This Week at First Nations: March 19, 2021

March 19, 2021

What We’re Learning 

Across the country this week, there is heightened focus on the violence directed at Asian American communities. We are committed, as always, to being a good ally in addressing violence, stopping hate, and building a safer, more inclusive world for all.

Learn more here about ways to combat anti-Asian violence.



Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow Writes Episode of MOLLY of DENALI

The animated television series, MOLLY of DENALI, is the first American nationally distributed children’s show to feature an Alaska Native as the lead character. Next week’s upcoming episode “Funny Face Competition” is written by First Nations’ 2020 Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow X̱‘unei Lance Twitchell. Tune in Tuesday, March 23, 2021, on PBS! See a highlight!



Celebrating the Role of Women in Food System Work

“American food systems are often dominated by men. The female voice is not always heard,” said moderator A-dae Romero-Briones in a recent webinar held in collaboration with the James Beard Foundation. “We have such an important role in our lands and in our communities and how we raise our plants, as well as our children. We are the bedrock of Indigenous food systems,” she said. A-dae joined fellow experts in describing how COVID-19 has exposed many inequities in Indigenous communities, but has also provided an opportunity for Indigenous women to demonstrate leadership. Read more.


Final Reminder: Forest Webinar Next Week

Remember to join us next week, March 24, for Webinar 2: Returning Forests to Tribal Stewardship. Speakers for this important topic include Mike LaVoie, Natural Resources Manager, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians; Tommy Cabe, Forest Resource Specialist, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians; Mike Lithgow, Information and Outreach Coordinator, Kalispel Tribe of Indians; and Mary Adelzadeh, Consultant, First Nations. Register here.


Lifting Up Native Languages

Grantees of First Nations’ Native Language Immersion Initiative have been busy engaging in a series of dynamic cohort sessions. These virtual gatherings focus on building a Community of Practice among multiple language programs. Sessions are geared toward connecting and collaborating with other language professionals, discussing challenges in the field, and exploring strategies for growing and sustaining programs. Four sessions have been held so far, with one more coming this spring. Learn more about the grantees.


Deb Haaland Makes History

Native News Online reports, “On March 15, 2021, more than 200 years after George Washington assembled his first Cabinet, New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland of the Laguna Pueblo was confirmed by the Senate to serve as the first Native American Cabinet secretary, heading the Interior Department. In a 51-40 vote, four Republican Senators broke party lines to join Democrats in confirming Madam Secretary Haaland.”

Photo credit Native News Online


The Push for Land Restoration is Now

“Many of the biggest challenges facing native communities today, from rampant poverty to lower social and economic mobility to health issues cast in high relief by the pandemic, can be traced to the attempted extermination and then assimilation of Native Americans through American land policy,” The Hill asserts. “The time to return land to Native Americans is long overdue.

Photo credit The Hill Getty Images


Cherokee Way Helps Battle COVID-19

According to Tulsa World, the Cherokee Nation has opened its COVID-19 vaccine distribution to anyone, Native American or not, living within its 14-county area. “By protecting everyone living within the boundaries of our reservation, we are protecting our citizens, our culture, our language, our family and our neighbors,” said Cherokee Nation Deputy Principal Chief Bryan Warner. “That’s the Cherokee way to help each other.”

Photo credit Tulsa World file


House Bill Introduced to Save Sacred Oak Flat

“U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) introduced the Save Oak Flat Act today to protect the Indigenous sacred site in central Arizona from being destroyed by a massive copper mine. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is expected to introduce a companion bill in the Senate. The bills would overturn 2014 legislation that authorized the land to be traded away to multinational mining giant Rio Tinto,” reports the Center for Biological Diversity.

Photo credit Russ McSpadden, Center for Biological Diversity


Janie Simms Hipps Nominated for USDA General Council

KNWA reports, Janie Simms Hipp, J.D., LL.M, has been nominated by President Biden to serve as General Counsel of the Office of the Department of Agriculture. Simms Hipp is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, and the founding director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas. She currently serves as CEO of the Native American Agriculture Fund.

Photo credit KNWA Fox 24