April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). The American Indian Policy Institute (AIPI) closely follows public policy analysis and research surrounding the systemic violence suffered by Indigenous women. In recognition of SAAM, AIPI would like to take some time and space to discuss the recent 2022 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and its projected effect on Indigenous communities.

Indian Country has been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, largely due to existing inequities exacerbated by the pandemic. Inadequate healthcare, a lack of housing, and underdeveloped infrastructure increased the severity of COVID-19 in Tribal communities. This resulted in an infection rate four times higher, and tragically, mortality rates twice that of other populations. The pandemic’s disproportionate impact emphasizes the importance of addressing underlying systemic inequality as the threat of COVID-19 slowly dissipates and we attempt a return to a ‘new normal’.  

February was a busy and chaotic month, but in the best way possible. Whether our team attended legislative sessions and conferences, or participated in town hall meetings and committees, it became obvious that a particular theme permeated the atmosphere: hope, or in the Chickasaw language, anhi

The AIPI are saddened to hear of the loss of Arizona state lawmaker and former Navajo Nation President, Albert Hale. Hale’s dedication to public service is an inspiration to all of us and will continue to influence our work. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones during this difficult time. We join those who mourn his loss, and we want to take a moment to recognize a few of Hale’s many significant accomplishments.

Arizona State Representative Arlando Teller (D-7) has resigned to take a position with the Biden administration. Teller is the new Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tribal Affairs with the Department of Transportation. “It has been a privilege to represent my constituents in District 7,” wrote Rep. Teller (Navajo) in his resignation letter (see below). “I am honored and humbled to have been selected by President Biden to work for his administration,” added Teller, a member of the State Legislature since 2019. 

Afammi Himitta' Ayokpa (Happy New Year). We all hope this will be a better year than 2020. Yet, we cannot overlook the good work that took place in 2020, despite the dire circumstances. At AIPI, it was a very productive year and our staff rose to the occasion and produced high-quality work that served tribes. Watch for our forthcoming Annual Report to learn more about our work in 2020. 

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