American Indian Policy Institute at
Arizona State University | Monthly Newsletter

 April 2020 Newsletter 

AIPI Launches Blog to Cover the COVID-19 Outbreak in Indian Country 

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New Advisory Board Member:
Sarah EchoHawk  

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AIPI Attends the Reservation Economic Summit (RES)   

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Click here to read an update from AIPI Director Traci Morris.
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About AIPI
New AIPI Blog Covering COVID-19 in Indian Country 

Click here to check out our new blog! Using this blog, we will document how Indian Country has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in real time. The topics of blog posts vary from legislative actions that affect tribes to stories of resilience from indigenous communities. New posts will be added almost every day. 

If you’re new to our blog, start with this post, which includes a list of resources from national organizations and federal agencies that are leading the nation’s response to COVID-19. Also check out this post, for an overview of the three major emergency spending packages passed by Congress in March and how they affect tribes. Finally, for a little bit of spring sunshine, read this curated selection of stories that illustrate the resilience of Indian Country. 
New Advisory Board Member: Sarah EchoHawk 

The AIPI Advisory Board welcomed its newest member: Sarah EchoHawk. Last month the Advisory Board held a meeting (via Zoom) in which EchoHawk was introduced to the rest of the team. 

“Sarah is a wonderful addition to our AIPI Board of Advisors,” said Geoffrey Blackwell, AIPI Board Vice-Chair. “She is a conscientious and well-informed leader, dedicated to the advancement of indigenous people in the STEM fields. Her contributions will be both welcome and timely.” 

EchoHawk has been the Chief Executive Officer of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) since 2013. Prior to her current position with AISES, EchoHawk has previously served in leadership and communications roles for organizations such as the First Nations Development Institute, First Nations Oweesta Corporation, and the American Indian College Fund. Her diversity of experience and depth of knowledge of current affairs in Indian Country make her ideal for the AIPI advisory board. Read the full press release here

RES 2020 

The Annual Reservation Economic Summit, hosted by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, took place Sunday, March 1 to Thursday, March 5. AIPI Director Morris attended and spoke at the event. The event happened before the COVID-19 virus was widespread in the U.S. and the conference was well attended despite a degree of uncertainty on people’s minds. Dr. Morris was one of a number of speakers invited to speak on the afternoon of Tuesday, March 4, at the Developing Agriculture Economies in Indian Country, hosted by the Native American Agriculture Fund.

The main events, such as the openings and the luncheons each day, were packed with multiple speakers such as Governor Stephen Roe Lewis of the Gila River Indian Community, the Honorable Jeannie Hovland, Commissioner for the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Casey Winn Losar, Vice President, and Director, for the Center for Indian Country Development, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and Henry Childs II, from the Minority Business Development Agency at the U.S. Department of Commerce. These speakers were balanced out by an inspiring keynote address by actor and film producer Martin Sensmeier and a presentation about Native art and supporting Native Artists from Louie Gong of 8th Generation. We encourage you to review the other speaker videos here.

Photo: Governor Stephen Roe Lewis (GRIC) speaking at RES 2020.

Ittifatpoli (a message from our director) 

It’s shocking how much in our lives has changed since last month—since the beginning of this month, really. AIPI started off the year with clear objectives and goals for our research and policy work. This month, we were ready to launch new initiatives. But by the time we hosted our Advisory Board meeting and brought on our new Advisory Board member, Sarah EchoHawk, we had been given clear new goals and directives. 

Our Advisory Board asked us to inventory the impact of COVID-19 on Indian Country, to create a blog page where we could present best practices in Indian Country of what’s working now and what needs strengthening. Eventually, this information will inform long-range policy recommendations.

One thing that emerged in the last two weeks is the issue of broadband connectivity on tribal lands. We knew this. It’s been the subject of our research and my research for years. It’s nothing new to say tribal and rural communities are disconnected. But as we watch it impact our students and coworkers, the digital divide is no longer just anecdotal. 

At this time, we are actively engaged in writing the policy recommendations and in supporting those who would solve the issue on the ground. Right now we’re working on the immediate community needs. Please watch our blog as we’re posting daily. We are working to remain informed about how COVID-19 is impacting Indian Country by listening in on the various policy conference calls happening throughout the country. We are hearing what tribal leaders say, what organizational leaders are saying, and what our students are saying. I suspect that connectivity is not the only issue we’ll be undertaking as this year of change goes on. 

*Due to CDC recommendations and health concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, many previously scheduled upcoming events have been canceled or postponed. 

 April 2020 

NAFOA *Virtual* 38th Annual Conference | April 20-21, 2020 | Online
 May 2020 (tentative dates) 

Carlos Nakai Quartet | May 1, 2020 | Tucson, AZ

Youth Job Readiness Training | May 22-23, 2020 | Phoenix Indian Center

Museum of Northern Arizona's Heritage Festivals: Zuni Festival | May 23-24, 2020 | Flagstaff, AZ

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