Category Archives: Culture

Minneapolis Natives Protest Black Man’s Death in Custody!

“The death of a handcuffed black man in police custody in Minneapolis has stoked anger and frustration among many Native people in the city.” E. Chuculate, ICT

From left, AIM members Robert Pilot, Frank A. Paro, Joe Rodriguez and Lisa Bellanger attend a protest Thursday in Minneapolis. Photo by John A. Anderson

Excerpt: Minneapolis Natives condemn Black man’s death in custody, ‘racist ideologies’ By Eddie Chuculate, ICT

“Leaders say relations with law enforcement have remained strained in the more than 50 years since the American Indian Movement was founded here in response to alleged police brutality.

A portrait of George Floyd is seen as part of a memorial for him Wednesday near the site of his arrest. AP Photo:Jim Mone

The Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Group, a collaborative of 30 Native organizations operating in the Twin Cities, released a scathing public letter Wednesday condemning George Floyd’s death, along with the ‘ongoing and systemic racist ideologies that continue to run strongly’ through the Minneapolis Police Department.

The letter cites the department’s “long history of violence against Indigenous people and people of color,” including the 2011 shooting of an Alaska Native man at a Native American housing complex.

AIM members attend a demonstration Thursday in Minneapolis Photo by John A. Anderson

American Indian Movement leaders also expressed outrage over Floyd’s death at a news conference in an area of south Minneapolis known for its Native-owned businesses, housing and community centers. AIM planned to set up a patrol of Native businesses Thursday night after fires damaged or destroyed 30 buildings in the city the night before, and rioting encroached on the corridor. 

Meanwhile, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz activated the state National Guard and urged widespread changes, saying it is time to rebuild: ‘Rebuild the city, rebuild our justice system and rebuild the relationship between law enforcement and those they’re charged to protect.’

Photographs from the George Floyd protest in South Minneapolis

Floyd, 46, died Monday while being arrested by Officer Derek Chauvin, who had Floyd pinned and restrained face-down on the street with a knee wedged against his neck.

A video filmed by a bystander captured Floyd’s pleas of ‘Please, man, I can’t breathe’ and sparked a national outcry and protests in Minneapolis that have resulted in three days of rioting and looting.

Demonstrations also spread to other U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Denver and Memphis…At the AIM news conference, co-director Frank Paro, Grand Portage Chippewa, noted his movement was founded in 1968 in response to police brutality in Minneapolis.

Joe Rodriguez, left, and Frank Paro Photo by John A. Anderson

‘They used to beat us and take us down to the river and leave us down there,’ he said. ‘If we were lucky, they took us to jail and we got medical attention. In the 2000s, they aren’t beating us no more. They are killing us. That has to stop.’

Speakers also denounced the rioting and looting.

‘First of all, as a mother, grandmother and auntie, daughter and a sister, I couldn’t even watch the whole video, it made me so sick,’ said AIM co-director Lisa Bellanger, Leech Lake.

‘We support our community and other nations and know when it’s time to take action, but we can’t condone the violence, rioting and looting. This is where we shop, where our children play,’ Bellanger said at the news conference, which was live-streamed on Facebook via Native Roots Radio.”

Resource Sites for the COVID-19:

INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY:

COVID-19 Tracker in the United States: Story summaries, lists of closures, resources. Last update 5/29/20   Information Here

COVID-19 financial strain? Here are resources in 50 states

If you are interested in Indian Country Today’scontinued coverage of COVID-19, please feel free to access our continually updated Coronavirus syllabus.

(See related: Indian Country’s COVID-19 syllabus)

Where to begin?

After extensive research, the most comprehensive and user-friendly website for finding assistance from a multitude of programs is arguably Benefits.gov.

Basic information.

Indian Health Service

National Congress of American Indians

National Indian Health Board

 

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his wife, Jill Biden, at a veterans memorial in Wilmington, Del.  May, 25, 2020. Credit- Erin Schaff: The New York Times

“What gives me hope is when I see somebody do just the little things they didn’t have to do, to go out of their way,” ~Joe Biden~

Teen Finds $135,000…And Returns It!

“Jose Nuñez Romaniz, a criminal justice student, turned over the money to officials and was invited to apply for an entry-level job at the Albuquerque Police Department.”M. Padilla, New York Times

Jose Nuñez second from left, with his parents, Carmen and Jose Nuñez and Mike Geier, the Albuquerque police chief. Credit…Julie Jensen:Albuquerque Police Department

Excerpt: Teenager, an Aspiring Detective, Returns $135,000 He Found –Mariel Padilla, NYT

“Jose Nuñez Romaniz was headed to the bank to deposit money so he could buy socks online for his grandfather when he came upon a large clear plastic bag filled with cash next to an A.T.M. in Albuquerque.

‘When I first saw it, I kind of stared at it for a few seconds, not knowing what to do,’ Mr. Nuñez said of his discovery on May 3. ‘I was very shocked. I’ve never seen so much money.’

Mr. Nuñez, 19, a criminal justice student at Central New Mexico Community College, said that after the initial shock had worn off, he took a picture of the bag.

He said he noticed a tag on the outside of the bag that said it contained $60,000 in $20 bills. The police later counted an additional $75,000 in $50 bills.

‘It never passed through my mind to keep any of it,’ Mr. Nuñez said on Saturday…After calling the police, he put the bag in his car and moved it so someone else could use the machine. He then called his mother to tell her he was going to be a little late coming home.

Two police officers arrived within minutes, took the bag and took Mr. Nuñez’s statement and information. He said his parents expressed amazement and disbelief when he recounted what happened, even after he showed them the picture… Officer Simon Drobik, an Albuquerque Police Department spokesman, said on Saturday ‘I think this is the biggest amount of money found in Albuquerque and returned.’

On Tuesday morning, Mr. Nuñez was in Phoenix buying materials for his parents’ mattress business when Officer Drobik called. ‘He asked me how was it to be a hero in the town, and at first I didn’t know what he was referring to,’ Mr. Nuñez said. ‘But then he started telling me about a ceremony to honor me. He wanted me to take my family there and meet the mayor and the chief of police.’

About 50 people attended the ceremony, which was held at the Albuquerque Police Academy on Thursday.

At the ceremony, Mayor Tim Keller commended Mr. Nuñez’s actions: ‘Man, we all know that temptation. Even just to take a little, just one of those bundles off the top. I mean that had to be really hard.’

Mr. Nuñez said he had received a plaque, gift cards, sports gear and even a $500 scholarship from an electric company…When Officer Drobik learned that Mr. Nuñez was studying criminal justice and wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement, he invited him to apply for a position at the department. Mr. Nuñez said he had gone to the station on Friday and filled out an application to be a public service aide, an entry-level position for those who want to become law enforcement officers but do not yet meet the requirements. ‘I’ve wanted to be a crime scene investigator or a detective for the police since I was a kid.’ Mr. Nuñez said…“The family was very humble,” Officer Drobik said. “It was amazing to watch them. There’s a greater good there. They weren’t blown away by Jose’s actions, but everyone else was.”

Resource Sites for the COVID-19:

INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY:

COVID-19 Tracker in the United States: Story summaries, lists of closures, resources. Last update 05/8/20   Information Here

COVID-19 financial strain? Here are resources in 50 states Federal and state services include monetary and food assistance, unemployment benefits, and more. The National Retail Federation also has over 70 corporations looking for workers.

COVID-19 online resources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Basic information.

Indian Health Service

National Congress of American Indians

National Indian Health Board

Category: Culture, Social

Gallup NM On Strict Lockdown!

“The lockdown in Gallup N.M. on the edge of the country’s largest Indian reservation… All the roads into this city on the edge of the Navajo Nation are closed. The soldiers at the checkpoints have their orders: outsiders must turn around and drive away.” S. Romero, The New York Times

A roadblock at one of the entrances to Gallup, N.M. Credit…A. Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

 

Excerpt: New Mexico Invokes Riot Law to Control Virus Near Navajo Nation

“Cities across the country have closed down businesses and ordered residents to remain at home, but the threat of the coronavirus in Gallup became so serious last week that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham invoked the state’s Riot Control Act to lock down the entire city. The downtown of shops, bars and Indian trading posts is now nearly deserted.

On Sunday, the downtown of shops, bars and Indian trading posts was nearly deserted. Credit…A. Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

The lockdown comes as state and local authorities grapple with one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the United States on the nearby Navajo Nation, the country’s largest Indian reservation, and a surge in detected cases in places near the reservation.

As of Sunday, the Navajo Nation had reported a total of 2,373 cases and 73 confirmed deaths from the virus. With a rate of 46 deaths per 100,000 people, the tribal nation has a higher coronavirus death rate than every state in the country except New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

While Gallup is not within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation, the city of 22,000 serves as a regional hub for the Navajo and other nearby Native American pueblos. Many citizens of various tribal nations regularly drive into Gallup to buy food and other goods.

The refusal to follow social distancing guidelines by some residents of Gallup and other so-called border towns near the reservation has emerged as a source of tension, as tribal authorities say the behavior is undermining their attempts to control the virus.

The Gallup area had the third-highest rate of infection of any metropolitan area in the United States as of Sunday…McKinley County, which includes Gallup, now accounts for about 30 percent of all confirmed coronavirus cases in New Mexico, surpassing counties in the state with much larger populations.

In addition to shutting down all roads into Gallup, including the exits off the interstate highway, the lockdown order directs the essential businesses that are still operating to close from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Nonessential businesses remain entirely closed in Gallup, as they are in other parts of New Mexico.

A nearly empty intersection in Gallup. Credit…A. Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

The order also prohibits residents from leaving their homes except for emergency or essential outings, and allows only two people in vehicles at a time.

Soldiers from the New Mexico National Guard were stationed at some of the checkpoints into Gallup on Sunday. Dusty Francisco, a spokesman for the New Mexico State Police, said the agency had sent 32 officers to assist.

Mayor Louis Bonaguidi, who requested the lockdown, said he understood that the ask was unusual. ‘However, the Covid-19 outbreak in the city of Gallup is a crisis of the highest order,’ Mr. Bonaguidi said. ‘Immediate action is necessary.’

Mr. Bonaguidi on Sunday requested an extension of the lockdown and the governor said she would sign an order on Monday extending the measure until Thursday at noon…Before the lockdown, tribal leaders complained that their attempts to curb infections on the reservation by setting curfews and creating checkpoints were being undermined when Navajo citizens ventured into Gallup. Residents of Gallup also groused that many people were ignoring social distancing guidelines by crowding into vehicles and food stores.

The riot control law invoked by the governor allows police to issue misdemeanor citations for first-time violators. Repeat offenders could face felony charges…Native Americans account for 53 percent of New Mexico’s confirmed coronavirus cases, while making up about 11 percent of the state’s population. Epidemiologists list several contributing factors, including multiple generations living in single households on reservations and a shortage of running water, making basic hygiene difficult…The fight to curb the spread of the virus in Gallup comes at a time of anger over the Trump administration’s failure to distribute the billions of dollars in coronavirus relief allocated to tribes in the $2.2 trillion stimulus package.

Tribes including the Navajo Nation are suing the Treasury Department over its decision to allow for-profit native corporations in Alaska, in which Native Alaskans hold shares, to access the federal relief…Jonathan Nez, president of the Navajo Nation, said he fully supported the lockdown order. ‘We have many members of the Navajo Nation that reside in Gallup and many that travel in the area and their health and safety is always our top priority,’ said Mr. Nez.”

The Haida Nation Forbids Visitors During COVID-19

“The Haida Nation put up roadblocks and is turning back visitors seeking to enter its communities off British Columbia. Members held a rally this week to reinforce the message.” J. Estus, ICT

Some of the crowd on the road near the roadblock. Photo by Mary Helmer

Excerpt: Island tribal nation rallies behind travel restrictions, By Joaqlin Estus, ICT

Tribal members on a cluster of islands off British Columbia are stepping up efforts to keep out visitors after the province declared sports hunting and fishing essential activities.

The Haida Nation, one of several Pacific Northwest tribes whose rainy, forested homelands extend from Oregon to southeast Alaska, put up roadblocks about a month ago and has been turning back nonresidents traveling by ferry to Haida Gwaii, or the ‘Island of the People.’

On Monday, dozens of tribal members turned out for a rally at the roadblocks to reinforce the tribe’s stance.

‘We want to send a stronger message to the outside world that we’re just not welcoming visitors at this point,’ said Billy Yovanovich, chief councillor of the Skidegate Band Council. Haida Gwaii has had no confirmed positive cases of COVID-19.

The Haida Nation’s position puts it at odds with the British Columbia provincial government, which last week designated sports hunters and fishermen as essential food and agriculture service providers — opening the door for them to travel to Haida Gwaii by ferry. Airlines have halted air service to Haida Gwai until May.

The province’s chief medical officer has reminded British Columbians that the ‘Haida Nation and other first indigenous nations have our own jurisdiction and our own governance,’ Haida Nation President Gaagwiis Jason Alsop said. ‘And you know, in situations like this … we can turn people away to protect our own people.’

Normally this time of year, visitors would begin arriving to travel to area lodges for sports hunting and fishing, to visit national parks, and to go sightseeing in Skidegate and Old Massett, the two villages on Graham, the largest island in the Haida Gwaii archipelago…’There’s been a couple of them [epidemics] in the past. And that’s how all the Haida people ended up getting in Skidegate and Old Massett. Smallcox came here and just about wiped out all of our people.’  He also noted the island has only two ventilators and no medical expertise or equipment to provide appropriate care to patients seriously ill with COVID-19…’Once all this changes, it [COVID-19] goes away, things are back to whatever normal looks like, we would welcome people back again.’ Alsop said. ‘But at this point, the direction is ‘stay at home.’ I absolutely want people not to come visit at this time.’

No outsiders arrived on the ferry Monday, but a few have in the past few weeks, Alsop said. They were told to shelter in place in their vehicles in the parking lot and to take the next ferry home.”

Resource Sites for the COVID-19:

INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY:

COVID-19 Tracker in the United States: Story summaries, lists of closures, resources. Last update  5/1/20   Information Here

COVID-19 financial strain? Here are resources in 50 states

If you are interested in Indian Country Today’s continued coverage of COVID-19, please feel free to access our continually updated Coronavirus syllabus.

(See related: Indian Country’s COVID-19 syllabus)

If you are working from home and the process is an unfamiliar one, see last week’s #NativeNerd column on the topic.

(See related: #NativeNerd: Best practices for working virtually due to COVID-19)

What services are available?

Though some individuals might be aware of services offered by their prospective tribes and states, others finding themself in an unfamiliar situation may not be aware they qualify for several benefits offered by human/social services and unemployment services.

It is worth noting that the majority of social services websites in each state now have a COVID-19 warning on their landing pages, warning people not to come to social and human services locations in person. With this in mind, these services should be completed online only. Some states have — in addition to their online applications — telephone numbers applicants can call to have a representative that can fill out the application for you over the phone.

Such benefits include, but are not limited to:

• Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – Formerly known as food stamps

• Food banks

• The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)

• Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)

• Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

• Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

• Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

• Medicaid

• Childcare assistance

• Housing assistance

• Programs for persons with disabilities, or are homeless, seniors, veterans and/or in the military

• Unemployment compensation

Where to begin?

After extensive research, the most comprehensive and user-friendly website for finding assistance from a multitude of programs is arguably Benefits.gov.

“COVID Throws Rodeo Season for a Loop”

“In his 40-plus years of rodeoing, Alvin Smith [president of the Navajo Nation Rodeo Association] has not experienced anything like this…the rodeo circuits in the area have dealt with things like tuberculosis and Hantavirus in the past but nothing of this magnitude as all public events are bowing down to the stringent measures in place to help contain the highly contagious disease.” Q. Jodie, Navajo Times

Navajo Fair and Rodeo-Crownpoint NM 2019

Excerpt: Riding it out… By Quentin Jodie, Navajo Times

“This virus has hit everyone hard and it’s nobody’s fault,” Smith said in an interview with the Navajo Times on Monday. I’ve talked to (stock contractor) Charley Willie the other day and we’ve never seen anything like this.’ As of press time, the novel coronavirus has affected more than 189,000 people in the United States, including 174 positive cases on the Navajo Nation. ‘We don’t know what’s going to happen,’ Smith said

Team ropers Edward Hawley and Myles John captured the world title at last year’s Indian National Finals Rodeo. The current season is put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Locally, he said the pandemic is affecting contestants, stock contractors and rodeo committees in a huge way as the NNRA had to cancel or postpone five rodeos for the month of March and April. Smith said he’s afraid that a handful of contestants are going to have a tough time making ends meet with rodeo being one of a few means of generating an income for their respective households.

‘They’re kind of freaking out,’ he said, while adding that the local stock contractors are also hurting.

With no income coming in, Smith said the stock contractors are taking a hit when they have to purchase hay and feed as their animals are sitting idly.

‘That’s their bread and butter,’ he said. ‘It’s hurtful for everyone.’

As for the rodeo committees, Smith said some of their sponsors are starting to back out.

To help the best way he can Smith said he’s sending out prayers and he’s asking the NNRA members to be vigilant and obey the shelter-in-place orders placed by Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez.

‘The best thing we can do it wait this out,’ he said.

Of the five rodeos that were scheduled, Smith said at least two would be postponed. Unfortunately, the association will lose a pair of INFR Tour Rodeos that were scheduled in Socorro, New Mexico this weekend and Page, Arizona next weekend. ‘We had proposed to have these two tour rodeos on back-to-back weekends but we lost both of them,” the NNRA president said. “Those two rodeos were a huge deal for us… Smith said he’s not sure when the association will put together a tour rodeo but he’s open to host the event as late as September and, perhaps, coinciding with the Navajo Nation Fair at a different site near Window Rock… Smith said there are other options on the table and he’s looking forward to discussing them with his board members…But with tribal restrictions in place on public gatherings, Smith said he had to cancel a meeting last week.

He’s hoping to reschedule another one during the week of Apr. 20. ‘We’ll see what happens because everything is in limbo right now,’ he said, adding that there is no timetable on when they’ll host their first rodeo this season.”

For Rodeo Schedule Updates Visit NNRA

Class of 2019 Indian National Finals Rodeo World Champions

Other News:

WASHINGTON — The National Indian Health Board this week launched a new website with “tribally specific” Coronavirus-related developments, tools and information:  nihb.org/covid-19/

The new COVID-19 Tribal Resource Center site targets tribal leaders, tribal health workers and administrators, tribal community members and advocates for tribal health policy. The site has six main areas of information: 

Updates and Communications from NIHB and federal agencies; 

Community Health Tools section has fact sheets on vulnerable populations like elders and people with compromised immune systems;

Advocacy Tools has legislative alerts, letters to Congress and summaries on the COVID-19 relief funding packages; 

Tribal Response Plans shares Tribe-specific resources; 

Administration and Agency Responses has guidance and waivers from federal agencies; 

Upcoming calls and webinars.

“Tribes told the National Indian Health Board that they needed more resource materials on Coronavirus and we listened,” said NIHB CEO Stacy A. Bohlen. “The NIHB COVID-19 Tribal Resource Center website is the place for Tribes and Tribal health authorities to gather resources to help educate and protect Native youth, elders and families.

Good News Story: Navajo Nation Reaches Out to Elders

‘It warms the heart’: Navajo mount grassroots effort to tackle coronavirus

Navajos volunteer to care for elders and vulnerable people on the tribe’s vast territory. By N. Lakhani, The Guardian

Category: Culture, Social, sports | Tags:

Native and Homeless During the Coronavirus

“American Indians and Alaska Natives clustered in camps or on the streets; ‘It’s been a crazy time’J. Estus, Indian Country Today

As many as 4,000 of Anchorage’s 300,000 residents don’t have permanent housing. Photograph- Ash Adams:The Guardian

 

Excerpt: Homeless. Vulnerable. And no option for ‘self isolation’ By Joaqlin Estus, Indian Country Today

“Every major city has a virtual suburb for the homeless. Homes consisting of tents, scrap wood, shopping baskets and cardboard boxes. In shelters, a family dwelling might have a common kitchen and bedrooms with bunk beds. Others may have a large room filled with dozens of bunk beds or canvas cots. Some have dozens of rubber-coated thick pads placed a foot apart in rows laid across a concrete floor.

Chronic diseases are higher than normal in the best of times. The ideal terrain for a virus, such as COVID-19, to take hold and spread…Seattle has been the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. There have been 1,187 COVID-19 cases and 66 deaths in Washington as of March 19. (New York City has more cases, 4,000, but fewer deaths, 22).

‘It’s been a crazy time,’ said Abigail Echo-Hawk, Pawnee, chief research officer at the Seattle Indian Health Board. ‘I’m just trying to put out as many resources as I possibly can and serve my community to the best of my abilities. I’m just grateful to all my ancestors that came before me, who have taught us how to be strong, resilient people.’

The Seattle Indian Health Board offers medical, dental, and behavioral services as well as elders and youth services. It provides resources to prevent homelessness. It also runs the Urban Indian Health Institute, one of 12 tribal epidemiology centers in the nation. In King County, where Seattle is located, American Indians and Alaska Natives are seven times more likely to be homeless than whites…She said the Seattle Indian health board is working to live up to CDC guidelines that, for now, are beyond its reach. ‘If we shut down our programs [involving more than ten people], our elders have nowhere to go for shelter and they have nowhere to go for their meals, which we provide. So from that harm reduction approach, we are making sure that there is distance between them of six feet.’

Echo-Hawk noted although the largest outbreak was in an affluent suburb, the first quarantine and isolation facility opened in one of Seattle’s lowest income neighborhoods. She said, in the interests of equity and social justice ‘we have to ensure that all of the risk is not just taken by low income communities.

We have to recognize it is now the time for the community as a whole to come together and to support one another.’

Tuesday evening at a press conference, municipal manager Bill Falsey said, ‘The sheltering capacity for homeless individuals in Anchorage was a challenge before COVID-19. The new issue is that our homeless community includes many individuals with underlying health conditions.

An outbreak of COVID-19 in a homeless shelter could be particularly severe. That would be terrible for the residents, but it also potentially affects everyone.”

Resource Sites for the COVID-19:

INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY:

COVID-19 Tracker in the United States: Story summaries, lists of closures, resources. Last update 03/26/20 at 3 pm.  Information Here

COVID-19 financial strain? Here are resources in 50 states Federal and state services include monetary and food assistance, unemployment benefits, and more. The National Retail Federation also has over 70 corporations looking for workers.

COVID-19 online resources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Basic information.

Indian Health Service

National Congress of American Indians

National Indian Health Board

 Online Teaching  Activities Sites with Free Materials for Teachers, Students and Parents

STEM Teaching Guide

“Learning Packets” for students During School Closures By Larry Ferlazzo:It seems like a fair number of districts don’t have any kind of learning plan in place for their students right now. Some districts, however, even if they don’t have a full-fledged remote learning program going on, are creating “learning packets” for students to complete. It’s not great, obviously, but it seems like it’s better than nothing and can help out parents.” For more information visit

Home With Your Kids? Writers Want to Help” –  The New York Times Mo Willems, Gene Luen Yang, Amie Kaufman and other authors for young readers are reading their work online and offering drawing tutorials, to help fill our strange new hours. For more information visit

The STEM Sprouts Teaching Guide – Boston Children’s Museum & WGBH Welcome! Are you ready for some fun?

The STEM Sprouts Teaching Kit is the product of a collaborationbetween National Grid, Boston Children’s Museum, and WGBH. The goal of this curriculum is to assist preschool educators in focusing and refiningthe naturally inquisitive behaviors of three to five-year-olds on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). For more information visit here

Be Smart, Be Careful, Be Safe!