We’re in a state of emergency. For months, the Trump administration withheld our COVID relief funding, and now they’re threatening to replace tribal police with federal cops at Cheyenne River, forcing a lawsuit from the tribe. To add insult to injury, the president will descend upon our homelands this Friday, under the guise of celebrating freedom and independence at Mount Rushmore.
We need your help. Please tell the Department of the Treasury and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to respect tribal health, safety, and sovereignty. COVID relief funds must be sent to tribes on schedule, checkpoints protecting our reservations must remain in place, and uninvited BIA police — and Trump — have no business in our territory.
As you know, even when the virus hit South Dakota hard, Governor Kristi Noem failed to institute common sense protective policies. Then she challenged our tribes over the checkpoints, eventually calling on her friend, Donald Trump, for help. That help is arriving.
The Treasury Department has already bullied tribal nations by failing to disburse our CARES Act funds on time. Now, with the pandemic exploding across the Midwest, infecting around 100 people at Pine Ridge, and devastating the Navajo Nation, administration officials are threatening to withdraw our funding for law enforcement and replace our police force with feds if we don’t remove the checkpoints.
And this week, as we close in on Independence Day, President Trump plans to further desecrate our sacred Black Hills with a dangerous fireworks display, literally illuminating Mount Rushmore — the boldest monument there is to Native subjugation. What about our independence? What about our sovereignty? What about our right to live without tyranny in this “land of the free?”
Governor Noem even went out of her way to say there will be no requirements for masks or social distancing at the event, further jeopardizing South Dakota’s 72,000 Native Americans. So I promise you, we will remain vigilant here on the front lines. We will not remove our checkpoints. We will not stand aside or stand down. Will you stand with us?
Wopila tanka — Our sincere thanks for your friendship and your support,
Chase Iron Eyes
Via The Lakota People’s Law Project
P.S. Nothing is more important than protecting human lives. Please help by emailing the Treasury Department and the BIA: tell them, right now, to stop undermining our health, safety, and sovereignty. Thank you!
As of June 10, 2020 11:45 am EDT in the Indian health system (spreadsheet).
Confirmed by tribes, tribal health clinics, urban Indian programs, the Indian Health Service, state public health agencies or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Indian Country Today needs your help to gather positive COVID-19 cases and deaths related to COVID-19 in your tribal community.
Let us know if there are any confirmed positive COVID-19 cases or deaths related to COVID-19 in your tribal nation or announced by your tribal nation. Submit the case(s) in the Google Form above.
Total cases: 1,256,421
Total deaths: 110,925
As of June 10, 2020 at 12:45pm EDT
Total cases confirmed: 7,145,539
As of June 10, 2020 at 12:45pm EDT by the World Health Organization
- See the live numbers for the Navajo Nation at the Navajo Epidemiology Center Coronavirus Response Hub
- Map of COVID-19 reports by Johns Hopkins University
- World Health Organization COVID-19 Situation Dashboard
- Another data set is available at WorldoMeter.info
The power of data to predict where the coronavirus will hit next
Just like a massive evacuation can save lives in a Category 4 hurricane, social distancing and shuttered workplaces can slow the rate at which the virus spreads.
China or Italy? A stark contrast on the coronavirus front
Thursday was a day of contrasts on the front lines of the battle against the new coronavirus. In a sign of hope, the Chinese city of Wuhan reported no new homegrown infections, but in a stark warning for the world, Italy appeared set to surpass China’s death toll from the virus.
The two milestones were a dramatic illustration of how much the global outbreak has pivoted toward Europe and the United States. They also showed how the arc of contagion can vary in different nations, as Italy with 60 million people braces to see more carnage than China, a nation of 1.4 billion.
The science: How coronavirus spreads from person to person
Each infected person spreads to two or three others on average, researchers estimate. It spreads more easily than flu but less than measles, tuberculosis or some other respiratory diseases
Coronavirus Q&A: What is it? The symptoms. And how it spreads
An explainer of every frequently asked question in relation to COVID-19.
Are you a Native student whose college or university has been closed or switched to online classes? Visit this spreadsheet for resources involving technology in Native communities. It is updated by San Juan College’s Native American Center.
The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted countless changes. One that’s likely to stick is the more common use of telecommunications in the health field.
Both telemedicine, or the delivery of clinical care by telephone or the internet; and telehealth, which includes training, education and other communications; already play a bigger role than before the pandemic.
“In our practice, we never used telehealth before two months ago, and now I feel like I’m almost a mini expert in telehealth,” said Dr. Joseph Bell, Lummi, a pediatrician with the Spartanburg Regional Medical Center in South Carolina.
Indian Country’s COVID-19 Syllabus
INSTRUCTIONS: Let us know if there are any confirmed positive COVID-19 cases or deaths related to COVID-19 in your tribal nation or announced by your tribal nation. Please fill out this Google Form as complete as you can. Once we receive your response, we follow up with the tribal or health official to confirm the cases.
Take a look at Indian Country’s COVID-19 syllabus where you can find the COVID-19 tracker, stories, roundtables, op-eds and more: https://indiancountrytoday.com/news/indian-country-s-covid-19-syllabus-EiN-p5Q-XkW-smnaebJV6Q.
Greetings again from Bear Soldier District on Standing Rock Nation. I thank you for your dedicated action on behalf of the people here. You’ve sent almost 13,000 emails to the nearly all-white McLaughlin City Council and the town’s mayor telling them to suspend utility shut-offs during the COVID-19 pandemic. And more than one of you made anonymous donations to my son’s family, making it possible for him, his wife, and my grandchildren to return to their home. That’s huge. We know the city is feeling the pressure.
Unfortunately, their reaction has been to circle the wagons. Knowing that increased Native representation at City Hall could make all the difference in fair treatment of the town’s tribal people, they are resorting to what we believe are brazenly illegal means to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Here’s what I mean: a mayoral election is coming up on June 9, and my nephew, Hoksila White Mountain, is a promising candidate. A recent graduate of Sitting Bull College with a BA in social work, Hoksila has life experience and growing support from our Native community. He has already been working hard to remedy the utility shut-off problem.
Hoksila White Mountain is being blocked from running for mayor by McLaughlin City Hall.
But now, City Hall has struck him from the ballot. They say they heard through the grapevine he didn’t follow a provincial law requiring him to collect petition signatures himself to enter the race. In fact, he did two separate rounds of signature gathering specifically to meet the standard. Our research tells us he followed all the rules, and yet he was still removed.
Thankfully, our partnership with the Lakota People’s Law project — and with you — could make all the difference. If necessary, the Lakota Law team will take legal action to get Hoksila back into the election.
Please stay tuned, because we’re also investigating which state and/or federal agencies can provide oversight — and we will share an opportunity soon to contact those agencies directly. Together, we are on the verge of creating significant change here in Bear Soldier. With your continued pressure, we’ll ensure that Native people can run for elected office anywhere at Standing Rock.
Wopila tanka — Thank you for helping us change lives for the better!
Robert White Mountain
via the Lakota People’s Law Project
I write with unfortunate news: we’re now dealing with an outbreak of the novel coronavirus at Pine Ridge. We’re up to at least five positive tests here, a rapidly growing number that has forced a 72-hour lockdown.
This demonstrates why it’s absolutely critical that many of you have taken the time to tell South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem not to challenge our COVID-19 checkpoints. Fortunately, your pressure is working. You sent more than 15,000 emails to the governor, and she flinched — failing to follow through on her 48-hour legal deadline.
As Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Bear Runner’s spokesperson and public relations director, protecting the people of this nation and sharing our stories are my sacred duties. I’m proud of the powerful conversation my president had last night with Don Lemon on CNN. Please watch and share it. We must continue to win the public education battle.
This outbreak is yet another demonstration of Governor Noem’s statewide policy failure with COVID-19. This is why we’ve taken matters into our own hands. We are so obviously on the right side of this that 17 state lawmakers, including a Republican, have penned an open letter to the governor in support of us. Even Fox News is having a hard time spinning this one in the governor’s favor.
I thank you, with all of my heart, for listening and acting in friendship with my relatives. If we stand our ground and keep the conversation going, we will prevail — over ignorance in our state capitol and over this pandemic.
Wopila — my sincere thanks for your attention,
Chase Iron Eyes
The Lakota People’s Law Project
We have a potentially explosive situation at the Cheyenne River and Pine Ridge Reservations. If you’ve been looking at the news, you may have seen that South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has threatened our tribes with legal action because we have taken the rational step of setting up COVID-19 checkpoints on roads entering our homelands.
Native communities have the right to protect ourselves from the spread of disease, and the law is on our side. You can help. Email Kristi Noem right now and tell her to walk back her threat to Lakota tribes before lives are lost!
Caption: In our new video, my colleague, Chase Iron Eyes — who serves as public relations director for Oglala president Julian Bear Runner — discusses the urgency of protecting our citizens. (Photo courtesy of Warrior Women Project.)
Governor Noem has failed to mandate common sense protections for tribes and all the people of her state during the COVD-19 pandemic, so the Oglala and Cheyenne River Nations have taken matters into our own hands by setting up these checkpoints on reservation roads to limit the pandemic’s spread.
They are not roadblocks, and there is no truth to Governor Noem’s repeated assertions that essential or emergency traffic is being detained or turned back. Here at Cheyenne River, we are requiring visitors to fill out a health questionnaire or travel through the reservation without stopping. And just yesterday, two more positive cases at Pine Ridge forced a 72-hour lockdown to enable contact tracing and keep folks safe.
Although Governor Noem asserts that the tribes have not engaged in adequate consultation with state officials, both the Oglala and Cheyenne River Nations have interacted with a swath of state agencies on this issue. 17 state senators have now published an open letter declaring that she has no legal authority to regulate activity on reservation roads without tribal consent.
Governor Noem in no position to issue threats. She’s failing to protect her own constituents within our jurisdiction, so we will. This is a life or death situation, and we have a right to live.
Wopila tanka — my gratitude for your action!
Madonna Thunder Hawk
Cheyenne River Organizer
The Lakota People’s Law Project