Indian Country headlines for Thursday

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., at a news in Wilmington, Delaware, on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Indian Country Today

Stories we're following on Oct. 8, 2020: Biden-Harris to meet tribal leaders, Shooters to help bring down Grand Canyon bison numbers, Cheyenne River Sioux face hospital bed shortage, and much more.

Biden, Harris head to Phoenix to meet with tribal leaders

Former Vice President Joe Biden and his 2020 running mate Sen. Kamala Harris will make a campaign stop in Phoenix on Thursday, a visit that includes meeting with tribal leaders.

Navajo Times reporter Arlyssa Becenti reported that Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and four other tribal leaders will meet with Biden and Harris.

Biden and Harris will also meet with small businesses owners and will deliver remarks as part of its “Soul of the Nation” bus tour. The campaign bus was in Window Rock, Arizona in the Navajo nation on Wednesday.

Vice President Mike Pence will also be in the Phoenix Valley on Thursday. He has a scheduled stop in Peoria.

Early voting started in Arizona on Wednesday.

Grand Canyon planning for 2021 lethal removal of bison from North Rim

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — In the fall of 2021, skilled shooters will get the first opportunity to help reduce the herd of bison roaming the far northern reaches of Grand Canyon National Park.

But don't call or write asking how to volunteer, officials say. Details are still being worked out.

An agreement reached between the park and Arizona wildlife officials in late September gives some indication of how lethal removal will play out. It comes three years after the park included it as a management tool, along with corralling and hazing, to remove hundreds of bison from the North Rim. Left unchecked, officials say the animals could further destroy vegetation and water resources.

The massive animals that can weigh up to 1,000 pounds are descendants of those introduced to northern Arizona in the early 1900s as part of a ranching operation to crossbreed them with cattle. The state of Arizona now owns them, and hunting tags for the forest adjacent to the Grand Canyon are hugely popular.

The animals now largely spend their time within the boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park where hunting is prohibited.

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Cheyenne River Sioux report scramble for hospital beds

The Cheyenne River Health Center in Eagle Butte has only eight hospital beds and no intensive-care unit. To prepare for a breakout of COVID-19, tribal health officials have found space in other reservation facilities to house people who may need hospitalization. Photo: Courtesy of Alaina Beautiful Bald Eagle, West River Eagle newspaper
The Cheyenne River Health Center in Eagle Butte has only eight hospital beds and no intensive-care unit. (Photo: Courtesy of Alaina Beautiful Bald Eagle, West River Eagle newspaper)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A small hospital serving the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe was turned away by 14 facilities before finding a Minnesota facility that could accept two coronavirus patients, the tribe's health agency said Wednesday. That came even as South Dakota's top health officials insist the state has plenty of hospital capacity.

Danette Serr, director of nursing at the Cheyenne River Sioux Health Department, said the tribe depends on larger facilities when infections worsen.

"We're a very, very basic hospital," Serr said. "We can't do much here."

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe's chairman, Harold Frazier, has said the limited number of beds and remoteness of the facility is part of the reason the tribe enacted strict lockdowns and coronavirus checkpoints to minimize outbreaks on the reservation.

(Related: South Dakota lawmakers criticize Kristi Noem on tribal checkpoints)

As the coronavirus surges statewide, Native Americans have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, accounting for nearly a quarter of hospitalizations statewide despite making up roughly 9 percent of the population. About 19 percent of the 258 people who have died from COVID-19 in South Dakota have been Native American.

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University: More colorectal cancer screenings needed for Native Americans

Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Colorectal cancer has received a great deal of attention since actor Chadwick Boseman lost his four-year battle to the disease in August. It’s the second-leading cause of cancer death among Native Americans, prompting calls for increased screenings to improve detection and treatment of colorectal disease.

Donald Haverkamp, an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said many factors play a role in the number of cases among Native Americans, including lack of access to health care or insurance, increased natural bacteria on some reservations and diet and lifestyle.

Native Americans, along with Hispanics, have the lowest colorectal screening rates in the U.S., statistics show, with 48.7 percent of those age 50 to 75 undergoing tests in 2015.

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Indigenous Peoples Day events

Indian Country Today is creating a list of 2020 Indigenous Peoples Day events. To add your related event to the list, email general@indiancountrytoday.com.

Watch: Larissa FastHorse, a bona fide 'genius'

Playwright Larissa FastHorse, Sicanga Lakota, 2020 winner of a MacArthur "genius" award (Photo courtesy of John D. and Katherine T. MacArthur Foundation)
Playwright Larissa FastHorse, Sicanga Lakota, 2020 winner of a MacArthur "genius" award (Photo courtesy of John D. and Katherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

Each year the MacArthur Foundation selects individuals they recognize for outstanding work in arts education and other professional pursuits. We talk with Sicangu Lakota citizen Larissa FastHorse, who is among this year's “Genius Grant” winners.

Plus, Indian Country Today Reporter-Producer Aliyah Chavez sits down with Northern Arapaho TikTok star Nathan Apodaca, also known on TikTok as @420doggface208, who went viral while running late for work.

Also, Indian Country Today Deputy Managing Editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye has the latest information about COVID-19 in Indian Country.

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