Category Archives: Health

Tribal Nations Still Caring for Buffalos and the Land

“The Rosebud Sioux nation in South Dakota aims to build the largest Indigenous owned herd to help food security and restore the land.” M. Krupnick, The Guardian, Feb 20, 2022

The Wolakota Buffalo Range in South Dakota has swelled to 750 bison with a goal of reaching 1,200. Photograph- Matt Krupnick

Excerpt: Matt Krupnick, The Guardian, Feb 20, 2022

“A trio of bison has gathered around a fourth animal’s carcass, and Jimmy Doyle is worried. ‘I really hope we’re not on the brink of some disease outbreak,’ said Doyle, who manages the Wolakota Buffalo Range here in a remote corner of south-western South Dakota in one of the country’s poorest counties. The living bison sidle away as Doyle inspects the carcass, which is little more than skin and bones after coyotes have scavenged it. ‘If you don’t catch them immediately after they’ve died, it’s pretty hard to say what happened,’ he said.

So far, at least, the Wolakota herd has avoided outbreaks as it pursues its aim of becoming the largest Indigenous American-owned bison herd. In the two years since the Rosebud Sioux tribe started collecting the animals on the 28,000-acre range in the South Dakota hills, the herd has swelled to 750 bison.

The tribe plans to reach its goal of 1,200 within the year…With their eyes on solving food shortages and financial shortfalls, restoring ecosystems and bringing back an important cultural component, dozens of Indigenous tribes have been restoring bison herds. Tribes manage at least 55 herds across 19 states,  said Troy Heinert, executive director of the InterTribal Buffalo Council.

The pandemic, which has hit tribes particularly hard, added to the urgency of bison restoration, said Heinert, who is also the minority leader in the South Dakota state senate. The first animal harvested by Wolakota helped feed homeless residents of the Rosebud Sioux reservation…Although the words are used interchangeably, bison and buffalo are different animals. Bison – named the US’s national mammal in 2016 – are found in North America and Europe, while buffalo are native to Asia and Africa.

‘I used to be a stickler for calling them bison, but I’ve heard them called buffalo a lot around here,’ said Doyle, who is also a wildlife biologist. ‘I feel like it rolls off the tongue more easily, and it’s just fun to say.’

‘For Indian tribes, the restoration of buffalo to tribal lands signifies much more than simply conservation of the national mammal,’ said Ervin Carlson, president of the InterTribal Buffalo Council, at a House hearing last year. “Tribes enter buffalo restoration efforts to counteract the near extinction of buffalo that was analogous to the tragic history of American Indians in this country.’

While food security is most often cited as the reason for the recent interest in bison, tribes also hope that returning bison to the land will restore ecological balance. At Wolakota, for instance, bison have been eating the yucca plants that became plentiful after native grasses disappeared, tearing them up by the roots and allowing grasses to return. The grass regeneration increases carbon capture.”

Click here to see the tribes of the Intertribal Buffalo Council

Navajo Nation Begins Sending Hardship Checks to Elders

“The president’s office announced on Tuesday that the Navajo Nation controller began printing the first batch of American Rescue Plan Act Hardship Assistance checks in the amount of $2,000 for elders, ages 60 years and above, who previously received CARES Act Hardship Assistance.” R. Krisst, Navajo Times, Feb 18, 2022

Two Navajo elders wear face masks to protect them from COVID-19-photo-grandriver:getty images

Excerpt: Hardship for Elders: Processing of elders Hardship checks underway By Rima Krisst, Navajo Times, Feb 18, 2022

“The president’s office said that the goal is to have the ARPA Hardship Assistance checks in the mail by the end of February for previous CARES Act Hardship recipients, with the exception of new applicants and individuals that have outstanding issues such as changes to their mailing address. “The office will continue processing checks as quickly as possible and will work weekends, once again, to expedite the relief checks,” the president’s office said.

Navajo Elders. Photo- Althea John:Navajo Times

The controller’s office has hired temporary staff to help with the processing of the ARPA Hardship Assistance payments…In January, Nez signed the Navajo Nation Council resolution into law, which approved $557 million for the ARPA Hardship Assistance to provide payments to Navajo citizens to help mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. he funding provides $2,000 for adults 18 years and older on or before Jan. 4, 2022, and $600 for children who are enrolled in the Navajo Tribe.”

For Information: 928-871-6386 or https://www.novri.navajo-nsn.gov

 

Navajo Nation Approves Hardship Payments for Tribal Members in 2022!

Excerpt: ‘The Peoples’ money’: Hardship payments of $2,000 per adult, $600 for children OK’d, By Rima Krisst and Krista Allen, The Navajo Times, Jan 6, 2022

“Checks ranging from $600 to $2,000 will land in mailboxes of Diné citizens – soon. Surrounded by division directors inside the president’s office, President Jonathan Nez signed the Navajo Nation Council resolution (CD-62-21), which approves $557 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for Hardship Assistance to about 250,000 Diné citizens.

Navajo Pres Nez and VP Lizer approving $557 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for hardship assistance, Navajo Times | Krista Allen

T’áá Dinék’ehjígo, Nez said, ‘The Nation received over $2 billion from the U.S. Treasury. We’ve allocated $557 million for Hardship Assistance, for our people.’Nez added the payment checks would help families who are struggling, among other things.

‘Use this money wisely, please, my relatives,’ he said. ‘Buy things you need on our Nation. Yes, we have some of our people who are living off of the Nation and they cannot return home. Please, put some money away for later use. We are still amid a pandemic. Please prepare for possible infection.’

Delegates who played major roles in the passage of the resolution are, left to right, Nathaniel Brown, Eugenia Charles-Newton and Amber Kanazbah. Navajo Times

Nez said there will be some remaining funds of the $2.1 billion, and that will go toward other needs of the Nation such as broadband, water and wastewater projects, and powerlines…Dá’deest?’in Hótsaa Delegate Paul Begay applauded Nez for signing the resolution that the 24-member Council pushed for their constituents.

‘The Hardship Assistance belongs to the people,’ Begay said in an interview with the Times. ‘They (the Diné) wanted it. We’re in the middle of the winter. They need funds right now to make it through the winter season.’

Begay added that he knows many Diné families across Diné Bikéyah need food and water to survive the below zero temperatures. He is encouraging people to put some of their funds away for a rainy day…So, when are people receiving checks?

Jared Touchin, spokesman for the president’s office, said there will be a townhall tomorrow evening to provide more information about the Hardship Assistance, including the process, timeline, and questions will be answered.”

Climate Change Hits Native Americans Harder than other Americans

“Many Native people were forced into the most undesirable areas of America, first by white settlers, then by the government. Now, parts of that marginal land are becoming uninhabitable.” C. Flavelle, The New York Times, June 27, 2021

Chefornak’s preschool sits on stilts in thawing permafrost. At high tide, water reaches the building, which needs to be moved to safer land.Credit…Ash Adams for The New York Times

Excerpt:Dispossessed, Again: Climate Change Hits Native Americans Especially Hard, By Christopher Flavelle, The New York Times, June 27, 2021

“In Chefornak, a Yu’pik village near the western coast of Alaska, the water is getting closer. The thick ground, once frozen solid, is thawing. The village preschool, its blue paint peeling, sits precariously on wooden stilts in spongy marsh between a river and a creek. Storms are growing stronger. At high tide these days, water rises under the building, sometimes keeping out the children, ages 3 to 5. The shifting ground has warped the floor, making it hard to close the doors. Mold grows.

‘I love our building,’ said Eliza Tunuchuk, one of the teachers. ‘At the same time, I want to move.’ The village, where the median income is about $11,000 a year, sought help from the federal government to build a new school on dry land — one of dozens of buildings in Chefornak that must be relocated. But agency after agency offered variations on the same response: no.

From Alaska to Florida, Native Americans are facing severe climate challenges, the newest threat in a history marked by centuries of distress and dislocation. While other communities struggle on a warming planet, Native tribes are experiencing an environmental peril exacerbated by policies — first imposed by white settlers and later the United States government — that forced them onto the country’s least desirable lands.

A home that collapsed into the eroding coast. Credit- Ash Adams NYT

And now, climate change is quickly making that marginal land uninhabitable. And now, climate change is quickly making that marginal land uninhabitable. The first Americans face the loss of home once again.

A totem pole in Taholah, Wash., that was carved to commemorate the 2013 Tribal Canoe Journey, an annual event for Pacific Northwest tribes.Credit…Josué Rivas for The New York Times

In the Pacific Northwest, coastal erosion and storms are eating away at tribal land, forcing native communities to try to move inland. In the Southwest, severe drought means Navajo Nation is running out of drinking water… Many tribes have been working to meet the challenges posed by the changing climate. And they have expressed hope that their concerns would be addressed by President Biden, who has committed to repairing the relationship with tribal nations…FEMA said it is committed to improving tribal access to its programs.

Taholah is exposed to storms and flooding but the tribe has struggled to get enough federal help to relocate.Credit…Josué Rivas for The New York Times

Chefornak’s efforts to relocate its preschool illustrate the current difficulties of dealing with the federal government.

While FEMA offers grants to cope with climate hazards, replacing the school wasn’t an eligible expense, according to Max Neale, a senior program manager at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, who helped Chefornak search for federal aid.

Damian Cabman, a member of the Navajo tribe, filled buckets of water to take home at the Bataan water loading station in Gallup, N.M. Kalen Goodluck:NYT

Twice a week, Vivienne Beyal climbs into her GMC Sierra in Window Rock, a northern Arizona town that is the capital of Navajo Nation, and drives 45 minutes across the border into New Mexico. When she reaches the outskirts of Gallup, she joins something most Americans have never seen: a line for water… The facility, which is run by the city of Gallup, works like an air pump at a gas station: Each quarter fed into the coin slot buys 17 gallons of water. Most of the people in line with Ms. Beyal are also Navajo residents, crossing into New Mexico for drinking water…But unlike nearby communities like Gallup and Flagstaff, Navajo Nation lacks an adequate municipal water supply. About one-third of the tribe lives without running water…The drought is also changing the landscape. Reptiles and other animals are disappearing with the water, migrating to higher ground. And as vegetation dies, cattle and sheep have less to eat. Sand dunes once anchored by the plants become unmoored — cutting off roads, smothering junipers and even threatening to bury houses…As a presidential candidate last year, Mr. Biden highlighted the connection between global warming and Native Americans, saying that climate change poses a particular threat to Indigenous people…[President Biden] appointed Deb Haaland, the first Indigenous cabinet secretary, to run the Interior Department…Ms. Haaland’s role as interior secretary gives her vast authority over tribal nations. But the department declined to talk about plans to protect tribal nations from climate change…Instead, her agency provided a list of programs that already exist, including grants that started during the Obama administration… In Northern California, wildfires threaten burial sites and other sacred places. In Alaska, rising temperatures make it harder to engage in traditions like subsistence hunting and fishing.”

 

Fighting for Justice for the Two Spirit Indigenous Community in Pine Ridge

“When Monique Mousseau was in the fourth grade she got expelled from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic school on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota. Her classmates didn’t like the beaded moccasins her grandmother made for her and the two braids she sported, which were held together by hand-beaded hair ties.” S. R. Clahchischiligi, The Guardian, April 14, 2021

Monique ‘Muffie’ Mousseau and her wife Felipa De Leon in their kitchen. Photo- M. Wosinska The Guardian

Excerpt: By Sunnie R Clahchischiligi, The Guardian, April 14, 2021

‘I fought back,’ she says. Little did she know that would be the start of a long journey of fighting for justice for the Two Spirit Indigenous community, a term used to identify the LGBTQ community throughout Indian Country.

Mousseau, 52, and her wife, Felipa De Leon, 51, also from the Pine Ridge Indian reservation, have dedicated their lives to fighting for equal rights for Two Spirit Indigenous peoples locally and nationally…Candi Brings Plenty is another vocal advocate of the Two-Spirit community. She spent February pushing for South Dakota’s hate crime protection bill to include Native American Two Spirit people, with the Native American nation recognizing them as a culturally and spiritually distinct gender. The bill was passed with those protections made.

Two friends rest their heads against one another on a cold October evening at a basketball course. Photo- M. Wosinska

Although Two Spirit people once existed harmoniously on the Pine Ridge reservation, colonizers divided them, she says. ‘Our sacred circles were broke, and the infrastructure in our families,’says Brings Plenty.

Nicole Big Crow, left, stands with her girlfriend, Ashley Colhoff, on a field on the reservation. Photo- M. Wosinska

’The Two-Spirit people have always held their roles. Two-Spirit people, just like our Indigenous land, belong to our ancestors,’ she says.

The entrance to a part of the cemetery of Wounded Knee. Photo- M. Wosinska

Most of what the community knows about Two Spirit people is from oral stories. Mosseau feels fortunate to have grown upin a traditional home that valued ceremony, including ceremonies honoring transsexual people who often prepared the food for ceremonies and dressed in women’s attire.”

COVID-19 Vaccine and Financial Aid Sources

Indian Health Services (IHS) : COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution List

https://www.ihs.gov/coronavirus/

IHS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) https://www.ihs.gov/coronavirus/vaccine/

Apply for NCAI (National Congress of American Indians) Relief Funding https://www.ncai.org/Covid-19/Get-Involved/apply-for-ncai-funding

CDC (Center for Disease and Control): COVID Data Tracker https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccinations

Navajo Nation Reopens 2 casinos–with Safety Measures in Place

Two casinos on the Navajo Nation will reopen this week as the tribe eases its restrictions on businesses amid a downturn in coronavirus cases and high rates of vaccination. All employees must test negative for COVID-19 before they return to work and be retested at least every two weeks.” F. Fonseca, ICT, March 17, 2021

Navajo Fire Rock Casino in Gallup, NM

 

Excerpt: By Felicia Fonseca, ICT, March 17, 2021

“The Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise has four casinos but will open only two Friday and limit patrons to those who live on the vast reservation that stretches into New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.

Robert Peterson from Thoreau said Friday he’s happy Fire Rock Casino has reopened. Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero

The enterprise will keep Fire Rock east of Gallup, New Mexico, and Northern Edge in Farmington, New Mexico, open for two weeks before determining whether to reopen two other casinos — one in northwestern New Mexico and the other east of Flagstaff.

‘What it’s intended to do is demonstrate that all our safety protocols, which we know are very, very comprehensive, are in place, the program is going to work and keep everyone safe, and then we can open it to a broader audience later,’ Brian Parrish, the enterprise’s interim chief executive, said Wednesday.

Northern Edge Navajo Casino, Framingham NM (Times photo- Cindy Yurth)

The casinos will operate at 25 percent capacity with no food or drink services and only within the time allowed by the tribe’s nightly curfew.

Service lights on the slot machines will let customers request that the machines be sanitized.

Smoking will be allowed only in designated outdoor areas. Social distancing will be enforced throughout the properties.

The casinos also are setting aside a couple of hours on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings for elderly patrons.

Customers must wear masks, get their temperatures checked and provide contact information if they needed to be reached later.

Handheld devices will be used to swipe driver’s licenses to ensure customers live on the reservation, Parrish said…The tribe is planning a virtual day of prayer Friday to remember those who have died and been infected by the virus.”

 

COVID-19 RESOURCES FOR NATIVE AMERICANS

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act

https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/public_indian_housing/ih/Covid_Recovery

Apply for NCAI Relief Funding 

https://www.ncai.org/Covid-19/Get-Involved/apply-for-ncai-funding

Center for Disease and Control (CDC): COVID Data Tracker: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccinations

Indian Health Services (IHS): COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution List https://www.ihs.gov/coronavirus/vaccine/distribution/

Indian Health Services (IHS): Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding the COVID-19 Vaccine: https://www.ihs.gov/coronavirus/vaccine/

NCAI’s COVID-19 Response Fund (Donate) With the generous support of our donors, NCAI is providing financial relief support to tribal nations affected by COVID-19 through NCAI’s COVID-19 Response Fund for Indian Country.

 

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