Indian Country headlines for Thursday

Indian Country Today

A look at the headlines around Indian Country

Amazon to drop Washington NFL team merchandise from website

The world’s largest on-line retailer is joining Target, Walmart, Nike and Dick’s Sporting Goods in dropping Washington NFL franchise merchandise from its websites.

Amazon sellers were reportedly given 48 hours to review then remove products featuring the team, including jerseys, T-shirts and jewelry, CNBC reports. Failure to remove such products can potentially result in the deactivation of seller’s accounts on the Amazon website. 

The news comes less than a week after the NFL team announced it would undergo a thorough review of its name.

On Wednesday, ESPN reporter Adam Schefter tweeted: “In their discussions about a potential new name, Washington is planning to have no Native American imagery, per a league source.”

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In this Dec. 8, 2019, photo, people protest the Washington NFL team name outside Lambeau Field before a football game against the Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer, File)

House committee on Energy and Commerce holds hearing on tribal issues

Wednesday, the House committee on Energy and Commerce held an extensive hearing, "Addressing the Urgent Needs of Our Tribal Communities." It was significant in that it was a full committee hearing and the first on tribal matters before the committee since the mid-2000s.

Appearing virtually were: Navajo Nation President, Jonathan Nez; Southern Ute Indian Tribe Chairman, Christine Sage; Quinault Indian Nation President and President of the National Congress of American Indians, Fawn Sharp; Chickasaw Nation Department of Health Secretary, Charles Grim, Cherokee; and Pilar Thomas, Pascua Yaqui, partner at Quarles & Brady LLP.

Over the course of the nearly four hour hearing, the witnesses pointed out that there are many urgent needs for tribal communities, on top of critical needs in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. From the digital divide in Indian Country to the access to clean drinking water to the delay of the distribution of CARES Act funds; injustices have been exposed by the coronavirus according to the tribal leaders.

Although it was not all doom and gloom.

One silver lining resulting from the pandemic is the advancement of telehealth in a very short amount of time. According to Grim, telehealth has expanded across the nation, not just in Indian Country. The Chickasaw Nation alone saw a 300 percent increase in telehealth visits in two weeks.

As the pandemic wears on, tribes and Congress must work together to find solutions to the disparities Native communities face.

Stay tuned to Indian Country Today for an expanded story on the hearing.

The full hearing, as well as written testimony from the witnesses can be watched and found here.

Decision expected in tribal sovereignty case

Oklahoma. Supreme Court. McGirt v. Oklahoma. Carpenter v. Murphy. Sharp v. Murphy.

Indian Country Today will be watching for an opinion Thursday in McGirt v. Oklahoma, which examines whether a large swath of eastern Oklahoma falls under tribal jurisdiction.

At issue in the case is whether the prosecution of a Creek Tribe citizen for crimes committed within the historical Creek boundaries is subject to exclusive federal jurisdiction.

Native Congressional candidate wins Utah primary

Darren Parry, Northwestern Band of Shoshone Nation, has won the Democratic nomination for Utah’s 1st Congressional District.

He will face Republican Blake Moore in November’s general election.

If Parry wins in November, he will be the first Democrat to represent Utah’s 1st District in nearly 40 years. The district serves the northern part of the state, including the Ute reservation.

Parry is one of eight Native candidates who won primary elections in their bids for Congress.

Primaries for eight others are set for August.

Oglala Sioux president suspended

This October 2018 photo shows Oglala Sioux President Julian Bear Runner when he was running for tribal president. Bear Runner, is accused of driving drunk on the tribe's reservation, the only one in South Dakota that bans alcohol. A criminal complaint charges Bear Runner, with driving while intoxicated and also of threatening a man in Manderson, S.D., on May 2, 2020. (Ryan Hermans/Rapid City Journal via AP)
This October 2018 photo shows Oglala Sioux President Julian Bear Runner when he was running for tribal president. (Ryan Hermans/Rapid City Journal via AP, File)

Julian Bear Runner, president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, has been suspended for 30 days and put on a 14-day quarantine by the tribal council, according to Nakina Mills, council representative from the Pine Ridge District.

The Oglala Sioux tribal council made the decision in an emergency meeting Wednesday on the tribe’s Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota.

Council member Robin Tapio of the Pine Ridge district made the motion  to suspend Bear Runner with pay after several members complained of the president’s executive emergency order establishing a 72-hour lockdown order issued Monday. The order prohibited nonessential travel to and from the reservation and put tribal employees, except emergency personnel, on administrative leave.

It is unclear, however, if the council has the authority to suspend the tribe’s president, according to Mills.

“I’ve only been on council for a year and am very concerned about the lack of processes and procedures,” she said.

According to Mills and Karen Eagle, tribal media relations specialist, the tribe's constitution describes a process for removing council members but not one for suspension.

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