Indian Country Blog Posts

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’.  

Despite the pandemic’s severity, Indian Country has risen to meet every challenge head-on. Over the past year, Tribal Nations worked tirelessly to efficiently utilize available resources and find innovative ways to...

Phoenix, Ariz. — The American Indian Policy Institute (AIPI) is excited to share that Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM) (Laguna Pueblo) has been confirmed as the 54th Secretary of the United States Department of the Interior. Rep. Haaland makes history as the first Native American to serve as Interior Secretary--the department that most directly impacts Indian Country. 

Today’s confirmation of Deb Haaland to serve as Secretary of the Interior is a day all of Indian Country will celebrate and remember.  Today is the first day in the history of these United States that a Native American will serve in a Presidential Cabinet and lead the Department of the Interior – the...

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

Anhi (Hope). That is how I feel when I see the phenomenal vaccination programs organized in Tribal communities; simultaneously working to eradicate COVID-19, and also the perception that we are not capable of managing our own affairs. It’s a feeling of comfort in knowing that we are taking care of our elders, the cultural caretakers and language guardians of our traditions. It is the same hope our...

Who can believe it’s already February 2021?  January was an extraordinarily busy policy month with changes that would give anyone whiplash. As our new crew gets up to speed, we look to onboard another this month as we continue to grow.  Watch for an announcement at the end of the month with introductions and a program launch.

In the coming days and weeks, look for our 116th Congressional Report Card for the 2nd Session to be published on Thursday, February 4, 2021.  Our 2021 Policy Priorities Document is forthcoming as well as our 2020 Annual Report.

Right now we’re hunkered down reading, researching, attending webinars, consulting with Tribal leaders, and watching the news as we learn what...

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.

 Hale was born in 1950 on the Navajo Nation in Ganado, AZ. He graduated from Fort Wingate High School, a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) boarding school at the time. He went on to...

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. 

During his tenure in the State Legislature, Rep. Teller served as a member of the Study Committee on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and sponsored numerous Bills aimed...

Yá’át’ééh. Shí éí Emily McDonnell yinishyé. Hello, my name is Emily and I am a proud member of the Navajo Nation. My Navajo clans are Near the Water clan, and the Many Goats clan. I am of Greek-Irish descent from my father's side. I am so excited to be part of the AIPI team! My position as the new Policy & Communications Coordinator allows me to combine two passions of mine---storytelling, and advocacy, both of which have been shaped by my upbringing and have led me to where I am today.

Ever since I was a child, I loved stories. As the daughter of a librarian, the power of storytelling was...

We are so excited to have E.J. John, JD, as part of our team! In the short time that he’s been here, E.J. has risen to the challenge and jumped right in to the many changes taking place in Indian Country. His work at AIPI includes providing monthly legislative updates, so be sure to subscribe to our website so you don’t miss anything!

Below, you can learn more about E.J., including his experience and interests.

E.J. John is Navajo and a member of the Salt Water clan, born for the Black Streaked Wood People clan. He says that learning his clans and where he comes from is one of his earliest lessons...

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. 

As we welcome two new staff members and hire two additional staff members, our work pace will continue at its fast pace. Late in 2020; the new stimulus act passed into law contained substantive provisions for Native Nations. We'll be publishing more...

Today, President-elect Joe Biden made history in nominating New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland for Secretary of the Interior. This Cabinet-level agency of the U.S. Government oversees and manages most federal lands and natural and cultural resources and administers Native American programs, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education, among others. Haaland is the first Indigenous person nominated for a cabinet-level position.

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