Navajo Nation

At least 19 people have died in tribal jails overseen by the federal government since 2016, according to an investigation by NPR and the Mountain West News Bureau. As part of our ongoing coverage of mistreatment of inmates on reservations, the bureau is highlighting some of the victims and the circumstances around their deaths, which reflect decades of mismanagement, neglect and poor training.

At least 19 people have died in tribal jails overseen by the federal government since 2016, according to an investigation by NPR and the Mountain West News Bureau. As part of our ongoing coverage of mistreatment of inmates on reservations, the bureau is highlighting some of the victims and the circumstances around their deaths, which reflect decades of mismanagement, neglect and poor training.

News Brief

States around the Mountain West are seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases, and it’s started to affect some tribes, too.

“Of course you’re going to see an uptick in cases when you live all around hotspots,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez.

The Navajo Nation’s increase in cases is modest compared to surges in states like Arizona, though. There were 25 cases and three deaths across the Navajo Nation on Saturday and 10 more cases on Sunday.

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New Mexico Banks On Cash Incentives To Meet Vaccine Goal - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

New Mexico residents who get vaccinated against COVID-19 will now be eligible for a $100 incentive as the state began a hard push Monday.

How Many Indigenous People Died From COVID-19? Unknown.

Jun 9, 2021
Illustration by Jolene Nenibah Yazzie
University of New Mexico

University Showcase, Friday 5/21 8a: Each year the University of New Mexico recognizes a faculty member with its Community Engaged Research Lecture award. On this episode, Professor Jennifer Nez Denetdale from the American Studies Department talks about her lecture "Dikos Ntsaaígíí  ̶ Building the Perfect Human to Invade: A Diné Feminist Analysis of the Pandemic and the Navajo Nation.”

New Mexico Working To Solve Disparate Vaccine Rates

Apr 19, 2021
Marisa Demarco / KUNM

 In the race for herd immunity, New Mexico is being heralded around the country as an unlikely frontrunner. Over half of the state’s population has gotten at least one dose of vaccine. But when it comes to some demographics hit hardest by the virus, vaccination rates are falling short. The numbers continue to highlight what the pandemic put into sharp relief—structural racism interfering with public health efforts.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


CARES Act money was distributed last year to keep businesses open during the pandemic, to help people pay rent, and even to help local governments stay afloat. But for the country’s indiginous tribes, who are among the most vulnerable, getting those dollars took extra work and more time. KUNM’s Khalil Ekulona recently asked Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez what it took to get their stimulus and disaster relief payments and how they’re using the money to help people on the reservation. 

No More Normal: A Year In Pandemic Part 2

Apr 4, 2021
Vanessa Bowen

2020 was a long year. We don't have to tell you. It was a constant barrage of reality-shaping events, and it hasn’t stopped. What is different for us now that we are on the verge of—maybe, knock on wood—coming out of the pandemic? How are the leaders we elected approaching their duties now? How are activists applying what they’ve learned to push their causes forward? How are the people who experienced hardship pre-pandemic adapting to a possible post-pandemic life? No More Normal reflects on last year while keeping our focus on the future.

Amanda Fehring

 

This is the first in a two-part series about the vaccine rollout in Indian Country. Part two looks at the challenges of vaccinating our region's urban Native population. 

 

mmiw_009 / Flickr

New Mexico PBS correspondent Antonia Gonzales talks with Navajo Nation First Lady Phefelia Nez about her work in New Mexico and Arizona on the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Nez serves on the New Mexico task force that just announced suggestions for dealing with this problem. First Lady Nez also discusses upcoming efforts to educate and provide resources to tribal members.

Courtesy of the Dennison family

 

Karlets Dennison's favorite place to be was on a horse. Preferably with loved ones riding alongside him.

"That was his love. His horses, his ranch, his rodeo," said his wife Debbie Jackson-Dennison. "And he loved sharing it with his kids and his granddaughter."

Courtesy: Shoshone-Bannock Tribes

 

Tribes in the Mountain West reached resolutions in two long standing environmental disputes this week. The victories for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and the Navajo Nation could signal a shift toward accountability for corporate polluters operating on tribal lands.

About a week before Election Day, as the Wind River Reservation was bracing for snow, Wyoming state Rep. Andi Clifford squeezed in some roadside campaigning outside of a community hall in Arapahoe.

"Normally we would've been inside," she said. "But we can't, so we're out here."

The confirmation of conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday raises concerns about preserving access to abortion and other reproductive health care. A new survey of Indigenous people in New Mexico found a vast majority support reproductive freedom and peoples’ right to make health care decisions without government interference. Krystal Curley, who’s Diné and the director of Indigenous Life Ways, a nonprofit that works with communities impacted by uranium mining as well as violence against women. She says the report released this week is the largest known study of Native Americans’ views on reproductive health care.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

The crew at NoMoNo headquarters takes a look at where we’ve been since the pandemic started, reflecting a little—hard to find time to do it when we’re all stuck in an unending news cycle. But hopefully, this is a pleasant look back if you’ve been hanging in there with us. We want to thank all of you who listened to the show when it was Your New Mexico Government back in March—you know, 1,000 years ago.

CUNY Mapping Service

After COVID-19 hit, federal officials initially gave extra time to Census collectors to count every person living in the United States. But then they decided to end the survey a month early, increasing the risk of an undercount that could cause New Mexico to lose out on hundreds of millions of dollars for housing, food assistance, childcare, transportation and more. Native Americans living in rural areas are historically undercounted, and the pandemic has made data collection even harder. Reporter Shaun Griswold, who publishes at New Mexico In Depth for Report for America, has been keeping an eye on how the Census is reaching Native populations in the state and he gave KUNM an update on that process.

Don J. Usner/Searchlight NM

University Showcase, Friday 8/21 8a: COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the Navajo Nation, which only this week began a cautious re-opening. Not long ago, the vast reservation had one of the highest infection rates per capita in the United States. 

Paul Tashjian, Audubon New Mexico


Let's Talk New Mexico 8/11 8a: The Navajo community of To'Hajiilee faces severe water shortages and has worked with Bernalillo County to find a way to pipe in water from Albuquerque. But a land development company stands in the way. On this week’s Let’s Talk New Mexico, we'll discuss the To'Hajiilee water crisis, plus the aftereffects of the 2015 Gold King Mine spill and this year’s dramatic increase in water use in New Mexico's largest city.

No More Normal: Lessons Of Endurance

Jul 20, 2020
Zack Freeman

 

No More Normal is a new show brought to you by the same crew behind YNMG. On episode 1, we’re talking endurance. In the last few months, how many times have you heard someone say, “We’re in this for the long haul”? It’s going to take all kinds of gritty willpower to keep each other alive and to make it through the changes in our world. This week we learn from younger folks. We get lessons, advice and stories from civil rights activists. We talk about the endurance of people who’ve been fighting racist mascots and imagery for decades. And we tag along for a long run in the brutal heat.

Leslie Peterson via Flickr

In 2016, thousands of people from many tribal nations converged to support the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota in trying to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The oil pipeline was built anyway, and it has sprung leaks since it was constructed. But this week, a federal judge ordered the Dakota Access Pipeline, or DAPL, to stop transporting oil pending a full environmental review. 

 

Liz Mckenzie is a New Mexico musician who traveled to Standing Rock in 2016 with supplies and lived there for months as water protectors faced state violence. She spoke with KUNM, first offering a land acknowledgement.

John Phelan / Wikimedia Commons

Tribal communities in New Mexico have been hit especially hard by the coronavirus, due to deep social and economic disparities resulting from colonization. Now, the pandemic threatens to make those disparities worse by hindering the 2020 Census count that will affect how much federal funding goes to tribes over the next decade. Shaun Griswold, urban Indigenous reporter with New Mexico In Depth, reports tribes are playing catch-up after public health shutdowns along with geography and other factors have led to low Census response rates so far. He told KUNM’s Hannah Colton that an undercount could mean a difference of millions of federal dollars going to basics like housing and education.   

YNMG & COVID: Elections Have Consequences

May 28, 2020
BUSCHAP VIA FLICKR / CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE

While many of us are focused on the demands of the pandemic, the primary election came up quick in New Mexico, and the general election is right around the corner. What is the consequence of doing nothing at all this election cycle? In episode 68, we take a look at the primary coming up on Tuesday, June 2, with a narrow focus on the state and local elections.

The U.S. Census Bureau had just begun field operations when the coronavirus pandemic hit. Now, as the agency is preparing to restart, it’s focusing on rural and tribal communities.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

Let's Talk New Mexico 5/28, 8a: Many of the people protesting COVID-related restrictions around New Mexico are white, while the virus has disproportionately impacted Native communities. This week on Let’s Talk New Mexico, we look at how whiteness plays into anti-shutdown responses in towns that border tribal communities.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a virtual town hall Tuesday that the reservation hit its peak number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and emergency room visits a few weeks early thanks to social distancing and mask-wearing.

 


YNMG & COVID: Hail Sanitation!

May 15, 2020
Wikimedia Commons

 

The streets are quieter. Restaurants and bars are empty. But the trash is still picked up each week, homes are still getting cleaned and hospitals are still sanitized for safety. On episode 63, we honor the bravery of domestic cleaners, hospital janitors, sanitation workers and home health workers. They're front-line workers who need more than just thanks—they need fair pay and proper protection during the pandemic.

When you think about Doctors Without Borders you may picture the medical humanitarian NGO working in war-torn countries like Syria or Yemen. But as the COVID-19 crisis lays bare inequalities and vulnerabilities in the U.S., the organization's working here, too, assisting the Navajo Nation in fighting the disease.

Hannah Colton / KUNM


Lets Talk New Mexico 4/30, 8a: Some New Mexicans are talking about reopening businesses in defiance of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s stay-at-home order, and mayors of 19 municipalities in the state recently signed on to a letter requesting that the governor allow them to reopen. However, health care workers say that could make things worse for those on the front lines of the COVID pandemic. This week, we’re talking about calls to reopen the economy, what that timeline could look like, and what it might mean for New Mexicans. 

YNMG & COVID: Hail The Hospital Workers!

Apr 28, 2020
Marco Verch via Flickr CC

We devote episode 52 to some of the many people working on the front lines of the pandemic caring for COVID patients in New Mexico, sometimes without enough protective gear to feel safe. We ask them what urgent calls to reopen the economy sound like from where they're standing. And we find out how it's going for them, whether they're supported and heard by the institutions they work in. 

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