After the Death of George Floyd, We Must Get Back to Better

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Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was fired Tuesday for using excessive force that led to George Floyd’s death.


There is always a story behind every photograph.

Yesterday I began seeing a photograph out of Minneapolis that continued to show up many times during the day on my Facebook timeline. Since I was working on other things, I will confess I did not pay close attention at first. When I finally did, I saw a white police officer with his knee on the neck of an African American man. As I focused in on the grimace on the man’s face, I froze.

I began to read the story behind the photograph.

The photograph captures George Floyd, 46, on the pavement as veteran Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, has his knee firmly pressed on Floyd’s neck, leaving him deprived of air to breathe. News accounts reported that Floyd repeatedly told Chauvin he could not breathe. We learned Floyd was already arrested for forgery because he allegedly attempted to pay for something at a nearby retail shop with a counterfeit $20 bill. He was handcuffed and thrown to the pavement. In all, there were four officers in proximity to Floyd. The other three officers did nothing to stop Chauvin as he pressed the life out of Floyd. He lost consciousness and was pronounced dead at a local Minneapolis hospital. 

In essence, Floyd received the death penalty for a petty crime.

Levi Rickert

This photograph has quickly become indelible in my mind. When I look at it, I find myself comparing it to the photograph of the lynching of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old teen from Chicago who was murdered while visiting Mississippi by an angry Southern mob. 

Fast forward 65 years and now you have another enduring image of a white man suffocating an African American victim, this time using a knee instead of a rope. 

Today, as I reflected on the Minneapolis Police Department, I remembered Minneapolis was the birthplace of the American Indian Movement in 1968.  Its founders were fed up with the large number of urban American Indians being rounded up each weekend, beaten and then hauled off to jail in paddy wagons.

In research funded by the Center for Indian Country Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and St. Catherine University entitled, “Police Stops and Searches of Indigenous People in Minneapolis: The Roles of Race, Place, and Gender,” the authors write:

“In the United States, Native Americans have the highest prevalence of fatal encounters with law enforcement of any racial or ethnic group. Yet these encounters are rarely covered in the media – for each fatal police shooting of a Native American there is an average of less than one media story.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Indians, on a per capita basis, are more likely to die at the hands of law enforcement than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States.

Minn. Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan

Today, Lt. Governor Peggy Flannagan, who is a dual citizen of the White Earth Nation of Ojibwe, during a COVID-19 update, offered her opinion on the tragic death of Floyd. She said Minnesota is grieving over the tragedy and expressed her outrage.

“One thing is clear to me, the complete lack of humanity in the video of George’s death is horrifying to me. We will get answers and we will seek justice. It goes without saying that no one should be treated differently by law enforcement due to the color of their skin and no one should live in fear of law enforcement because of the color of their skin” Flannagan said.

She talked about the systemic racism that allowed Floyd’s death to happen and shared a dream for a transformation as we move from the pandemic.

“Someday when it is safe, we will all have the option to go back to normal, though we cannot let that happen. Normal—quote, unquote—means that black and brown bodies are not safe. Normal was not working for us. We must not get back to normal, we must get back to better,” she said.

I love the concept of Flannagan’s dream – striving not to get back to normal, but to get back to BETTER. I hope it becomes our reality and we never have to see another unnecessary death of a black or brown person on the streets of our cities again. We cannot go back to normal; we must get back to BETTER.

Levi Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is publisher and editor of Native News Online.

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Online Gambling Laws Could Be Relaxed in Near Future

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According to experts in the industry, regulations governing online gambling in the US could see their restrictions relaxed in the coming months.

According to data from the American Gaming Association (AGA), many land-based casinos are expected to face huge losses this year. Casino employees could see as much as $59 billion in lost wages, with $34.4 billion lost in annual tax revenue.

The body said it was in talks with Congress on how to implement measures to mitigate the losses. “[We are] engaged with Congressional and administration leadership to shape stimulus and aid packages that will support employees, their families, and our communities,” said AGA senior vice president of strategic communications Casey Clark.

Boost for online gambling

Online gambling, on the other hand, is seeing an increase in traffic. With thousands of people staying home, many gamblers have moved their activities online. However, online gambling regulations in the U.S remain some of the strictest in the world, making it hard for the industry to benefit locally.

While it’s easy enough to find US online casinos which take real money players, many are based abroad and so don’t aid local workers. In states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where online gambling and/or sports betting is legal, gross revenue for online operators has increased significantly. 

Experts now believe that many players will not return to physical casinos but continue to gamble online even after restrictions lift. Some think that this will force states to review their gambling licenses and make the necessary amendments. 

“We need to be cautious going into states that need the revenue. We need to educate them on why having a competitive market with low tax rates and reasonable fees will create more revenue in the long term.” said the former CEO of Poker Players Alliance, John Pappas. 

Sports Betting in Michigan

Now, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MCGB) is looking to push forward legislation for online sports betting to this year. The state regulator has already begun accepting gaming supplier licensing forms – a strong indication that it wants to accelerate the process.

“We’ve taken another step toward the launch of online gaming by beginning the licensing process,” said MGCB executive director Richard S. Kalm. “The MGCB encourages suppliers to file applications soon so we can conduct investigations and issue provisional licenses, which are allowed under state law.”

State departments will also be looking into drawing up new legislation for online virtual sports betting. The practice is relatively new but has seen a surge of interest on platforms like FanDuel, where players can pit ‘virtual’ sports teams against each other for money. With no existing legislation in place, many states have simply applied any existing online gambling laws to the activity. 

However, as it differs in many ways from both sports betting and online gambling, new legislation needs to be drafted to properly regulate it. Since traditional sports betting has recently been legalized in Michigan, there’s hope that the process will be less cumbersome than in neighboring states.

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Rep. Haaland, Sen. Warren pen editorial in Washington Post: “The federal government fiddles as Covid-19 ravages Native Americans”

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Rep. Deb Haaland and Sen. Elizabeth Warren are call out the federal government’s response to COVID-19 in Indian Country. (Photo: Haaland Twitter account.)

WASHINGTON — Representative Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sounded off against the Trump Administration’s treatment of tribes in a Washington Post opinion piece titled “The federal government fiddles as covid-19 ravages Native Americans.”

The opinion piece, published on Tuesday, calls out the White House for initially fighting against direct aid to the nations 574 federally recognized tribes and also takes to task the Treasury Dept. for its slow-footed distribution of $8 billion in approved relief funds to tribal governments.  Haaland is one of four American Indians who serves in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Haaland and Warren write: “For generations, the federal government has failed to honor its promises to Native American people. Now, covid-19 is ravaging Native communities, killing young people and elders alike, and devastating tribal economies. We are fighting in Congress to ensure that sovereign Native nations have the resources needed to protect the health and well-being of their citizens during this pandemic. The novel coronavirus’s terrible impact in Indian Country underscores that the federal government must live up to its unique legal and moral obligations to Native nations and act as a partner to help build security and resiliency for the future.”

For the entire opinion piece, click here.

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University researchers release proposal for fair distribution of CARES funds to tribes

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A team of researchers from three leading universities released a proposal for fairly allocating $8 billion earmarked for tribal governments under Title V of the CARES Act.  

The proposal follows a study earlier this month by researchers from Harvard, the University of Arizona and UCLA that suggests the Trump Administration miscalculated in its initial distribution of $4.8 billion to many of the 574 federally recognized tribes.  

In a new report, the researchers proposed a three-part formula that puts 60 percent weight on each tribe’s population of enrolled citizens; a 20 percent weight on each tribe’s total of tribal government and tribal enterprise employees; and a 20 percent weight on each tribe’s predicted rate of coronavirus infections. 

Treasury’s first distribution of $4.8 billion to tribes in early May was “rife with arbitrariness and error,” the researchers said, adding that the new proposal straightforwardly allows Treasury to correct these problems such that the overall $8 billion is allocated equitably across the tribes.   

Read the full report here


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Eighth Generation Steps Up Help Fight COVID-19 Pandemic – Expansion Plans for Downtown Portland Delayed

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Potlatch is a term applied to ceremonies that were celebrated by Indigenous groups all along the Northwest Coast.

Published May 27, 2020

SEATTLE — The coronavirus pandemic may have delayed Eighth Generation‘s plans to open a beautiful new brick-and-mortar retail store in downtown Portland, Oregon but it can’t stop the Native-owned business. 

Eighth Generation recently donated over 10,000 masks to Seattle-area health clinics to slow the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eighth Generation is located in Seattle’s Pike Place Market and was founded by Louie Gong (Nooksack). Late last year, Gong sold the business to the Snoqualmie Tribe and agreed to stay on as the operator of a business that has become popular in Indian Country because of its line of blankets and other products that were created by Native American artisans. Eighth Generation’s motto is “Inspired Natives, Not Native-inspired.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, plans to open a downtown Portland, Ore. retail location have been delayed.

On Thursday, Eighth Generation introduced the “Oregon Potlatch” blanket, which was originally slated to launch in tandem with the grand opening of Eighth Generation’s much anticipated Portland retail store. The new blanket was designed by Portland-area artist Shirod Younker (Coquille/Miluk Coos/Umpqua) and Tony A. Johnson (Clatsop/Wahkiakum/Lower Chinook), current tribal chairman of the Chinook Tribe.

Potlatch is a term applied to ceremonies that were celebrated by Indigenous groups all along the Northwest Coast. While it may be organized and carried out differently by different culture groups, “the potlatch universally is a recognition, a public validation of rank accomplished by the ceremonial distribution of wealth” (Blackman et al. 1981:30)

“It has been exciting to watch Louie and Eighth Generation grow as a Native-owned business, their dedication to working with Native artists is making real, Native artwork, available to everyone in a culturally appropriate way. It is an honor to support them in this effort.” shared Cheryle A. Kennedy, Chairwoman of the Grand Ronde Tribe.

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New Data Shows Navajo Nation Passed the COVID-19 Surge Peak in late April

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Published May 27, 2020

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Navajo Department of Health in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service reported 48 new cases of COVID-19 for the Navajo Nation. The total number of deaths has reached 158 as of Tuesday. 

Preliminary reports from nine health care facilities indicate that approximately 1,585 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, with more reports still pending. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases for the Navajo Nation has reached 4,842.

Navajo Nation cases by Service Unit:

  • Chinle Service Unit: 1,186
  • Crownpoint Service Unit: 503
  • Ft. Defiance Service Unit: 237
  • Gallup Service Unit: 837
  • Kayenta Service Unit: 757
  • Shiprock Service Unit: 785
  • Tuba City Service Unit: 423
  • Winslow Service Unit: 83

*31 residences are not specific enough to place them accurately in a Service Unit

During an online town hall on Tuesday, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer, with IHS Director RADM Michael D. Weahkee and Navajo Area IHS Director Roselyn Tso present, announced the Navajo Nation passed the COVID-19 surge peak in late April, much sooner than initially projected.

IHS Director Michael J. Weahkee met with Navajo Nation leaders on Tuesday.

Recent data and new surge projections provided by the Navajo Area Indian Health Service on May 24, indicate that the COVID-19 surge peak for IHS hospitalizations, including ICU admissions and ventilations occurred from April 21 to April 26 – an entire month earlier than initial surge projections on March 27.

“We are seeing some very good implications based on new data and new reports from the Navajo Area IHS, but I can’t emphasize enough that we have to remain cautious and diligent in order to continue bringing the numbers down in terms of hospital visits and new cases. Let’s continue to stay home as much as possible, wear protective masks, practice social distancing, and wash our hands as much as possible. We are beating the virus so let’s continue to fight strong and overcome this pandemic together,” President Nez said on Tuesday.


To Donate to the Navajo Nation

The official webpage for donations to the Navajo Nation, which has further details on how to support  the Nation’s Dikos Ntsaaígíí-19 (COVID-19) efforts is:


For More Information

For more information including reports, helpful prevention tips, and more resources, please visit the Navajo Department of Health’s COVID-19 website at To contact the main Navajo Health Command Operations Center, please call (928) 871-7014.

For up to date information on impact the coronavirus pandemic is having in the United States and around the world go to:

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. 

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