and Saturn appear very close together; the last time the two planets were this close together was in the year 1226.

Read more.

Dunleavy’s retaliation against banks on Arctic drilling will come at cost

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s move to introduce legislation that requires state departments and agencies to end relationships with financial institutions that choose to stop financing oil and gas exploration could be a costly decision for the state.

Read more.

A screen capture from Senator Tom Udall’s Facebook page video when Udall was delivering his farewell address on Tuesday.
A screen capture from Senator Tom Udall’s Facebook page video when Udall was delivering his farewell address on Tuesday.

Udall applauds House passage of bills aiding Native American vets

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat and vice chairman of Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, celebrated a unanimous vote in the House to pass two bills to uphold treaty obligations to Native American veterans. 

Udall co-sponsored the bills, the Native American Veteran Parity in Access to Care Today Act and the VA Tribal Advisory Committee Act.

Read more.

As homelessness rises in Seattle, so does a Native housing solution

An eight-story housing project is set to open in October 2021; the project is intended to serve Native Americans who are seven times more likely to be homeless than Whites in Seattle.

The building will have 80 studio apartments reserved for the homeless; 10 will be reserved for veterans and 10 for extremely low income families.

Read more.

Reviving Indigenous agriculture nourishes people, land, cultures

Professor’s research project “Reuniting the Three Sisters,” looks at responsible caretaking of the land from the perspective of Native peoples.

“Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits,” writes Christina Gish Hill, associate professor of anthropology at Iowa State University.

According to Gish, current industrial agricultural practices of monocropping harms the environment, communities and human health.

Read more.

Newscast: 'An actual seat at the Cabinet table'

The nomination of a Native American to a Cabinet-level position, and a look back at an historic achievement for the Taos Pueblo.

Red Lake Band of Ojibwe citizen Holly Cook Marcarro discusses Deb Haaland's nomination to the Department of the Interior. Indian Country Today editor Mark Trahant talks about the historic return of Blue Lake and Vision Maker Media gives an Indigenous twist on the "Twelve days of Christmas."

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