- By Levi Rickert
Opinion. “We don’t know if we have one more year left–or five years left-of this moment we are having in Indian Country because of this administration,” Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana Chairman Marshall Pierite said to me in a telephone call just before Christmas as we discussed the upcoming new year.
Being in tribal leadership, Chairman Pierite knows first-hand how the Biden-Harris administration has been one of the most favorable presidential administrations for Indian Country in history. A good starting place is the appointment of Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) as secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the first Native American to ever to serve in a secretarial role in a presidential cabinet.
If there is only one more year of the Biden/Harris administration, there is no way the next administration will reappoint Secretary Haaland to serve as Interior secretary.
Chairman Pierite also referenced the unprecedented $45 billion the Biden-Harris brought to Indian Country.
The chairman’s comment demonstrates to me how serious the upcoming election will be for Indian Country.
One more year or five more years? That is the question Native Americans need to ponder as the general presidential election approaches.
Looking forward to 2024, Native News Online’s editorial team has for weeks been discussing the importance of covering the upcoming elections with plans to do polling in Indian Country. The important elections are among four important stories we will track for you this coming new year
2024 Election Coverage
As we have done in previous elections, Native News Online is committed to providing our readers with accurate information as it relates to the issues, candidates and topics that Native Americans feel strongly about as they cast their ballots.
Part of our coverage will be collaborating with Native American voter advocacy groups that work hard to overcome barriers to voting that Indigenous people experience through concerted acts of voter suppression.
Seven states with sizable Native American populations have been identified as states to watch by Four Directions, a Native American advocacy group: Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. Four of these states, Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin are considered swing states that could possibly determine who is elected president in November.
Native News Online will also be tracking Arizona’s second congressional district race. That’s where former Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez is running to secure the Democratic nomination for a run against incumbent Republican right-winger Eli Crane, who was one of eight GOP House members who voted to oust Kevin McCarthy as speaker in October. The district, which is the country’s second-largest congressional district in terms of geographic size, is home to14 federally recognized tribes. Nez has been busy courting Native voters and non-Native voters alike since he announced his candidacy in mid-October, in addition to holding fundraisers to prove he is a viable candidate.
Indian Boarding Schools
Over the past two-and-a-half years, Native News Online has published over 210 articles dealing with Indian boarding schools.
Part of our Indian boarding school coverage included attending all 12 of the Interior Department’s Road to Healing listening sessions.
Speaking about his experience of co-hosting the Road to Healing tour with Interior Secretary Haaland and the long-lasting effect of Indian boarding schools, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland (Bay Mills Indian Community) said at Western Michigan University in April:
“It affects how you parent. It affects how your kids are raised and their mental health, their physical health,” he continued. “And so these boarding schools scrambled them all up and put a lot of pain in these relationships. So we still deal with people who never went to the schools, people two generations removed from the schools, (and they) are still dealing in their own lives with the pain that was inflicted at the schools.”
A final report from the Road to Healing will be released in early 2024. Native News Online will have a panel discussion on the report that will be streamed soon after the report’s release.
The work of covering the Indian boarding schools will continue into 2024 and beyond.
Senior Reporter Jenna Kunze attended a climate workshop at the Columbia Journalism School last summer. During an editorial staff call, she relayed that the participants were told journalists should move away from referring to “climate change” to “climate emergency.”
Some experts say the climate is the biggest story of our time.
National Native American organizations, such as the National Congress of American Indians and the Indigenous Environmental Network, have worked tirelessly for years to bring attention to the climate crisis.
Native News Online has years reported on their activities, but is dedicated to increasing our coverage of the climate emergency this year.
In early December, Jenna was selected as one of 100 journalists from around the world to participate in the Oxford Climate Journalism Network’s program in 2024. She is one of just six North American journalists selected from a pool of 700 applicants worldwide for the prestigious program’s fifth cohort.
Native News Online is proud that she will provide our readers with current transformational information as a participant of the program.
Indian Country Health Equity Issues
Health disparities that exist in Indian Country were greatly amplified during the Covid-19 pandemic. Since then, Native News Online created its Native health desk that concentrates on delivering important news, announcements, and progress being made in Indian Country to close the disparity gaps in Native American health.
Beginning in January, in collaboration with the National Indian Health Board, Native News Online will co-produce season-two of “Hope and Healing” podcast. (More information will be forthcoming on where to hear the podcasts).
One of the largest areas of concern in Native American health is the significant loss of life due to drug overdoses. We will continue our coverage to shine a spotlight on this serious epidemic.
Note: Native News Online encourages reader engagement with our editorial team. If you have an idea for an important story, please email us at: editor@nativenewsonline.
Thayék gde nwéndëmen - We are all related.
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