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Shinnecock Indian Nation’s Contested Electronic Billboard Now Helping Spread COVID-19 Quarantine Information

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The Shinnecock Nation’s billboard, once controversial to township officials, is now serving a vital public service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy photograph provided by Shinnecock Nation

Published March 28, 2020

SHINNECOCK NATION — Irony has its place in tribal nations holding on to their sovereignty rights.

Located some 90 miles outside of Manhattan, the Shinnecock Indian Nation serves as a gateway to the Hamptons, where the tribal nation’s neighbors live in posh mansions for the rich and famous. Last year, the Shinnecock Nation, through a joint venture with a billboard company, built a 61-feet electronic digital billboard on a right-of-way along Sunrise Highway on Long Island as a means to help build its tribal economy through advertising revenue.

At the time the billboard was erected, the Shinnecock Indian Nation faced strong resistance from the adjacent town of Southampton, which served the tribal nation with a cease-and-desist order. The town said the Nation began building the billboard without the proper local permits. As a federally recognized tribe, the Shinnecock Nation maintained because it is a sovereign nation, it did not need to even apply for local permits.

The Shinnecock Indian Nation kept building the billboard. Soon the State of New York Dept. of Transportation sought to stop the billboards from being built.

Shinnecock Indian Nation Vice Chairman Lance Gumbs – Native News Online photo

Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman opposed the billboard vigorously, according to Shinnecock Vice Chairman Lance Gumbs.  

“He is the one that pushed the state to act on our sign,” Gumbs said. “The New York Department of Transportation sued us on those bogus charges of no permits and the sign being a safety hazard.”

The State Department of Transportation and the State of New York brought a lawsuit against all seven members of the Shinnecock Indian Nation tribal council.

Still, the Shinnecock Indian Nation persisted and kept building the billboard. The state lawsuit is pending.  The billboard is operational.

Suddenly, the COVID-19 pandemic hits and it is the largest threat to public health in modern times, particularly New York, which has become the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. Last night, NPR reported there were 53, 339 cases and 827 deaths in the state of New York.

Last week, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Scheiderman contacted Shinnecock Nation tribal officials to see if they would be willing to post some messages about the efforts to stop the spread of the deadly virus. He knew travelers would be passing through from Manhattan and other parts of the East Coast to find shelter in their summer homes during the in-home quarantine period.

“We thought we would turn to the billboard to help get important public health messages out, so we reached out to the tribe,” Scheiderman told Native News Online. “We wanted them to post messages such as, ‘Stay Safe – Stay Home;’ ‘Hotline 311;’ and the federal advisory that ‘recommended 14-day in-home quarantine.’”

In response to Scheiderman’s request, the Shinnecock Indian Nation said it was more than willing to assist get the important messages out to the public.  So it lit up the contested billboard with health and safety messages.  

“We had always envisioned the signs to be used as a public service announcement tool in times of emergency situations like this. The Town came to us and asked if we could put the COVID-19 information and warning PSAs up,” Gumbs said.

Schneiderman, who opposed the billboard last year, now says he would be willing to be part of negotiations that helps to end the lawsuit.

“We will be discussing the lawsuit with the state and town when this is done.” Gumbs told Native News Online late Friday night.

Earlier on Friday, Schneiderman sent a letter co-signed by three members of the Shinnecock Indian Nation Tribal Council to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, asking him to restrict nonessential travel to the Hamptons.

The post Shinnecock Indian Nation’s Contested Electronic Billboard Now Helping Spread COVID-19 Quarantine Information appeared first on Native News Online.



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AIGCS Seeks Aid to Support Native Students Challenged by COVID-19 crisis

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The American Indian Graduate Center has created a emergency funds to help students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

For 50 years, the American Indian Graduate Center has been delivering much-needed financial support to American Indians and Alaska Natives seeking higher education. Because of them, so many Native students have attained undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees.

Now, during this COVID-19 international crisis, the center is asking for additional donations. In a recent press release, AIGCS stated its raising funds for students dealing with varying degrees of turmoil.

Here is AIGCS’s message in full:

Thanks to your generous donations, American Indian Graduate Center’s Emergency Fund has supported six students faced with challenges presented by COVID-19. To date our team has helped students from Alaska to Oklahoma with issues ranging from covering rent and travel costs to providing basic necessities for immunocompromised students. But our work is not done. 

Our initial donations have been allocated and there are more students who still need our support. They face emergency evacuations, travel bans and providing for their basic needs without a steady income. We are committed to working with each student to ensure they are in a safe and healthy environment, but we need your help to make this a reality. Every dollar you donate to this fund will be utilized directly for student support and relief.

Donate today to support students impacted by COVID-19.

The post AIGCS Seeks Aid to Support Native Students Challenged by COVID-19 crisis appeared first on Native News Online.



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COVID-19 Navajo Naton Update: 115 Comfirmed Cases; 2 Deaths

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Signs on Navajo Nation provide public service announcments about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Published March 29, 2020

Navajo Nation President Nez to host online town hall on Sunday at 1 p.m. (MDT)

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Late Saturday night, the Navajo Nation provided in update of the number of positive tests for COVID-19, commonly called the coronavirus. As of Saturday night, the total  reached a total of 115 for the Navajo Nation. The death toll remained the same as Friday night when it was annouced two deaths were caused the virus.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez

To continue his leadership to combat the deadly virus from further spreading on the Navajo Nation, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez will host an online town hall meeting on Sunday, March 29 at 1:00 p.m. (MDT) through Facebook and a local station on the Navajo reservation KTNN AM 660 to provide important updates on response efforts, number of cases, and supply needs.

Under the advisement of health care and emergency experts, President Nez will also announce the implementation of a curfew from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. daily for the entire Navajo Nation that will go into effect on Monday, March 30, 2020.

The 115 cases on the Navajo Nation include the following counties:

  • Navajo County, AZ: 57
  • Apache County, AZ: 18
  • Coconino County, AZ: 19
  • McKinley County, NM: 6
  • San Juan County, NM: 12
  • Cibola County, NM: 1
  • San Juan County, UT: 2

“We’ve reached a point where our medical facilities and health care workers are in dire need of more Personal Protective Equipment, hospital beds, and other critical resources and it’s only going to increase if people continue to ignore orders to stay home as much as possible,” said President Nez.

The Navajo Nation’s needs for personnel, protective wear, hospital beds, and other crucial resources and supplies at all health care facilities on the Navajo Nation continue to increase daily, according to the Navajo Nation press release.

For up to date information on impact the coronavirus pandemic is having in the United States and around the world go to: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/?fbclid=IwAR1vxfcHfMBnmTFm6hBICQcdbV5aRnMimeP3hVYHdlxJtFWdKF80VV8iHgE

For up-to-date information about COVID-19, Native News Online encourages you to go to Indian Health Service’s COVID-19 webpage and review CDC’s COVID-19 webpage. 

The post COVID-19 Navajo Naton Update: 115 Comfirmed Cases; 2 Deaths appeared first on Native News Online.



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Former Navajo Chapter Official Fighting for Life; Son Deceased

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Courtesy Photo
Jean DeJolie, center, poses for a family portrait. DeJolie, a former Naatsis’áán Chapter official and a longtime educator with a master’s degree, is currently fighting for her life in the ICU at Tuba City Regional Health Care. She and her son, Douglas, attended Navajo Mountain Alliance Church the day after members attended the March 7 Chilchinbeto Church of the Nazarene Zone Rally. Douglas died on March 26.

Published March 29, 2020

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the Navajo Times. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

NAATSIS’ÁÁN-RAINBOW CITY, Utah   A former Naatsis’áán Chapter official is fighting for her life at Tuba City Regional Health Care and her son passed on after attending church the day after their fellow church members returned from the Chilchinbeto Church of the Nazarene Zone Rally earlier this month that is suspected of spreading the COVID-19 virus in Western Agency.

Holly DeJolie said her mother, Jean Greymountain DeJolie, 81, is currently in the ICU at the hospital in Tónaneesdizí, where she was taken by ambulance on Thursday afternoon. Jean was quarantined with her son, Douglas DeJolie, 58, after they started seeing flulike symptoms two weeks ago. Douglas died yesterday, March 26, about 5:59 p.m.

“And they were taken from home,” Holly said in an emotional interview on Friday morning as the snow fell in northwestern Navajo. “Doctors took (COVID-19) testing (and) we’re waiting on the results.”

Courtesy photo
Douglas DeJolie

Douglas had a number of underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, a previous open-heart surgery and a solitary kidney – single kidney instead of two kidneys– which resulted in renal failure.

“And he was on dialysis,” said Holly, who’s in self-quarantine in Tóta’, New Mexico, where she went for work. Holly resides in Chandler, Arizona. “He just went through a lot of tough times. According to the doctor, his kidney (failed).

“And my mother was also diabetic and also had a lot of health problems. They (both) took the (COVID-19) test. The (physician) said he had symptoms of (coronavirus), and he had pneumonia. So, we’re waiting on the results on that.”

Holly received a call from both her mother and Douglas about two weeks ago. They both said they were in quarantine at Jean’s homestead in Naatsis’áán.

Left devasted and worried about their mother and their brother, Holly said she and her sisters called the Navajo Police Department requesting a welfare check on them in Naatsis’áán.

“But they never did,” she said. “We kept calling and calling. They never answered their phone.

“Finally, on Wednesday (March 25), I got ahold of my brother and he said they were sick. I told him to go in and get checked. He said, ‘We’re quarantined.’ Since they were out in Navajo Mountain, a remote area, they didn’t really have all this information. Somebody could have given them (Naatsis’áán residents) a phone number from the hospital … and told them what to do. Instead, they just told them to be quarantined.”

Holly said while her mother and her brother were in quarantined, they ran out of drinking water. Holly and her sisters tried to reach out to people who could help and deliver them some water. She came across a woman named Deidra who said she would deliver them some supplies.

“Yesterday morning (March 26) was the first time we were able to get ahold of –– my niece was there,” Holly said. “They weren’t answering the phone or anything. She said my brother wasn’t responding and my mom was –– they were just lying there, and she didn’t know what to do.”

Holly told her niece to call 911.

Holly said everything is hard and uncharted amid this coronavirus shutdown, which has disrupted life across Diné Bikéyah and across the globe.

“It just made it hard for us to get ahold of anybody and not knowing, this is the worst part,” Holly said as she wept. “But I am grateful to Tuba City hospital for keeping us informed and what was going on. My mom’s still there in the ICU. She’s doing good, she’s stable. It’s just ‘day to day,’ they said.”

Older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions, such as chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma, serious heart conditions, severe obesity, renal failure, liver disease, among others – may be at higher risk for more serious complications from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Holly emphasizes all people must stay home and keep handwashing.

“Take care of your elders, take care of your mom,” Holly said as she wept. “It’s just really hard. It’s all I can say: It’s just so hard.”

Jean attends Navajo Mountain Alliance Church. Holly said her mother and brother attended church Sunday, March 8.

“That’s where it started from,” Holly said. “And then (Douglas) went to Inscription House Health Clinic (about 35 miles south of here) because he said his chest was hurting. They told him to just self-quarantine and to notify family that they couldn’t be (at Jean’s homestead) and they couldn’t go down there. So, they had to put up a ‘quarantine’ sign up.”

Holly said her mother and brother also ran out of food during quarantine, while she and her sisters were coordinating getting supplies to them. Because Naatsis’áán is located in multiple counties, she and her sisters also tried to contact Utah Navajo Health System in Montezuma Creek, Utah, for assistance. UNHS never responded.

“My family and I, we’re in contact (through) FaceTime since we can’t see one another,” Holly added. “People (need) to stay indoors. Take care of your elders and stay safe. This virus is really dangerous. And as far as test results and everything, we’ll probably find out in a couple of days.”

The post Former Navajo Chapter Official Fighting for Life; Son Deceased appeared first on Native News Online.



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Mashpee Wampanoag Ordered to “Disestablish Reservation” by Dept. of Interior

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The Mashpee Wampanoags broke ground on the First Light Resort & Casino on September 4, 2018. The land now ordered out to be taken out of trust status.

Published March 28, 2020

TAUNTON, Mass. — In the midst of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on his tribe, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Chairman Cedric Cromwell says he was informed late Friday afternoon by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), on orders of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior David Bernhardt, that the tribe’s “reservation be disestablished.”

“At 4:00 pm today — on the very day that the United States has reached a record 100,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and our Tribe is desperately struggling with responding to this devastating pandemic — the Bureau of Indian Affairs informed me that the Secretary of the Interior has ordered that our reservation be disestablished and that our land be taken out of trust. Not since the termination era of the mid-twentieth century has a Secretary taken action to disestablish a reservation,” Cromwell writes in a statement that was posted online Friday evening.

The order would take the 321 acres of land that was put into trust during the Obama administration in September 2015 out of trust land status. The Obama decision was reversed by the Trump administration three years later in September 2018.

Since the September 2018 Interior ruling, the tribe has been involved in two separate lawsuits to resolve the issue. Late last month, the First Circuit Court in Boston ruled against the tribe in its battle to get land the tribe owns back in trust. Another case in Washington, D.C. federal court is still pending.

Mashpee Chairman Cedric Cromwell testfying on Tuesday, July 24, 2018

“The Secretary is under no court order to take our land out of trust. He is fully aware that litigation to uphold our status as a tribe eligible for the benefits of the Indian Reorganization Act is ongoing,” Cromwell said in his statement.

Cromwell further asked in his statement, “it begs the question, what is driving our federal trustee’s crusade against our reservation?”

In an email to the BIA, Native News Online requested a copy of the order by the Interior secretary and a comment. There was no response by press time.

A spokesperson for the DOI told the Boston NPR affiliate WBUR that the tribe remains federally recognized, and that there was a court decision mandating the department’s action. 

In the fall of 2015, the DOI issued a decision approving a trust acquisition for the Tribe, Conner Swanson, a Interior spokesperson, told WBUR. Subsequently, both a federal district court and a federal circuit court panel found there to be no statutory authority for this decision. The Tribe did not petition for a panel rehearing or a rehearing before a panel of judges.  

 “On March 19th, the court of appeals issued its mandate, which requires Interior to rescind its earlier decision. This decision does not affect the federal recognition status of the Tribe, only Interior’s statutory authority to accept the land in trust. Rescission of the decision will return ownership of the property to the Tribe,” Swanson told WBUR.  

This is a developing story. Native News Online will provide more information when it becomes available.

The post Mashpee Wampanoag Ordered to “Disestablish Reservation” by Dept. of Interior appeared first on Native News Online.



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Indian Country: What’s in the CARES Act

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The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, passed into law on March 26, includes more than $10 billion in set asides for Indian Country.

WASHINGTON — The passage yesterday of H.R. 748 — the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act — includes more than $10 billion in funding specifically for tribal nations and tribal-owned businesses. Additionally, tribes and tribal citizens, as well as Native-owned businesses will have access to some other funding that is part of the $2.2 trillion relief package.  

Here’s a rundown of what’s included in the new law, courtesy of the National Congress of American Indians

Economic Development and Employment

  • Provides $454 billion for loans, loan guarantees, and investments in support of the Federal Reserve’s lending facilities to eligible businesses, states, tribal nations, and municipalities
  • Provides an $8 billion set-aside for tribal nations from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to use for expenditures incurred due to the COVID-19 public health emergency
  • Makes Tribal Business Concerns eligible for the Small Business Act Section 7(a) program, which will provide 100 percent federal loan guarantees up to $10 million to cover costs like employee salaries, paid sick leave/medical leave, mortgages/rents, and employee health insurance premiums
  • Authorizes the federal government to provide a 50 percent reimbursement for the cost of unemployment compensation to tribal nations that are reimbursement-option employers
  • Makes tribal fishery participants eligible for assistance from the Department of Commerce, including direct relief payments

Tribal Governance and Housing / Community Development

  • $453 million for Indian Affairs Operation of Indian Programs until September 30, 2021
  • $300 million authorized through September 30, 2024 for Department of Housing and Urban Development Native American Programs
    • $200 million for the Indian Housing Block Grants (IHBG) formula
    • $100 million for Indian Community Development Block Grants (ICDBG)

Health, Education, and Nutrition

Health

  • $1.032 billion for Indian Health Services
    • Up to $65 million is for electronic health record stabilization and support
    • Not less than $450 million will be distributed through IHS directly operated programs and to tribal nations and tribal organizations under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, and through contracts with or grants to urban Indian organizations under Title V of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act
    • $125 million may be transferred to and merged with the ‘‘Indian Health Service, Indian Health Facilities’’ account
  • Not less than $15 million from the Health Resources and Services Administration for telehealth and rural health activities
  • Not less than $15 million for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Health Surveillance Program
  • Not less than $15 million from the Public Health Service and Social Services Emergency Fund for essential medical resources
  • Not less than $125 million set aside from the Centers for Disease Control – Wide Activities and Program Support account
  • Extension of the Special Diabetes Program for Indians through November 30, 2020
  • $4.5 million for tribal domestic violence shelters through the Family Violence and Prevention Services Act (10 percent tribal set-aside from $45 million overall)
  • Extension of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program through November 30, 2020
  • $20 million for the Older Americans Act, Tribal Nutrition Program, which provides funds for the delivery of nutrition services to American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian elders
  • $900 million for Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) which includes Tribal LIHEAP

Education

  • $69 million for Operation of Indian Education Programs until September 30, 2021

o Not less than $20 million shall be for Tribal Colleges and Universities

  • $78,000 for the Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Culture and Arts Development
  • Education Stabilization Fund:
    • $153.75 million set aside for programs operated or funded by the Bureau of Indian Education
    • $1.046 billion for Minority Serving Institutions, which include but are not limited to, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions, and Native American Serving Non-tribal Institutions
  • Access to Institute of Museum and Library Services grants
    • $50 million to states, territories, and tribal nations to expand digital network access, purchase internet accessible devices, and provide technical support services
    • Any matching funds requirements for tribal nations are waived for grants
  • Bureau of Indian Education and tribally-controlled schools are eligible for Department of Education waivers for statutory and regulatory requirements related to assessments, accountability, and reporting requirements, in addition to grant requirements such as restrictions on carryover funding and certain requirements under the Student Supports and Academic Enrichment Grants program, including the needs assessment, certain spending restrictions, and the limitation on technology spending

Nutrition

  • $100 million for the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
    • $50 million for facility improvements and equipment upgrades
    • $50 million for costs relating to additional food purchases

 Homeland Security

  • REAL ID Act deadline has been extended to September 30, 2021

For a comprehensive look at Indian Country’s priorities, resources, and information regarding COVID-19, click here.

Source:  National Congress of American Indians

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CARES Act Signed Into Law with more than $10 Billion in Aid for Indian Country

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President Donald Trump signs the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Securities (CARES) Act, which includes more than $10 billion in aid for Indian Country.

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives passed and the President signed into law on Friday H.R. 748, a $2.2 trillion stimulus package designed to address the far-reaching impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The newly signed Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economy Security (CARES) Act includes more than $10 billion in set-asides for tribal nations, including more than $1 billion earmarked for the Indian Health Service.The new law also provides $8 billion for tribal nations to use for expenditures incurred due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.    

Also included is $453 million for the Bureau of Indian Affairs to fund the deployment of law enforcement and emergency personnel to critical areas, aid tribal governments, extend Bureau of Indian Education teacher and workforce salary needs and send additional medical supplies and equipment to the Territories and Freely Associated States, according to Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt.

The CARES aid package also includes $300 million for Native American housing, $100 million for food security, and $69 million for the operation of Indian education programs.  

 In addition to targeted aid for American Indians and Alaska Natives, there are billions of dollars in other relief funding available to tribes, tribal citizens and Native-owned businesses through federal agencies including the Treasury, Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Small Business Association.  

A centerpiece of the package is direct financial assistance for individuals, with amounts based on income. Individuals who earned $75,000 or less in adjusted gross income on their most recently filed tax return will receive direct payments of $1,200, with married couples earning up to $150,000 eligible for $2,400, plus an additional $500 per child. Smaller payments will be available to those earning less than $99,000 (single) or $198,000 (couples without children).

Indian Country leaders welcomed the much-needed funding for tribes, their citizens and Native-owned businesses.    

“This legislation is not only a monumental achievement for Indian Country, it is a landmark affirmation of tribal governmental parity and the federal government’s trust and treaty obligations to tribal nations,” Kevin J. Allis, chief executive of the National Congress of American Indians, said in a statement. “Indian Country achieved this victory through the around-the-clock efforts of tribal leaders and advocates across the nation working as one to ensure that the needs of tribal governments and communities are addressed in the weeks and months to come. Unity is our greatest asset.”

Over the past several weeks, NCAI, National Indian Health Board (NIHB), National Center for Urban Indian Health (NCUIH), National Indian Education Association (NIEA) and other national organizations have worked collaboratively and furiously to develop Indian Country’s top policy priorities for addressing COVID-19 and pushed Congress to include them in the stimulus package. The final legislation features strong provisions in support of these priorities and will help tribal communities across Indian Country as they respond to the pandemic, according to an NCAI statement. 

Funding for healthcare was an important part of the effort to make sure Indian Country priorities were included, according to Francys Crevier, executive director of NCUIH.  

“As Indian Country is always the first to get cut and last to get funding, we are encouraged by the leadership of Congress in working to include Indian Country in its priorities throughout the response to the coronavirus pandemic,” Crevier said in a statement. “As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Indian Country, Tribes and urban Indians have been on the front lines of this public health crisis yet they have been operating with woefully inadequate funding and resources. Our top priority is to get this money to Tribes and our Native communities who need it most to mitigate this pandemic.” 

As they work to get money deployed, tribal advocates and policymakers are already looking toward another round of funding to combat the coronavirus.   

Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) called for the next response package to include a tribal-specific title and pushed Congress and the Trump administration to make sure Indian Country has equal access for federal coronavirus resources. 

Others echoed Udall’s concerns. 

“Just as we had a strategic approach to get stuff in the bill — and in future bills — we’re going to have a very focused and comprehensive strategic approach that now focuses on the [Trump] administration, to make sure they do what they’ve been asked to do,” NCAI CEO Allis said. “The work is not done for us.” 

 

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Coronavirus: IHS Committed to Patient Care and Getting Resources to Front Line

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Guest Opinion

Published March 28, 2020

By  Rear Adm. Michael D. Weahkee, Principal Deputy Director, Indian Health Service

Agency to begin distributing $134 million in new funds to respond to COVID-19

As the entire country, and the world, is coming together to fight the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Indian Health Service is leveraging its close partnerships with tribes, tribal and urban Indian organizations, and state and local public health authorities to coordinate a comprehensive public health response. The Indian Country COVID-19 Response Team, part of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force, is ensuring a united front as we work together with other agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services, the White House, the Department of the Interior and FEMA to address this crisis.

I want to recognize the people across the Indian health system who are working tirelessly. We are fortunate to have a team of professionals dedicated to the health and well-being of our patients and tribal communities across the nation.  Your commitment has never been more important or more appreciated than it is today.

While many IHS facilities focus on outpatient primary care, IHS also has the capacity to provide care to patients in need of higher levels of care. We also have existing purchased/referred care agreements with a vast network of specialty care providers across the country, with multiple such contracts in place at each facility. IHS facilities are communicating and coordinating with their local and regional partners to ensure continued access to care for our patients.

Our facilities are also implementing procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to preserve precious medical resources, such as maximizing the use of telephone visits and telemedicine, postponing non-emergency procedures, and screening patients at entry points to assess risk of coronavirus infection.

While the Indian health system is large and complex, we realize that preventing, detecting, and treating COVID-19 requires local expertise. We are holding weekly conference calls with tribal and urban Indian organization leaders from across the country to provide updates, answer questions, and hear their concerns. We have also launched a new website at https://www.ihs.gov/coronavirus to share information with tribal and urban stakeholders.

Rear Adm. Michael D. Weahkee, Acting Director, Indian Health Service

IHS headquarters is working to get resources out to the front lines as quickly as possible. This week we held rapid tribal consultation and urban confer sessions to guide our distribution of $134 million in new resources to respond to coronavirus (COVID-19) in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. These funds will support IHS and tribal and urban Indian organizations in our response.

I am grateful for all of the tribal and urban Indian organization leaders who shared critical feedback over the past several days. That feedback was critical to allowing IHS to begin distributing these funds immediately. Additional details on how these funds will be distributed can be found in a letter to tribal and urban Indian organization leaders [PDF – 243 KB].

These resources are in addition to $80 million announced last week   from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for tribes and tribal and urban Indian organizations to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Congress has passed additional legislation, which includes over $1 billion for the IHS to support a wide range of COVID-19 response activities. We appreciate Congress’ support of American Indian and Alaska Native communities during this national emergency.

The public health threat posed by COVID-19 continues to be very high, both globally and in the United States. We must be vigilant in our efforts to slow the spread of infections within the communities that we serve. We continue to work closely with tribal, state, and local partners, as well as with other public health partners in responding to COVID-19.

 

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Breaking News: First Two Deaths from Coronavirus Confirmed on Navajo Nation; 92 Have Tested Positive for COVID-19

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“Stay Home” – “Stay Safe” signs up on Navajo Nation (courtesy photo)

Breaking News

Published March 27, 2020

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz.   The first two confirmed deaths from the deadly COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) were announced Friday night by Navajo Nation leaders. Because of confidentiality regulations, the names of the deceased, nor location of where the deaths occurred were not announced.

“Our condolences and prayers go out to the families of the two individuals who have passed on. We also pray for all of those who are fighting to recover from the virus. We cannot thank our health care workers and first responders enough for everything they are doing to help our people,” Navajo Nation President said.

“To our Navajo people, let’s help our healthcare workers by staying home and isolating ourselves as much as possible. Our public safety officers are needed in our communities every day, and we don’t want to have to take them away from those duties to force people to stay home – we don’t have to go to that extent if people simply listen to the health care experts,” Nez continued.

Also, announced Friday night, the total now numbers 92 of positive tests for COVID-19 for the Navajo Nation.

The press release provided a breakdown of positive cases per county:

The 92 cases include the following counties:

Navajo County, AZ: 49

Apache County, AZ: 18

Coconino County, AZ: 6 *changed from yesterday, due to clarification of one individual’s residency

McKinley County, NM: 5

San Juan County, NM: 11

Cibola County, NM: 1

San Juan County, UT: 2

The Navajo Nation’s needs for personnel, protective wear, hospital beds, and other crucial resources and supplies at all health care facilities on the Navajo Nation continue to increase daily.

Navajo Nation citizens are stll asked to stay home to prevent further spread of the deadly coronavirus.

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Ojibwe Tara Houska Named to TIME’s List of People “Bridging Divides Across America”

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From TIME Magazine. Photo by Ayse Gursoz

Published March 27, 2020

NEW YORK — TIME magazine has named Tara Houska, an Ojibwe from the Couchiching First Nation, as one of its 27 individuals who are “bridging divides across America.”

Houska, 35, is an attorney and environmental activist who gained national attention during the Standing Rock resistance movement to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline as well as her work to have banks around the world divest in oil pipelines. She remains active fighting big oil near where she lives in Minnesota in the fight against Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline.  

Earlier this year, she was once again in the news after she tweeted about her experience passing through security at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, when a TSA agent said she needed to pat down her braids.

“She pulled them behind my shoulders, laughed & said “giddyup!” as she snapped my braids like reins,” Houska wrote in her tweet. The TSA apologized four days later.

On Thursday, TIME called her “a link between worlds.”

“When bankers and oil-company execs need a Native American perspective on infrastructure projects affecting tribal lands, they often call up Tara Houska, 35, an Ojibwe lawyer and environmental activist,” TIME wrote about Houska.

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Houska posted on her Facebook page after the TIME article was released:

“It’s more than jarring at times, to go from frontlines of warriors risking themselves for all life to opulent settings with mainstream influencers & decision makers. From connected to disconnected. Standing on a hill in the forest to get service for a conference call on ndn/environmental policy is my norm.”

The post Ojibwe Tara Houska Named to TIME’s List of People “Bridging Divides Across America” appeared first on Native News Online.



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