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AIPI COVID-19 Update #4
Protecting Native Elders in a Pandemic (March 27, 2020)
“It’s hard to overstate the importance of Native elders to their families, tribes, and communities. These are people who fought on the frontlines to withstand American assimilation. They fostered our languages and our traditions. They carry with them stories and memories that will fade when they pass, precious fragments of their tribe’s collective story. But more than being living carriers of cultural knowledge, they’re our parents, our grandparents, aunties, and uncles. As Representative Deb Haaland, a Democrat from New Mexico’s 1st District, a citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna and one of two Native women in Congress, put it to me, ‘We are who we are because of the people who raised us.’”
Navajo Nation officials set a curfew for residents as the number of identified positive COVID-19 cases in the Navajo Nation rose to 128 on Sunday. According to President Jonathan Nez, the curfew will be from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting Monday, March 30. No details on penalties related to violating curfew have been provided. The curfew excludes essential employees traveling to and from work but they must have documentation. Nez said he is still seeing high numbers of people traveling across the Navajo Nation, and he is asking people to think of their grandparents and people with health conditions because they are the most vulnerable. "We are going to begin to be more strict in these coming days," he said. "We ask for your patience." The Navajo Nation launched a website that made reports, prevention tips and other resources about COVID-19 available to the public. It can be found here.
Tribes say persistent efforts pay off in massive stimulus (March 30, 2020)
The sweeping bill signed into law last week will help better equip health care systems that serve Native Americans, improve the emergency response time on tribal lands, and provide economic relief for tribal members. While the $10 billion for tribes in the $2.2 trillion package is less than they requested, tribal leaders say it represents progress. The Senate bill didn’t initially have much for tribes, but negotiations between Democrats and Republicans led to the $10 billion included in the latest version — $8 billion of which will help reimburse tribes for coronavirus-related expenses they’ve already incurred. The $8 billion will be distributed by the Treasury Department, working with tribes and the Interior Department based on need, according to New Mexico U.S. Sen. Tom Udall’s office. More than $1 billion will go to the Indian Health Service, with about half of that amount going to tribes and tribal organizations that have contracts with the federal government to run their own health care facilities.
Congress provides tribal college aid in COVID-19 response (March 31, 2020)
On March 26, the U.S. Senate passed the CARES Act, which allocated urgently needed funding to tribal colleges and universities (TCUs). Through the BIE, the CARES Act provides $20 million in immediate, emergency relief to TCUs and an additional share of $153 million allocated to the BIE as part of the massive $30 billion national Education Stabilization Fund. In addition, the Act allocates certain funding under the U.S. Department of Education’s HEA Title III program, including $50 million for TCUs, $25 million for Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-serving institutions, and $6 million for Native American-serving, non-tribal institutions. While important in addressing immediate, short-term needs, the American Indian Higher Education Consortium states the funding falls far short of the estimated $140 million that TCUs and their students need to adequately and equitably address the post-secondary, workforce development, research and community-support challenges facing Indian Country as COVID-19 sweeps across the country.
Other online resources available
Indian Country Today’s COVID-19 Syllabus for the latest updates on the virus