Indian & Indigenous Developments

Indian and Indigenous Developments

Steve Sachs

Environmental Developments

Hiroko Tabuchi, "Global Methane Emissions Reach a Record High: Scientists expect emissions, driven by fossil fuels and agriculture, to continue rising rapidly," The New York Times, July 14, 2020,, reported, " Global emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, soared to a record high in 2017, the most recent year for which worldwide data are available, researchers said Tuesday.
      And they warned that the rise — driven by fossil fuel leaks and agriculture — would most certainly continue despite the economic slowdown from the coronavirus crisis, which is bad news for efforts to limit global warming and its grave effects
      The latest findings, published on Tuesday in two scientific journals (, underscore how methane presents a growing threat, even as the world finds some success in reining in carbon dioxide emissions, the most abundant greenhouse gas and the main cause of global warning."
      Brandon Specktor "Earth barreling toward 'Hothouse' state not seen in 50 million years, epic new climate record shows: Record goes back to the dinosaur extinction," Science Live, September 10, 2020,, reports that a new study of climate developments since the event the extinguished the dinosaurs, shows that current global warming is rapidly moving the Earth toward a "hot house" climate not seen in 50 million years.

      "2020 on track to be one of three warmest years on record," World Meteorological Organization (WMO), December 2, 2020,, reported, " Climate change continued its relentless march in 2020, which is on track to be one of the three warmest years on record. 2011-2020 will be the warmest decade on record, with the warmest six years all being since 2015, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
       Ocean heat is at record levels and more than 80% of the global ocean experienced a marine heatwave at some time in 2020, with widespread repercussions for marine ecosystems already suffering from more acidic waters due to carbon dioxide (CO2) absorption, according to the provisional WMO report on the State of the Global Climate in 2020 ("

Global annual mean temperature 12-20

August, September and October 2020 were record hot months in California, contributing to the state's worst fire season (Hawley Smith, "California suffered three straight months of record heat," Albuquerque Journal, December 9, 2020.

Jake Johnson, "'This Scares Me,' Says Bill McKibben as Arctic Hits 100.4°F—Hottest Temperature on Record'100°F about 70 miles north of the Arctic Circle today in Siberia. That's a first in all of recorded history. We are in a climate emergency,'" Common Dreams , June 22, 2020,, reported, " A small Siberian town north of the Arctic Circle reached 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday, a figure that—if verified—would be the highest temperature reading in the region since record-keeping began in 1885.
"This scares me, I have to say," environmentalist and co-founder Bill McKibben tweeted in response to news of the record-breaking reading in Verkhoyansk, where the
average high temperature in June is 68°F.
       Washington Post climate reporter Andrew Freedman noted Sunday that if the reading is confirmed, it 'would be the northernmost 100-degree reading ever observed, and the highest temperature on record in the Arctic, a region that is warming at more than twice the rate of the rest of the globe."
      'On Sunday, th e same location recorded a high temperature of 95.3 degrees (35.2 Celsius), showing the Saturday reading was not an anomaly,' the newspaper reported. 'While some questions remain about the accuracy of the Verkhoyansk temperature measurement, data from a Saturday weather balloon launch at that location supports the 100-degree reading. Temperatures in the lower atmosphere, at about 5,000 feet, also were unusually warm at 70 degrees (21 Celsius), a sign of extreme heat at the surface.'
      The World Meteorological Organization said Sunday that is 'preliminarily accepting the observation as a new extreme' as it conducts a more thorough review of the Verkhoyansk reading.
      '100°F about 70 miles north of the Arctic Circle today in Siberia. That's a first in all of recorded history, tweeted meteorologist Eric Holthaus. 'We are in a climate emergency.'
      The reading comes as Siberia is in the midst of a prolonged heatwave that has alarmed climate scientists and activists.
      'Been watching the Siberian heatwave for months and it's beyond terrifying—already suffering what was expected in 2100 in a worst case scenario, said climate activist and conservationist Charlie Gardner.
      As the Guardian reported last week, 'the freak temperatures [in Siberia] have been linked to wildfires, a huge oil spill, and a plague of tree-eating moths.'
       'Russian towns in the Arctic Circle have recorded extraordinary temperatures, with Nizhnyaya Pesha hitting 30°C on 9 June and Khatanga, which usually has daytime temperatures of around 0°C at this time of year, hitting 25°C on 22 May. The previous record was 12°C.'
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Jessica Corbett, "As Arctic Burns, New Data Shows June 2020 Capped Off Year Tied for Hottest on Record: 'So I ask again: where are the breaking news?' tweeted teen climate activist Greta Thunberg. 'Where are the front pages? Where are the emergency meetings? Where are the adults?'" Common Dreams, July, 7, 2020,, reported, " The unprecedented heat and fires that ravaged Siberia last month came at the tail end of a 12-month period that European researchers revealed Tuesday effectively tied with the hottest year on record based on global surface temperatures, bolstering calls from activists for international bodies and governments across the globe to take immediate action to tackle the climate crisis.
      As Carbon Brief noted on Twitter, the 12-month period ending in June aligned with a record from August 2015 to September 2016. The findings come from the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), which is implemented by the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) on behalf of the European Commission.
      Swedish 17-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, founder of the global youth-led Fridays for Future movement, responded to Carbon Brief's tweets about the new C3S report with a series of questions reiterating her challenge to reporters, governments, and other "adults" to take the planetary emergency seriously:
       The European researchers found that during June 2020 alone, global temperatures were 0.53°C warmer than the average for June 1981–2010. Last month was also less than 0.01°C cooler than the warmest June on record in 2019 and 0.1°C warmer than the third warmest June in 2016.
      In a press statement Tuesday, C3S explained that in terms of data from June 2020, " the most striking regional feature was exceptional warmth over Arctic Siberia, where average temperatures reached as high as 10°C above normal for June. The temperature averaged over all land in Arctic Siberia combined was more than five degrees above normal, and more than a degree higher than in 2018 and 2019, the two previous warmest Junes."
      'Finding what caused these record temperatures is not a straightforward endeavor as there are many contributing factors interacting with each other,' said C3S director Carlo Buontempo. 'Siberia and the Arctic Circle in general have large fluctuations from year to year and have experienced other relatively warm Junes before.'
       'What is worrisome is that the Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the world,' he continued. 'Western Siberia experiencing warmer-than-average temperatures so long during the winter and spring is unusual, and the exceptionally high temperatures in Arctic Siberia that have occurred now in June 2020 are equally a cause for concern.'
      As Common Dreams reported June 27, experts linked the temperatures and fires in Siberia last month to the climate crisis. 'Had the climate not changed due to man-made greenhouse gases, the heat we've seen in parts of Siberia would have been a 100,000-year event,' said Weather Channel meteorologist Carl Parker.
      Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) senior scientist and ECMWF wildfire expert Mark Parrington said Tuesday that 'what is remarkable with these fires in Siberia is the striking similarity with what we saw over the same period of last year in terms of both the area affected and the scale of the fires.'
      'Last year was already by far an unusual, and record, summer for fires in the Arctic Circle in our Global Fire Assimilation System dataset, which goes back to 2003,' said Parrington. 'This year has evolved in a very similar way and if it continues to progress like last year, we could see intense activity for the next few weeks.'
      'Higher temperatures and drier surface conditions are providing ideal conditions for these fires to burn and to persist for so long over such a large area," he added. "We have seen very similar patterns in the fire activity and soil moisture anomalies across the region in our fire monitoring activities over the last few years.'
      During the July 2019–June 2020 period, global temperatures were 'well above the 1981–2010 average over a large part of Siberia and the Arctic Ocean to the north, to the north of Alaska, and over parts of West Antarctica' as well as 'above average over virtually all of Europe,' according to C3S.
      'Globally, the 12-month period from July 2019 to June 2020 was 0.65°C warmer than the 1981-2010 average," the new C3S report says. "The value for this period is very close to that of the 12-month periods ending in May 2020 and September 2016, the two warmest such periods in this record.'
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Somini Sengupta, "Intense Arctic Wildfires Set a Pollution Record: High temperatures and dry soil mean ideal conditions for fires. Blazes in June produced more carbon emissions than any other fires in almost two decades of monitoring.
July 7, 2020,, reported, " Intense wildfires in the Arctic in June released more polluting gases into the Earth’s atmosphere than in any other month in 18 years of data collection, European scientists said in a report Tuesday.
      These fires offer a stark portrait of planetary warming trends." The amount of carbon released is a record. breaking last year's record from, up to that time, unprecedented Arctic wildfires.
      "The Arctic is warming at least two and a half times faster than the global average rate. Soils in the region are drier than before. Wildfires are spreading across a large swath. In June, fires released 59 million metric tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide, greater than all the carbon emissions produced by Norway , an oil-producing country, in a year."

Henry Fountain, "Shift to a Not-So-Frozen North Is Well Underway, Scientists Warn: 'There is no reason to think that in 30 years much of anything will be as it is today,' one of the editors of a new report on the Arctic climate said," The New York Times, December 8, 2020,, reported, " The Arctic continued its unwavering shift toward a new climate in 2020, as the effects of near-record warming surged across the region, shrinking ice and snow cover and fueling extreme wildfires, scientists said Tuesday in an annual assessment of the region ("
      ” 'Nearly everything in the Arctic, from ice and snow to human activity, is changing so quickly that there is no reason to think that in 30 years much of anything will be as it is today,' he [University of Alaska climate specialist, Rick Thoman] said."

Jessica Corbett, "Humanity on Track to Soon Hit 1.5ºC Paris Accord Limit as Atmospheric CO2 Nears Level Not Seen in 15 Million Years: "It's still not too late to avoid the worst effects of the #ClimateEmergency. But governments need to act NOW," tweeted Greenpeace." Common Dreams. July 9. 2020,, reported, " As a United Nations agency released new climate projections showing that the world is on track in the next five years to hit or surpass a key limit of the Paris agreement, authors of a new study warned Thursday that increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is nearing a level not seen in 15 million years.
      For the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports (, researchers at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom examined CO2 levels during the Late Pliocene about three million years ago 'to search for modern and near future-like climate states,' co-author Thomas Chalk explained in a series of tweets.
      'A striking result we've found is that the warmest part of the Pliocene had between 380 and 420 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere,' Chalk told the Guardian. 'This is similar to today's value of around 415 parts per million, showing that we are already at levels that in the past were associated with temperature and sea-level significantly higher than today.'
       When CO2 levels peaked during the Pliocene, temperatures were 3ºC to 4ºC hotter and seas were 65 feet higher, the newspaper reported. Chalk said that 'currently, our CO2 levels are rising at about 2.5 ppm per year, meaning that by 2025 we will have exceeded anything seen in the last 3.3 million years.'
       'We are burning through the Pliocene and heading towards a Miocene-like future,' warned co-author Gavin Foster, referencing a period from about 23 to 5.3 million years ago. It was during the Miocene, around 15 million years ago, when 'our ancestors are thought to have diverged from orangutans and become recognizably hominoid,' the Guardian noted.
       Reporting on the study elicited concern and calls for action from environmentalists and advocacy groups.
      'Every kilo of CO2 we emit is one we have to sequester later, provided the food doesn't run out first,'
tweeted Extinction Rebellion Finland, urging the international community to #ActNow .
      Nathaniel Stinnett, executive director of the U.S.-based Environmental Voter Project, also responded to the report on Twitter, saying, 'Big Oil and Gas are killing us.'
       A new report released Thursday by the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) about global temperatures likely coming in the next five years provoked similar alarm and demands.
       'It's still not too late to avoid the worst effects of the #ClimateEmergency . But governments need to act NOW,' declared Greenpeace, pushing for a #GreenRecoveryfrom the Covid-19 pandemic.
      The WMO report projects that the annual global temperature is likely to be at least 1°C warmer than pre-industrial levels in each of the next five years. Although it is 'extremely unlikely' the average temperature for 2020–2024 will be 1.5°C warmer than pre-industrial levels, WMO warned certain periods could hit that temperature.
       Specifically, there is about a 70% chance that one or more months during those five years will be at least 1.5°C hotter than pre-industrial levels and about a 20% chance that one of the next five years will be at least that warm, according to WMO's Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update, led by the United Kingdom's Met Office.
      In a statement Thursday, WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas also pointed to the coronavirus pandemic—which prompted global lockdowns that briefly caused planet-heating emissions to drop—as an opportunity to pursue bold recovery plans that incorporate policies that combat the climate crisis, such as rapidly transitioning to renewable energy worldwide.
      'WMO has repeatedly stressed that the industrial and economic slowdown from Covid-19 is not a substitute for sustained and coordinated climate action,' Taalas said. 'Due to the very long lifetime of CO2 in the atmosphere, the impact of the drop in emissions this year is not expected to lead to a reduction of CO2 atmospheric concentrations which are driving global temperature increases.'
       'Whilst Covid-19 has caused a severe international health and economic crisis, failure to tackle climate change may threaten human well-being, ecosystems, and economies for centuries,' he continued. 'Governments should use the opportunity to embrace climate action as part of recovery program and ensure that we grow back better.'
      Taalas added that 'this study shows—with a high level of scientific skill—the enormous challenge ahead in meeting the Paris agreement on climate change target of keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5°C.'
      While some scientists and activists have criticized the 2015 Paris climate agreement as not ambitious enough, it is backed by nearly all nations on Earth. U.S. President Donald Trump began the one-year withdrawal process in November 2019 but former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, has vowed to rejoin the accord if he wins this year's election.
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Coral Davenport and Jeanna Smialek, "Federal Report Warns of Financial Havoc From Climate Change: A report commissioned by President Trump’s Commodity Futures Trading Commission issued dire warnings about climate change’s impact on financial markets," The New York Times, September 8, 2020,, reported, "A report commissioned by federal regulators overseeing the nation’s commodities markets has concluded that climate change threatens U.S. financial markets, as the costs of wildfires, storms, droughts and floods spread through insurance and mortgage markets , pension funds and other financial institutions.
       'A world wracked by frequent and devastating shocks from climate change cannot sustain the fundamental conditions supporting our financial system,' concluded the report, Managing Climate Risk in the Financial System (, which was requested last year by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and set for release on Wednesday morning."

       Somini Sengupta, "Hotter Planet Already Poses Fatal Risks, Health Experts Warn: A new report presented climate change as an immediate public health danger and urged lawmakers to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
December 2, 2020,, reported, " Rising temperatures and environmental pollutants are already endangering the health and well-being of Americans, with fatal consequences for thousands of older men and women, a team of public health experts warned Wednesday. Their report, published in The Lancet ( ), called on lawmakers to stem the rise of planet-warming gases in the next five years.
       The section on the United States presents climate change as a public health risk now, rather than a hazard faced by future generations. It points to the immediate dangers of extreme heat, wildfires and air pollution, and makes the case for rapidly shifting to a green economy as a way to improve public health."

Veronica Penney, "2020 Had the Warmest September on Record, Data Shows: The analysis, by European scientists, kept this year on track to be one of the five hottest in recorded history," The New York Times, October 7, 2020,, reported, " Worldwide, last month was the warmest September on record, topping a record set just a year before, European scientists announced Wednesday," As the world was on course to be at least one of the hottest years ever recorded."

As the Earth continues to warm, in 2019, Greenland suffered a record loss of Ice, losing it at twice the average rate of loss from 2003-18 (Henry Fountain, "Greenland's Record Ice Loss," The New York Times, August 25, 2020).

Jake Johnson, "'Yet Another Alarm Bell': Ice Chunk Twice Size of Manhattan Breaks Off Greenland Glacier Amid Record Arctic Warming: News of the development came as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared this summer the hottest ever recorded in the Northern Hemisphere," Common Dreams, September 15, 2020,, reported, " A chunk of ice nearly twice the size of Manhattan has broken off from Greenland's largest remaining glacier and fallen into the ocean, a frightening phenomenon that researchers and environmentalists attributed to record-breaking Arctic warming driven by the human-caused climate crisis.
      'This is yet another alarm bell being rung by the climate crisis in a rapidly heating Arctic,' Greenpeace spokesperson Laura Meller told the Associated Press."

Henry Fountain, "The Arctic Is Shifting to a New Climate Because of Global Warming: Open water and rain, rather than ice and snow, are becoming typical of the region, a new study has found," The New York Times, September 14, 2020,, reported, " The effects of global warming in the Arctic are so severe that the region is shifting to a different climate, one characterized less by ice and snow and more by open water and rain, scientists said Monday.
      Already, they said, sea ice in the Arctic has declined so much that even an extremely cold year would not result in as much ice as was typical decades ago. Two other characteristics of the region’s climate, seasonal air temperatures and the number of days of rain instead of snow, are shifting in the same way, the researchers said."

Brett Wilkins, "Sudden Collapse': Study Suggests 60% of Antarctic Ice Shelves Face Fracture Risk: Massive southern shelves split by climate-induced hydofracturing can collapse in hours—or even minutes—fueling dangerous sea level rise and coastal flooding," Common Dreams, August 26, 2020,, reported, "More than 60% of the massive floating ice shelves extending from Antarctica could fracture and collapse with astonishing rapidity, a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature has found.
      Climate researchers at Columbia University in New York, Edinburgh University in Scotland, and Utrecht University in the Netherlands found that surging meltwater from warmer seas could cause the ice shelves to undergo a process called hydrofracturing, which could potentially trigger ice shelf collapses within hours or even minutes. This, in turn, would accelerate sea level rise, causing devastating coastal flooding around the world.
      Although ice shelves float in the ocean, they are connected to the Antarctic land mass and act as stoppers that prevent ice sheets, which are as large as the United States and Mexico combined, from breaking off into the sea. During hydrofracturing, water, which is heavier than ice, forces the fractures to tear open, causing the ice shelf to quickly deteriorate and collapse.
      The researchers used remote satellite sensing, theoretical modeling, and artificial intelligence to obtain their results.
      'I trained a machine learning model—a neural network, to be specific—to learn how fracture patterns look like on satellite images,' Ching-Yao Lai, a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and study lead author, told Gizmodo. 'This is, to the best of our knowledge, the first use of machine learning on continent-scale data in the polar region.'
       While the study shows which ice shelves are most likely to collapse, it does not predict when such events are likely to occur.
      'The time frame over which this process could happen is the biggest question
,' Christine Dow, the Canada Research Chair in Glacier Hydrology and Ice Dynamics at the University of Waterloo in Ontario—who was not involved in the study— told Live Science.
       The new research suggests that the loss of Antarctic ice could proceed faster than some climactic models have predicted as atmospheric warming accelerates.
      Earlier this week, The Observer reported that UK researchers have found that a staggering 28 trillion tons of ice have disappeared from the surface of the planet since 1994. That's enough to cover the entire land surface of the United Kingdom with a 100-meter (330-foot) sheet of ice, according to Leeds University researcher Tom Slater.
      The scientists from Leeds Univeristy, Edinburgh Univeristy, and University College London said sea level rise due to melting glaciers and ice sheets could reach as high as 1 meter (3.3 feet) by the year 2100.
      "To put that in context, every centimeter of sea level rise means about a million people will be displaced from their low-lying homelands," Prof. Andy Shepherd, director of the Leeds University Centre for Polar Observation and Modeling, told The Observer.
study released in February just after Antartica recorded its highest-ever temperature, 18.3 degrees Celsius (64.9° F), warned that catastrophic global heating was leading to 'irreversible' loss of Antarctic ice.
       Amid such warnings, and despite a slight and temporary decrease in greenhouse gas emissions during the coronavirus pandemic, carbon emissions are surging around the world.
      In the United States, the Trump administration—which has called climate change a "Chinese hoax"—continues to roll back environmental regulations meant to mitigate what 97 percent of climate scientists concur is heating caused by human activity. Last month, the New York Times reported the administration has reversed 68 environmental rules, and was in the process of scrapping 32 more.
      Earlier this month, the administration announced it was finalizing plans for oil and natural gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska, home to one of the world's largest continous tracts of unspoiled wilderness and to indigenous peoples who depend upon the pristine land and water there for their physical and spiritual survival.
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"Emissions Gap Report 2020," UNEP, UNEP DTU Partnership, December 9, 2020,, reported, "For over a decade, the UNEP Emissions Gap Report has provided a yearly review of the difference between where greenhouse emissions are predicted to be in 2030 and where they should be to avoid the worst impacts of climate change."
      The full 2020 report may be downloaded at: in this year’s report
      " The report finds that, despite a brief dip in carbon dioxide emissions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is still heading for a temperature rise in excess of 3°C this century – far beyond the Paris Agreement goals of limiting global warming to well below 2°C and pursuing 1.5°C.
      However , a low-carbon pandemic recovery could cut 25 per cent off the greenhouse emissions expected in 2030, based on policies in place before COVID-19. Such a recovery would far outstrip savings foreseen with the implementation of unconditional Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement, and put the world close to the 2°C pathway.
The report also analyses low-carbon recovery measures so far, summarizes the scale of new net-zero emissions pledges by nations and looks at the potential of the lifestyle, aviation and shipping sectors to bridge the gap."
       Emissions Gap Report 2020 Key Messages
      Despite a brief dip in carbon dioxide emissions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is still heading for a temperature rise in excess of 3°C this century – far beyond the Paris Agreement goals of limiting global warming to well below 2°C and pursuing 1.5°C. However, a green pandemic recovery can cut around 25 per cent off the greenhouse emissions predicted in 2030 and put the world close to the 2°C pathway. Governments should pull out all the stops to implement a green recovery and strengthen their pledges before the next climate meeting in 2021.
      Although the COVID-19 pandemic will cause a dip in 2020 emissions, this will not bring the world closer to the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming this century to well below 2°C and pursuing 1.5°C
The year 2020 is on track to be one of the warmest on record, with wildfires, droughts, storms and glacier melt intensifying.
      In 2019, total greenhouse gas emissions, including land-use change, reached a new high of 59.1 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent (GtCO2e).
       Carbon dioxide emissions are predicted to fall up to 7 per cent in 2020. However, long-term, this dip means only a 0.01°C reduction of global warming by 2050.
       Government pledges under the Paris Agreement, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), are still woefully inadequate. Predicted emissions in 2030 leave the world on the path to a 3.2°C increase this century, even if all unconditional NDCs are fully implemented.
       The levels of ambition in the Paris Agreement must be roughly tripled for the 2°C pathway and increased at least fivefold for the 1.5°C pathway.
       The pandemic is a warning from nature that we must act on climate change, nature loss and pollution. It also provides an opportunity for a recovery that puts the world on a 2°C pathway
      • A green pandemic recovery could cut up to 25 per cent off the emissions we would expect to see in 2030 based on policies in place before COVID-19. This far outstrips emissions savings that would be delivered under unconditional NDCs, although more will be needed to achieve the 1.5°C goal
       A green recovery could put emissions in 2030 at 44 GtCO2e – within the range of emissions that give a 66 per cent chance of holding temperatures to below 2°C.
       Measures to prioritize include direct support for zero-emissions technologies and infrastructure, reducing fossil fuel subsidies, no new coal plants, and promoting nature-based solutions – including large-scale landscape restoration and reforestation.
       To date, the opening for using recovery measures to accelerate a green transition has largely been missed. Unless this is reversed, the Paris Agreement goals will slip further out of reach
Around one-quarter of G20 members have dedicated shares of their spending, up to 3 per cent of GDP, explicitly to low-carbon measures
      For most, spending has been predominantly high carbon, implying net negative emissions, or neutral, having no discernible effects on emissions.
       There nonetheless remains a significant opportunity for countries to implement low-carbon policies and programmes. Governments must take this opportunity in the next stage of COVID-19 fiscal interventions.
       The growing number of countries committing to net-zero emissions goals by mid-century is the most significant climate policy development of 2020. To remain feasible and credible, these commitments must be urgently translated into strong near-term policies and action and reflected in NDCs.
      At the time of report completion , 126 countries covering 51 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions had adopted, announced or were considering net- zero goals. If the United States of America adopts a net-zero target by 2050, as suggested in the Biden-Harris climate plan, the share would increase to 63 per cent.
       Although the net-zero emissions goals are encouraging, they highlight a vast discrepancy between the ambition of the goals and the inadequate level of ambition in NDCs.
       More countries need to develop long-term strategies consistent with the Paris Agreement, and new and updated NDCs need to become consistent with the net- zero emissions goals.
       The shipping and aviation sector, which account for 5 per cent of global emissions and growing, also requires more attention
       • If current trends are continued, combined international emissions from shipping and aviation will likely consume between 60 and 220 per cent of allowable CO2 emissions by 2050 under the 1.5°C scenario.
       Improvements in technology and operations can improve the fuel efficiency of transport if incentivized, but projected increases in demand mean this will not result in decarbonization and absolute reductions of CO2. Both sectors need to combine energy efficiency with a rapid transition away from fossil fuel.
      Additional policies are required to drive changes in technology, operations, fuel use and demand
      Stronger action must include facilitating, encouraging and mandating changes in consumption behaviour by the private sector and individuals
       Around two-thirds of global emissions are linked to private households, when using consumption-based accounting. The mobility, residential and food sectors each contribute about 20 per cent of lifestyle emissions.
       Governments must enable and encourage consumers to avoid high-carbon consumption. Possible actions include replacing domestic short haul flights with rail, incentives and infrastructure to enable cycling and car-sharing, improving energy efficiency of housing, renewable energy defaults from grid providers and policies to reduce food waste.
       The combined emissions of the richest one per cent of the global population account for more than twice the poorest 50 per cent. The elite will need to reduce their footprint by a factor of at least 30 to stay in line with the Paris Agreement targets."

Eoin Higgins, "Without Urgent Action, Study Warns, Climate Crisis Could Kill as Many People as All Infectious Diseases Combined by 2100: 'We are studying the risk of death faced by our own children,'" Common Dreams, August 4, 2020,, reported, " A new study warns that the annual global death rate from the climate crisis could equal or even exceed current mortality levels from all infectious diseases combined by the end of the century if bold action is not taken.
       'We are studying the risk of death faced by our own children,' said University of California public policy professor Solomon Hsiang, one of the report's co-authors. 'Today's 10-year-old fifth grader will turn 65 in 2075, facing mortality risks from climate change every year of their retirement. Failing to address climate change is not that different from driving your kids around without a seat belt: you are putting their lives at risk.'
      The study, 'Valuing the Global Mortality Consequences of Climate Change Accounting for Adaptation Costs and Benefits," was published in the National Bureau of Economic Research on Monday (
       According to Climate Impact Lab, which produced the report, the study 'finds that in a world with continued high fossil-fuel emissions, warmer temperatures will rank among the world's most significant public health threats by the end of the century.'
      As Climate Impact Lab explained:
      'The study projects that climate change's effect on temperatures could raise global mortality rates by 73 deaths per 100,000 people in 2100 under a continued high emissions scenario, compared to a world with no warming. That level is roughly equal to the current death rate for all infectious diseases—including tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, malaria, dengue, yellow fever, and diseases transmitted by ticks, mosquitos, and parasites—combined (approximately 74 deaths per 100,000 globally).'
      'Our data indicate that with the continued growth of greenhouse gas emissions, the temperature effects of climate change are projected to be five times deadlier than recent U.S. flu seasons,' said report co-author Michael Greenstone, a University of Chicago economics professor. 'In poor hot countries, the heat may be even more threatening than cancer and heart disease are today.'
      The study also found that the economic cost of addressing the climate crisis will only increase if little or nothing is done to reduce emissions—'emitting one additional ton of CO2 today costs ourselves and future generations a total of $36.6 under a continued high emissions scenario and $17.1 under a moderate emissions scenario.'
      'Just as countries are impacted in different ways by extreme temperatures today, we find that the trend will continue and perhaps even intensify into the future as adaptation becomes more and more critical to people's survival,' said co-author Amir Jina, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. 'indeed, some will need to choose between paying a high cost to adapt and death.'
      Citing the social and economic upheaval sparked by the current Covid-19 pandemic, Jina told the Guardian that the unchecked climate crisis would have far-reaching negative impacts.
      'It's plausible that we could have the worst-case scenario and that would involve drastic measures such as lots of people migrating,' Jina said. 'Much like when Covid overwhelms a healthcare system, it's hard to tell what will happen when climate change will put systems under pressure like that. We need to understand the risk and invest to mitigate that risk, before we really start to notice the impacts.'
      Trevor Houser, a partner at analyst firm Rhodium Group and another report co-author, sounded a hopeful note, saying that if nations take decisive action now to combat the climate crisis, there's hope that the dire predictions in the study won't come to pass.
      'The world can still change course by aggressively reducing emissions, and in doing so has the potential to deliver some of the most significant public health gains in human history,' said Houser.
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Jessica Corbett, "UN Biodiversity Report Urges 8 Transitions Needed to Restore Essential Ecosystems Impacted by Humanity: 'We can no longer afford to cast nature aside. Now is the time for this massive step up—conserving, restoring, and using biodiversity fairly and sustainably,'" Common Dreams, September 15, 2020,, reported, " A major United Nations report released Tuesday—especially as the world continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic—underscores the enormous threat of ongoing biodiversity loss and details eight necessary transitions to restore ecosystems damaged by and essential to humanity.
      'The Covid-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of the relationship between people and nature—and it reminds us all of the profound consequences [for] our own well-being and survival that can result from continued biodiversity loss and degradation of the ecosystems
,' Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, executive secretary of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), said during a press conference to launch the new report.
      The fifth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-5 , serves as a final report card on the Aichi Biodiversity Targets that world leaders agreed upon in 2010 for the decade that followed. The latest version of CBD's flagship publication comes ahead of a September 30 summit to be held on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly's 75th session—which kicked off Tuesday—and amid efforts to finalize the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework , set to be adopted at a meeting in China next year.
      Since setting 20 specific goals at the meeting in Japan 10 years ago and the 2014 release of the fourth GBO, governments across the globe and other key actors have taken significant, meaningful action to address the international biodiversity crisis, Maruma Mrema said Tuesday. 'But I need to be brutally honest,' she added: 'in the final reckoning, the world has not met the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, nor are we on track to reach the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity.'
      The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 envisioned humanity working to and ultimately 'living in harmony with nature,' with the hope that 'by 2050, biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored, and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet, and delivering benefits essential for all people.'        Despite making notable progress on some targets, none of the 20 goals that were set in Japan have been fully achieved.
      Emphasizing Tuesday that biodiversity is 'declining at an unprecedented rate,' as shown by the GBO-5 and other recent accountings of human activity's devastating impact on nature, Maruma Mrema called for all governments to scale up their national ambitions. She also expressed hope that pursuing the much needed societal changes outlined in the CBD report will lead to the emergence of a greener post-pandemic future for people and the planet.
       'Each of the measures necessary to achieve the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity requires a significant shift away from 'business as usual' across a broad range of human activities,' says the GBO-5. Specifically, the report calls for:
      The land and forests transition: conserving intact ecosystems, restoring ecosystems, combating and reversing degradation, and employing landscape level spatial planning to avoid, reduce and mitigate land-use change.
      The sustainable agriculture transition: redesigning agricultural systems through agroecological and other innovative approaches to enhance productivity while minimizing negative impacts on biodiversity.
The sustainable food systems transition: enabling sustainable and healthy diets with a greater emphasis on a diversity of foods, mostly plant-based, and more moderate consumption of meat and fish, as well as dramatic cuts in the waste involved in food supply and consumption.
      The sustainable fisheries and oceans transition: protecting and restoring marine and coastal ecosystems, rebuilding fisheries and managing aquaculture and other uses of the oceans to ensure sustainability, and to enhance food security and livelihoods.
      The cities and infrastructure transition: deploying "green infrastructure" and making space for nature within built landscapes to improve the health and quality of life for citizens and to reduce the environmental footprint of cities and infrastructure.
      The sustainable freshwater transition: an integrated approach guaranteeing the water flows required by nature and people, improving water quality, protecting critical habitats, controlling invasive species and safeguarding connectivity to allow the recovery of freshwater systems from mountains to coasts.
The sustainable climate action transition: employing nature-based solutions, alongside a rapid phase-out of fossil fuel use, to reduce the scale and impacts of climate change, while providing positive benefits for biodiversity and other sustainable development goals.
      The biodiversity-inclusive One Health transition: managing ecosystems, including agricultural and urban ecosystems, as well as the use of wildlife, through an integrated approach, to promote healthy ecosystems and healthy people.

      'We can no longer afford to cast nature aside,' according to Inger Andersen, executive director of the U.N. Environment Program. "Now is the time for this massive step up—conserving, restoring, and using biodiversity fairly and sustainably.'
       'If we do not, biodiversity will continue to buckle under the weight of land and sea use changes, overexploitation, climate change, pollution, and invasive species, and that will further damage human health, economies, and societies with particular impact on Indigenous communities,' Anderson warned at the Tuesday press conference.
      'The Global Biodiversity Outlook that is being launched today,' she added, 'spells out the transitions that can create a society living in harmony with nature.;
      Echoing comments he has made throughout the pandemic, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres emphasized in a statement about the GBO-5that 'we have an unprecedented opportunity to 'build back better,' incorporating the transitions outlined in this Outlook and embodied in an ambitious plan to put the world on track to achieve the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity.'
      'Part of this new agenda must be to tackle the twin global challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss in a more coordinated manner,' he said, 'understanding both that climate change threatens to undermine all other efforts to conserve biodiversity, and that nature itself offers some of the most effective solutions to avoid the worst impacts of a warming planet.'
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Kenny Stancil, "'Few Things Matter More to Humans': UN Report Says We Must Protect and Restore Biodiversity of World's Soil: 'If things carry on as they are, the outlook is bleak, unquestionably. But I think it's not too late to introduce measures now,'" Common Dreams, December 4, 2020,, reported, " While nutritious diets, healthy populations, pollution remediation, and even climate change mitigation all depend, at least in part, on soil biodiversity, society is not doing enough to protect 'the variety of life below ground.'
      That's according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, which published a new report (pdf, Friday on " The State of Knowledge of Soil Biodiversity" in anticipation of World Soil Day this weekend.
       'Soil biodiversity and sustainable soil management is a prerequisite for the achievement of many of the Sustainable Development Goals,' said FAO deputy director-general Maria Helena Semedo. 'Therefore, data and information on soil biodiversity, from the national to theglobal level, are necessary in order to efficiently plan management strategies on a subject that is still poorly known."
      The loss of 'above-ground biodiversity' is a well-understood problem, researchers say, but the loss of 'biodiversity beneath our feet' is equally important and a crisis on par with the climate emergency, considering how soil forms the basis for food production, medical breakthroughs, carbon retention, and thus the foundation for human well-being.
      The report, compiled by 300 scientists, notes that soil is home to more than 25% of the world's biological diversity, and more than 40% of living organisms in terrestrial ecosystems are connected to soils during their life cycle.
      Biodiverse organisms in the soil are essential to the creation and maintenance of the conditions for sustainable agri-food systems, researchers point out. 'Few things matter more to humans [than the] vast reservoir of biodiversity living in the soil that is out of sight and is generally out of mind,' Richard Bardgett, a professor at the University of Manchester and a lead author of the report, told The Guardian.
       Despite the critical role played by healthy soil in improving food production, dominant patterns of agricultural intensification—including the overuse and misuse of pesticides and fertilizers—are major drivers of biodiversity loss, thus undermining soil's potential contributions.
       People should be worried about the loss of 'topsoil through bad treatment and then erosion,' said Nico Eisenhauer, a professor at Leipzig University and another lead author of the report.
      'Scientists describe soils as like the skin of the living world, vital but thin and fragile,' The Guardian reported Friday. 'It takes thousands of years for soils to form, meaning urgent protection and restoration of the soils that remain is needed.'
       Soil biodiversity is essential to sustaining life on Earth, which is why we need to 'protect this precious resource,' tweeted the FAO.
      Without biodiverse soil, ecosystems would cease to function. But 'the essential contributions of soil organisms are threatened by soil-degrading practices' such as deforestation, droughts and wildfires, monocropping and other intensive agricultural activities, as well as unsustainable forms of urbanization, the report notes.
For this reason, the FAO says that 'policies that minimize soil degradation and protect soil biodiversity should be a component of biodiversity protection at all levels.'
The report states:
       'While above-ground biodiversity is familiar to most people, and its protection is managed under national and global laws and regulations, there are few comparable activities that focus on the protection of soil biodiversity. Protecting above-ground biodiversity is not always sufficient to protect soil biodiversity. Above-ground and below-ground biodiversity are shaped by different environmental drivers, and are not necessarily linked to one another. Above and below-ground biodiversity requires tailored protection, conservation, and restoration considerations because they are connected but at the same time very distinct.'
      It's in humanity's best interest to promote soil health, researchers say, since it will shape the quality of our future. According to the report, soil organisms could help mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon—absorbing and therefore reducing the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
       'The most important action is to protect existing healthy soils from damage,' The Guardian reported, 'while degraded soils can be restored by growing a diverse range of plants.'
       To enhance soil biodiversity, the adoption of sustainable management and restoration practices in agricultural and urban settings 'needs to be scaled up,' the FAO stressed.
       'It's time we stopped treating soil like dirt,' The Guardian explained in a video:
       'If things carry on as they are, the outlook is bleak, unquestionably,' Bardgett warned. ' But I think it's not too late to introduce measures now.'
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Fiona Harvey, "Rewild to mitigate the climate crisis, urge leading scientists," Grist, This story was originally published by The Guardian ( and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration, Grist, October 18, 2020,, reported, " Restoring natural landscapes damaged by human exploitation can be one of the most effective and cheapest ways to combat the climate crisis while also boosting dwindling wildlife populations, a scientific study finds.
      If a third of the planet’s most degraded areas were restored, and protection was thrown around areas still in good condition, that would store carbon equating to half of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions since the industrial revolution.
      The changes would prevent about 70 percent of predicted species extinctions
, according to the research, which is published in the journal Nature (

Nada Culver, Natalie Dawson, Aurelio Ramos, and Jeff Wells, " Boreal Forests: A New Study Shows What It Will Take to Reverse Biodiversity Declines, Indigenous stewardship of ," Audubon Society, September 17, 2020,, reported, " Thanks to a new report, “ Financing Nature: Closing the Global Biodiversity Financing Gap ,” by the Paulson Institute, The Nature Conservancy, and Cornell University (, we now have an authoritative analysis of the financial resources needed to stop and reverse the catastrophic biodiversity declines happening across the globe. This is a crisis the world can afford to address.
      There can be little doubt that biodiversity is in free fall. Here in North America there are now almost three billion fewer birds than there were in the 1970s. One million species worldwide are threatened with extinction. A recent World Wildlife Fund report found that there has been a nearly 70 percent average decline in wildlife populations around the globe since 1970.
      Many governments committed to doing more to solve this crisis by signing the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which pledged them to reach certain targets for increased biodiversity protection
. But the 2020 UN Global Biodiversity Outlook, which reviewed the progress of the nations that signed the treaty back in 2010, told a clear-eyed but sobering story: none of the target goals were fully reached. For example, the 2020 goal of halving the rate of loss of natural habitats, although slowed compared to the previous decade, was not achieved. The goal of removing incentives and subsidies harmful to biodiversity and establishing ones helpful to biodiversity and sustainability has seen little progress. And the goal of improving the status of species most in decline has, except for a handful of exceptions, clearly not been achieved.
      This is not to say that success is not possible. Some initiatives in some countries made substantial conservation gains. Indigenous-led conservation in Canada has resulted in multimillion acre protected areas like those of Pimachiowin Aki in Manitoba and Ontario, Thaidene Nene and Edehzhie in the Northwest Territories and Tursujuq in Quebec. And millions of acres in Alaska and more in Canada could benefit from Indigenous stewardship. Audubon coastal bird initiatives across the U.S. and with partners in the Bahamas have been part of the incredible rebound of Piping Plover populations. Audubon California’s work with farmers to protect nesting habitat for Tricolored Blackbirds has helped sustain populations of that rare bird. National commitments in the U.S. to addressing harm from pesticides and applying the strong protections of the Endangered Species Act helped recover populations of the Bald Eagle and Brown Pelican.
      More of these kinds of successes are possible, and we must achieve them in order to save life on our planet
. But we need to put massively more resources and effort into such endeavors if we are to maintain the biodiversity that makes our planet healthy. How much more funding will be needed to turn the corner and stop continued biodiversity crashes has been a gaping unknown until now.
      The new Financing Nature report provides the answer at time when we need it most. Not only does the report describe the size of the global gap in funding (between $598 billion and $824 billion) but it also provides recommendations for how to close that gap. Before the trillion-dollar pandemic relief bills passed by the U.S. Congress, that would have seemed like an insurmountable amount of money—and it is indeed a large price tag but it is a crisis we can afford to fix. This new report provides wise, well-researched recommendations from credible and experienced voices on how governments can find smart ways to finance conservation at scales the world desperately needs. Measures like nature-based climate solutions are particularly cost-effective since they can also achieve as much as a third of the world’s needed climate change emission reductions.
      The Financing Nature report highlights the crucial need for all governments, national and sub-national (states or provinces/territories) included, to increase funding for conservation and development of these nature-based climate solutions. Canada’s federal government has shown       leadership with its recent investments in support of Indigenous-led conservation and Indigenous Guardians programs. It will be critical to build on these initial investments with long-term support for Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) and their management by Indigenous Guardians to protect biodiversity and climate resilience.
       In Latin America and the Caribbean, many nations have made substantial commitments to deal with biodiversity issues. Costa Rica continues to exceed in its commitments, accomplishments and innovative approaches, inspiring other countries across the world and the region. This must continue with the help and support of both non-governmental organizations, including Audubon, but especially from larger more wealthy donor nations like the United States, Canada, and the EU countries.
      Here in the U.S. as we slowly emerge from the economic difficulties of the pandemic and consider funding relief packages, it is vital that we include in them the win-win opportunity—and urgent need—of supporting nature-based climate solutions and new policy reforms that shift financing toward mechanisms that support a healthy environment and sustainable economies for local communities. It is only through scaling up these solutions that we will collectively achieve the goal of stopping further steep declines in biodiversity.
      Our human interdependence with the environment and its biodiversity has perhaps never been more obvious to so many of us as it has been during the global COVID emergency that has left us separated and staying closer to home
. That interdependence means that it is in our best interest to do whatever it takes to stop the biodiversity and climate change freefall. National, state, and provincial governments should look carefully at the recommendations contained within the Financing Nature report and non-governmental organizations should help them find ways to implement them. There is no time to lose."

Brett Wilkins, "'No Time to Lose': New Study Shows 50% Coral Decline on Great Barrier Reef: 'We expect this decline to continue,' predicted one of the study's authors, who said that unless urgent climate action is taken, 'the reef will be unrecognizable,'" Common Dreams, October 14, 2020,, reported, "A new study published Tuesday found that half of the coral in Australia's Great Barrier Reef have been killed off over the past three decades as ocean temperatures rise due to human-caused global heating.
study , conducted by the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Townsville, Queensland, shows that coral populations along the reef have fallen dramatically due to bleaching, which is caused by the death of the algae that live symbiotically with coral and provide their food.
      'The decline occurred in both shallow and deeper water, and across virtually all species—but especially in branching and table-shaped corals,' Terry Hughes, a professor at the ARC Center who co-authored the study, wrote. "These were the worst affected by record breaking temperatures that triggered mass bleaching in 2016 and 2017." Unless carbon emissions decline significantly, the reef die-off is expected to continue.

Kenny Stancil, "'Where Will Everyone Go?' New Report Documents How Climate Migration Could Reshape US: 'The cost of resisting the new climate reality is mounting,' a new report shows, suggesting the U.S. is 'on the cusp of a great transformation' involving the relocation of millions of displaced people." Common Dreams, September 15, 2020,, reported, " Potentially millions of people in the U.S. will be displaced as the climate crisis makes certain regions increasingly uninhabitable, prompting new migrations that will reshape the country, a new report shows.
      The story published Tuesday is the second installment in a series on global climate migration that stems from a collaboration between ProPublica and the New York Times, with support from the Pulitzer Center.
      While the first article in the series focused on the movement of climate refugees across international borders, the latest story focuses on how climate migration within the U.S. will reshape the country.
      As report author Abrahm Lustgarten explains, 'In much of the developing world, vulnerable people will attempt to flee the emerging perils of global warming, seeking cooler temperatures, more fresh water and safety.'
      But here in the U.S., many people have for years 'avoided confronting these changes in their own backyards,' he writes.
       'The decisions we make about where to live are distorted not just by politics that play down climate risks, but also by expensive subsidies and incentives aimed at defying nature,' Lustgarten adds in the report. 'People have largely gravitated toward environmental danger, building along coastlines from New Jersey to Florida and settling across the cloudless deserts of the Southwest.'
      In light of a summer in which millions of people have endured the devastating combined effects of a pandemic, wildfires, hurricanes, and heatwaves, the journalist wonders: 'Might Americans finally be waking upto how climate is about to transform their lives? And if so—if a great domestic relocation might be in the offing—was it possible to project where we might go?'
      Lustgarten argues that the U.S., where 162 million people—nearly one in two—will 'most likely experience a decline in the quality of their environment' in the coming years, is 'a nation on the cusp of a great transformation.'
      'The changes could be particularly severe' for 93 million Americans, and 'if carbon emissions rise at extreme levels, at least four million Americans could find themselves living at the fringe, in places decidedly outside the ideal niche for human life
,' according to the analysis.
      The story is accompanied by a set of maps depicting likely shifts in the niche of human habitability, and the scenarios 'suggest massive upheavals in where Americans currently live and grow food.'
       Several factors are driving changes in the suitability of different environments, researchers note. These include extreme heat and humidity—the collision of which will create what scientists call 'wet bulb' temperatures that will "disrupt the norms of daily existence'—as well as larger and more frequent wildfires, rising sea levels, declining crop yields, and economic damages related to higher energy costs and lower labor productivity.
      According to the analysis, the greatest climate risk exists in counties throughout the Southeast and the Southwest where the perils are likely to intermingle and generate 'compounding calamities.'
       'The cost of resisting the new climate reality is mounting,' the report states. Public officials in Florida "have already acknowledged that defending some roadways against the sea will be unaffordable,' explains Lustgarten. Furthermore, 'the nation's federal flood-insurance program is for the first time requiring that some of its payouts be used to retreat from climate threats across the country.'
      If 'it will soon prove too expensive to maintain the status quo'—as Lustgarten argues it will—then what might we expect?
       The author paints a grim picture of the possible consequences of mass relocations between now and 2070, arguing that such a population shift is:
      [likely to increase poverty and widen the gulf between the rich and the poor. It will accelerate rapid, perhaps chaotic, urbanization of cities ill-equipped for the burden, testing their capacity to provide basic services and amplifying existing inequities. It will eat away at prosperity, dealing repeated economic blows to coastal, rural and Southern regions, which could in turn push entire communities to the brink of collapse.
      Mobility itself, global migration experts point out, is often a reflection of relative wealth, and as some move, many others will be left behind. Those who stay risk becoming trapped as the land and the society around them ceases to offer any more support
      While a growing number of citizens consider climate change a top political priority, Lustgarten argues that 'policymakers, having left America unprepared for what's next, now face brutal choices about which communities to save—often at exorbitant costs—and which to sacrifice.'
      Lustgarten devotes considerable attention to what he describes as the negative effects of the country's property insurance system, which has distorted perceptions of risk and incentivized real estate development in locations vulnerable to disasters. The experts he talked to anticipate shocks to the financial system and the upending of 'entire communities' once 'all the structural disincentives that had built Americans' irrational response' to the threats posed by climate change begin 'reaching their logical endpoint.'
'Until now,' the report notes, 'market mechanisms had essentially socialized the consequences of high-risk development. But as the costs rise—and the insurers quit, and the bankers divest, and the farm subsidies prove too wasteful, and so on—the full weight of responsibility will fall on individual people.'
'And that's when the real migration might begin,' says Lustgarten.
       Past experiences with socio-environmental disasters in the U.S. raise concerns about the welfare of people who are displaced as well as those who are left behind. When the Dust Bowl 'propelled an exodus of some 2.5 million people' from Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri, 'they were funneled into squalid shanty towns' in California, the author writes.
      Experts told Lustgarten that similar problems are likely to arise in the 21st century, as hundreds of thousands of climate refugees move to cities already struggling with poverty, inequality, and 'long-neglected' infrastructural systems 'suddenly pressed to expand under increasingly adverse conditions.'
      In the 1930s, 'Colorado tried to seal its border from the climate refugees,' the report notes. And 'the places migrants left behind never fully recovered.'
      Barring a reorientation of economic priorities and resources through far-reaching legislation like the Green New Deal, Lustgarten suggests that the decisions made by policymakers 'will almost inevitably make the nation more divided, with those worst off relegated to a nightmare future in which they are left to fend for themselves.'
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Andrea Germanos, "'Now Do #TarSands': TD Bank Urged to Go Further on Climate After Nixing Arctic Projects: 'It no longer makes business sense for banks to back polluting projects, and those that plan for a low-carbon future will prosper in the economies of tomorrow,'" Common Dreams, November 9, 2020, reported, " Climate campaigners on Monday welcomed as a step forward TD Bank Group's announcement that it will not fund fossil fuel projects in the Arctic, including in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, as part of its net-zero emissions by 2050 target.
      The new climate action plan, the bank said, is 'aligned to the associated principles of the Paris agreement' and will help "capture the opportunities of the low-carbon economy."
      'This ambitious plan shows the game has changed on climate,' said Ameila Meister, senior campaigner at SumOfUs, in a statement. 'It no longer makes business sense for banks to back polluting projects, and those that plan for a low-carbon future will prosper in the economies of tomorrow.'
      According to the announcement, the bank will rule out providing financial services 'for activities that are directly related to the exploration, development, or production of oil and gas within the Arctic Circle, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).'
      The statement further recognized that the region is 'home to protected species, and of crucial importance to the local Indigenous populations,' and that it 'is warming significantly faster than the rest of our planet, which poses the risk of increased [greenhouse gas] releases and further warming.'
      To be sure, the bank has been under pressure to take such action, having been named among the       dirty dozen       worst banks (pdf) in terms of fossil fuel funding since the Paris climate pact entered into force four years ago.
       Ben Cushing, Sierra Club senior campaign representative, said, 'Committing to net-zero financed emissions by 2050 is a good step forward, and in recent months has become the new baseline for banks looking to clean up their act on climate.'
      Still, TD Bank must document its 'critical next steps for actually getting there,' Cushing added, "including a near-term target for emissions reductions and a clear plan to phase out financing for fossil fuels immediately
      As for TD Bank's plan to rule out Arctic drilling, Cushing was tempered in his praise.
      With the backdrop of Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo all having recently pledged to stop financing fossil fuel activities in the Arctic, Cushing framed the step as merely 'low-hanging fruit for any socially or environmentally responsible bank' and said that 'any institution that hasn't yet done so should follow suit.'
      Cushing also pointed to a notable absence in TD Bank's plan—a commitment to phase out financing of tar sands projects.
      That's especially important given the climate
impact of tar sands, as well as the fact that TD Bank continues to be one of the biggest bankers in the world of such operations, according to the latest Banking on Climate Change report released in March.
      A 'realistic plan to achieve net-zero emissions and align with the Paris agreement must include an immediate commitment to phase out dirty tar sands as well,' Cushing said.
      The increasing evidence of the climate crisis makes clear there's no time to waste, say progressive campaigners.
      'While banks and other financial institutions are rapidly waking up to the severity of these climate risks to their own bottom lines, the climate movement is driving home the fact that by increasing financing of fossil fuels, banks are responsible for an extremely high risk of massive harm to the planet and its people—that is, banks and the financial industry at large have enormous climate impact,' said the Banking on Climate Change report. 'Financiers need to cut their climate impact with the utmost urgency.'
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Jessica Corbett, "Under Pressure From Climate Activists, World's Largest Insurance Market to Ditch Coal, Tar Sands, and Arctic Projects: 'An Insure Our Future welcomed the step but also said that 'Lloyd's 2030 deadline is not justified by climate science and the urgent need for action,'" Common Dreams, December 17, 2020, reported, " Caving to pressure from climate action campaigners, Lloyd's of London, the world's largest insurance market, announced Wednesday that it will no longer cover coal-fired power plants and mines, tar sands, or Arctic energy exploration activities from January 2022 onward, with plans to fully phase out such businesses by 2030.
      Framing the move as 'a reversal of its traditional hands-off approach to climate change strategy,' Reuters explained that 'Lloyd's acts as regulator for around 100 syndicate members, and leaves decisions on underwriting and investment strategy to them.'
       While welcoming the announcement—along with Llyod's Environmental, Social, and Governance Report 2020 —campaigners urged the market to ditch the fossil fuel industry on a more accelerated timeline, given warnings from scientists and world leaders about the necessity of an ambitious and urgent transition to a sustainable economy.
      'We welcome Lloyd's new policy of no longer providing new insurance cover for coal-fired power plants, thermal coal mines, oil sands, and new Arctic energy exploration as a step in the right direction,' said Lindsay Keenan, European coordinator for Insure Our Future, in a statement. 'However, the policy should take effect now, not 2022.'
      'Additionally, the target date for Lloyd's to phase out existing policies should be January 2021 for companies still developing new coal and tar sand projects,' she said. 'Lloyd's 2030 deadline is not justified by climate science and the urgent need for action. We will continue to hold Lloyd's accountable until it has met these recommendations.'
      The new policies came after the Insure Our Future campaign released its fourth annual scorecard on the insurance industry, dirty energy, and the climate emergency—which called out Lloyd's for underwriting and investing in fossil fuels, particularly coal.
      Lloyd's chairman Bruce Carnegie-Brown told The Guardian that 'we want to align ourselves with the U.N. sustainability development goals and the principles in the Paris [climate] agreement,' but also defending the 2030 choice.
      'We want to try to support our customers in the transition and we don't want to create cliff edges for them,' he said. 'Oil is too fundamental an energy supply source for the world today and it would be impossible to get out of that without creating real dislocation to our customers. It's an issue of calibration over time.'
      Flora Rebello Arduini, senior campaigner consultant for SumOfUs, disagreed.
      'Lloyd's needs to prohibits all members of its market from renewing insurance for the Adani Carmichael coal mine, the Trans Mountain tar sand pipeline extension, and other such climate-wrecking projects when they come up for renewal in 2021, not in 2030,' she said in a statement.
      'The time to act is now,' she added. 'Lloyd's must set binding market-wide policies that make clear to all stakeholders what can and cannot be done under Lloyd's brand name and credit rating.'
      Adam McGibbon, U.K. campaigner for Market Forces, said that Lloyd's new report 'sends a message to its syndicates that taking on new thermal coal risks, such as the Adani Carmichael coal project, is not supported,' while U.S.-based campaigners suggested the policies boost pressure on companies across the Atlantic.
      As Elana Sulakshana, energy finance campaigner at Rainforest Action Network, put it: 'Lloyd's is sending a message to the U.S. insurance industry that it cannot continue its unchecked support for climate-wrecking projects under the Lloyd's name.'
"Building on today's momentum, we will continue pressuring the U.S. insurance industry to match and exceed Lloyd's policies across their entire fossil fuel underwriting and investment portfolios," Sulakshana vowed.
      AIG, Liberty Mutual, and other U.S. insurers that operate Lloyd's syndicates will be forced to abide by the new rules for their underwriting.
       'The writing is on the wall—coal is becoming increasingly uninsurable,' said David Arkush, climate program director at Public Citizen. 'Lloyd's announcement makes AIG's and Travelers' refusal to even consider dumping coal even more inexcusable. These companies can talk all they want about sustainability, but until they change their underwriting policies, that talk is meaningless.'
      As the outgoing Trump administration works to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to fossil fuel extraction, the Gwich'in Steering Committee is urging Lloyd's and insurers to join with dozens of financial institutions, including major U.S. and Canadian banks, in restricting support for Arctic drilling projects.
      Lloyd's announcement is 'a step in the right direction' but 'not enough,' said Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the Gwich'in Steering Committee. 'As Indigenous Peoples, we are living in ground zero of climate change while fighting to protect our sacred lands and our ways of life. People need to understand that the land, the water, and the animals are what makes us who we are.'
      'Our human rights have been violated not just by our government but by corporations and people that are not educated on Indigenous issues,' she added. 'We urge Lloyd's to join AXA and Swiss Re to exclude themselves from any Arctic Refuge energy development or exploration immediately and show the world that they respect the rights of Indigenous peoples whose lives will forever change if drilling is to occur.'
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Julia Conley, "'Huge News': Nearly Four Dozen Faith Institutions Announce Divestment From Fossil Fuels: "While government leaders cling to the economic models of yesterday, faith leaders are looking ahead to the energy future we share,'" Common Dreams, November 16, 2020,, reported, "Climate action campaigners applauded Monday after 47 faith institutions from 21 countries announced they would divest from fossil fuels, marking the largest-ever joint divestment by religious leaders in history."
      " 'With renewables now growing at a faster pace than fossil fuels,' the group noted, 'institutional investors are increasingly moving toward sustainable investments in the clean energy economy. Faith investors help lead this movement, constituting the single-largest source of divestment in the world, making up one-third of all commitments. To date, nearly 400 religious institutions have committed to divest."
       The institutions which announced their divestment include the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union, Irish religious order the Sisters of Our Lady Apostles, the American Jewish World Service, and the Claretian Missionaries in Sri Lanka. Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish organizations joined the coalition."
      "The Pope is convening an 'Economy of Francesco' conference
beginning on Thursday, at which leaders and young climate action campaigners will discuss ways for the Church to help develop a sustainable world economy.
      'The economic power of faiths, turned to responsible investments and the green economy, can be a major driver of positive change, and an inspiration to others, as we rebuild better,' said Inger Andersen, executive director of the U.N. Environment Program and under secretary-general of the United Nations.
      The American Jewish World Service said it had decided to divest from fossil fuels earlier this year."

Stephen Castle, "U.K. to Halt Subsidies for Fossil Fuel Projects Abroad: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been positioning himself as a leader in fighting global warming, an area where he can make common cause with President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr," The New York Times, December 11, 2020,, reported, " Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain promised on Friday to end direct taxpayer support for fossil fuel projects overseas as soon as possible, in a move designed to help position his country as a global leader in the battle to curb climate change."

A major indicator of the complex negative impacts of global warming induced climate change: Christopher Flavelle,  "Fires and Storms Push Demand for Emergency Shelter to a New High: The Red Cross has provided more nights of shelter to Americans this year than at any point on record, a sign of the widening human toll of climate change," The New York Times, October 1, 2020,, reported, " A year already filled with historic wildfires and hurricanes can now claim another dubious distinction: Americans have spent far more time in emergency housing than in any year during the past decade, smashing 2017’s full-year record with three months left to go."

Jessica Corbett, "Research Shows 'Linking Climate Policy to Social and Economic Justice Makes It More Popular': 'The public wants a Green New Deal. The public wants green stimulus. The public wants to address inequality'," Common Dreams, June 12, 2020,, reported, " Amid persistent calls for a green and just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and nationwide protests against systemic racism and injustice, researchers on Friday detailed recent studies showing 'policy packages that address the climate crisis alongside income inequality, racial injustice, and the economic crisis are more popular among voters.'
      The protests sparked by Minneapolis police killing George Floyd have renewed pressure on all levels of government to pursue racial justice—and not just in terms of police violence against historically marginalized groups, particularly black Americans, but also when it comes to economic and environmental injustice.
      In their piece for the Washington Post, the three researchers acknowledge the current slate of urgent crises facing the country and how these crises are linked to racial inequality before detailing the results of two nationally representative public opinion studies they conducted over the past year. 'The take-home message is clear,' the researchers write. 'Linking climate policy with social and economic reforms makes climate action more popular with the public.'
       One example of this policymaking approach that the researchers highlight is the Green New Deal resolution introduced in February 2019 by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). The resolution calls for tackling 'the existential threat posed by climate change' through a 10-year shift to 100% clean energy that ensures a just transition for workers and frontline communities, in part by creating millions of new, well-paying jobs.
      The researchers behind the studies and Post piece are Parrish Bergquist—a postdoctoral researcher at the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and an incoming assistant professor of public policy at Georgetown University—along with Matto Mildenberger and Leah Stokes, who are both assistant professors of political science at the University of California at Santa Barbara and have each published books on climate policymaking.
      In a tweet about the Post piece Friday, Stokes reiterated their finding that 'linking climate policy to social and economic justice makes it more popular' and drew attention to the resolution from Ocasio-Cortez and Markey, writing that it turns out they 'had a really popular idea when they proposed the Green New Deal.'
      The first study—detailed in a peer-reviewed, open access paper published last month in Environmental Research Letters—surveyed 2,476 Americans online last summer. Some respondents reviewed climate packages that included social or economic programs while others reviewed packages with only climate policies.
      'We found unambiguous evidence that Americans support the key idea behind the Green New Deal: addressing climate change alongside economic and social problems,' the researchers write in the Post. As they explain:
       Compared with a policy package with only climate reforms, including economic policies such as a jobs guarantee, unionized clean energy jobs, and retraining for fossil fuel workers increased support for the package by an average of 12 percentage points. While Democrats in our survey viewed these policies more favorably, including economic measures in a climate package does not drive Republicans away.
      We found similar results when we added some social policy planks, such as affordable housing and a $15 minimum wage. The social policies we tested increased support for a climate policy package by an average of 11 percentage points. That said, some social policies—such as universal, government-run health insurance and free college —increased the package's overall popularity but decreased Republican support.
      The second study, conducted last month, surveyed 1,049 Americans to determine the popularity of including climate policies in the stimulus packages necessitated by the ongoing pandemic. Similar to the first study, the researchers found 'packages that invest in clean energy and transportation are more popular than coronavirus spending that ignores the climate crisis.'
      'In our survey, including investments in wind and solar increases support by 8.5 percentage points, making it one of the most popular policy planks that we tested. While clean energy investments are mostly popular among Democrats, including them does not decrease Republican support," they write. "Yet, so far, Congress has not focused on green stimulus.'
      The researches note that 'the climate crisis will not take a break during the pandemic' and 'climate impacts will fall disproportionately on communities of color, including black Americans—the same groups who are already hit hardest by the Covid-19 crisis, unemployment, and police brutality.'
      Given the popularity of pairing urgently needed climate action with policies that address inequality, racial injustice, and the economic crisis, the researchers conclude that 'in the future, we might find Congress taking this approach.'
      The piece comes about a week after the DNC Council on the Environment and Climate Crisis put out a Democratic Party platform recommendation—directed at presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden—calling for a national plan through 2050 that is 'informed by the vision and aspirations of the Green New Deal.'
      Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License."

Somini Sengupta, "This Is Inequity at the Boiling Point," The New York Times," August 7, 2020,, discusses the many ways that the continued heating of the Earth is creating misery, and death, at very unequal rates, hitting the poor and those living in less industrially developed areas far harder than those better off.

       Christopher Flavelle, "Hotter Days Widen Racial Gap in U.S. Schools, Data Shows: Higher temperatures are linked to worse test scores, but only for Black and Hispanic children. The likely culprit: a lack of air-conditioning," The New York Times, October 5, 2020,, reported, "In a paper published Monday ( in the journal Nature Human Behavior, researchers found that students performed worse on standardized tests for every additional day of 80 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, even after controlling for other factors. Those effects held across 58 countries, suggesting a fundamental link between heat exposure and reduced learning.
      But when the researchers looked specifically at the United States, using more granular data to break down the effect on test scores by race, they found something surprising: The detrimental impact of heat seemed to affect only Black and Hispanic students." The difference appears to be caused primarily by the presence or lack of air conditioning."

Scientific studies now show conclusively that there is a direct relationship between ocean heat 'blobs', ocean heat waves, and climate change. Some of these could not occur without global warming ("Ocean Heat Waves Are Directly Linked to Climate Change: The “blob” of hotter ocean water that killed sea lions and other marine life in 2014 and 2015 may become permanent," The New York Times, September 24, 2020,

       Somini Sengupta, " China, in Pointed Message to U.S., Tightens Its Climate Targets," The New York Times," September 22, 2020,, reported, " President Xi Jinping of China pledged on Tuesday that his country would adopt much stronger climate targets and achieve what he called 'carbon neutrality before 2060.' If realized, the pledges would be crucial in the global fight against climate change."

       Jessica Corbett, "Mayors of 12 Major Global Cities Home to 36 Million People Make Unified Fossil Fuel Divestment Pledge: 'We're in a make-or-break decade for the preservation of our planet and our livelihoods,' said C40 chair and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti," Common Dreams," September 22, 2020,, reported, "In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world—collectively home to about 36 million people—committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
      `The announcement from C40 Cities
—a global network of communities dedicated to tackling the climate emergency—came on day two of Climate Week NYC, some of which is being held online because of the Covid-19 crisis."

Lisa Newcomb, "'It's Disintegrated, Basically': Last Fully Intact Canadian Ice Sheet Collapses, The formation was the final survivor of its kind in the nation's Arctic." Common Dreams, August 7, 2020,, reported, " An ice shelf larger than Manhattan has collapsed in the Canadian Arctic.
      The Milne Ice Shelf was the nation's last fully-intact ice shelf in the Arctic, and it lost more than 40% of its area in just two days in July,
reports Reuters, the equivalent of about 50 square miles.
       Researchers are predicting 2020 will be in the top five hottest years on record, and scientists have already labeled this year's hurricane season 'extremely active.' Experts are mourning the loss of the ice shelf, located near Canada's Ellesmere Island, though many predicted its demise."

Red lining, other discriminatory practices, and the limited choices housing of poor people - overly represented by people of cover - have meant that in the U.S. the poor suffer the most from global warming, as their living places are often the hottest in the area (Brad Plumer and Nadja Popovich, "How Decades of Racist Housing Policy Left Neighborhoods Sweltering," The New York Times, August 24, 2020,

A new study found that exposure to high heat or air pollution increases the chances of pregnant women giving birth to under weight babies or having still births. This is especially the case for African American women (Christopher Flavelle, "Exposure to Pollution and Heat Is Tied to Pregnancy Risks," The New York Times, June 3, 2020).

Henry Fountain, "Arctic Sea Ice Reaches a Low, Just Missing Record: Only 2012 had less sea ice coverage, scientists say, as climate change takes its toll in the region," The New York Times, September 21, 2020,,reported, " A 'crazy year' in the Arctic has resulted in the second-lowest extent of sea ice in the region, scientists said Monday."
      "Since satellite measurements of sea ice began four decades ago, only 2012 has had a lower minimum, when 1.32 million square miles were measured. The 2020 minimum was nearly a million square miles less than the average annual minimum between 1981 and 2010.
       This year also continues an alarming streak: The 14 lowest ice years have occurred in the past 14 years. Many scientists expect that the Arctic could be devoid of ice in summers well before midcentury."

Veronica Penney, "Climate Change Is Making Winter Ice More Dangerous: A new study has found that cold-weather drownings are increasing sharply in warmer parts of the Northern Hemisphere," The New York Times, November 20, 2020,, reported, " New research on the connection between climate change and winter drownings has found that reported drowning deaths are increasing exponentially in areas with warmer winters.
      The study, published on Wednesday in the journal PLoS One (, looked at drownings in 10 countries in the Northern Hemisphere. The largest number of drownings occurred when air temperatures were just below the freezing point, between minus 5 degrees Celsius and 0 Celsius (between 23 degrees Fahrenheit and 32 Fahrenheit)," with increases in winter drownings often the highest in places where Indigenous customs and livelihood require extended time on ice."

Repeating a pattern of several years, interrupted in 2019, in mid-December a major storm dumped record amounts of snow in a number of places as it hit the East coast of the U.S., causing disruptions and at least 3 deaths ( Lucy Tompkins, "Storm Dumps Snow on East Coast, Shutting Schools and Virus Testing: Three people died in highway crashes in Pennsylvania and Virginia. New York expecting up to a foot of precipitation as the mess moved on to New England," The New York Times, December 18, 2020,

Leighton Rowell, "Hurricane Zeta disrupts early in-person voting in Georgia," The New York Times, October 29, 2020,, reported, " The morning after Hurricane Zeta’s forceful winds downed power lines, toppled trees and caused road closures across the state of Georgia, widespread outages left more than 600,000 Georgians without electricity and took some of the state’s advanced voting locations offline Thursday — the penultimate day for early, in-person voting."

       And yet another tropical storm hits the U.S. Gulf Coast: Patricia Mazzei and Frances Robles, "Tropical Storm Eta Causes Flooding in South Florida: Some areas saw more than 13 inches of rainfall, and there was a storm surge along the coast," The New York Times, November 10, 2020, reported, " South Florida awoke to streets turned into shallow rivers on Monday after Tropical Storm Eta soaked the region overnight. It dumped rain inland, caused storm surge along the coast and left hundreds of thousands of people without electricity.
      More than 13 inches of rain fell in some areas
, according to the National Weather Service, flooding front yards and back patios, threatening mobile home communities and creating dangerous driving conditions. By 11 a.m. on Monday, three flash-flood emergency alert warnings had screeched over cellular phones, each time extending the danger period."
       Carol Rosenberg, Amaris Castillo and Christina Morales, Eta Returns, Soaking Florida’s West Coast: The same storm that earlier hit eastern Florida flooded streets and prompted several water rescues when it hit the state again," The New York Times, " Tropical Storm Eta pounded Florida again on Thursday, flooding beach communities along the Gulf of Mexico, forcing rescuers to wade through hip-deep water and hitting portions of Tampa and Jacksonville as it made its way back out to sea."

Climate change is making even less powerful hurricanes more damaging by slowing many of them down, while with a hotter atmosphere and ocean they pick up more moisture. Hurricane Sally is an example, coming in a season of more than the previous average number of storms, itself a phenomenon of climate change. Henry Fountain, "Why Hurricane Sally Could Bring a Deluge: Scientists know climate change has made storms wetter. There’s evidence that it makes some slower, too. It all adds up to trouble when they hit land," The New York Times, September 15, 2020,, reported, " Climate change is making hurricanes wetter, because as the atmosphere warms it can hold more moisture. But Hurricane Sally is expected to dump as much as two and a half feet of rain on parts of the Gulf Coast over the next few days, and such enormous amounts cannot be chalked up to increased atmospheric moisture alone."

Henry Fountain, "Warming May Make Hurricanes Weaken More Slowly After Landfall: New research suggests that climate change may be causing storms to retain destructive power for longer after moving inland," The New York Times, November 11, 2020,, reported, "But a new study looks at what happens after hurricanes make landfall and work their way inland. The research suggests that climate change is affecting storms during this phase of their life as well, causing them to weaken more slowly and remain destructive for longer."

       Veronica Penney, "5 Things We Know About Climate Change and Hurricanes: Scientists can’t say for sure whether global warming is causing more hurricanes, but they are confident that it’s changing the way storms behave. Here’s how," The New York Times, November 11, 2020,, reported, " It has been a record season for storms. On Monday night, Subtropical Storm Theta became the 29th named storm of the 2020 hurricane season , surpassing the total count from 2005."
      While science cannot predict that in any given season there will now be more tropical storms, what is clear is that there are five ways hurricanes are being changed by increasing climate change, as detailed in this Times article : 1. Higher winds, 2. More rain, 3. Slower storms, 4. Wider-ranging storms (the area in which tropical storms can form is increasing, which makes possible an increase in the number of storms and the places vulnerable to them), and 5. More volatility (storms will intensify more rapidly, with those that increase very greatly occurring much more frequently) .

      Sally proved unpredictable, swerving east into Alabama and the Florida panhandle. Having increased to a category 2 hurricane, it struck harder than expected. Pensacola, FL was among many places flooded, with five feet of water flowing down the main street. Two feet of rain had fallen before the storm struck directly. More than 35 inches of rain were anticipated in coastal areas as the storm proceeded slowly inland toward Virginia and Washington, DC. ( Richard Fausset, Rick Rojas and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, "Hurricane Sally Slams the Florida Panhandle With Deluge of Rain: The sluggish storm veered east and intensified before making landfall near the Alabama and Florida state line. Residents and officials said they were not anticipating a direct hit," The New York Times, September 16, 2020,

On Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center reported " that Sally’s translation speed, the rate at which it moves forward, was about 2 miles an hour, and that the storm was not expected to accelerate much as it moved northward in the Gulf of Mexico toward an expected landfall Wednesday. It was stalling, in effect, as it approached the Mississippi coast."
       While there is nothing unusual about Hurricane Isaias in itself, consistent with global warming, it is one of an increased number of tropical storms, including hurricanes, coming in what are now longer hurricane seasons. Michael Venutolo-Mantovani and Rick Rojas, "Isaias Unleashes Floods and Tornadoes as It Pummels the Atlantic Coast: Officials warned residents to stay out of harm’s way as at least two people were killed by tornadoes, and two others from fallen trees. Millions were left without power," The New York Times, August 4, 2020,, " Isaias pounded the Atlantic Coast on Tuesday with ferocious wind and driving rain, flooding communities, knocking out power for millions and spawning a series of tornadoes along its path.
      Although it quickly weakened to a tropical storm, Isaias made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane and maintained a punishing level of power as it raked over the Eastern Seaboard, forcing a swath of the country — from the Carolinas to the Northeast — to grapple with its devastation."

Jake Johnson, "As Hurricane Laura Batters Louisiana, Massive Chemical Leak Spews Toxic Smoke Near Lake Charles: 'We knew this would happen. Lake Charles and Cameron Parish are petrochemical industry epicenters. The plants, export terminals, refineries, oil tank farms are ticking time bombs every hurricane season,'" Common Dreams, August 27, 2020,, reported, "This is a developing news story... Check back for possible updates...
       After Hurricane Laura tore through the area Thursday morning, a chemical leak broke out at a plant near Lake Charles, Louisiana, leading authorities to warn residents against traveling through the affected region as dark smoke flowed out of an industrial building and over Interstate 10.
      Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards tweeted that 'there is a chemical fire in the Westlake/Moss Bluff/Sulphur area. Residents are advised to shelter in place until further notice and close your doors and windows. Follow the directions of local officials.'
      'If you are in the Westlake/Moss Bluff/Sulphur area, shelter in place, close your windows and doors and TURN OFF YOUR AIR CONDITIONING UNITS,' the governor added. 'There is a chemical fire. Stay inside and wait for additional direction from local officials.'
      The local Daily Advertiser reported that a "possible chlorine leak" caused a fire at an industrial plant but authorities have not yet confirmed any details of what sparked the incident, which comes after activists warned of the " environmental nightmare" that could result from the hurricane slamming a region with a high concentration of chemical and fossil fuel plants and infrastructure.
      'Facilities like this have been poisoning Gulf communities for decades,' tweetedenvironmentalist Rob Friedman. 'During and after storms, who knows how much toxic pollution they're emitting.'
      'We knew this would happen,' said another activist. 'Lake Charles and Cameron Parish are petrochemical industry epicenters. The plants, export terminals, refineries, oil tank farms are ticking time bombs every hurricane season. Industry only sees money, not environmental impact, and our leaders are in their pockets.'
      Images and videos of the leak circulated widely on social media:
      Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0"

      Hurricane Laura provides evidence that hurricanes are getting worse with climate change. Although it was a powerful force 4, not 5, and its expected huge tidal surge was less than expected, it was still more potent in many ways than the previous worst, Hurricane Rita. Fortunately, lessons learned from past storms led to preparations, including mass evacuations, that lessened loss of life and injury, as well as damage ("Hurricane Laura Was Powerful, but Louisiana Was Prepared : In 2005, Hurricane Rita leveled some coastal communities in southwest Louisiana, forcing changes to building codes and attitudes. As Laura approached, the region was ready," The New York Times, August 28, 2020,

      In the record tenth hurricane to strike the United States, as of October 10, 2020, Rick Rojas and Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, "Hurricane   Brings Floods and Destruction to an Already Battered Louisiana: The storm made landfall some 20 miles from where Laura touched down a few weeks ago, intensifying the devastation the state has experienced during a brutal hurricane season," The New York Times, October 10, 2020,, reported, " Hurricane Delta tore across Louisiana late Friday, leaving a trail of destruction as it turned roadways into rapids and uprooted trees that crashed onto roofs. It also dealt a demoralizing blow to a state still staggering its way back from one of the most powerful storms that it had ever endured" just six weeks earlier. Climate change is clearly increasing natural destruction at an alarming, increasing rate.
       Rick Rojas and Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, "Hurricane Delta Brings Floods and Destruction to an Already Battered Louisiana: The storm made landfall some 20 miles from where Laura touched down a few weeks ago, intensifying the devastation the state has experienced during a brutal hurricane season," The New York Times, October 10, 2020,, reported, " Hurricane Delta tore across Louisiana late Friday, leaving a trail of destruction as it turned roadways into rapids and uprooted trees that crashed onto roofs. It also dealt a demoralizing blow to a state still staggering its way back from one of the most powerful storms that it had ever endured."

And after a record tenth hurricane hitting the U.S. this year an 11th, and a record fifth for Louisiana:  Katy Reckdahl and Rick Rojas, "Hurricane Zeta Lashes Louisiana Coast in a Storm Season to Remember: The storm, responsible for at least one death, was upgraded to a Category 2 hurricane before making landfall, The New York Times, October 29, 2020,, reported, " Hurricane Zeta lashed the Louisiana coast on Wednesday with heavy rainfall and powerful winds that officials feared could pulverize parts of New Orleans as the storm made landfall with Category 2 strength."
      "Zeta, which was responsible for at least one death, is the fifth major storm to hit Louisiana this year, coming as yet another blow late in a long and punishing hurricane season that has wrought billions of dollars in devastation in the state and left many residents worn out."
      Zeta is the strongest storm in many decades to hit Louisiana this late in the season.

Iowa farmers were struck a major blow from 100 MPH winds, in mid-August 2020, that damaged as many as 12 million acres of corn and soy, more than a third of the state's farm land, while destroying hundreds of millions of bushels of grain as on farm and commercial storage bins were destroyed and damaged. The Storm also knocked out electric power in much of the state which took days to restore ( Will Wright, "A Bitter Wind at a Shaky Time, and Iowa Is Left Reeling: Devastating windstorms just before harvest were the last thing that Iowa farmers needed, The New York Times, August 15, 2020,

"In Driest Year in Half Century, Audubon Releases Water into Rio Grande to Sustain Flows: Flexible tools and timed releases help support people and birds in central New Mexico. Audubon Society, August 4, 2020,, reported, " In order to address the Rio Grande’s crippling drought and one of the driest water supplies in over 50 years, Audubon is doing its part to create solutions that work for people and the birds that rely on a healthy flowing river. Through long-term funding support from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, Audubon secured 250 acre-feet per year for the next eight years, allowing us to store water during wetter years—such as 2019—and save it for dry times such as now. Indeed, the iconic river in downtown Albuquerque may be dry for the first time since the 1970’s.
      This year we are releasing 530 acre-feet of this water into the Rio Grande near Los Lunas, N.M. in an effort that is tightly coordinated with water managers and biologists to ensure effective and efficient use
. Through partnerships with water managers, cities, and farmers on the Rio Grande in central New Mexico, Audubon is working on essential solutions to provide water for key sections of the Rio Grande south of Albuquerque. These locations are part of the “string of pearls” strategy of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, an innovative water management strategy that takes advantage of irrigation infrastructure to efficiently deliver water to key habitat locations. We believe these partnerships with water managers, cities, and farmers, are essential components of any lasting solutions."

Kendra Chamberlain, " Irrigators in northern NM suffer ‘horrible’ growing season , " New Mexico Political Report, August 6, 2020, The Rio Grande Sun’s Molly Montgomery spoke with irrigators in northern New Mexico who are struggling through one of the worst water years in recent memory. Water flows in the Rio Chama at a gauge point at La Puente are “not even half of the typical flow” of a nearby acequia, while the Abiquiú Dam is at 30 percent of its full capacity and El Vado is at less than 25 percent (From By Molly Montgomery, Rio Chama Water Use Limited," Rio Grande Sun, July 30, 2020,

Kendra Chamberlain, "Water reckoning looms in New Mexico’s future: ‘We’re not prepared for what’s ahead of us’," New Mexico Poltical Report, September 19, 2020,, reported, " Water experts painted a grim picture of New Mexico’s water future during a panel discussion focused on water policy and management. The panel was hosted by Retake Democracy, an advocacy group based in Santa Fe."
      "Gutzler said climate change will have three major impacts to water resources in the state." These include rising temperature, already up 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1970s, as the climate becomes more energetic and variable. The state is  experiencing a rapid decline in snowpack, speedy increase in evaporation rates, resulting in a decrease in groundwater recharge, not counting decreased rainfall. "Rainfall will tend to be delivered in more intense doses, and the dry spells will also be more intense."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture noted, in October 2020, that where extreme, "exceptional", drought in New Mexico used to occur once every 50 years, it now occurs more often, having been experienced several times over the last decade ( Geoffrey Plant, "USDA: ‘Exceptional drought’ no longer the exception," Silver City Press, October 20, 2020,

       Cody Nelson, "Indigenous activists brace for worsening wildfires under climate change," New Mexico Political Report, August 29, 2020,, reported, "Up in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains [of New Mexico], the Medio Fire is burning over four square miles of forest land. Its smoke has been combining with that from wildfires across the West and spilling down the mountains into Santa Fe and nearby communities.
      When Carrie Wood found out that elders in the Nambé, Tesuque and Pojoaque pueblos had been contending with that smoke for days, she decided to step in and help. Wood and other organizers of the
Three Sisters Collective ( first tried looking for air purifiers in stores, but everywhere they looked from Española to Santa Fe to Albuquerque had low stock.
      They bought what they could and took donations, but wound up making purifiers themselves. Three Sisters members set up shop in Wood’s patio on Monday and, using box fans, 20-inch Filtrete air filters and duct tape, they made over 30 filters to bring to the elders and others with respiratory issues exacerbated by the smoke."

Natalie Kitroeff, "‘This Is a War’: Cross-Border Fight Over Water Erupts in Mexico: Farmers in Mexico ambushed soldiers and seized a dam to stop water payments to the United States, in a sign of growing conflict over increasingly scarce resources.
October 16, 2020,, reported, "The farmers armed themselves with sticks, rocks and homemade shields, ambushed hundreds of soldiers guarding a dam and seized control of one of the border region’s most important bodies of water.
      " The Mexican government was sending water — their water — to Texas, leaving them next to nothing for their thirsty crops, the farmers said. So they took over the dam and have refused to allow any of the water to flow to the United States for more than a month."
      "The standoff is the culmination of longstanding tensions over water between the United States and Mexico that have recently exploded into violence, pitting Mexican farmers against their own president and the global superpower next door."

John Schwartz, "Heat and Drought Team Up More Frequently, With Disastrous Results: A new study finds that what used to be a rare weather double whammy has been occurring more frequently in recent decades because of climate change.” The New York Times, September 23, 2020,, reported, "The combination of drought conditions and heat waves, which can make wildfires more likely, is becoming increasingly common in the American West, according to a new study ( The results may be predictably disastrous."

Allyson Waller, "Fire Tornadoes Reported in Northern California Wildfire: The National Weather Service issued an unusual warning on Saturday about the possibility of 'a fire-induced tornado'," The New York Times, August 16, 2020,, reported, "The National Weather Service said it was planning to investigate reports of a rare occurrence of fire tornadoes arising on Saturday from a 20,000-acre wildfire in Northern California."

       Thomas Fuller, "Fires, Blackouts, a Heat Wave and a Pandemic: California’s ‘Horrible’ Month:' The nation’s most-populated state is facing multiple crises, including 23 major wildfires raging while the daily death toll from the coronavirus is above 100," The New York Times, August 20, 2020,, reported, "On Wednesday millions of California residents were smothered by smoke-filled skies as dozens of wildfires raged out of control . They braced for triple-digit temperatures, the sixth day of a punishing heat wave that included a recent reading of 130 degrees in Death Valley [perhaps the hottest temperature ever recorded on earth]. They braced for possible power outages because the state’s grid is overloaded, the latest sign of an energy crisis. And they continued to fight a virus that is killing 130 Californians a day."
      " Across the state there were 23 major fires reported on Wednesday and more than 300 smaller ones."
      By August 22 Northern California had over 500 fires burning, over 1 million acres had been consumed, and more than 119,000 people had been evacuated ( Thomas Fuller, "Coronavirus Limits California’s Efforts to Fight Fires With Prison Labor: Early releases of prisoners to protect them from the virus have depleted the ranks of an inmate firefighting program that some say should be abolished anyway," The New York Times, August 22, 2020,
      As of August 25, fires had killed seven people and destroyed 1,200 homes and businesses, as the second and third largest fires in California history were burning. Fire seasons continue to get worse. By late August 2019, 4,292 fires had burned 56,000 acres. At the same time in 2020, 7,002 fires have consumed more than 1.4 million acres. The air quality in urban areas not far from the fires is far worse than has occurred in Beijing or New Deli  (Thomas Fuller, "4 Years of Catastrophic Fires in California: ‘I’m Numb’: For the eight million residents of the San Francisco Bay Area, a ring of fire across Northern California feels inescapable." The New York Times, August 24, 2020,
       The excessive heat in California, which is a factor in the extensiveness of the wildfires, combined with the huge quantity smoke from those fires (plus COVID-19) are making it quite difficult to carry out the crop harvest in California ( Somini Sengupta, "Heat, Smoke and COVID Are Battering the Workers Who Feed America," The New York Times, August 25, 2020,

Thomas Fuller and Christopher Flavelle, " A Climate Reckoning in Fire-Stricken California," The New York Times, September 11, 2020,, reported, " Multiple mega fires burning more than three million acres. Millions of residents smothered in toxic air . Rolling blackouts and triple-digit heat waves. Climate change, in the words of one scientist, is smacking California in the face.
      The crisis in the nation’s most populous state is more than just an accumulation of individual catastrophes. It is also an example of something climate experts have long worried about, but which few expected to see so soon: a cascade effect, in which a series of disasters overlap, triggering or amplifying each other
      "The intensely hot wildfires are not only chasing thousands of people from their homes but causing dangerous chemicals to leach into drinking water. Excessive heat warnings and suffocating smoky air have threatened the health of people already struggling during the pandemic. And the threat of more wildfires has led insurance companies to cancel homeowner policies and the state’s main utility to shut off power to tens of thousands of people pre-emptively."
      Long-term draught, and a brutal heat wave have helped bring the fires, and merged with it along with the COVID-19 pandemic into a cascade of catastrophes.
       Jack Healy, Mike Baker and Tim Arango, "States Are in Desperate Search for Help Battling Record Wildfires: With millions of acres ablaze across the West Coast, states are having a tough time finding available fire crews. California resorted to calling in a team of firefighters from Israel," The New York Times, September 11, 2020,, reported that, as of September 10, 2020, in Oregon more than 900,000 acres has been consumed - more than twice the previous normal wildfire loss in a season - hundreds of thousands of people evacuated, and hundreds of homes destroyed by the still spreading fires.
       In California, with more than a record 3 million acres burned, the August Complex had become the largest wildfire in state history. Six of the 20 largest fires in California history have already occurred in 2020, and it is still early in fire season.
      In Washington, several towns have been destroyed, as record fires burn
      As of September 11, with a 36 mile wide band of fires burning into Portland, OR suburbs, nearly 5 million acres had been consumed by fire on the west coast with at least 17 dead and many missing from the wide, fast moving fires. Acrid smoke continued to choke people and darken the days in cities and around the region ( Jack Healy, Jack Nicas and Mike Baker, "A Line of Fire South of Portland and a Yearslong Recovery Ahead: Firefighters continued to battle blazes along the West Coast that have now charred nearly five million acres. At least 17 people are dead, with dozens still missing," The New York Times, September 12, 2020,
      In Oregon, climate change has shifted the weather patterns, drying out areas previously too wet to burn, so they are now suffering serious fires ( Christopher Flavelle and Henry Fountain, " In Oregon, a New Climate Menace: Fires Raging Where They Don’t Usually Burn: The northwest part of the state, usually much wetter, has dried out this year, enabling flames driven by powerful winds to 'just explode down these canyons.'” The New York Times, September 12, 2020,

       Blacki Migliozzi, Scott Reinhard, Nadja Popovich, Tim Wallace and Allison McCann, "Record Wildfires on the West Coast Are Capping a Disastrous Decade," The New York Times, September 24, 2020, , reported, " With more than a month of fire weather ahead for large parts of the West Coast, the 2020 fire season has already taken a disastrous toll.
over five million acres have burned in California, Oregon and Washington so far. Thousands of buildings have been destroyed by some of the largest fires ever recorded. More than two dozen people have died. Millions up and down the coast have spent weeks living under thick clouds of smoke and ash."
      "Data from two NASA satellites that can detect heat shows fire activity in California, Oregon and Washington in 2020 has already eclipsed even the worst previous year" as shown graphically in the Times article, West Coast fire seasons have been growing continually worse over the last decade, with 2020 - with yet a month to go - far worse than anything seen before.

At the end of September 2020, the worst fire season in history in California continued to get worse. For example, Tim Arango, Johnny Diaz and Carly Stern, "3 Killed in Fresh Wildfires in Northern California: In addition to the deaths, the famous Chateau Boswell winery is gone, a community of tiny homes for homeless people has burned, and an untold number of houses are feared lost," The New York Times, September 29, 2020,, reported, " California’s famed wine country, already suffering an economic blow brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and covered in smoke for weeks, is on fire again.
      The state’s losses were mounting on Monday as two new
wildfires burned out of control, killing three people in Shasta County, the sheriff said. And in wine country, the famous Chateau Boswell winery was gone, a community of tiny homes for homeless people has burned, and an untold number of houses were feared lost."

By Mid October the fire season continued to blaze on the West Coast, with More than 8,500 wildfires having consumed more than 4.1 million acres in California, including in the largest single wildfire, and four of the five largest in state history. 31 people died in the California fires. In Oregon and Washington, over a million acres have burned. In Colorado, the usual snows have not come the mountains, and in the drought the fire season was extending far beyond its usual end, with 430,000 acres already consumed and still burning. The largest fire in Colorado history was still spreading on October 18, while another destroyed much of the  town of Jamestown (Charlie Brennan and Rick Rojas, "Colorado Wildfire Grows Into Largest in State History: Left vulnerable by dry conditions, more than 430,000 acres have burned so far in what has been one of the worst years ever for wildfires in the state," The New York Times, October 19, 2020,

      Ariel Iannone Román, "West Coast Fires Disproportionately Affect Indigenous Communities," Cultural Survival, September 23, 2020,, reported, " This year’s wildfire season, which started as early as mid-May in California, has been disproportionately impacting Indigenous communities in two very different ways. The first is the reality of fires burning through Tribal r eservations as well as on sacred lands . The second is the reality of Indigenous migrant farm workers, who are already a vulnerable population without much option but to keep working despite the pandemic, and now, are exposed to the toxic air quality caused by wildfire smoke. A high percentage of the farm workers working in Washington , Oregon , and California are undocumented migrant workers, and many come from Indigenous communities.
       In Washington , the five fires that started in early September heavily impacted the Colville Reservation, resulting in the loss of over 80 homes, the destruction of over 200,000 acres of land, and one death. In California , the Slater fire has burned down the homes of Karuk Tribal members and Tribal staff and the Red Salmon complex fire is burning an area that is sacred to the Karuk Peoples. Also in California, farm workers haven't been guaranteed the most basic of protections against COVID-19 and the smoke from wildfires. Even though state and agricultural groups have reportedly distributed millions of N-95 masks to employers, farmworker rights prote ction groups have reported that hardly any workers have actually received the masks. Because of the fact that many of the workers are undocumented, they are afraid to report violations, and similarly, are unable to choose not to work despite the toxic air quality. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency , an air quality index (AQI) that exceeds 150 is unhealthy for the general population, and in California , the AQI has far exceeded this amount in many areas.
Oregon , the organization Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN) reported that farm workers were being asked to work despite Level 2 evacuation warnings and hazardous air quality. According to PCUN , Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (Oregon OSHA) and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) recommended a halt to outdoor work activity when air quality exceeds 151 AQI, as well as rearranging schedules so that workers could get relief from smoke exposure, and providing N-95 masks where and when applicable. In mid-September , air quality has far exceeded this amount, though workers were still being asked to report for work.
      As of
September 21, 2020 , over 40,000 fires have burned close to 7 million acres of land. This exceeds the 10-year average by one million acres. What we are seeing are the consequences of decades of fire suppression, the federal government’s preferred tactic for dealing with wildfires, which ignores generations of traditional Indigenous knowledge regarding fire management.
      At one time, before the advent of colonization and the forced displacement of Indigenous Peoples, the risk of fire was managed via what is now called cultural burning. Cultural burning practices encompass different techniques of controlled burning that have been passed down by Indigenous Peoples living in areas with high risk of wildfires. The key to cultural burning is that the practice reflects an intimate understanding of the landscape, as opposed to federal and state tactics, which seek to suppress all fire without acknowledging its potential benefits. In Californiaand Oregon, religious ceremonies related to cultural burning were banned by the mid-1800s, with Tribal members being shot by law enforcement over fire disputes as recently as the 1930s.
      In more recent times, Indigenous leaders in California and Oregon have begun to push for government-sanctioned land management practices to include aspects of cultural burning. A similar movement is happening in Australia , after the devastation of the wildfires that burned over 11 million acres of land in Western Australia over the course of August 2019 through March 2020 . In the Northwest Territories, cultural burning practices have remained largely intact as part of Aboriginal fire and land management practices, resulting in a 50 percent decrease in bushfire destruction. According to Oliver Costello (Bundjalung Jagun), CEO of the Firesticks Alliance, 'Greater devastating fires are the future for Australia if we continue to apply short term thinking to what is a long-term problem, [one] that has been 200 years in the making.' This sentiment could apply to California, Oregon, and Washington as well, where the ban of cultural burning practices over the last 200 years has resulted in the accumulation of small trees, grass, brush, leaves, and other forest debris that provide the fuel needed for a wildfire to grow into a severe burn. Climate change and rising temperatures make these landscapes every more fire-prone than they already were.
       In Northern California, fire experts from the North Fork Mono, Karuk, and Yurok Peoples have begun to partner with the Forest Service to integrate traditional practices, including cultural burning, into governmental land management plans. The state of California has committed to reducing undergrowth on half-a-million acres , and the federal government has a similar goal. Unfortunately, this is not an easy problem to fix , as fire cannot be easily added back into an ecological system that has been impacted by decades of fire suppression. Another problem is the general lack of governmental consensus. President Trump blamed the severity of the wildfires solely on poor forest management and suggested that the solution be an increase in logging, ignoring the impact of climate change, as well as the benefits of restoring traditional Indigenous forest management practices. Within the state of California, changes in forest management policy have also been made difficult due to r egional air regulators who still require burn permits due to concerns over smoke and air pollution. Only certain counties offer special burn permits for Tribes to engage in cultural burning practices.
Karuk Tribe, whose lands span northwestern California and southern Oregon, put together the Somes Bar Integrated Fire Management Project , which combines strategic forest thinning with controlled burns in a groundbreaking piece of policy that incorporates the most Indigenous knowledge into traditional policy in the United States to date. The project has stalled in the early stages due to continued resistance from federal officials to allow Tribal members to engage in controlled burns, as well as the recurrence of devastating fire seasons, which by necessity push officials back into using fire suppression tactics to deal with the problem in the short-term.
       The result is a job left dangerously half-done. Karuk fire management professionals completed the first part of the project, which entailed strategic forest thinning. The resulting collection of slash piles, composed of debris and branches, were never burned as was originally intended. Federal officials were too busy dealing with the catastrophic wildfire season to arrange for their own people to do the controlled burns, and they did not want to turn the responsibility over to the Karuk Tribe, citing liability issues, despite the fact that the Tribe has members who are certified in controlled burn management . What is left is a collection of fuel piles that could make an already catastrophic fire season worse. Bill Tripp (Karuk), the director of natural resources and environmental policy for the Karuk Tribe Department of Natural Resources, wrote in an article for The Guardian that the federal government keeps giving 'excuses, not solutions.' Excuses have ranged from lack of environmental clearance under the National Environmental Policy Act, the previously mentioned liability concerns, lack of personnel to supervise the burn, and the latest — COVID-19.
       The problem is not simply one of crisis management, but also one of Indigenous rights, Tribal sovereignty, and cultural preservation. According to Tripp , “Overcoming the structural racism at the root of this problem has been a multi-generational task. It shouldn’t have to be.” The multi-generational task doesn’t just involve the fight to be included in governmental land management policy, but also the need to ensure that the traditional knowledge held by the elders of different Indigenous Peoples is being passed on before it is lost."

Brad Plumer and John Schwartz, "These Changes Are Needed Amid Worsening Wildfires, Experts Say: The blazes scorching the West highlight the urgency of rethinking fire management policies, as climate change threatens to make things worse," The New York Times, September 11, 2020,, reported that much more needs to be done as wildfires become worse every year in the western U.S., "Colorado is dealing with infernos like the Cameron Peak Fire west of Fort Collins, with more than 100,000 acres burned. Washington State has seen more than 300,000 acres burn, including 80 percent of the town of Malden. California, with a record 2.5 million acres burned so far, has 14,000 firefighters working to contain 25 major wildfires even though 'this year’s fire season has another four months to go,' according to the state’s fire agency, Cal Fire.
       The worsening wildfire disasters mean the United States needs to drastically rethink its approach to managing fire in the decades ahead, experts warn. 'The first step is to acknowledge that fire is inevitable, and we have to learn to live with it,' said David McWethy, a fire scientist at Montana State University."
       The first problem is that large numbers of people continue to move into and develop wild areas in fire zones. Too much of the wild is already invaded. This development needs to be limited. Too often states and municipalities have not enacted, and when enacted, enforced fire safety measures that would greatly reduce damage and loss when fires occur. There are numerous examples of properties in the midst of very intense fires that have suffered little damage because their owners took necessary fire safety steps, while neighbors who did not take preventive action lost everything. Federal, state and local authorities and insurance companies need to take necessary action to minimize the losses. The losses to habitat and carbon absorbing trees and plants will still be serious, making climate change worse. Major rapid steps to move to green energy will begin to limit the fire and that set of problems.

And still more California serious fires: " 90,000 Told to Flee as California Fires Nearly Double in Size: The Silverado Fire and the Blue Ridge Fire grew rapidly overnight, forcing more evacuations in Irvine and other parts of Orange County,: The New York Times, October 27, 2020, reported, "As two wildfires raged across Southern California on Tuesday, nearly doubling in size overnight and forcing thousands more people to flee their homes, the state’s utility companies are again coming under scrutiny for their potential role in sparking new blazes.
      " Fueled by strong Santa Ana winds, the fires in Orange County have put more than 90,000 people under emergency evacuation orders, many of them in Irvine. Their homes are being threatened by both the Silverado Fire [then at 13,000 Acres in Orange County] and the Blue Ridge Fire, which has a footprint of about 15,000 acres."

Somini Sengupta, "Wildfire Smoke Is Poisoning California’s Kids. Some Pay a Higher Price," The New York Times, November 26, 2020,, " The fires sweeping across millions of acres in California aren’t just incinerating trees and houses. They’re also filling the lungs of California’s children with smoke, with potentially grave effects over the course of their lives.
      The effects are not evenly felt
. While California as a whole has seen a steady uptick in smoke days in recent years, counties in the state’s Central Valley, which is already cursed with some of the most polluted air, were particularly hard hit by wildfire smoke this year."

Jill Cowan, "Alarmed by Scope of Wildfires, Officials Turn to Native Americans for Help: Indigenous groups have a long history of intentionally setting fires to keep ecosystems healthy. Policymakers are now more interested in the practice," The New York Times, October 7, 2020,, reported, " Long before California was California, Native Americans used fire to keep the lands where they lived healthy. That meant intentionally burning excess vegetation at regular intervals, during times of the year when the weather would keep blazes smaller and cooler than the destructive wildfires burning today.
       The work requires a deep understanding of how winds would spread flames down a particular hillside or when lighting a fire in a forest would foster the growth of certain plants, and that knowledge has been passed down through ceremony and practice. But until recently, it has been mostly dismissed as unscientific.
      Now, as more Americans are being forced to confront the realities of climate change, firefighting experts and policymakers are increasingly turning to fundamental ecological principles that have long guided Indigenous communities

      "Indigenous Radio Stations Coordinate Relief Efforts in the Aftermath of Hurricanes Eta and Iota in Central America," Cultural Survival, November 30, 2020,, reported, " In November 2020, many Indigenous communities in Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia, southern Mexico and other territories of Abya Yala (America) were recently impacted by two category 4 and 5 hurricanes in less than 15 days, leaving dozens of deaths, countless material losses and much anguish about the future for thousands of families who lost everything because of the cataclysms.
       Hurricanes Eta and Iota were very intense, with winds greater than 250 km per hour on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Since October, four storms named Delta, Epsilon, Eta and Iota (all names taken from the Greek alphabet because the regular list of storm names have been exhausted) affected the region. The 2020 hurricane season has been the most active in history. Scientists agree that climate change is impacting our planet, affecting the nature of storms, causing higher-speed winds, heavier rains, and affecting larger geographic areas.
       Nicaragua was the eye of Hurricane Eta. At 4:00am on November 3, 2020, the category 4 hurricane made landfall south of Bilwi, Puerto Cabeza, Nicaragua's North Caribbean Autonomous Region and 13 days later, the strongest hurricane Lota finished devastating the north center and the north Caribbean of Nicaragua, strongly affecting the Chorotega, Mayagna, and Miskito Peoples. Fortunately, the timely evacuation of populations managed to prevent the death of hundreds of citizens.
       In the Ixil region of Nebaj, El Quiché, Guatemala, 50 communities were affected by storms Eta and Iota and the communication channels in the communities collapsed. 'There are families who were sheltered due to the damage caused to their homes. Because of landslides, their houses were buried,' said Elena Brito, director of Tijaxil Tenam Community Radio. 'This situation leaves great material and human losses, making the situation we were experiencing with the pandemic even more complex. The general population is living in extreme poverty. We believe that this is happening because of the violations that are committed against the planet, the principles and values ​​respecting Mother Nature are no longer practiced and we must hold extractivism and pollution responsible. Currently, the Ixil people do not have the support of the municipal or state authorities and we ask the international community to join in supporting us,' Brito mentions . The two storms caused damage to crops of several Indigenous communities, increasing the prices of basic grains, among other products, exacerbating the crisis of food sovereignty in the Ixil territory.
       In Honduras, grassroots organizations organized to collect aid for affected families in response to the hurricanes in the area. The Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) granted the governments of Nicaragua and Honduras a donation of one million dollars to be shared equally. The governments of El Salvador, Cuba, the United States and the European Union also donated to address the emergency . This aid is still insufficient to meet the demand.
       The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) announced in a statement that it met with leaders and ministers from Belize, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, along with the presidents of the World Bank Group, David Malpass, and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), Dante Mossi, to update the action plan to help impacted countries cope with the damage caused by the hurricanes.
       'We have barely counted the effects of Eta. Only in Puerto Cabeza, it is estimated that more than 800 houses were totally damaged, and many more with partial damage. The immediate needs presented by the leaders are water, food, and clothing, and in the medium and long term, tools are needed to clean up their communities and to rebuild homes. There are many needs that still need to be assessed, among them the reactivation of productive plots so that there is not a problem with food security,' highlights José Colleman, Miskito Indigenous leader and collaborator of Radio Yapti Tasba in Bilwi, Puerto Cabeza, Nicaragua.
      The Role of Indigenous Community Radio in Natural Disasters
       Community radio stations in Central America and Mexico have played an important role in reporting on daily events. The stations expand their coverage when natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, and landslides. In recent months they have been covering the COVID-19 pandemic and most recently the hurricanes in the region.
       Given the abandonment of national governments, the alternative for organizing Indigenous Peoples in emergency contexts is Indigenous community radio, as it is the only source of truthful and contextualized information. Hurricanes in southeastern Mexico have left many communities flooded. In the municipality of Oxchuc, Chiapas, the water level continues to rise and the effects are beginning to affect the daily life of the population. Community Radio Muk'ul Lum, "The Voice of Indigenous Peoples," has had to vacate their facilities, as it was completely flooded, as was the home of the station coordinator.
      In Guatemala, community radio station leaders and volunteers implemented prevention campaigns and food collection days. 'Radio Jolom Konob of Santa Eulalia, Huehuetenango, was reporting in coordination with the local municipality during hurricane Eta on the devastating effect of this natural phenomenon,' said María Pedro, president of the station. The station also reported on the displacement of families, deaths caused by avalanches, and on the rescue efforts of relief forces in the most vulnerable places.
      In Santa Eulalia, the collection center was at Radio Jolom Konob’s booth. School teachers joined in the organizing efforts and local residents contributed what little they had to distribute to affected families in San Juan Ixcoy and Soloma. 'In this last municipality the death of seven residents is lamented,' said Lorenzo Mateo, director of Radio Jolom Konob.
      'The audience asked to start a food drive. Also, a man came to offer his vehicle to transport the products. This motivated us to take up the call,' highlights Carlos Bal, director of the Radio San Juan de Comalapa, Guatemala. “The local cable company also joined the call, 219 families came to contribute, we collected 27 quintals of food and clothing, which we went to distribute to the affected communities in Cobán, it was more than nine hours of travel to reach the community of Queja in San Cristóbal Verapaz. Then, we moved to Santa Elena and Chixoy. When making the deliveries, people showed their gratitude to the radio and the population of Comalapa, indicating that there was little aid that arrived here. It is sad how the national government and the local mayor's office have forgotten these low-income communities, who were left with nothing, in the face of the onslaught of hurricanes Eta and Iota,' says Bal.
      In Xajaxac, Sololá, Community Radio Juventud, together with the ancestral authorities alerted its listeners as well as the residents who were located in risk areas. "Fortunately there was no damage in the places,” says Olga Ajcalón, director of the station.
      Dixon Morales, Garífuna leader and ODECO community radio director in La Ceiba, Honduras, says: 'The response of the State has been bad, they did not take climate projections seriously and there was no preventive plan to avoid misfortunes in the face of hurricanes. In the midst of two major concerns, the pandemic and the hurricanes, the government was more concerned with increasing tourism and the economy, with the holiday of the Morazan week, instead of responding to the population. It almost caught us off guard. Unfortunately, a large number of the negative impacts are on the Indigenous Peoples."
      Morales also shared his concern about the alert they have received from the shelters, about the abuse of girls due to overcrowding and the lack of adequate protection of children. Deputy and Indigenous leader Olivia Zúñiga Cáceres openly expressed to the international community and to the people of Honduras in general, 'I invite you to show solidarity with the Lenca people of Opalaca, and to extend your support directly to the communities through from their local leaders.'
       In Nicaragua, Radio Yapti Tasba in Bilwi, Puerto Cabeza, suffered the loss of its transmission tower and they are currently off air. The winds also caused significant damage to the roof of the station. Juan Herbacio, director of the station, points out that the damages amount to over $3,200 and emphasizes the urgency of being able to restore the community radio, since a large part of the population is informed in the Miskito language       'Cultural Survival stands in solidarity with the communities that have been affected by the recent hurricanes. We regret the human and material losses that thousands of Indigenous and non-Indigenous families have suffered in recent days. We call for unity in efforts to find economic resources and food to address this climate emergency. We recognize once again the great importance of the work of community radio stations in keeping the population informed and organized at times like these, especially in their own languages. We reiterate our commitment to continue supporting Indigenous community radio stations in their work,'said Mark Camp, deputy executive director of Cultural Survival."

Natalie Kitroeff, "2 Hurricanes Devastated Central America. Will the Ruin Spur a Migration Wave? The storms displaced hundreds of thousands of people, creating a new class of refugees with more reason than ever to migrate north and setting up an early test for the incoming Biden administration," The New York Times, December 4, 2020,, reported, " Already crippled by the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic crisis, Central America is now confronting another catastrophe: The mass destruction caused by two ferocious hurricanes that hit in quick succession last month, pummeling the same fragile countries, twice.
      The storms, two of the most powerful in
a record-breaking season , demolished tens of thousands of homes, wiped out infrastructure and swallowed vast swaths of cropland." Vast areas remained flooded days later, giant mud slides wiped out whole villages. The double disaster is likely to launch another wave of climate refugees north to the United States. The storm was most destructive in Guatemala, and Honduras, but also hit Nicaragua.

Maria Magdalena Arréllaga, Ernesto Londoño and Letícia Casado, "Brazil Fires Burn World’s Largest Tropical Wetlands at ‘Unprecedented’ Scale: The blazes in Brazil, often intentionally set, have scorched a record-setting 10 percent of the Pantanal, one of the most biologically diverse habitats on the planet," The New York Times, September 4, 2020,, reported, " A record amount of the world’s largest tropical wetland has been lost to the fires sweeping Brazil this year, scientists said, devastating a delicate ecosystem that is one of the most biologically diverse habitats on the planet.
      The enormous fires — often set by ranchers and farmers to clear land, but exacerbated by unusually dry conditions in recent weeks — have engulfed more than 10 percent of the Brazilian wetlands, known as the Pantanal, exacting a toll scientists call 'unprecedented.'”

But by mid-October, Catrin Einhorn, Maria Magdalena Arréllaga, Blacki Migliozzi and Scott Reinhard, "The World’s Largest Tropical Wetland Has Become an Inferno," The New York Times, October 13, 2020,, reported, " This year, roughly a quarter of the vast Pantanal wetland in Brazil, one of the most biodiverse places on Earth, has burned in wildfires worsened by climate change.
      The unprecedented fires in the wetland have attracted less attention than blazes in Australia, the Western United States and the Amazon, its celebrity sibling to the north. But while the Pantanal is not a global household name, tourists in the know flock there because it is home to exceptionally high concentrations of breathtaking wildlife: Jaguars, tapirs, endangered giant otters and bright blue hyacinth macaws. Like a vast tub, the wetland swells with water during the rainy season and empties out during the dry months. Fittingly, this rhythm has a name that evokes a beating heart: the flood pulse.
       The wetland, which is larger than Greece and stretches over parts of Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia, also offers unseen gifts to a vast swath of South America by regulating the water cycle upon which life depends. Its countless swamps, lagoons and tributaries purify water and help prevent floods and droughts. They also store untold amounts of carbon, helping to stabilize the climate."
       This year a quarter of the Pantanal was consumed by fires, many of which were started by ranchers. Usually, even in the dry season there is enough water in the land to contain the fires. But climate change has brought drought that has so dried the land that the fires now burn out of control.

"Revealed: Uncontacted tribes’ territories burning as Amazon fires spread," Survival International, October 14, 2020,, reported, " The survival of several uncontacted tribes is now at risk after fires were set inside their territories. Activists have described this year’s Amazon fires, and President Bolsonaro’s war on indigenous peoples, as 'the gravest threat to the survival of uncontacted tribes for a generation.'
      Four tribal territories face an especially serious crisis:
      - The famed Papaya Forest on Bananal Island, the world’s largest fluvial island. It’s inhabited by uncontacted Ãwa people. Eighty per cent of the forest burned in fires last year – fires have been seen this year in one of the last areas of intact forest. More than 100,000 head of cattle now graze on the island.
      - The Ituna Itatá (“Smell of Fire”) indigenous territory in Pará state, inhabited exclusively by uncontacted Indians. This reserve was the most heavily deforested indigenous territory in 2019, as land grabbers and cattle ranchers invaded. In the first four months of 2020, another 1,319 hectares of forest were destroyed, an increase of almost 60% compared to the same period last year.
      - The Arariboia territory in the eastern Amazon state of Maranhão: uncontacted Awá inhabit this territory, which has already been extensively invaded. Amazon Guardians of the neighboring Guajajara tribe are warning daily that illegal loggers are destroying the forest at alarming rates. (The Ãwa people of Bananal Island and the Awá tribe of Maranhão state are distinct peoples).
      - The Uru Eu Wau Wau territory. Uncontacted Indians inside this territory shot and killed famed Amazon expert Rieli Franciscato last month – campaigners fear the group is being forced out of the forest by the invasions.
      Many of the fires are being started to clear the rainforest for logging and ranching, and millions of tons of soya, beef, timber and other products are imported into Europe and the US each year.

Graph showing the rapid rise in deforestation in the Ituna Itatá Indigenous Territory, Brazil, inhabited exclusively by uncontacted people.

Graph showing the rapid rise in deforestation in the Ituna Itatá Indigenous Territory, Brazil, inhabited exclusively by uncontacted people.
© Prodes/ Inpe/ Survival
       APIB (the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil) has launched a campaign to highlight the links between Bolsonaro, his agribusiness backers, and the genocidal violence being committed against indigenous peoples across the country. They are asking people and companies around the world to stop buying products that are fuelling the destruction of their territories.
Survival has launched a global action calling on supermarkets in Europe and the US to stop buying Brazilian agribusiness products until indigenous rights are upheld.
      Ângela Kaxuyana, spokesperson from COIAB, the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon, said: 'Land grabbing, deforestation and arson directly threaten the lives of our uncontacted relatives. The destruction of the territories that are their only sources of life, from where they obtain their food (fauna, flora and water), could end in their extermination.' 'A grilagem de terra, o desmatamento e os incêndios criminosos ameaçam diretamente a vida dos nossos parentes em isolamento voluntário. A destruição dos territórios que são suas únicas fontes de vida, de onde garantem sua alimentação (fauna, flora e água), podem levá-los ao extermínio.'
      Tainaky Tenetehar, one of the Guajajara Guardians who protect the Arariboia reserve for the Guajajara people and their uncontacted neighbors, said today: 'We fight to protect this forest, and many of us have been killed doing so, but the invaders keep coming. They have damaged the forest so much in recent years that their fires are now much bigger, and more serious, than before, as the forest is so dry and vulnerable. The loggers must be evicted – only then can the uncontacted Awá survive and thrive.'
      Survival’s Senior Researcher Sarah Shenker said: 'In many parts of Brazil, uncontacted tribes’ territories are the last significant areas of rainforest left. Now they are being targeted by land grabbers, loggers and ranchers emboldened by Bolsonaro’s open support for them . Consumers in the US and Europe must understand that there’s a direct connection between the food on their supermarket shelves and this genocidal destruction – and act accordingly. Uncontacted tribes are the most vulnerable peoples on the planet, and at the same time nature’s best guardians, by far. We cannot let their land go up in flames'.”

Megan Specia, "Cyclone Batters Greek Islands as It Makes Landfall: Ianos, a rare hurricane-strength Mediterranean storm, slammed into Greece’s western islands, bringing lashing rain and gales," The New York Times, September 18, 2020,, reported, " A rare, powerful cyclone slammed into the western Ionian Islands of Greece and other parts of the country on Friday, bringing lashing rain, strong winds and flooding as it tore into the coastline.
      Such storms — which some meteorologists call Medicanes, or Mediterranean hurricanes — were virtually unheard-of before the 1990s, but in recent years have become a more regular occurrence because of rising sea temperatures

Falih Hassan and Elian Peltier, "Scorching Temperatures Bake Middle East Amid Eid al-Adha Celebrations: Record high temperatures were recorded in Baghdad and Damascus, and experts warned of the effects of prolonged heat waves as the planet warms," August 1, 2020,, reported, "A sweltering 125 degrees Fahrenheit in Baghdad on Tuesday; a record 115 degrees in Damascus on Wednesday. And extreme levels of heat in Israel and Lebanon.
      Several countries in the Middle East experienced record high temperatures this week
as many marked the Muslim celebration of Eid al-Adha amid the coronavirus pandemic. The heat wave left cities sweltering in scorching temperatures of 120 degrees (48 degrees Celsius) or more for days, raising concerns it was a sign of future misery under the warming effects of climate change.
       Iraq has been hit especially hard, with Baghdad recording its all-time highest temperature on Tuesday, followed by its second hottest day on record on Wednesday."
      Falih Hassan and Elian Peltier, "Scorching Temperatures Bake Middle East Amid Eid al-Adha Celebrations: Record high temperatures were recorded in Baghdad and Damascus, and experts warned of the effects of prolonged heat waves as the planet warms," August 1, 2020,, reported, "A sweltering 125 degrees Fahrenheit in Baghdad on Tuesday; a record 115 degrees in Damascus on Wednesday. And extreme levels of heat in Israel and Lebanon.
      Several countries in the Middle East experienced record high temperatures this week
as many marked the Muslim celebration of Eid al-Adha amid the coronavirus pandemic. The heat wave left cities sweltering in scorching temperatures of 120 degrees (48 degrees Celsius) or more for days, raising concerns it was a sign of future misery under the warming effects of climate change.
       Iraq has been hit especially hard, with Baghdad recording its all-time highest temperature on Tuesday, followed by its second hottest day on record on Wednesday."
       Raymond Zhong, "Severe Floods in China Leave Over 106 Dead or Missing: Unusually intense rainfall has swept away buildings and ruined homes in southern China, affecting about 15 million residents. More downpours are forecast for Saturday," The New York Times, July 3, 2020,, reported, "Weeks of abnormally intense rains have wrought destruction across southern China, leaving at least 106 people dead or missing and affecting 15 million residents in the worst flooding that parts of the region have seen in decades."

       Steven Lee Myers, "After Covid, China’s Leaders Face New Challenges From Flooding: Unusually heavy rains have wreaked havoc in central and southwestern China, leaving hundreds dead and disrupting the economy’s post-pandemic recovery," The New York Times, August 21, 2020,, reported, " Flooding on the Yangtze River peaked again this week, in Sichuan Province and the sprawling metropolis of Chongqing, while the Three Gorges Dam, 280 miles downstream, reached its highest level since it began holding water in 2003.
      This year’s flooding has unfolded not as a single natural disaster, with an enormous loss of life and property, but rather as a slow, merciless series of smaller ones, whose combined toll has steadily mounted
even as official reports have focused on the government’s relief efforts."

In a two week period in late August and early September the Korean Peninsula was hit by three typhoons: Bavi, Maysak and Haishen ("Typhoon Haishen (2020)," Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, September 17, 2020,

Livia Albeck-Ripka, " Landslide in Vietnam Kills at Least 20 Military Personnel: Search-and-rescue efforts were underway after a landslide in the central province of Quang Tri, resulting in what may be the country’s greatest military loss in peacetime," The New York Times, reported, "A landslide in Vietnam on Sunday killed at least 20 military personnel and left two missing, the local news media reported, following weeks of torrential rains and flooding that have devastated parts of the country and killed dozens of people."
      And then, an even worse storm: Yan Zhuang, "Typhoon Molave Slams Into Vietnam, Bringing Death and More Misery: Already battling devastating floods, the country was hit by one of its biggest storms in decades," The New York Times, October 28, 2020,, reported, " A typhoon that slammed into central Vietnam has set off a series of landslides that buried villages and towns, left more than 60 people dead or missing and compounded the misery of a country already struggling with catastrophic floods.
      Typhoon Molave was one of the biggest storms to hit the country in two decades, bringing a second round of deadly landslides there this month.

Emily Schmall and Hari Kumar, "Cyclone Nivar Reaches India, Battering Its Eastern Coast: The severe storm weakened after making landfall near Puducherry. At least 3 people were killed," The New York Times, November 26, 2020,, reported," A severe cyclone made landfall in eastern India early Thursday, killing at least three people and lashing coastal areas off the Bay of Bengal with strong winds and heavy rain."
      " Cyclones have grown more intense and more frequent across South Asia as climate change has resulted in warmer sea temperatures."

Hannah Beech and Jason Gutierrez, "A Typhoon Spared the Philippine Capital. Will Manila Be So Lucky Next Time? With climate change heightening the Philippines’ risk of natural disaster, the country is braced for the next catastrophe," The New York Times, November 2, 2020,, reported that while Typhoon Goni, the most powerful storm to hit the Philippines in many years, missed the capitol, it caused severe flooding and wind damage south of Manila. Moreover, "The Philippines may have been lucky with Goni, the 18th typhoon to strike the country this year. But it remains starkly exposed to a multitude of natural disasters."
      " As sea-surface temperatures rise, the Philippines’ positioning in warm ocean waters means the country is being subjected to both bigger and more frequent tropical storms. Residents of densely populated slums are particularly imperiled. So are miners and farmers who excavate and till mountainous earth, creating slippery, muddy conditions in which torrents of soil can bury people alive .
      Mass deforestation, including the destruction of mangroves along the coastlines, has torn away natural barriers to wind and water

Jason Gutierrez, "‘Within Seconds Everything Was Gone’: Devastating Floods Submerge the Philippines: Torrential rains and back-to-back typhoons have ripped through the country in the past two weeks, turning a once picturesque river into a sea of murky brown, killing dozens and setting off deadly landslides," The New York Times, November 18, 2020,, reported that in the northern Philippines, " The Cagayan River overflowed after two weeks of torrential rains, burying entire villages under water and mud."
      Typhons are a regular occarrance in the Philippines. "But the storms are getting more ferocious and more frequent, the tragic consequence of a
changing climate that is making disasters more intense . Rapid development and deforestation along flood-prone areas have exacerbated the devastation."

"Flooding in India Kills Scores of Animals, Including Endangered Rhinos: The flooding at the famous Kaziranga game reserve has drawn the attention of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who had visited the park to learn about its conservation efforts," The New York Times, July 25, 2020,, reported, "The flooding is the result of a monsoon that has dumped rain across parts of India, Bangladesh and Nepal, displacing 9.6 million people, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. More than 550 people have been killed in the floods, the group said."
      In Bangladesh almost one-third of the country has been flooded, with more flooding predicted in the coming weeks. To date, 2.8 million people had been affected, and over 1 million isolated.
      In India, flooding has impacted more than 6.8 million people have been affected by the flooding, principally in the northern states of Assam, West Bengal, Bihar and Meghalaya. In Assam, 122 people have been killed in floods and mudslides, with about 50,000 people having sought shelter in government-run relief camps

Bhadra Sharma, "Dozens Are Feared Dead in Nepal Landslide: Eleven bodies were recovered and 27 people were still missing. Some of the homes lost had been rebuilt after Nepal’s devastating 2015 quake," The New York Times, August 14, 2020,, reported, "A landslide caused in part by unusually heavy rain in a district of Nepal bordering China buried dozens of homes early Friday, killing at least 11 people and leaving 27 others missing, officials said."

       Gerry Mullany, "Severe Flooding in Southern Japan Swamps Nursing Home: Officials said that at least 16 people had died as a result of the deluge and mudslides that struck the island of Kyushu overnight," The New York Times, July 4, 2020,, reported, "Torrential rains in southern Japan caused widespread flooding and m udslides on Saturday, with at least 16 people dead as officials warned 75,000 residents to evacuate."

"Pakistan’s Most Terrifying Adversary Is Climate Change: The country debates women’s honor inexhaustibly but pays little attention to the ferocious and imminent dangers of climate disasters," The New York Times, September 27, 2020,, commented that Pakistan, and the City of Karachi, has suffered adversity from many struggles, but none have been so destructive as worsening climate change. "In August, Karachi’s stifling summer heat was heavy and pregnant. The sapodilla trees and frangipani leaves were lush and green; the Arabian Sea, quiet and distant, had grown muddy. When the palm fronds started to sway, slowly, the city knew the winds had picked up and rain would follow. Every year the monsoons come — angrier and wilder — lashing the unprepared city. Studies show that climate change is causing monsoons to be more intense and less predictable, and cover larger areas of land for longer periods of time.
      On Aug. 27 , Karachi received nearly nine inches of monsoon rain , the highest amount of rainfall ever in a single day. Nineteen inches of rain fell in August, according to the meteorological officials. It is enough to drown a city that has no functioning drainage, no emergency systems and no reliable health care (except for those who can pay). Thousands of homes and settlements of the poor were subsumed and destroyed , and more than 100 people were killed."

Somini Sengupta and Julfikar Ali Manik, "A Quarter of Bangladesh Is Flooded. Millions Have Lost Everything: The country’s latest calamity illustrates a striking inequity of our time: The people least responsible for climate change are among those most hurt by its consequences," The New York Times, July 30, 2020,, reported, "Torrential rains have submerged at least a quarter of Bangladesh, washing away the few things that count as assets for some of the world’s poorest people — their goats and chickens, houses of mud and tin, sacks of rice stored for the lean season."

       Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Fahim Abed, "Nearly 80 Killed as Flash Floods Ravage City in Afghanistan: The toll in Charikar was expected to rise as rescue workers sift through the wreckage of dozens of destroyed homes," The New York Times,  August 27, 2020,, reported, " When the heavy rains came overnight, setting off flash floods in northern Afghanistan , the deluge quickly turned deadly and caught many residents off guard because they were sleeping.
      On Wednesday, a hospital official said the floods had killed nearly 80 people and injured scores of others in Charikar, home to nearly 200,000 people and the capital of Parwan Province, just north of Kabul."

Climate change related drought is bringing is bringing serious wildfires to new areas of Africa. Abdi Latif Dahir,  " Fires on Slopes of Kilimanjaro Threaten a Diverse Ecosystem: Strong winds and dry weather have hampered efforts to extinguish the spreading blaze on Africa’s highest peak," The New York Times, October15, 2020,, reported, "As fires swept up the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain, for the fifth day on Thursday, hundreds of volunteers from local villages joined firefighters racing to stop a blaze threatening to ravage one of the world’s richest and most diverse ecosystems."

Jessica Corbett, "As Covid-19 Crisis Continues, UNEP and Global Partners Release 10-Point Plan to Prevent the Next Pandemic: 'The science is clear that if we keep exploiting wildlife and destroying our ecosystems, then we can expect to see a steady stream of these diseases jumping from animals to humans in the years ahead.'" Common Dreams, July 6, 2020,, reported, " As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide neared 11.5 million on Monday and the death toll topped 535,000, a new United Nations report detailed trends in human activity that are driving the emergence of zoonotic diseases and offered steps countries can take to prevent future pandemics.
      The report, entitled Preventing the Next Pandemic: Zoonotic Diseases and How to Break the Chain of Transmission (pdf:, was released on World Zoonoses Day. Zoonotic diseases, or zoonoses, are infectious diseases that are passed from animals to humans.
       'The science is clear that if we keep exploiting wildlife and destroying our ecosystems, then we can expect to see a steady stream of these diseases jumping from animals to humans in the years ahead,' U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) executive director Inger Andersen said in a statement announcing the report.
      'Pandemics are devastating to our lives and our economies, and as we have seen over the past months, it is the poorest and the most vulnerable who suffer the most,' Andersen added. 'To prevent future outbreaks, we must become much more deliberate about protecting our natural environment.'
      Scientists of the UNEP, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and the South African Medical Research Council produced the report in partnership with other multilateral agencies and research institutions.
      Researchers identified seven human-caused drivers of zoonotic disease emergence: increasing demand for animal protein; unsustainable agricultural intensification; increased use and exploitation of wildlife; unsustainable utilization of natural resources accelerated by urbanization, land use change, and extractive industries; travel and transportation; changes in food supply chains; and climate change.
      'This report makes many recommendations, all based on the One Health approach, which unites experts from multiple disciplines—public health, animal health, plant health, and the environment—to deliver outcomes that improve the health of people, wildlife, and the planet," Andersen explained in a foreword.
       The UNEP summarized 10 key policy recommendations from the report:
Investing in interdisciplinary approaches, including One Health;
      Expanding scientific enquiry into zoonotic diseases;
      Improving cost-benefit analyses of interventions to include full-cost accounting of societal impacts of disease;
      Raising awareness of zoonotic diseases;
            Strengthening monitoring and regulation practices associated with zoonotic diseases, including food systems;
      Incentivizing sustainable land management practices and developing alternatives for food security and livelihoods that do not rely on the destruction of habitats and biodiversity;
Improving biosecurity and control, identifying key drivers of emerging diseases in animal husbandry and encouraging proven management and zoonotic disease control measures;
      Supporting the sustainable management of landscapes and seascapes that enhance sustainable co-existence of agriculture and wildlife;
      Strengthening capacities among health stakeholders in all countries; and
      Operationalizing the One Health approach in land-use and sustainable development planning, implementation and monitoring, among other fields.
      In addition to acknowledging the devastation of Covid-19, the report highlights other recent examples of "headline-hitting and dramatically destructive novel diseases," including zoonotic influenza (Bird Flu), pandemic human influenza (H1N1), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS
      The report also underscores the importance of addressing 'neglected zoonoses' that 'are continuously present in affected (mainly impoverished) populations, yet receive much less international attention and funding than emerging zoonotic diseases,' such as anthrax, bovine tuberculosis, brucellosis, rabies, cysticercosis (pig tapeworm), echinococcosis (hydatid disease), Japanese encephalitis, leptospirosis, Q fever, rabies, Lassa fever virus, and trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness).
Jimmy Smith, director general of the Kenya-based ILRI, noted in a statement Monday both the elevated risks faced by many African nations and the potential leadership opportunities in terms of future zoonotic pandemics, given population growth and experiences combating diseases in countries across the continent.
       'The situation on the continent today is ripe for intensifying existing zoonotic diseases and facilitating the emergence and spread of new ones,' Smith said. 'But with their experiences with Ebola and other emerging diseases, African countries are demonstrating proactive ways to manage disease outbreaks. They are applying, for example, novel risk-based rather than rule-based approaches to disease control, which are best suited to resource-poor settings, and they are joining up human, animal, and environment expertise in proactive One Health initiatives.'
      The report was welcomed by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, according to U.N. News.
      Echoing both the report and previous remarks he has made during the Covid-19 pandemic, Guterres said that 'to prevent future outbreaks, countries need to conserve wild habitats, promote sustainable agriculture, strengthen food safety standards, monitor and regulate food markets, invest in technology to identify risks, and curb the illegal trade in wildlife.'
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The New York Times has undertaken modeling, presented with graphics, of various scenarios of how climate change - already causing significant migration in central America, the Middle East and South East Asia - might cause population movement, and some of the likely impacts of it - world-wide - over the next 70 years. The study points out that while currently only some 1% of the world's surface is a hot zone, at current rates of warming by 2070 that figure is likely to rise to 19%. Billions of people live in this area which will likely become too hot to live in. The study attempts to show various possibilities of where they might move.  (Abrahm Lustgarten "The Great Climate Migration," The New York Times Magazine, July 26, 2020,

Jessica Corbett, "New Report Finds Economic Benefits of Protecting 30% of Planet's Land and Ocean Outweigh the Costs 5-to-1: 'Protecting nature halts biodiversity loss, helps fight climate change, and lessens the chance of future pandemics. This is sound public policy, economically, ecologically, and morally," Common Dreams, July 8, 2020,, reported, "' This report unequivocally tells us that the time to finance nature—for people and for planet—is now.'
      That's how Jamison Ervin, manager of the Global Program on Nature for Development at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), summed up a new study commissioned by Campaign for Nature (CFN), a coalition of over 100 conservation groups and scientists who support protecting at least 30% of the planet's land and ocean by 2030.
       Protecting 30% of the Planet for Nature: Costs, Benefits, Economic Implications (pdf: was released Wednesday and 'is the first ever analysis of protected area impacts across multiple economic sectors, including agriculture, fisheries, and forestry in addition to the nature conservation sector,' according to CFN.
An online tracker managed by a U.N. Environment Program center with support from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) shows that about 15% of land and 7% of ocean worldwide currently have some level of protection. The over 100 scientists and economists behind the CFN report found that the economic benefits of protecting 30% of the world's land and ocean outweigh the costs at least 5-to-1.
      The CFN report's authors conducted a financial analysis which found that expanding protected areas to hit or surpass the 30% target could generate overall revenues of $64 billion–$454 billion per year by 2050, depending on implementation. Considering multiplier effects , the report says, the final boost to global economic output could be over $1 trillion annually.
      They also conducted a partial economic analysis that focused on forests and mangroves, and found that 'in those biomes alone, the 30% target had an avoided-loss value of $170–$534 billion per year by 2050, largely reflecting the benefit of avoiding the flooding, climate change, soil loss, and coastal storm-surge damage that occur when natural vegetation is removed.'
      Currently, the international community invests about $24 billion per year in protected areas, according to CFN. The 30% target requires an average annual investment of about $140 billion by 2030.
      As Ervin, who is among the report's authors, explained in a statement Wednesday:
       'The cost to protect 30% of our planet, ranging from about $103 to $178 billion, is not inconsequential. However, nature provides more than $125 trillion in benefits to humanity, global GDP is about $80 trillion, and the total global assets under management is about $125 trillion. In this context, the cost of creating a resilient, planetary safety net for all life on Earth barely even registers as a statistical rounding error. The benefits to humanity are incalculable, and the cost of inaction is unthinkable."
      The new economic findings bolster ecological and moral arguments often at the heart of calls for increasing conservation efforts. As report co-author Stephen Woodley, vice-chair for science and biodiversity at IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas, put it: 'Expanding the global protected area estate to at least 30% by 2030 is an essential policy requirement to halt the loss of fellow species on our planet.'
      The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) warned in May 2019 that destructive human activities have pushed a million plant and animal species to the brink of extinction. More recently, the Covid-19 pandemic has directed more attention to the consequences of humanity's destruction of nature by provoking concerns about future zoonotic diseases.
      'We must give space for nature. The analysis led by Anthony Waldron shows we can gain financially and economically by implementing this policy,' Woodley said, noting that some governments have already committed to the 30% target. 'Protecting nature halts biodiversity loss, helps fight climate change, and lessens the chance of future pandemics. This is sound public policy, economically, ecologically, and morally.'
      Waldron, an ecologist at the University of Cambridge, delivered a similar message.
      'Our report shows that protection in today's economy brings in more revenue than the alternatives and likely adds revenue to agriculture and forestry, while helping prevent climate change, water crises, biodiversity loss, and disease,' he said. 'Increasing nature protection is sound policy for governments juggling multiple interests. You cannot put a price tag on nature—but the economic numbers point to its protection.'
      The report comes ahead of the next meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which was supposed to be held in Kunming, China this October but has been delayed until next year due to the pandemic. As CFN noted Wednesday, the CBD included the 30% protected area goal in its draft 10-year strategy that is expected to be finalized at next year's meeting.
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Jessica Corbett, "Updated Species Extinction List Signals 'Urgent Action Needed to Save Life on Earth': More than one in four of the 120,372 plant and animal species assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature are at risk of extinction." Common Dreams, July 9, 2020,, reported, " The U.S.-based Center for Biological Diversity warned Thursday of the 'urgent action needed to save life on Earth' in response to a new global assessment revealing that nearly 27% of over 120,000 analyzed plant and animal species are now threatened with extinction.
      'This assessment shows that one in four mammals are facing extinction, and although we don't prefer to think of ourselves as animals, we humans are mammals,' Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at CBD, said in a statement. 'We have to take bold and rapid action to reduce the huge damage we're doing to the planet if we're going to save whales, frogs, lemurs, and ultimately ourselves.'
      'We know what we need to do to end extinction,' she added. 'At this point it's a matter of political will to rapidly move away from fossil fuels, stamp out the wildlife trade, and overhaul the toxic ways we produce food. We really can do all of these things, but we need world leaders to stand up and do them.'
Curry's comments came after the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on Thursday announced an update to its Red List of Threatened Species, revealing that 32,441 of 120,372 assessed species are at risk.
      Like Curry, IUCN experts demanded urgent global action in a statement announcing the update.
      'This IUCN Red List update exposes the true scale of threats faced by primates across Africa,' said IUCN acting director general Grethel Aguilar. 'It also shows that Homo sapiens needs to drastically change its relationship to other primates, and to nature as a whole.'
      'At the heart of this crisis is a dire need for alternative, sustainable livelihoods to replace the current reliance on deforestation and unsustainable use of wildlife,' Aguilar continued. 'These findings really bring home the urgent need for an ambitious post-2020 biodiversity framework that drives effective conservation action.'
      Among other animals, the IUCN Red List now classifies 33 lemur species, the European Hamster (Cricetus cricetus), and the North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis) as critically endangered.
      In a separate Center for Biological Diversity statement focusing on the whales found along the East Coast of the United States and Canada, legal director Kristen Monsell declared that 'entanglements and ship strikes are pushing these amazing animals to the brink of extinction.'
      Jane Smart, global director of the IUCN Biodiversity Conservation Group, said that "the dramatic declines of species such as the North Atlantic Right Whale included in today's IUCN Red List update highlight the gravity of the extinction crisis.'
      While the Red List focuses on species for which there is enough information to assess conservation status, Thursday's update follows a May 2019 report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services that warned human activities had pushed a million species to the brink of extinction.
      'Saving the fast-growing number of threatened species from extinction requires transformational change, supported by action to implement national and international agreements,' said Smart. 'The world needs to act fast to halt species' population declines and prevent human-driven extinctions, with an ambitious post-2020 biodiversity framework which the upcoming IUCN Congress will help define.'
      The post-2020 global biodiversity framework is expected to be finalized at the next meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which will likely be held in China sometime in 2021. The event was initially scheduled for October but has been postponed because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
      A draft 10-year strategy released earlier this year included a call to protect 30% of the planet's land and ocean by 2030. A recent analysis commissioned by Campaign for Nature found that achieving that 30% goal would not only help halt biodiversity loss, fight the climate crisis, and reduce the risk of future pandemics but also produce billions of dollars in economic benefits.
      In January, CBD published Saving Life on Earth (pdf), a plan detailing how the United States can help lead the fight against the global extinction crisis by investing $100 billion to save at-risk species and help create 500 new national parks, wildlife refuges, and marine sanctuaries. The plan also calls for protecting 30% of U.S. lands and water by 2030, and 50% by 2050.
      ' Humans have never witnessed the profound level of wildlife losses unfolding in front of us right now,' Curry said when the center's plan was released. ' We are at a planetary turning point that calls for visionary action to save life on Earth. The solutions are within reach. We only need the courage and political will to make it happen.'
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"New Data Shows an ‘Extraordinary’ Rise in U.S. Coastal Flooding: Rising seas are bringing water into communities at record rates, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Tuesday," The New York Times, July 14, 2020, reported, " Parts of the United States saw record levels of high-tide flooding last year as rising seas brought water further into coastal homes and infrastructure, government scientists reported Tuesday.
      The increase in high-tide flooding along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts since 2000 has been “extraordinar
y,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported, with the frequency of flooding in some cities growing fivefold during that time. That shift is damaging homes, imperiling the safety of drinking water, inundating roads and otherwise hurting coastal communities, the agency said."

Andy Kroll, "The New Pandemic Relief Bill Is a Huge Win for the Plane: The $900-billion deal contains $35 billion for renewable energies and calls for cutting greenhouse gases. It’s ;a light in the darkness,' says Sierra Club director," RollingStone, December 22, 2020,, reported the late December 2020 "Covid relief bill includes $35 billion in new funding for various renewable energy initiatives, including $4 billion for the research and development of wind, solar, and geothermal; $1.7 billion to expand access to renewables to low-income Americans; and $2.6 billion for the Energy Department’s sustainable transportation project. One environmental advocate told the Post the relief bill was 'perhaps the most significant climate legislation Congress has ever passed.'
      The bill also 'includes key language on the ‘sense of Congress’ that the Energy Department must prioritize funding for research to power the United States with 100 percent ‘clean, renewable, or zero-emission energy sources,’ ' the Post reported. That commitment aligns with Democratic proposals to get the U.S. to a point of net-zero emissions, a goal shared by other nations in the fight against the climate crisis.
      But perhaps the biggest provision in the bill is one that would allow the Environmental Protection Agency to begin to phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, which are used in air conditioners found in cars, homes, and other cooling systems."

Jessica Corbett,  'This Is a Really, Really Big Deal': Michigan Gov. Moves to Shut Down Line 5 Pipeline to Protect Great Lakes: 'Enbridge has imposed on the people of Michigan an unacceptable risk of a catastrophic oil spill in the Great Lakes that could devastate our economy and way of life,'" Common Dreams, November 13, 2020,, reported, " Environmental and Indigenous activists celebrated Friday after Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer took action to shut down the decades-old Enbridge Line 5 oil and natural gas pipelines that run under the Straits of Mackinac, narrow waterways that connect Lake Huron and Lake Michigan—two of the Great Lakes.
       Citing the threat to the Great Lakes as well as 'persistent and incurable violations' by Enbridge, Whitmer and Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Director Dan Eichinger informed the Canadian fossil fuel giant that a 1953 easement allowing it to operate the pipelines is being revoked and terminated.
      The move, which Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel asked the Ingham County Circuit Court to validate, gives Enbridge until May 2021 to stop operating the twin pipelines, 'allowing for an orderly transition that protects Michigan's energy needs over the coming months,' according to a statement from the governor's office.
      The Great Lakes collectively contain about a fifth of the world's surface fresh water. As Whitmer explained Friday, 'Here in Michigan, the Great Lakes define our borders, but they also define who we are as people.'
      'Enbridge has routinely refused to take action to protect our Great Lakes and the millions of Americans who depend on them for clean drinking water and good jobs,' the governor said. 'They have repeatedly violated the terms of the 1953 easement by ignoring structural problems that put our Great Lakes and our families at risk.'
      'Most importantly, Enbridge has imposed on the people of Michigan an unacceptable risk of a catastrophic oil spill in the Great Lakes that could devastate our economy and way of life,' she added. 'That's why we're taking action now, and why I will continue to hold accountable anyone who threatens our Great Lakes and fresh water.'
      MLive noted that the state attorney general's new filing 'is in addition to Nessel's lawsuit filed in 2019 seeking the shutdown of Line 5, which remains pending in the same court.' Nessel said Friday that Whitmer and Eichinger 'are making another clear statement that Line 5 poses a great risk to our state, and it must be removed from our public waterways.'
      The 'bombshell news,' as one Michigan reporter called it, elicited applause from environmentalists and Indigenous leaders within and beyond the state.
      'This is a brave and just decision for the Great Lakes,' Mike Shriberg, the National Wildlife Federation's regional executive director for the Great Lakes, told MLive. 'It's going to benefit the Great Lakes by removing what is probably the single biggest threat to water quality in the region.'
      As the Detroit Free Press detailed Friday:
      Enbridge was responsible for one of the largest inland oil spills in U.S. history—a major leak on one of its large oil transmission lines near Marshall in July 2010. That spill fouled more than 38 miles of the Kalamazoo River and took four years and more than $1 billion to clean up. Enbridge in 2016 agreed to a $177-million settlement with the U.S. Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency, including $62 million in penalties, over the Marshall spill and a 2010 spill on another of its pipelines in Romeoville, Illinois.
       A similar spill disaster on Line 5 in the Straits would devastate the Great Lakes shoreline communities and the Michigan economy, critics of the pipeline have long contended. Enbridge officials have countered that Line 5 is safe.
      'Line 5 should have never been built in the first place,' Shriberg told the Free Press. 'Gov. Whitmer is now bravely, and correctly, standing up for the Great Lakes.'
      'This is a legacy-defining action by the governor,' he added. 'She is standing on the side not only of clean water, but clean energy and the jobs that go along with the transition to a renewable energy economy.'
      Dallas Goldtooth, Keep It In The Ground Campaign organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network, welcomed the 'huge news' in a series of tweets that acknowledged the years of campaigning by tribal nations against the Line 5:
      'We are thrilled and thankful for Gov. Whitmer's decision to revoke the easement for Enbridge's pipeline to run beneath the Straits,' Bryan Newland, president of the Bay Mills Indian Community, said in a statement from Earthjustice. 'Enbridge has consistently shown that it only cares about its profits and not about the communities of the Great Lakes. This is a monumental first step in rectifying the harm that the company has already inflicted upon Bay Mills and other tribal nations for decades.'
      The shutdown notice is 'an enormous victory for the climate, and for incredible organizers who have fought for many years!' declared activist and author Bill McKibben, who co-founded After thanking both Whitmer and 'the indefatigable organizers,' he added that 'it's not often enough we Shut Stuff Down!'
      Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) also welcomed the development in a statement Friday. Peters, who secured a narrow reelection victory last week, is a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, which oversees the federal agency responsible for pipeline safety.
      'There's no question an oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac would have catastrophic and long-term consequences to the economic and environmental health of Michigan and the Great Lakes,' Peters said. 'Unfortunately here in Michigan, we already know from the Enbridge pipeline leak in the Kalamazoo River just how devastating and costly spills are to our state.'
      'Given the structural integrity and age concerns around Line 5—particularly in recent years—and Enbridge's failures and inability to be transparent with Michiganders, it's clear that Line 5 poses too serious of a threat and must be removed in the coming months," the congressman continued, vowing to work with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the State of Michigan "to swiftly evaluate alternatives to Line 5 while continuing to hold Enbridge accountable.'
      This post has been updated with comment from Bryan Newland, president of the Bay Mills Indian Community.
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      "Minnesota gives final green light to disputed oil pipeline," Lakota Times, December 3, 2020,, reported, "Minnesota regulators approved the final permit Monday for Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 crude oil pipeline replacement across northern Minnesota, giving the company the green light to begin construction on the $2.6 billion project."
      Alec Jacobson, "These Zombies Threaten the Whole Planet: Canada’s oil patch has nearly 100,000 suspended wells, neither active nor capped, and they’re a worrying source of planet-warming methane," The New York Times, October 30, 2020,, reported, on t he huge number of inactive, but not yet capped, oil wells in Alberta, Canada, many of which are leaking methane. This is a local air pollution issue and a major contributor to climate change. "After decades of booms and busts, an enormous backlog of these inactive wells has built up, and it grows about 6 percent each year. There are now 97,920 wells, like the one on Mr. Romaniuk’s land, that are licensed as temporarily suspended, compared to the province’s 160,000 active wells. The inactive wells are unlikely to be switched on ever again but have not yet been decommissioned. No one knows how many are leaking methane and other pollutants."

Paul Tullis, "New Technology Claims to Pinpoint Even Small Methane Leaks From Space: Amid growing alarm about methane’s role in driving global warming, a Canadian firm has begun selling a service to detect even relatively small leaks. At least two rivals are on the way," The New York Times, November 11, 2020,, reported, "Methane, the powerful, invisible greenhouse gas, has been leaking from oil facilities since the first wells were drilled more than 150 years ago. Most of that time, it was very difficult for operators to measure any emissions accurately — and they had little motivation to, since regulations are typically weak.
      Now, technology is catching up just as there is growing alarm about methane’s role driving global warming. A Canadian company, GHGSat, last month used satellites to detect what it has called the smallest methane leak seen from space and has begun selling data to emitters interested in pinpointing leaks that previously were harder to spot."

Brad Plumer, "In a First, Renewable Energy Is Poised to Eclipse Coal in U.S." The coronavirus has pushed the coal industry to once-unthinkable lows, and the consequences for climate change are big," The New York Times, May 13, 2020,, reported, "The United States is on track to produce more electricity this year from renewable power than from coal for the first time on record, new government projections show, a transformation partly driven by the coronavirus pandemic, with profound implications in the fight against climate change."

       Damien Cave,  "China Battles the World’s Biggest Coal Exporter, and Coal Is Losing: China has officially blocked coal imports from Australia after months of vague restrictions. For Australia, the world’s largest coal exporter, the decision is a gut punch," The New York Times, December 16, 2020,, reported, " China is forcing Australia[, the world's  largest coal exporter,] to confront what many countries are concluding: The coal era is coming to an end.
       China has now officially blocked coal imports from Australia after months of vague restrictions that dramatically slowed trade and stranded huge ships at sea."

Jessica Corbett, "Global Witness Reveals 2019 Was 'Deadliest Year on Record' for Eco-Defenders, With 212 Murdered Worldwide: 'Those that defend our land and environment are on the front lines of #ClimateAction. But we are failing them badly,'" Common Dreams, July 29, 2020,, reported, " 'In 2019, Global Witness recorded 212 murdered land and environmental defenders—making it the deadliest year on record for people defending their homes, forests, and rivers against climate-destructive industries.'
      That's according to Defending Tomorrow: The climate crisis and threats against land and environmental defenders (pdf), an annual report released Wednesday by the watchdog group, which has published data on the topic since 2012. The 2019 figure shows a notable jump from the 167 people killed in 2018.
      While the number of murders last year set a new record, Global Witness notes that its data 'will never accurately capture the true scale of the problem' because of reporting challenges in some countries, including 'restrictions on a free press and the absence of documented abuses by governments and NGOs.'
       The two countries with the most known killings of eco-activists last year—Colombia with 64 and the Philippines with 43—collectively accounted for over half of all murders documented by the group. Honduras, which ranked fifth behind those two nations as well as Brazil and Mexico, had the most killings per capita.
      Following a trend that Global Witness has reported on since 2012 , Latin America was the worst-affected region, with over two-thirds of all the murders. More than half of all the activists killed were from mining-affected communities in the region—though the Philippines, in Asia, had the most mining-related deaths.

Eco-activists killed in 2019

       'Agribusiness and oil, gas, and mining have been consistently the biggest drivers of attacks against land and environmental defenders—and they are also the industries pushing us further into runaway climate change through deforestation and increasing carbon emissions,' Global Witness campaigner Rachel Cox said in a statement.
       'Many of the world's worst environmental and human rights abuses are driven by the exploitation of natural resources and corruption in the global political and economic system,' Cox continued. ' Land and environmental defenders are the people who take a stand against this.'
       In addition to the mining and extractives, agribusiness, and logging sectors, murders were linked to illegal crop substitution, land reform, water and dams, poaching, and fishing. There were nine killings linked to other sectors and 71 deaths with no clear link to a specific sector.
      The report emphasizes a pattern of Indigenous people being attacked for defending their rights and territories. At least 33 activists were killed in the Amazon region last year, and nearly 90% of murders in Brazil—whose president, Jair Bolsonaro, has often clashed with Indigenous groups and environmentalists—were in the Amazon. Although the rainforest spans nine nations, the majority of it is located within Brazil.
      Across the globe last year, '40% of murdered defenders belonged to Indigenous communities,' the report says. 'Between 2015 and 2019 over a third of all fatal attacks have targeted Indigenous people—even though Indigenous communities make up only 5% of the world's population.'
       Eco-defenders who aren't killed still face attacks that include criminalization and smear campaigns. The report explains that both individuals and advocacy groups face 'stigmatization from government figures and local media, using labels like 'anti-development,' 'criminals,' or 'terrorists.'
      'If we want to end climate breakdown, then it is in the footsteps of land and environmental defenders we must follow.'
      —Global Witness
      Global Witness found that over 1 in 10 defenders killed last year were women, and those who take action or speak out can endure gender-specific threats, including sexual violence. The report notes that women and girls are also often more vulnerable to the impacts of the human-caused climate crisis.
      'The climate crisis is arguably the greatest existential threat we all face. And as it escalates, it serves to exacerbate many of the other serious problems in our world today,' warns the report, specifically referencing economic inequality and racial discrimination.
      'If we want to end climate breakdown, then it is in the footsteps of land and environmental defenders we must follow," the report adds. "We must listen to their demands and amplify them. Inspired by their bravery and leadership, we must push those in power—businesses, financiers, and governments—to tackle the root causes of the problem, support and protect defenders, and create regulations that ensure projects and operations are carried out with proper due diligence, transparency, and free prior and informed consent.'
      The report details demands for various actors that have 'failed in their responsibilities.'
Governments need to urgently address insecure land rights, protect defenders' rights to safety, and investigate and bring to justice those responsible for attacks against them.
      Companies must respect defender rights, develop and implement zero-tolerance policies on threats against defenders, and ensure full cooperation with any investigations into attacks.
      Investors should screen portfolios for defender-related risks, establish early warning systems to detect and prevent potential conflicts, and include contractual provisions in all project contracts requiring compliance with the company's defender policy.
      Putting the report in the context of the coronavirus pandemic and calls to #BuildBackBetter, Cox said that 'if we really want to make plans for a green recovery that puts the safety, health, and well-being of people at its heart, we must tackle the root causes of attacks on defenders, and follow their lead in protecting the environment and halting climate breakdown.'
      The Global Witness report also elicited calls for action from those outside the organization.
      'Those that defend our land and environment are on the front lines of #ClimateAction. But we are failing them badly,' tweeted United Nations Environment Program executive director Inger Andersen with a link to the report. 'We must stand by them and protect their vital work.'
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Brett Wilkins, "Highlighting 'Extreme Carbon Inequality,' Oxfam Study Shows World's Richest 1% Emit More Than Twice as Much CO2 as Poorest 50%: 'The over-consumption of a wealthy minority is fueling the climate crisis, yet it is poor communities and young people who are paying the price,' said study author Tim Gore," Common Dreams, September 21, 2020,, reported, " The wealthiest 1% of the world's population is responsible for emitting more than twice as much carbon dioxide as the poorest 50% of humanity, according to new research published Monday by Oxfam International.
      The study (pdf at:, which was conducted in partnership with the Stockholm Environmental Institute, analyzed data collected in the years 1990 to 2015, a period during which emissions doubled worldwide. It found that the world's richest 63 million people were responsible for 15% of global CO2 emissions, while the poorest half of the world's people emitted just 7%.
      The researchers reported that air and automobile travel were two of the main emission sources among the world's wealthiest people. The study revealed that during the 15-year period, the richest 10% blew out one-third of the world's remaining "carbon budget" —the amount of carbon dioxide that can be added to the atmosphere without causing global temperatures to rise above 1.5°C—as set under the Paris Agreement. It also found that annual emissions grew by 60% between 1990 and 2015, with the richest 5% responsible for 37% of this growth.
      ccording to the study, 'the per capita footprint of the richest 10% is more than 10 times the 1.5°C-consistent target for 2030, and more than 30 times higher than the poorest 50%.'
      The researchers noted a sharp drop in CO2 emissions during the coronavirus pandemic. However, they said that 'emissions are likely to rapidly rebound as governments ease Covid-related lockdowns.'
       In 2020, climate change has fueled deadly cyclones in India and Bangladesh, massive locust swarms that have devastated crops throughout Africa, and intense heatwaves and wildfires in Australia and western North America, among many other events.
       Oxfam is calling for more taxes on high-carbon luxuries, including a frequent-flier tax, in order to invest in lower-emission alternatives and improve the lives of the world's poorest people, who are the least responsible for—but most affected by—the disasters and harm unleashed by global CO2 emissions.
      'The over-consumption of a wealthy minority is fueling the climate crisis, yet it is poor communities and young people who are paying the price,' wrote study author Tim Gore, Oxfam's head of climate policy. 'Such extreme carbon inequality is a direct consequence of our governments decades-long pursuit of grossly unequal and carbon intensive economic growth.'"
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Julia Conley, "'An Acknowledgment of the Next Generation': New Zealand Declares Climate Emergency: 'It is up to us to make sure we demonstrate a plan for action, and a reason for hope," said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern,'" Common Dreams, December 2, 2020,, reported, "Climate action campaigners on Wednesday acknowledged New Zealand's declaration of a climate emergency as a positive step forward, while noting that the move must be backed by decisive action.
      The country's Labour Party, led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, introduced the proposal in Parliament Wednesday after pressure from Extinction Rebellion and other campaign groups to 'tell the truth ' about the climate crisis. The measure passed in a 76-43 vote along party lines.
       Under the declaration, New Zealand's government will dedicate $141 million to transitioning to a carbon neutral public sector by 2025. The fund will be used to replace the government's 200 coal-fired boilers and to purchase only electric or hybrid vehicles for public use. Government agencies will be required to measure and report their emissions and offset any they cannot reduce to zero by 2025.
      'This declaration is an acknowledgement of the next generation. An acknowledgement of the burden that they will carry if we do not get this right and do not take action now,' Ardern said. 'It is up to us to make sure we demonstrate a plan for action, and a reason for hope.'
      The proposal introduced by the Labour Party recognized 'the devastating impact that volatile and extreme weather will have on New Zealand and the wellbeing of New Zealanders, on our primary industries, water availability, and public health through flooding, sea level rise, and wildfire.'
       The New Zealand Ministry for the Environment reported in 2018 that the country's 'indigenous ecosystems and species [are] in a state of rapid decline,' with the climate crisis negatively affecting bird migration and egg-laying in some species.
       New Zealand's government is the 33rd in the world to declare a climate emergency, following countries including the U.K., Japan, and France. In 2019 New Zealand passed the Zero Carbon Act, which set up a Climate Change Commission to work towards achieving net zero fossil fuel emissions by 2050.
      That legislation
included an exemption for farmers, leading climate campaigners to accuse the government of passing only a symbolic proposal that won't address the emissions of the agriculture sector, which is responsible for most of the New Zealand's greenhouse gas pollution—particularly methane.
      'When the house is on fire, there's no point hitting the alarm without fighting the fire as well,' Greenpeace agriculture and climate campaigner Kate Simcock told Al Jazeeraon Wednesday after the climate emergency legislation passed. 'Fighting the fire in New Zealand means tackling agricultural emissions.'
       New Zealand is responsible for 0.17% of global fossil fuel emissions and is ranked 17th out of 32 OECD countries for emissions, with its pollution levels accelerating in the past two decades.
      On social media, climate action advocates emphasized that Ardern's government must back up the declaration with action that leads to measurable, positive results for the planet.
      'We have not seen these declarations matched with ambitious enough targets or roadmaps to get there,' tweeted Ali Sheridan, a sustainability advisor in Ireland. "Less of the declarations and pledges, more of the measurable action please.'
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"Japan’s New Leader Sets Ambitious Goal of Carbon Neutrality by 2050: The announcement, coming weeks after a similar pledge by China, will require a major overhaul of the infrastructure in Japan," The New York Times, October 26, 2020,, reported, " Japan will be carbon neutral by 2050, its prime minister said on Monday, making an ambitious pledge to sharply accelerate the country’s global warming targets, even as it plans to build more than a dozen new coal-burning power plants in the coming years."
      "It is not clear whether Mr. Suga’s commitment is feasible, and he offered few specifics about how Japan would reach its goal, saying only that he would harness the power of 'innovation' and 'regulatory reform' to transform the country’s energy production and usage." This will require a major overhaul of Japan’s largely fossil fuel dependent infrastructure, and raises the question of how much of a role nuclear power generation will play."

Jessica Corbett, "'Monumental Victory': Tribes and Climate Activists Celebrate Court-Ordered Shutdown of Dakota Access Pipeline: 'If the events of 2020 have taught us anything, it's that health and justice must be prioritized early on in any decision-making process if we want to avoid a crisis later on," Common Dreams, July 6, 2020,, reported, " A U.S. district court on Monday delivered a major win to local Indigenous organizers and climate activists—and a significant blow to the fossil fuel industry and the Trump administration—by ordering the Dakota Access Pipeline to be shut down and emptied of oil by Aug. 5 while federal regulators conduct an environmental review of the project.
      DAPL, as the Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) pipeline is widely known, transports crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken shale basin to a terminal in Illinois. The pipeline has gained international notoriety in recent years due to protests—particularly on and around the Standing Rock Indian Reservation—by environmentalists and Native Americans who live along the route.
      The Monday decision by D.C.-based District Judge James E. Boasberg comes after four years of litigation brought by the Standing Rock Sioux, Cheyenne River Sioux, and others against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for allowing ETP to construct and operate the pipeline beneath Lake Oahe, a dammed portion of the Missouri River near the reservation.
      The Obama administration denied permits for DAPL to cross the river in December 2016, but President Donald Trump signed an executive order advancing the project shortly after taking office in January 2017. The pipeline was completed and operating within months.
      Boasberg's move to shut down DAPL was welcomed by critics of the pipeline.
      'Today is a historic day for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the many people who have supported us in the fight against the pipeline," chairman Mike Faith of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said in a statement. "This pipeline should have never been built here. We told them that from the beginning.'
      'It took four long years, but today justice has been served at Standing Rock," added Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman, who represents the tribe. "If the events of 2020 have taught us anything, it's that health and justice must be prioritized early on in any decision-making process if we want to avoid a crisis later on.'
      In a separate statement, the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) delcared, 'We are celebrating this order as it vindicates the many prayers, actions, and legal arguments of Oceti Sakowin tribal nations and communities!'
      'The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes have shown the world that treaty rights and environmental justice are not token concepts without merit, but rather tangible arguments that inherently protect the sacredness of mother earth,' IEN said. 'We will continue to fight until DAPL is stopped completely '
       Boasberg's order Monday followed his finding in March that the Corps had violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when approving federal permits for DAPL. The Corps is expected to finish it full court-ordered Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the pipeline by mid-2021.
       The decision to temporarily shut down DAPL came just a day after two energy companies cancelled the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) that would have transported fracked gas through West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina—a move that activists called a 'historic victory for clean water, the climate, public health, and our communities.'
      'These monumental defeats for the fossil fuel industry are a clear sign that bold community opposition, strategic legal challenges and state-level clean energy legislation are all working together to thwart the Trump administration's pro-polluter agenda,' Food & Water Action policy director Mitch Jones said in a statement Monday, referencing both the DAPL decision and the ACP cancellation.
      'The campaign to stop the Dakota Access pipeline, led by Indigenous groups whose water would have been directly impacted by that filthy project, inspired and emboldened climate activists across the country,' Jones continued. 'The Trump White House can boast and bluster all it wants, and corporate behemoths can scheme to take advantage of the administration's fondness for fossil fuels, but they are no match for determined grassroots opposition movements fighting for environmental justice and an end to the degradation of our air, water and climate.'
      'Fossil fuels are dying,' he added, 'and there is little that Donald Trump can do to save them.'
      Greenpeace USA climate director Janet Redman called the DAPL shutdown a 'huge victory for the courageous members' of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and allied activists 'who fought to protect their land, their water, and their right to a healthy and safe future.'
      'This is as much a victory for human rights and Indigenous sovereignty as it is for the climate,' Redman said in a statement Monday before also connecting the two wins.
      'Energy Transfer's Dakota Access Pipeline and other environmentally reckless fossil fuel infrastructure projects will only make billionaires richer while the rest of us suffer,' Redman said. 'Today's ruling—arriving on the heels of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline victory —may be a calamity for oil and gas executives looking to profit from the disastrous climate crisis, but it's a huge win for those of us committed to a liveable world. A just transition to renewable energy is not only the future, it is the only responsible choice for today.'
      'The past 24 hours," she added, "have sent a loud and clear message to fossil fuel corporations still committed to constructing dangerous pipelines—the future does not belong to you."
       This post has been updated with comment from Indigenous Environmental Network and Greenpeace USA.
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Lakota People's Law Project reported in an E-mail. June 7. 2020, "It’s time to celebrate for a second day in a row, because we have amazing news from the U.S. Supreme Court. Yesterday late in the day, SCOTUS announced its ruling effectively halting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline (KXL)! Based on the Endangered Species Act, the Supremes upheld a lower court ruling preventing the pipeline from crossing domestic waterways. This is on top of Monday’s court decision to shut down oil flow through DAPL, making yesterday a truly good day for the environment and Indigenous sovereignty."

James Macpherson, "Court Reverses Order to Shut Down Dakota Access Pipeline: A federal appeals court panel has reversed an order to shut down the Dakota Access pipeline pending a full environmental review," U.S. News and World Report, August 5, 2020,, reported, " A federal appeals court on Wednesday reversed a judge’s order that shut down the Dakota Access pipeline pending a full environmental review.
      But the appellate court declined to grant Energy Transfer's motion to block the review, saying the company had 'failed to make a strong showing of likely success
      The appeals court said it expects the parties to 'clarify their positions' in the lower court."

Ivan Penn, "Atlantic Coast Pipeline Canceled as Delays and Costs Mount: The natural gas project would have crossed the Appalachian Trail. Dominion Energy, one of the pipeline’s two partners, also announced the sale of its gas transmission and storage assets." The New York Times, July 5, 2020,, reported, " Two of the nation’s largest utility companies announced on Sunday that they had canceled the Atlantic Coast Pipeline , which would have carried natural gas across the Appalachian Trail, as delays and rising costs threatened the viability of the project.
      Duke Energy and Dominion Energy said that lawsuits, mainly from environmentalists aimed at blocking the project, had increased costs to as much as $8 billion from about $4.5 billion to $5 billion when it was first announced in 2014."

Krissy Waite, "Pressured by Climate Activist Groups, Deutsche Bank Ditches Drilling in the Arctic: The bank joins a list of two dozen others that will not back Arctic drilling projects," Common Dreams, July 27, 2020,, reported, " Climate activists are celebrating Deutsche Bank's new energy policy banning financial support of drilling in the Arctic, a move which comes after years of pressure from advocacy groups.
      The bank, a multinational investment company headquartered in Germany, announced Monday that it will no longer offer financial services to new projects that involve drilling for oil or gas in the Arctic. The policy also states it will not fund any tar sand projects or fracking in areas that have low water supply."

Julia Conley, "Proving 'A Different World Is Possible,' Exxon Dropped From Dow Jones After 92-Year Run: 'Big Oil has fallen. Our job is to make sure they don't take us down with them,'" Common Dreams, August 25, 2020,, reported, " Climate campaigners on Tuesday marked a major milestone in the fight to eliminate the use of fossil fuels and transition to a green energy economy as ExxonMobil was dropped from the S&P Dow Jones Industrial Average after nearly a century.
      The oil giant, the
oldest member of the Dow, was replaced on the index by software company Salesforce as more than 100,000 people were displaced by wildfires raging across California, a third year of global Fridays for Future climate action protests kicked off, and the Republican Party was rebuked for failing to even mention the planetary emergency on the first night of its national convention.
       The finance world, executive director May Boeve said, has been forced to "[wake] up and [cut] ties with these climate criminals."
"Big Oil has fallen," Boeve said. "Our job is to make sure they don't take us down with them. Fossil fuel companies like Exxon knew and lied for decades about the main cause of the devastating impacts we're now experiencing across the globe: from fires, storms, and floods to droughts and rising seas... We are rising up to make polluters pay for their destruction
      Bill McKibben, co-founder of, credited climate campaigners who have spent decades educating the public about the climate crisis and the dangerous effects of extracting fossil fuels from the Earth, and demanding a transition to renewable sources of energy like solar and wind power.
       In April, oil prices fell below $0 per barrel for the first time on record, prompting calls by climate action advocates to nationalize the oil industry rather than continuing to prop it up.
      Meanwhile, the solar and wind sectors have
grown at a rapid rate in recent decades, with job growth in the renewable field outpacing oil.
      'Exxon's deep fall today is another powerful reminder of how fossil fuels are too volatile to be the basis of a resilient economy
,' said Boeve. 'It is past time for Exxon to recognize that it is not only one of the most responsible for the climate crisis, but also that its assets are quickly becoming stranded as we move towards more sustainable, resilient, and regenerative economic systems, based on renewable, accessible, and just energy sources.'
       A poll taken last year by Business Insider found that a majority of Americans favored transitioning away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy sources, and aligned with other recent findings by Gallup.
      Seven oil companies have downgraded their assets by at least $87 billion in the last nine months, while more than 1,200 institutions representing more than $14 trillion in assets have committed to fossil fuel divestment
      'None of this is to say Exxon is officially done for or that it doesn't still hold massive power," wrote Brian Kahn at Earther. 'A company worth $175 billion with its tentacles latched onto the Republican Party is still a formidable foe. But it does show a different world is possible. Fingers crossed the Dow Jones can get Chevron out of there next."
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       Jessica Corbett, "'Is There No End to Big Oil's Evil?' Campaigners Condemn Industry Plan to Pour US Plastics Into Africa: Anti-pollution advocates responded with alarm to the American Chemistry Council's reported efforts to influence a pending U.S.-Kenya trade deal," Common Dreams, August 31, 2020,, reported, " Green groups responded with alarm to Sunday reporting by the New York Time s and Unearthed that a U.S.-based trade group for major chemical and fossil fuel companies has lobbied the Trump administration during the Covid-19 pandemic to use a forthcoming trade agreement to flood the African continent with plastics.
      U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Kenya Cabinet Secretary for Industrialization, Trade, and Enterprise Development Betty Maina launched trade negotiations in July. The new reports shed light on the lobbying efforts of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), whose members include the petrochemical operations of the oil giants Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Shell as well as chemical companies such as Dow and DuPont.
      The ACC 's lobbying to influence United States trade negotiations with Kenya, one of Africa's biggest economies, to reverse its strict limits on plastics—including a tough plastic-bag ban. It is also pressing for Kenya to continue importing foreign plastic garbage, a practice it has pledged to limit,' the Times reported, citing documents obtained via public records request by Unearthed, Greenpeace U.K.'s investigative journalism platform.
      Radio presenter Mike Finnerty called the Times report 'a sobering read' while WLRNreporter Danny Rivero said that 'this reads like a diabolical nightmare, which I guess it actually is.' Climate advocates and political candidates also weighed in.
      The U.S.-based, youth-led Sunrise Movement said in response to the reporting that 'apparently Big Oil can't let their industry die without trying to drag down African countries with it.'
      'Is there no end to Big Oil's evil?' tweeted
      Author and activist Bill McKibben, who co-founded the environmental advocacy group, declared: 'This is evil on so many levels it's hard to know where to start.'
      Even before negotiations between the Trump administration and Kenya's government officially kicked off, Ed Brzytwa, director of international trade for the ACC, wrote in an April 28 letter to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, 'We anticipate that Kenya could serve in the future as a hub for supplying U.S.-made chemicals and plastics to other markets in Africa through this trade agreement.'
       That message—along with opposition to waste trade rules under an international treaty called the Basel Convention—was echoed in an ACC letter to the U.S. International Trade Commission, according to Unearthed. An ACC spokesperson told the Greenpeace affiliate the trade group is concerned the Basel restrictions 'could very well limit the ability of African and other developing countries to properly manage plastic waste' by restricting their capacity to export materials abroad.
      Some ACC members joined with consumer goods, recycling, and waste management firms in early 2019 to launch the Alliance to End Plastic Waste. The companies involved have collectively committed $1.5 billion to reduce plastic waste and improve recycling, especially in developing countries. Greenpeace has called the effort 'a desperate attempt from corporate polluters to maintain the status quo on plastics.'
      Noting the alliance, Unearthed revealed that the ACC wrote in its letters to U.S. trade entities that 'there is a global need to support infrastructure development to collect, sort, recycle, and process used plastics, particularly in developing countries such as Kenya." The group claimed "such infrastructure will create opportunities for trade and investment and help keep used plastics out of the environment.'
Environmentalists in Kenya and across the globe are worried about the long-term consequences if the trade agreement results in more plastic entering their country.
      'As a country we have made strides to reduce the plastics that are used here, and which end up as waste—there is a ban on use and manufacture of carrier bags and recently a ban on plastic in protected areas—so this trade deal would diminish what we have achieved as a country,"       Dorothy Otieno of the Centre for Environment, Justice, and Development (CEJAD) in Kenya told Unearthed.
      Otieno, CEJAD's plastics program coordinator, raised concern about the impact of more plastic waste, explaining that "some will be reused and recycled but the majority will end up in dump sites. We will end up in a situation where Kenya will become a dump site for plastic waste."
       'It clogs our waterways and our drainage systems and leads to flooding. We also see the effect of pollution from the burning of plastics—it produces dioxins and furans that lead to respiratory diseases,' she said. 'Somebody can burn these wastes right next to your house and suffer the impacts. We also see the aesthetic value of our towns being reduced because of plastics.      
      The Kenyan environmentalist's concerns were shared by Greenpeace USA senior plastics campaigner Kate Melges and Greenpeace Africa senior political adviser Fredrick Njehu, who responded to the reports in a statement Monday.
       'Africa is at the forefront of the war on plastics, with 34 out of 54 countries having adopted some regulation to phase out single-use plastic,' said Njehu. 'The Kenyan government should not backslide on the progress made in its plastic-free ambitions by folding to pressure from fossil fuel giants, because it stands to derail the progress made across the entire continent.'
      Melges said that 't is shameful but not surprising that struggling fossil fuel giants are lobbying for an expansion of their polluting plastic footprint into the African continent to keep their profits flowing.'
      'These companies hope to continue dumping single-use plastics on communities around the globe, despite their known impacts to the environment and public health,' she added. 'Making public statements about ending plastic pollution while quietly lobbying to allow Africa to be used as a plastic dumping ground is next level hypocrisy and greenwashing.'
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Andrea Germanos, "New Investigation Reveals How Fossil Fuel Giants Are Amplifying Militarized Police Forces: 'This report sheds a harsh and needed light on the ways police violence and systemic racism intersect with the climate crisi,'" Common Dreams, July 27, 2020,, reported, " The same industries fueling the climate crisis and disproportionately polluting Black and brown communities across the U.S are bankrolling police foundations, groups which can help militarize local police departments.
      That's according to a new
investigation from transparency group Public Accountability Initiative and its LittleSis project.
      Authored by Gin Armstrong and Derek Seidman and published Monday, the report singles out actions from fossil fuel giants like Shell and Chevron as well as major utility companies and leading financial institutions.
      'This report sheds a harsh and needed light on the ways police violence and systemic racism intersect with the climate crisis,' Carroll Muffett, president of the Center for International Environmental Law, said in a statement.
       'Rather than address growing public concerns with the dangers of pipelines and petrochemical plants, the fossil fuel industry has responded instead by seeking to criminalize protest, suppress dissent, and mislabel acts of free speech as acts of terrorism. The result is a rising tide of human rights abuses by militarized police forces against environmental and rights defenders,' she said.
      'That oil and gas companies are actually funding the forces inflicting those harms,' added Muffett, 'is sadly unsurprising and absolutely unacceptable.'
      As Little Sis noted last month, police foundations further fatten already bloated police department budgets—doing so 'with little public input or oversight'—and have enabled some departments to acquire controversial surveillance equipment and outfit forces with weaponry including drones and LRAD equipment. Recent crackdowns by police on Black Lives Matter protests have shown just how willing departments are to deploy such equipment against demonstrators.
      Corporations are also accused of 'propping up racist policing' because 'these companies sponsor events and galas that celebrate the police and remind the public that police power is backed up by corporate power,' Armstrong and Seidman wrote.
       The authors single out Chevron, a company that has been targeted by environmental justice advocates for years for, among other things, pollution related to its refinery in Richmond, California. From the reporting:
      'Chevron is a 'Corporate Partner of the Police' sponsor of the New Orleans Police & Justice Foundation, as well as a board member of the Houston Police Foundation and sponsor of the Houston Police Department's mounted patrol. It is also donor to and, as of the end of 2018, a board member of the Salt Lake City Police Foundation.'
       The largest oil refining company in the U.S. and frequent emissions level violator Marathon Petroleum is also named in report.
       'Marathon's Security Coordinator sits on the board of the Detroit Public Safety Foundation, the city's police foundation. Marathon is also listed as a "Commanding Sponsor' of the foundation's fundraising event ' Above & Beyond ' and a 'Bronze Sponsor' of their ' Women in Blue ' event.
      Exelon, the country's largest utility, is described in the reporting as 'a major political player and a prolific donor to police foundations where it and its subsidiaries operate, giving to foundations in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Washington D.C
      BGE, one of Exelon's subsidiaries, has a seat on the police foundation board and is a 'gold level' sponsor.
       Among financial institutions named—which also bankroll climate-wrecking projects—is JPMorgan Chase. That bank is a sponsor of the New Orleans Police & Justice Foundation, which has used some of its funding to acquire surveillance equipment and. A JPMorgan Chase executive also holds the Secretary/Treasurer position on the police foundation's board, the reporting notes.
      Paddy McCully, Energy and Climate Program director at Rainforest Action Network, said the findings were not surprising given that banks and fossil fuel companies are merely acting in their own interests.
      'They need to ensure that when they want to impose dangerous and polluting projects on Black, Indigenous, and brown communities that the police will be there for them and willing and ready to repress community members who seek to protect their families, and their air, land, and water,'       said McCully
      As Zorka Milin, senior advisor, Global Witness, sees it, 'The fossil fuel industry's ties to police foundations show a willingness to ignore the calls of racial justice advocates to dismantle the systemic racism of policing—despite some oil and gas companies' hypocritical claims otherwise.'
       'In reality,' said Milin, 'they are part of the system that upholds structural racism in the U.S.'"
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Adrian Cho, "Several U.S. utilities back out of deal to build novel nuclear power plant," Science, November 4, 2020,, reported, "Plans to build an innovative new nuclear power plant—and thus revitalize the struggling U.S. nuclear industry—have taken a hit as in recent weeks: Eight of the 36 public utilities that had signed on to help build the plant have backed out of the deal. The withdrawals come just months after the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), which intends to buy the plant containing 12 small modular reactors from NuScale Power, announced that completion of the project would be delayed by 3 years to 2030. It also estimates the cost would climb from $4.2 billion to $6.1 billion."
       Hitachi announced, September 16, 2020, that it was giving up an 18-year quest to build a nuclear power plant in Wales ("Hitachi Ends Bid to Build a nuclear power plant in Wales," The New York Times, September 17, 2020).

Andrea Germanos, "Greenpeace Warns 'Potential Damage to Human DNA' at Risk With Japan's Plan to Dump Fukushima Water Into Ocean: 'The policy of the Japanese government to dump nuclear waste into the Pacific Ocean is not based on scientific or environmental protection principles and has no justification,'" Common Dreams, October 23, 2020,, reported, " Greenpeace sounded alarm Friday over the Japanese government's plan to release stored water from the ill-fated Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean, releasing a new report warning about the presence of carbon-14, which the group says 'has the potential to damage human DNA."
      The warning laid out in a new report says the government and plant operator TEPCO's controversial plan—which has been under consideration for some time—is founded on 'a series of myths' and pursues the cheapest option to get rid of the water over what is best for human and ecological health.
       The plan allows 'the government [to] create the impression that substantial progress is being made in the early decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors,' Greenpeace says.
       Entitled Stemming the tide 2020: The reality of the Fukushima radioactive water crisis, the publication argues that the planned release of the water 'will have serious, long-term consequences for communities and the environment, locally and much further afield.'
       'Nearly 10 years after the start of the disaster, TEPCO and the Japanese government are still covering up the scale of the crisis at Fukushima Daiichi,' said Shaun Burnie, author of the report and senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany. He further accused the entities of having 'deliberately held back for years detailed information on the radioactive material in the contaminated water.'
       Beyond the remaining radioactive material tritium in the water, an additional problem is the presence of high levels of carbon-14, which belies the government's assertion that the water is not 'contaminated,' said Greenpeace.
      According to the report,
       'If the contaminated water is discharged to the Pacific Ocean, all of the carbon-14 will be released to the environment. With a half-life of 5,730 years, carbon-14 is a major contributor to global human collective dose; once introduced into the environment carbon-14 will be delivered to local, regional, and global populations for many generations. [...]
      Contrary to the understanding of the Japanese government, water that contains large quantities of radioactive carbon-14 (as well as the other radioactive isotopes including strontium-90 and tritium) can only be described as contaminated
      Burnie said that TEPCO and the Japanese government 'have failed to explain to the citizens of Fukushima, wider Japan, and to neighboring countries such as South Korea and China that the contaminated water to be dumped into the Pacific Ocean contains dangerous levels of carbon-14. These, together with other radionuclides in the water will remain hazardous for thousands of years with the potential to cause genetic damage.'
      'It's one more reason why these plans have to be abandoned,' said Burnie.
      The report puts some of the blame on TEPCO's decision to rely on technology known as ALPS that the operator should have known was incapable of bringing concentrations of radionuclides down to acceptable levels.
       Rather than quickly moving to dump the water into the ocean, the Greenpeace report says the government should pursue 'continued long-term storage and processing of the contaminated water.'
      'There is no technical, engineering, or legal barrier to securing additional storage space for ALPS-treated contaminated water. It is a matter of political will
,' said Burnie.
       'The policy of the Japanese government to dump nuclear waste into the Pacific Ocean is not based on scientific or environmental protection principles,' he said, 'and has no justification.'
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Brad Plumer and Jill Cowan, "California Plans to Ban Sales of New Gas-Powered Cars in 15 Years: The proposal would speed up the state’s efforts to fight global warming at a time when California is being battered by wildfires, heat waves and other consequences of climate change," The New York Times, September 23, 2020,, reported, " In an executive order , Governor Newsom directed California’s regulators to develop a plan that would require automakers to sell steadily more zero-emissions passenger vehicles in the state, such as battery-powered or hydrogen-powered cars and pickup trucks, until they make up 100 percent of new auto sales in just 15 years [by 2035].
      The plan would also set a goal for all heavy-duty trucks on the road in California to be zero emissions by 2045 where possible. And the order directs the state’s transportation agencies to look for near-term actions to reduce Californian’s reliance on driving by, for example, expanding access to mass transit and biking

Clifford Krauss, "Oil Refineries See Profit in Turning Kitchen Grease Into Diesel: Struggling energy companies are increasing the production of renewable diesel, which can reduce greenhouse gas emissions," The New York Times,
December 3, 2020,, reported, "Many businesses are betting that electric and hydrogen-powered cars and trucks will play a critical role in the fight against climate change. But some oil companies are hoping that so will smelly restaurant grease and slaughterhouse waste.
      Companies that refine crude oil into fuel are increasingly using such putrid scraps to make a renewable version of diesel that can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from trucks, buses and industrial equipment without requiring families and businesses to invest in expensive new vehicles and factory gear. Phillips 66, Marathon, HollyFrontier and several other refiners are spending roughly $2 billion to retool refineries to produce the fuel over the next four years

Coral Davenport, "Illegal Tampering by Diesel Pickup Owners Is Worsening Pollution, E.P.A. Says," The New York Times, November 25, 2020,, reported, " The owners and operators of more than half a million diesel pickup trucks have been illegally disabling their vehicles’ emissions control technology over the past decade, allowing excess emissions equivalent to 9 million extra trucks on the road, a new federal report has concluded."

Ivan Penn and Clifford Krauss, "California Is Trying to Jump-Start the Hydrogen Economy: The fuel could play an important role in fighting climate change, but it has been slow to gain traction because of high costs," The New York Times, November 11, 2020,, reported, "But in California, the beginnings of a hydrogen economy may finally be dawning after many fits and starts.
      Dozens of hydrogen buses are lumbering down city streets, while more and larger fueling stations are appearing from San Diego to San Francisco, financed by the state and federal governments. With the costs of producing and shipping hydrogen coming down, California is setting ambitious goals to phase out vehicles that run on fossil fuels in favor of batteries and hydrogen. Large auto and energy companies like Toyota Motor and Royal Dutch Shell have committed to supplying more cars and fueling stations

Bengt Halvorson, "Faster US transition to EVs will save 6,300 lives and $185 billion by 2050, study projects," Green Car Reports, September 18, 2020,, reported that a report released by the American Lung Association because air pollution from cars is a major health problem, including making people more susceptable to COVID-19, and making cases of the virus worse, "With a nationwide transition to EVs (electric vehicles), the organization found that by 2050 the U.S. could avoid 6,300 premature deaths, 93,000 asthma attacks, and 416,000 lost work days, adding up to $72 billion in health benefits and $113 in climate-related benefits. "

      The price of batteries has been dropping unexpectedly quickly, making some electric cars no more expensive to produce and buy then some similar petroleum powered vehicles, and electric cars last longer and require less maintenance. The cost of battery production is expected to continue to drop while the distance they can propel a vehicle without recharging is increasing which is likely to increase their popularity (Jack Ewing, "The Age of Electric Cars Is Dawning Ahead of Schedule: Battery prices are dropping faster than expected. Analysts are moving up projections of when an electric vehicle won’t need government incentives to be cheaper than a gasoline model," The New York Times, September 20, 2020,

       Jasper Jolly, "More than 500,000 full electric cars sold so far this year in Europe: Milestone comes as sales of all plug-in cars, including hybrids, pass 1m in 18 European markets, The Guardian, December 3, 2020,, reported, " Carmakers have sold more than 500,000 battery electric cars in Europe during 2020, a milestone in the automotive industry’s move away from fossil fuels.
      Sales of all plug-in cars, including hybrids, have surpassed 1m during the year in the UK and the largest 17 European markets, according to data collated by Schmidt Automotive Research.
      During the whole of last year only 354,000 battery electric sales were recorded across the region

" Hydrogen-Powered Passenger Plane Completes Maiden Flight In 'World First'," Slashdot, September 25, 2020,, reported, " ZeroAvia's hydrogen fuel-cell plane that's capable of carrying six passengers completed its maiden flight this week . The aircraft has been retrofitted with a device that combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity."

Marlee Kokotovic, "Scientists at two of America’s giant automaker companies knew about car emission climate effects back in the 1960s: 'Another cog in the climate denial machine rattles loose,'” NationofChange, October 29, 2020,, reported, "Researchers at two auto giant American companies have discovered scientists knew the environmental effects of car emissions back in the 1960s.
      According to E&E News, researchers at both General Motors and Ford Motor Co. found strong evidence in the 1960s and ’70s that human activity was warming the Earth. A primary culprit was the burning of fossil fuels, which released large quantities of heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide that could trigger the melting of polar ice sheets and other dire consequences."

Shefali Sharma, "Public Money to Plunder the Planet: Development Banks Fund Big Meat and Dairy: The goal should be climate resilience and mitigation that helps empower local communities, indigenous peoples and workers while diminishing market power of oligopolies in agribusiness that drives social and environmental standards towards a race to the bottom." Common Dreams, July 27, 2020,, reported, "A flurry of recent news shows that international development banks have ramped up public money to factory farms and mega-dairies in the last decade. The World Bank alone spent US$1.8 billion on these operations, with over half of the funds going to Big Dairy, contributing to both rising emissions and increasing corporate concentration. IATP’s Milking the Planet report shows that 13 of the largest dairy producers increased their greenhouse gas emission by 11% in just two years, their combined emissions greater than U.K.’s annual emissions . They did this as rural dairy producers went out of business due to debt and disenfranchisement . These publicly funded institutions, such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank’s private arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), with missions to reduce poverty and help countries develop, have instead spent billions funneling money into some of the most powerful dairy and meat corporations in the world."

Henry Fountain, "Cutting Greenhouse Gases From Food Production Is Urgent, Scientists Say: Efforts to limit global warming often focus on emissions from fossil fuels, but food is crucial, too, according to new research," The New York Times, November 6, 2020,, reported. " Rising greenhouse gas emissions from worldwide food production will make it extremely difficult to limit global warming to the targets set in the Paris climate agreement, even if emissions from fossil-fuel burning were halted immediately, scientists reported Thursday," in Michael A. Clark, Nina G. G. Domingo, Kimberly Colgan, Sumil K. Thakrar, and David Tilman, "Global food system emissions could preclude achieving the 1.5° and 2°C climate change targets," Science, Vol. 370, Issue 6517, pp. 705-708, November 6, 2020,
      "But they said that meeting one of the targets, limiting overall warming this century to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or about 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, could be achieved through 'rapid and ambitious' changes to the global food system over the next several decades, including adopting plant-rich diets, increasing crop yields and reducing food waste."

Jessica Corbett, "Tests Reveal Toxic 'Forever Chemicals' in Aerial Pesticide Showered Over Millions of Acres in US, 'These findings shock the conscience,'" Common Dreams, December 1, 2020,, reported, "A national nonprofit revealed Tuesday that testing commissioned by the group as well as separate analysis conducted by Massachusetts officials show samples of an aerially sprayed pesticide used by the commonwealth and at least 25 other states to control mosquito-borne illnesses contain toxic substances that critics call 'forever chemicals.'
      Officially known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances ( PFAS), this group of man-made chemicals—including PFOA, PFOS, and GenX—earned the nickname because they do not break down in the environment and build up in the body. PFAS has been linked to suppressed immune function, cancers, and other health issues.
       Lawmakers and regulators at various levels of government have worked to clean up drinking water contaminated by PFAS. The newly released results of pesticide testing by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MADEP) generated alarm about the effectiveness of such efforts.
      'In Massachusetts, communities are struggling to remove PFAS from their drinking water supplies, while at the same time, we may be showering them with PFAS from the skies and roads,' PEER science policy director Kyla Bennett, a scientist and attorney formerly with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said in a statement Tuesday.
       'The frightening thing is that we do not know how many insecticides, herbicides, or even disinfectants contain PFAS,' added Bennett, who arranged for the testing. 'PEER found patents showing chemical companies using PFAS in these products, and recent articles discuss the variety of pesticides that contain PFAS as either an active or an inert ingredient.'
      The product tested initially by PEER and subsequently MADEP, once the nonprofit alerted the department of its findings, is Anvil 10+10, produced by the Illinois company Clarke.
      Karen Larson, Clarke's vice president of government affairs, told the Boston Globe that 'when this was first brought to our attention, we conducted an internal inquiry of our manufacturing and supply chain to ensure that PFAS was not an ingredient in the production, manufacturing, or distribution of either the active or inactive ingredients of Anvil.'
      'No PFAS ingredients are used in the formulation of Anvil, nor in the production of any source material in Anvil. PFAS components are not added at any point in the production of Anvil,' she said. Larson added that while it is unclear why the Clarke pesticide contained PFAS, the company 'will continue to work closely with the EPA to conduct our own testing.'      
      PEER executive director Tim Whitehouse detailed the recent testing results in a letter(pdf) sent last week to MADEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg that called for halting the use of Anvil 10+10, ensuring any replacement does not contain forever chemicals, and requiring pesticide companies to comprehensively test their products for PFAS:
      'This fall, PEER conducted several tests for PFAS of a 2.5 gallon jug of Anvil 10+10, the pesticide used in the aerial spraying programs of Massachusetts and many other states. Our tests revealed that Anvil 10+10 contains roughly 250 parts per trillion (ppt) of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and 260–500 ppt of hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (HFPO-DA), a GenX replacement for PFOA. Both these results are hovering around the detection limits of the laboratory's equipment, but there is no doubt that these PFAS are in the insecticide. While PFAS may be useful when added to pesticides as surfactants, dispersants, and anti-foaming agents, it is unclear whether the PFAS found in Anvil 10+10 is an ingredient added by the manufacturer, contained in one of the ingredients supplied to Anvil's manufacturer by other companies, or whether it is a contaminant from the manufacturing/storage process. Moreover, since we were only able to test for 36 PFAS out of the 9,252 on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) inventory, it is impossible to know how many other PFAS might be in Anvil 10+10.
      When PEER obtained its first positive PFAS results on Anvil 10+10, we immediately contacted DEP because of the far-reaching implications. MADEP independently tested nine samples of Anvil 10+10 from five different containers, and found eight different PFAS, including PFOA and PFOS. Some PFAS levels were over 700 ppt. As such, there appears to be no doubt that there are PFAS in the pesticide Massachusetts has chosen for mosquito control.'
      Whitehouse noted that Massachusetts aerially sprayed 2.2 million acres with Anvil 10+10 last year and more than 200,000 acres this year. The Globe explained that 'most of the spraying has been done in the southeastern part of the state, where EEE, a rare but deadly mosquito-borne disease, has been most prevalent.'
      The EPA, which has been lambasted by lawmakers as well as environmental and public health advocates for its handling of PFAS contamination on a national scale, is working on 'an analytical method' to detect the forever chemicals in pesticides and plans to conduct its own tests of Anvil 10+10, according to the newspaper.
      'There are significant unanswered questions about the data currently available,' Dave Deegan, a spokesperson for the federal agency's offices in New England, told the Globe. 'EPA will continue to work closely with and support the state on this issue. Aggressively addressing PFAS continues to be an important, active, and ongoing priority for EPA.'
      Bennett and other critics of the EPA's response to PFAS reiterated concerns about the agency in the wake of the revelations in Massachusetts.
      'This PFAS fiasco shows that public trust in EPA having a full accounting of these materials and their safety is utterly misplaced,' said Bennett. 'Until EPA acts, states need to adopt their own safeguards and chemical disclosure requirements because they certainly cannot depend upon the diligence of EPA.'
      In a statement about the testing on Tuesday, Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter declared that 'these findings shock the conscience—states likely have unknowingly contaminated communities' water with PFAS hidden in pesticides. Once again, the EPA has failed to protect the American people from harmful pollution.'
      Emphasizing that 'we need to stop the introduction of toxic forever chemicals into the environment and our water sources to protect public health," Hauter said that "the EPA must ban all pesticides with PFAS components, designate PFAS as hazardous substances to hold polluters accountable for cleanup of contamination, and set strong enforceable standards for PFAS in our drinking water.'
      'The GOP-controlled Senate must step up and pass the PFAS Action Act, which passed the House in January, to regulated these toxic compounds and hold polluters accountable, and Congress must pass he WATER Act to provide the financial relief to community water providers and households with wells to remove PFAS from drinking water or find alternative sources where treatment fails," she added. "Now is the time for decisive action to protect people's health and safety.'
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"Federal Judge Rejects Approval of Federal Oil, Gas Leases in Utah: Decision Comes Ahead of Biden’s Promised Leasing Ban," Center for Biological Diversity, December 11, 2020,, reported, " A federal judge overturned the Trump administration’s plan to lease more than 60,000 acres of public land for fracking in northern Utah’s Uintah Basin, including areas near Dinosaur National Monument, ruling that the Bureau of Land Management violated the law by refusing to consider alternatives to leasing all 59 parcels."
       President "Biden has pledged to ban new oil and gas leasing on federal public lands and waters when he takes office Jan. 20."

Coral Davenport , "Trump Eliminates Major Methane Rule, Even as Leaks Are Worsening: The weakening of Obama-era efforts to fight climate change amounts to a gift to many oil companies. Researchers warn that the decision ignores science: The rollback marks the last major Obama-era climate-change regulation to be weakened by the administration. Credit...Jessica Lutz for The New York Times, August 13, 2020,, "The Trump administration formally weakened a major climate-change regulation on Thursday — effectively freeing oil and gas companies from the need to detect and repair methane leaks — even as new research shows that far more of the potent greenhouse gas is seeping into the atmosphere than previously known."

       Coral Davenport, "Trump Administration Declines to Tighten Soot Rules, Despite Link to Covid Deaths: Health experts say the E.P.A. decision defies scientific research showing that particulate pollution contributes to tens of thousands of premature deaths annually," The New York Times, December 7, 2020,, reported, " The Trump administration on Monday declined to tighten controls on industrial soot emissions, disregarding an emerging scientific link between dirty air and Covid-19 death rates.
      In one of the final policy moves of an administration that has spent the past four years weakening or rolling back
more than 100 environmental regulations , the Environmental Protection Agency completed a regulation that keeps in place the current rules on tiny, lung-damaging industrial particles, known as PM 2.5, instead of strengthening them, even though the agency’s own scientists have warned of the links between the pollutants and respiratory illness. In April, researchers at Harvard released the first nationwide study ( linking long-term exposure to PM 2.5 and Covid-19 death rates."

Steve Horn, "Trump Approved Shipping Tar Sands by Rail to Alaska. The Project's Owners Are Banking on a Melting Arctic," Desmog, October 30, 2020,, reported, "On September 28, President Donald Trump signed a presidential permit to ship Alberta’s tar sands oil via a proposed 1,600-mile private rail line across the U.S.-Canada border into Alaska."
      "Referred to as A2A Rail, the project is specifically touted by its proponents as a way to expedite exports to Asian markets," as Alaska ports are closer to Asian markets than ports further South.

Eric Lipton, "In Last Rush, Trump Grants Mining and Energy Firms Access to Public Lands: The outgoing administration is pushing through approval of corporate projects over the opposition of environmental groups and tribal communities," The New York Times, December 19, 2020,, reported, " The Trump administration is rushing to approve a final wave of large-scale mining and energy projects on federal lands, encouraged by investors who want to try to ensure the projects move ahead even after President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. takes office."
       In Arizona, the Forest Service is preparing to sign off on the transfer of federal forest land at Oak Flat considered sacred by a neighboring Native American tribe for a huge largest copper mine. In Utah, the Interior Department was moving towards granting final approval go the Twin Bridges Bowknot Helium extraction project in a remote location inside a national wilderness area, where new energy leasing is currently banned. In northern Nevada, the Interior Department was moving toward granting final approval go the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine, which would be a large open-pit operation on federal land above the site of a prehistoric volcano. In Virginia and West Virginia, in Jefferson National Forest, the Forest Service was on the verge of taking a major step toward permitting Mountain Valley Pipeline, natural gas pipeline, to be constructed, which would run beneath the Appalachian Trail. Other projects are moving toward approval on public lands elsewhere. But if Deb Haaland is approved early on as Secretary of the Interior, she would likely be able to stop these projects, all of which would face daunting court challenges if not blocked by the new administration.

Eoin Higgins, "'Privatize the Profit, Socialize the Mess': Abandoned Fracking Wells Left Spewing Climate-Killing Methane Nationwide: Are we going to be responsible for the mess that these companies leave behind?'" Common Dreams, July 2020,, reported, "A devastating new report from the New York Times details how as fracking companies are going out of business they are leaving behind unsecured wells spewing methane and other gases into the atmosphere and paying out the same executives that drove them into bankruptcy huge bonuses—drawing condemnation from activists and climate advocates.
      'Frackers don't clean up after themselves,' tweeted founder Bill McKibben.
Even before the coronavirus outbreak, the U.S. fracking industry was struggling amid debt obligations, the rise of renewable energy sources, and a price war with overseas oil producers. Since the pandemic hit, critics have been warning against using public relief funds to bail out the polluting industry they argue should be banned because of its impact on local health and the climate.
      As the companies filed for bankruptcy, the Times reported, they made sure to pay out executives:
      'Whiting Petroleum, a major shale driller in North Dakota that sought bankruptcy protection in April, approved almost $15 million in cash bonuses for its top executives six days before its bankruptcy filing. Chesapeake Energy, a shale pioneer, declared bankruptcy last month, just weeks after it paid $25 million in bonuses to a group of executives. And Diamond Offshore Drilling secured a $9.7 million tax refund under the Covid-19 stimulus bill Congress passed in March, before filing to reorganize in bankruptcy court the next month. Then it won approval from a bankruptcy judge to pay its executives the same amount, as cash incentives.'
"The few profit, the rest of us pay," British Green Party politician Natalie Bennett said on Twitter.
       But while the businesses had millions to pay out to top executives, they have chosen not to spend capital to properly close wells that are emitting methane and other gases into the atmosphere. Capping wells would cost tens of millions of dollars, the Timesreports, a cost the companies apparently aren't willing to bear.
      'Hard to overstate what a climate catastrophe it is to just leave a methane spigot on and leave,' tweeted The Intercept's Ryan Grim.
       There are an estimated two million such unplugged wells in the U.S., according to the Times.
      'They're sitting there and they're leaking,' North America at Carbon Tracker executive director Robert Schuwerk told the Times. 'And they're much leakier than a well that’s still in production and being monitored, although those leak, too
       Emissions could result in cancers and other diseases in surrounding communities. Patricia Garcia Nelson of Greeley, Colorado told the Times that with high levels of cancer-causing chemicals in the air monitored at her seven-year-old son's school, just 700 feet away from an Extraction Oil & Gas fracking site, she fears the company's bankruptcy will leave the well open and uncapped.
      'Are we going to be responsible for the mess that these companies leave behind?' asked Nelson. 'Are we going to be okay if something happens?'
      The cost of the cleanup, noted journalist Jake Bernstein, is prohibitive—and companies don't appear to be taking it seriously.
       'Chesapeake Energy, which declared bankruptcy last month after paying out executive bonuses, has potential cleanup costs of $1.4 billion,' said Bernstein. 'Chesapeake's filings show that it has set aside only $41 million in bonds to cover the cleanup of its 6,800 wells.'
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standards, along with high levels of particulate matter."
      Julia Rosen, "Study Links Gas Flares to Preterm Births, With Hispanic Women at High Risk: Expectant mothers who lived near flaring sites had higher odds of giving birth prematurely than those who did not, researchers found. The adverse outcomes fell entirely on Hispanic women," The New York Times, July 23, 2020,, " Across the United States, gas flares light the night skies over oil and gas fields — visible symbols of the country’s energy boom. They also emit greenhouse gases , making them symbols of climate change that many environmental groups would like to see snuffed out.
      Now, a new study points to another problem : Pregnant women who lived near areas where flaring is common had 50 percent greater odds of giving birth prematurely than those who did not. These births occurred before 37 weeks of gestation, when incomplete development raises a baby’s chance of numerous disorders, even death."

Kendra Chamberlain, "‘Dereliction of duty’: 1.6 million gallons of produced water spilled so far in 2020," New Mexico Political Report, August 18, 2020,, reported that, as of mid-August, 1.6 million gallons of highly toxic produced water from fracking has spilled in New Mexico in 2020, sometimes causing loss of livestock and requiring extensive expensive cleanup.
"Produced water spills are very common in New Mexico, particularly in the southeastern region
of the state in the Permian Basin. There have been o ver 218 major produced water spills so far in 2020, and another 202 minor produced water spills. In the vast majority of cases, no penalties were assessed against the operator.
      Nanasi, who also serves as executive director of the clean energy advocacy organization New Energy Economy, said that the state’s failure to impose any penalties on operators who spill produced water, crude oil, and other contaminants is a 'dereliction of duty”

Brad Plumer and Henry Fountain, "Trump Administration Finalizes Plan to Open Arctic Refuge to Drilling: The decision sets up a fierce legal battle over the fate of a vast, remote area that is home to polar bears, caribou and the promise of oil wealth," The New York Times, August 17, 2020,, reported, " The Trump administration on Monday finalized its plan to open up part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas development, a move that overturns six decades of protections for the largest remaining stretch of wilderness in the United States."
      This action will be challenged in court

Patti Lynn, "Fossil fuels’ ‘net-zero’ carbon emissions scam is something humanity doesn’t have time for: Why vague commitments by fossil fuel corporations to “zero out” carbon emissions don’t add up,"  Nation of Change, July 9, 2020,, commented, " Fossil fuel giant Shell took time in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic to announce on April 16 that it was going to work toward reducing its emissions to “net-zero” by 2050 . The announcement comes on the heels of BP’s pledge in February to do the same. Both plans have been met with healthy amounts of skepticism. Many people pointed out the vague language of BP’s commitment to “zero out” its carbon emissions. And there are serious doubts as to whether any of this will actually result in action by the corporations to reduce emissions. Remember BP’s “ Beyond Petroleum” slogan in the early 2000s, which was all PR and no action? And then there’s the fact that Shell openly admitted to influencing the U.N. climate treaty’s Paris Agreement, including by advancing measures that promote “net-zero” approaches.
      But the problem with these corporations’ pledge is even more basic. It assumes that net-zero is the ultimate goal—that achieving net-zero will solve the climate crisis. This assumption has been thoroughly perpetuated by companies (like BP and Shell) that are deeply invested in the status quo—so much so that it has been adopted even by those who care deeply about the climate crisis. But there are significant flaws in the logic of net-zero, and if that’s what we aim for as we tackle the climate crisis, we will fail to make the changes we need to."
      Lynn points out three basic flaws in the "net-zero" logic, which is based on continuing to produce greenhouse gasses - particularly carbon dioxide, but balancing it by taking an equal amount out of the air. The first short coming is that net-zero requires new technology that is not yet developed and untested. While the oil companies continue to pump oil and gas, there is no way to know if they will work, and if they do, whether they will create, new possibly worse, problems that make them unusable. The second, is that for net-zero to work, the envisioned technology, if it is otherwise viable, will require vast quantities of land, which creates untenable environmental-ecological problems in itself, and is likely to further worsen climate injustice - as whose land would end up being used, and forced to move? The third is that aiming for net zero keeps the pumping and fossil fuel burning going in the vague hope that a viable technology will do the job, and with no serious side effects.

Ivan Penn, "The Next Energy Battle: Renewables vs. Natural Gas: As coal declines and wind and solar energy rise, some are pushing to limit the use of natural gas, but utilities say they are not ready to do so," The New York Times, July 6, 2020,, reported, " Utilities around the country are promoting their growing use of renewable energy like hydroelectric dams, wind turbines and solar panels, which collectively provided more power than coal-fired power plants for the first time last year. But even as they add more green sources of power, the industry remains deeply dependent on natural gas, a fossil fuel that emits greenhouse gases and is likely to remain a cornerstone of the electric grid for years or even decades," building new natural gas plants even as they increase use of solar and wind.
      The issue is having enough power available when wind is not blowing and the sun not shining. So far, energy companies consider having back up gas powered plants cheaper than constructing battery storage. Public policy changes could shift that thinking, as requirements to move to less emissions have in California.

Offshore wind farms are expanding in numbers, with a growing number being built in deep water locations, well of shore (Stanley Reed, "Wind Turbines Venture into Deeper Water," The New York Times, June 8, 2020).

A number of companies are changing the way they make concrete to greatly reduce the amount of global warming carbon dioxide that the concrete making process usually produces. Different companies have been experimenting with a variety of methods that promise to significantly reduce CO 2 emissions (Jane Margolies, "A Fixture of Construction Gets A Lot Greener," The New York Times, August 12, 2020).

Friends of the Earth reported in an August 24, 2020 E-mail, " The Army Corps of Engineers just denied the permit for Pebble Mine! The proposed mine threatens Bristol Bay, Alaska -- home of one of the last great wild salmon runs and Indigenous communities who rely on it.
      The Army Corps of Engineers found that the mine would likely result in significant degradation of the environment. So it officially rejected the permit under section 404 of the Clean Water Act.
This is a huge victory for communities near Bristol Bay, the salmon fisheries, our environment, and our climate. It sends a message loud and clear to corporate polluters that they cannot destroy our pristine wild places.
      And it happened in large part thanks to Friends of the Earth members like you, who sent tens of thousands of comments to the Army Corps persuading it to reject the mine. Your voice was heard! Thank you for helping stop the Pebble Mine, Stephen.
      If the mine is built, it could generate more than 10 billion tons of dangerous waste, wipe out 90 miles of salmon streams, and pollute more than 5,000 acres of wetlands, ponds, and lakes. It would likely decimate the local salmon populations -- in turn impacting the local communities that depend on them.
      More than 65 percent of Alaskans, and 80 percent of Bristol Bay residents -- including Native people -- strongly oppose the mine. The only ones who would benefit are Pebble Limited Partnership and their affiliates. Together, we stood up to the powerful advocates for the mine -- and we won.
      The Pebble Mine fight isn’t over yet. The EPA could still advance the project. But this victory is a huge step in the right direction -- proving that people power works and we can stop polluters from harming the planet."
      This was finalized: Henry Fountain, "Alaska’s Controversial Pebble Mine Fails to Win Critical Permit, Likely Killing It : The immense project would have been one of the world’s largest gold and copper mines, but regulators found it 'contrary to the public interest' due to environmental risks in the pristine Alaskan tundra," The New York Times, November 25, 2020,, reported ," The Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday denied a permit for the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska, likely dealing a death blow to a long-disputed project that aimed to extract one of the world’s largest deposits of copper and gold ore, but which threatened breeding grounds for salmon in the pristine Bristol Bay region."

Kendra Chamberlain, "‘New Mexico is leading the nation’: Renewables set to replace coal-fired San Juan Generating Station," New Mexico Political Report, July 30, 2020,, reported, "With a unanimous vote Wednesday morning, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) ended one piece of a year-long debate on the future of coal in the Four Corners region. The utility PNM, which is slated to exit the San Juan Generating Station in 2022, will now need to rely on 100 percent renewable energy and battery storage to replace the power generated at the coal-fired plant."
      "The proposal includes 650 MW of solar resources and 300 MW of battery storage resources, with 430 MW of solar and $447 million worth of capital investments located within the Central Consolidated School District in San Juan County. Another 520 MW of renewable energy and roughly $500 million of capital investment would be located in McKinley County and the Jicarilla Apache reservation in Rio Arriba County."

Coral Davenport, "Defying Trump, 5 Automakers Lock In a Deal on Greenhouse Gas Pollution: The five — Ford, Honda, BMW, Volkswagen and Volvo — sealed a binding agreement with California to follow the state’s stricter tailpipe emissions rules," The New York Times, August 17, 2020,, reported, " California on Monday finalized a legal settlement with five of the world’s largest automakers that binds them to comply with its stringent state-level fuel efficiency standards that would cut down on climate-warming tailpipe emissions."

Christopher Flavelle, "Climate Change Poses ‘Systemic Threat’ to the Economy, Big Investors Warn: Financial regulators should act to avoid economic disaster, according to a letter from pension funds and other investors representing almost $1 trillion in assets," The New York Times, July 21, 2020,, reported, " Climate change threatens to create turmoil in the financial markets, and the Federal Reserve and other regulators must act to avoid an economic disaster, according to a letter sent on Tuesday by a group of large investors."

John Schwartz, "How Much Will the Planet Warm if Carbon Dioxide Levels Double?" The New York Times, July 22, 2020,, reported, " How much, exactly, will greenhouse gases heat the planet?
      For more than 40 years, scientists have expressed the answer as a range of possible temperature increases, between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees Celsius, that will result from carbon dioxide levels doubling from preindustrial times. Now, a team of researchers has sharply narrowed the range of temperatures, tightening it to between 2.6 and 4.1 degrees Celsius

Oil Change International reported in an E-mail, July 23, 2020, " The economic crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has given immense power to central banks, which have spent hundreds of billions to keep the world economy afloat. The European Central Bank (ECB) alone approved a €750 billion stimulus program in March, followed by an additional €600 billion in June.
      We now have an opportunity to tell the ECB that people around the world expect action, not just words. The ECB has launched an online consultation process seeking opinions as they revise their new strategy. Allies at
Reclaim Finance, SumOfUs, and 350 have developed an online survey to allow you to participate easily in this process.
       Fill out this online survey and it will be sent directly to the head of the European Central Bank.
       Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, European leaders have pledged to make the recovery green and to focus efforts and resources on climate-friendly solutions. However, the ECB continues to operate as if the climate crisis did not exist. Since the beginning of the crisis, it has already handed at least €7 billion to fossil fuel companies, supported corporations active in coal, oil, and gas, and resisted calls from the public to integrate strict climate safeguards in its policies.
       Christine Lagarde, the President of the ECB, recently committed to 'explore every avenue' to fight climate change. As governments around the world continue to massively support the fossil fuel industry through stimulus packages, despite the industry’s abysmal climate, human rights, and financial track record, the European Central Bank has a responsibility to lead by example and to put its money where its mouth is.
      It’s crucial that the ECB hears from as many concerned individuals as possible. If we can push them to integrate strict climate considerations in their policies, other central banks are likely to follow suit. As the climate crisis intensifies, it is more urgent than ever to deprive the fossil fuel industry of the oxygen it runs on: cheap public money.
       Participate in the survey to tell the ECB it needs to take the climate crisis seriously:"

Somini Sengupta and Veronica Penney, "Big Tech Has a Big Climate Problem. Now, It’s Being Forced to Clean Up: Apple said on Tuesday its devices would be carbon-neutral by 2030, making it the latest tech giant to ramp up voluntary climate targets," The New York Times,  July 21, 2020,, reported, "The titans of the tech industry like to think of themselves as solvers of big world problems, and, lately, they’re tripping over themselves to show that they are working to solve a problem for which they, too, are culpable: climate change.
      Apple on Tuesday became the latest tech giant to promise to do more to reduce the emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases,
announcing in a statement that, by 2030, 'every Apple device sold will have net-zero climate impact.'”

Jessica Corbett, "Failing Test for Green Recovery, Tracker Shows G20 Nations Pumping $151 Billion Into Fossil Fuel Industry Amid Pandemic: 'G20 leaders keep lying to themselves and their citizens as they prop up coal, oil, and gas with public money in the name of private financial return," Common Dreams, July 15, 2020,, reported, " While campaigners around the world continue to demand a just, green recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, new data from a global Energy Policy Tracker shows that the richest countries on Earth have committed billions of dollars in public money to support fossil fuels since the start of the public health crisis.
      The new tracker
reveals that G20 countries, who account for 80% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, have committed at least $150.81 billion to support fossil fuel energy while only $88.63 to support clean energy. The tracker was launched ahead of G20 meetings of finance ministers and central bank governors and deputies this weekend.
      Though the fossil fuel industry was already struggling financially prior to the pandemic—and scientists continue to warn that transitioning to renewable energy is essential to ensure a future habitable planet—only about a fifth of the G20 money for coal, gas, and oil is conditional on environmental requirements such as reducing planet-heating emissions.
      'The Covid-19 crisis and governments' responses to it are intensifying the trends that existed before the pandemic struck,' Ivetta Gerasimchuk, an Energy Policy Tracker project lead and International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) expert, said in a statement Wednesday.
       The United States has committed the most stimulus money of any G20 nation to fossil fuels without any conditions—$58.12 billion—compared with $25.1 billion for clean energy. Behind the U.S. on both fronts is Germany, albeit with its $12.5 billion committed unconditionally to fossil fuels doubled by the $24.88 billion committed to conditional funding for clean energy.
      The G20 is made up of the European Union and 19 countries. Other member nations that have committed billions to clean, dirty or other energy during the pandemic include France, India, China, the United Kingdom, Canada, Indonesia, South Korea, Brazil, Italy, Mexico, and Turkey. Australia, Russia, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia have each committed millions to the fossil fuel industry.
       'National and subnational jurisdictions that heavily subsidized the production and consumption of fossil fuels in previous years have once again thrown lifelines to oil, gas, coal, and fossil fuel-powered electricity,' Gerasimchuk said. "Meanwhile, economies that had already begun a transition to clean energy are now using stimulus and recovery packages to make this happen even faster.'
      The tracker is a project of IISD, the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies ( IGES), Oil Change International ( OCI), Overseas Development Institute ( ODI), Stockholm Environment Institute ( SEI), Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), and other partner organizations.
      Elisa Arond, a research fellow at SEI, told the Guardian that "today, governments are doubling down on fossil fuels as they grapple with the pandemic and plans their recoveries, but there is still time to build back better," referencing global calls from campaigners to incorporate environmental and climate policies in economic recovery plans necessitated by the pandemic.
In a joint statement Wednesday responding to the new tracking data, activists around the world reiterated those demands, urging governments to focus on funding clean energy rather than propping up polluters.
      'At this point in history it's clear that investing in fossil fuels is as lethal to global economies as it is to life on Earth,' said Catherine Abreu, executive director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Canada. 'Yet G20 leaders keep lying to themselves and their citizens as they prop up coal, oil, and gas with public money in the name of private financial return.'
      'Canada's claims to international leadership are hollow as long as its national and subnational governments funnel money to polluting projects like Vista and the Trans Mountain and Coastal Gaslink pipelines,' Abreu added. 'Covid-19 has revealed two truths that Canada and G20 leaders must heed: one, if we don't kill pollution, it will kill us; and two, a healthier world is possible—we need to only choose to build it.'
      Noting that Bangladesh is 'extremely vulnerable to climate impacts' including destructive extreme weather, local Fridays for Future member Sohanur Rahman called on rich G20 countries 'to cease supporting coal and invest instead in renewable energy that will allow Bangladesh to establish itself as a low-emission country, to protect our people and our future from the effects of the climate crisis.'
      Rahman explained that Bangladesh is set to build 29 coal plants, and while 'Chinese investments represent the majority of the proposed coal power capacity,' companies based in Japan and the U.K. are also involved in multiple coal projects in the country.
      Daniel Ribeiro of Justiça Ambiental (Friends of the Earth Mozambique) called out the fossil fuel financiers and transnational corporations from G20 countries that are 'ravaging the Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique.'
       'The gas rush has already been fueling human rights abuses, poverty, militarization, corruption, violence, social injustice, and environmental destruction,' said Ribeiro. 'In addition, climate science shows us clearly that gas cannot be an option for the future of our planet.'
      Ilan Zugman, interim director of Latin America, argued that governments in the region 'will be throwing money away if they continue to support the fossil fuel industry through credit, subsidies, or bailouts.'
      'In countries such as Argentina and Mexico, fostering community-led, renewable energy will clearly result in better outcomes for the economy, the climate, and the most vulnerable communities,' Zugman said. 'In the last few months, we have seen huge oil spills in rivers of Ecuador and coastal areas of Brazil, which harmed thousands of Indigenous and fishers.       Choosing between such a dirty sector and industries that will create clean jobs amid a recession should be a no-brainer.'
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The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), reported July 16, 2020,, "Two days ago, we scored another court victory against the Trump administration in their war on environmental protection.
       A federal district court judge ruled that the Bureau of Land Management, under Secretary Ryan Zinke, acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it rescinded the 2016 Waste Prevention Rule on oil and gas operations on public and tribal lands.
      This important rule set tough standards on discharges of methane, toxic benzene, volatile organic compounds and other airborne contaminants in twelve states and the Navajo Nation. And our court victory is a huge step forward in our effort to cut dangerous climate and air pollution."
      " Once again, the Trump administration faced this setback in court for failing to follow the law when attacking crucial public health and environmental safeguards.
      This week’s judicial ruling thoroughly defeats Trump’s efforts to undo these safeguards, and shapes the law in ways that will reverberate for many years to come in supporting climate progress
      The court found, for example, that the Bureau had failed to satisfy its legal obligation to inform locally impacted communities about threats to their health that would result from rolling back the Waste Prevention Rulein fact, they didn’t even bother to conduct a comprehensive analysis before declaring that the impacts would not be significant.
      Altogether, the Trump administration has attempted to roll back, weaken or delay about 100 different environmental protections since 2017. The sheer volume of reversals is itself a tactical attack, intended to exhaust our resources so that we let a few slip through the cracks."

A new study published in Environmental Research Letters ( shows that it essential in the fight to limit global warming to maintain peatbogs and other wetlands, for when they dry out they release large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere ( Henry Fountain, " What’s Green, Soggy and Fights Climate Change? You might be surprised: Protecting peat bogs could help the world avert the worst effects of global warming, a new study has found," The New York Times, October 9, 2020,

       Kenny Stancil, "'What the Future Can Look Like': Study Shows US Switch to 100% Renewables Would Save Hundreds of Billions Each Year: 'Too often we are told doing the right thing for the environment requires sacrifice and costs more. But we can actually make a better economy and save people money and a byproduct will be to cut emissions,'" Common Dreams, October 22, 2020,, reported, "While President Donald Trump has baselessly attacked plans to eradicate fossil fuel-based sources of energy from the United States' power grid on the grounds that doing so would be expensive and economically destructive , a new analysis reveals the opposite to be true—aggressively transitioning to 100% renewables would save Americans up to $321 billion per year while reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions that are heating the planet .
      The report (pdf:, No Place Like Home: Fighting Climate Change (And Saving Money) by Electrifying America's Households, published Wednesday by Rewiring America shows that a complete switch to clean energy sources like solar and wind would not only put the U.S. on a path toward zero emissions, but it would also save each household on average between $1,050 to $2,585 per year on utility bills.
      'Too often we are told doing the right thing for the environment requires sacrifice and costs more,' Adam Zurofsky, executive director of the energy policy organization, told The Guardian. 'But no one is talking about the upside—we can actually make a better economy and save people money and a byproduct will be to cut emissions from residential buildings.'
      According to the study, more than 40% of the nation's energy-related carbon emissions are determined by daily activities like bathing, cooking, and commuting. Today, most of the household appliances and neighborhood infrastructure used to facilitate refrigeration, lighting, heating, cooling, and mobility are powered by fossil fuels.
      But, the researchers explain, the process of extracting and delivering dirty energy to households and communities is enourmously wasteful and costly
       If we 'electrify' residential buildings and 'decarbonize' what the authors call 'life infrastructure' by linking household consumption to renewable sources of power, we can reduce energy use, costs, and emissions, they say, and therefore "fight climate change starting right in our own homes.'
      The report states that 'electrification is the only viable pathway to decarbonizing a household.' The authors say that doing so 'is possible with the technology we have now,' giving several examples of changes that could be adopted:
      We can decarbonize our driving with electric cars, and charge them cleanly with solar on our rooftops and renewable electricity from the grid. Where most homes now burn methane in the kitchen to run the stove, we can switch to electric induction for cooking... We can use electric water heaters, or better still, heat pump hot water heaters that more efficiently provide us with hot showers and warm water. A heat pump, potentially with energy storage cheaply attached, can replace our furnace or other heating systems with electricity. We can buy electric clothes dryers to replace natural gas ones.
      'To make this all work,' the report notes, 'we need to install a bigger load center, wire in electric car chargers, and attach a battery capable of running the loads in the house for a half day or so.'
      One of the biggest barriers to change may be the high upfront costs associated with upgrading household infrastructure—yet, as the report points out, 'we only succeed in fighting climate change if all households can transition to the new economy.'
      In order to ensure an equitable and environmentally just future, the authors advocate harnessing the power of the state to implement 'creative policy solutions,' from low-cost financing to direct purchasing assistance for low- and moderate-income households and those with low credit scores.
      Zurofsky told The Guardian that "the federal government can make it 'dirt cheap' for people to switch to renewables," especially now that solar is the cheapest form of electricity in human history.
      In addition to public subsidies, the report acknowledges that "regulatory reform and restructuring of monopoly control of energy services is absolutely necessary."
      Transforming household energy consumption would not only result in the decarbonization of more that 40% of the U.S. economy, but the efficiency gains would also generate savings that 'are more than enough to return money to households,' Zurofsky said.
      As the report notes, 'It is the poorest households that have the most to gain from household energy savings."
      The authors write that "if we apply the same technologies and approaches to the commercial sector, it would eliminate around 65% of emissions.'
      Bryan Snyder, an energy and environment expert at Louisiana State University, told The Guardian that such an undertaking would be difficult because it would require the country 'to build an electrical generation system on top of our roofs that is the same size as contemporary U.S. generation,' while regional inconsistencies in sunlight would add to the challenge.
      Zurofsky retorted that the widespread adoption of rooftop solar power is feasible. 'That does not mean it will be easy to do,' he said, 'or that we won't have to stretch our existing capacities to make it happen.'
      According to Zurofsky, Rewiring America's new report—which echoes a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute confirming that investments in energy efficiency and clean energy would create millions of jobs—is meant to demonstrate 'what the future can look like if we are motivated to make it so.'
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Julia Conley, "'Seismic Shift' in World's Approach to Land Use, Wildlife, and Climate Action Needed to Avoid New 'Era of Pandemics,' Study Says: 'The same human activities that drive climate change and biodiversity loss also drive pandemic risk through their impacts on our environment,'" Common Dreams, October 29, 2020,, reported, " Warning that without a 'seismic shift' in how world governments approach the treatment of wildlife, land conservation, and public health, the planet could be entering an "era of pandemics," a United Nations-backed report released Thursday emphasized that the ability to avoid more public health crises like Covid-19 is entirely within the human population's control.
      Resulting from an urgent virtual workshop attended by 22 experts from around the world, the report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services ( notes that more than five new diseases emerge in people each year, and each of these has the potential to develop into a global pandemic as the coronavirus did.
       The novel coronavirus has origins in microbes detected in animal species and is believed to have 'jumped' from an animal to the human population in Wuhan, China, and human activity has made it dangerously easy for this sort of jump to happen again and again.
       Scientists estimate that 1.7 million unknown viruses currently exist in mammals and birds, and that up to 850,000 of them could potentially infect humans.
       'There is no great mystery about the cause of the Covid-19 pandemic—or of any modern pandemic,' said Dr. Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance and chair of the IPBES workshop. 'The same human activities that drive climate change and biodiversity loss also drive pandemic risk through their impacts on our environment. Changes in the way we use land; the expansion and intensification of agriculture; and unsustainable trade, production, and consumption disrupt nature and increase contact between wildlife."
      To stop a new era of pandemics from emerging, the experts say, governments must work together to stop the exploitation of land and wildlife by profit-driven systems, which cause humans and animals to come into close enough contact for pathogens to jump to humans.
       Unsafe contact between humans and wildlife would be reduced by conservation efforts to protect biodiversity and natural habitats, the promotion of 'responsible consumption' and a reduction in "excessive consumption of meat from livestock production,' and climate action, the report reads.
       'Climate change has been implicated in disease emergence (e.g. tick-borne encephalitis in Scandinavia) and will likely cause substantial future pandemic risk by driving movement of people, wildlife, reservoirs, and vectors, and spread of their pathogens, in ways that lead to new contact among species, increased contact among species, or otherwise disrupts natural host-pathogen dynamics," the IPBES wrote.
      According to the report, land-use change has been linked to the emergence of more than 30% of new diseases in the human population since 1960.
       'Land-use change includes deforestation, human settlement in primarily wildlife habitat, the growth of crop and livestock production, and urbanization,' the report reads.
      'The solution here seems pretty clear,' tweeted Dr. Scott Sampson, executive director of the California Academy of Sciences, in response to the report's section on land-use change.
      The study includes a number of suggested reforms which could help to keep pathogens from spreading to humans, including:
      Launching a high-level intergovernmental council on pandemic prevention to provide decision-makers with the best science and evidence on emerging diseases; predict high-risk areas; evaluate the economic impact of potential pandemics and to highlight research gaps.
      Institutionalizing the 'One Health' approach in national governments to build pandemic preparedness, enhance pandemic prevention programs, and to investigate and control outbreaks across sectors.
      Ensuring that the economic cost of pandemics is factored into consumption, production, and government policies and budgets.
      Enabling changes to reduce the types of consumption, globalized agricultural expansion and trade that have led to pandemics—this could include taxes or levies on meat consumption, livestock production and other forms of high pandemic-risk activities.
      Reducing zoonotic disease risks in the international wildlife trade through a new intergovernmental 'health and trade' partnership; reducing or removing high disease-risk species in the wildlife trade; enhancing law enforcement in all aspects of the illegal wildlife trade and improving community education in disease hotspots about the health risks of wildlife trade.
      Valuing Indigenous Peoples and local communities' engagement and knowledge in pandemic prevention programs, achieving greater food security, and reducing consumption of wildlife.
      The cost of confronting global public health emergencies after they've arrived—including damage to economies around the world, healthcare costs, and vaccine research—is roughly 100 times what it would cost to prevent another pandemic, the IPBES said.
      'We have the increasing ability to prevent pandemics—but the way we are tackling them right now largely ignores that ability
," said Daszak. "Our approach has effectively stagnated—we still rely on attempts to contain and control diseases after they emerge, through vaccines and therapeutics. We can escape the era of pandemics, but this requires a much greater focus on prevention in addition to reaction.'
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Catrin Einhorn, "Restoring Farmland Could Drastically Slow Extinctions, Fight Climate Change: Returning strategic parts of the world’s farmlands to nature could help mitigate both climate change and biodiversity loss, a new study found," The New York Times, October 14, 2020, Catrin Einhorn, reported, "A global road map, published Wednesday in Nature (, identifies a path to soaking up almost half of the carbon dioxide that has built up since the Industrial Revolution and averting more than 70 percent of the predicted animal and plant extinctions on land. The key? Returning a strategic 30 percent of the world’s farmlands to nature.
      It could be done, the researchers found, while preserving an abundant food supply for people and while also staying within the time scale to keep global temperatures from rising past 2 degrees Celsius, the upper target of the Paris Agreement."

Somini Sengupta," Europe Moves to Protect Nature, but Faces Criticism Over Subsidizing Farms: The proposal would protect 30 percent of the continent’s land and water by 2030," The New York Times, October 23, 2020,, reported, " The European Union’s Environment Council on Friday endorsed the proposal by the president of the European Union to create protected areas for 30 percent of the continent’s land and water by 2030, along with legally binding measures to tighten forest protections.
      But Europe’s governing body also was criticized by environmental and climate activists for not curbing agricultural subsidies that drive pollution

Kendra Chamberlain, "Worsening air quality in Permian Basin ‘cause for concern’," New Mexico Political Report, August 3, 2020,, reported, "In early July, a key ambient air quality monitor near Carlsbad was abruptly shut down, after a monitoring station operator noticed the A/C unit at the site wasn’t working properly and the facility was getting too hot for the electronics.
      Nichols is worried about the incident because the monitor in question had recorded ozone levels in that area exceeding the federal standards before it was shut off. Now, it’s not reporting any data on air quality in the Carlsbad area."
      “It basically means that people are not getting any information on the quality of the air they breathe,” he said. “And for a region like Carlsbad, which over the past several years has had really high air pollution levels, that’s pretty worrisome.”
      "High ozone levels are just one red flag for the region’s air quality amid record oil production. Methane emissions are also on the rise. The Permian Basin now releases more methane than any other oil field in the country, which experts agree is also bad for human health in the region
       Kendra Chamberlain, "Report identifies huge amounts of flaring occurring in the Permian," New Mexico Political Report, August 6, 2020 A new report released by the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) and authored by Thomas Singer, who served on the state’s Methane Advisory Panel, tracked huge amounts of natural gas flaring in the Permian Basin. The report found flaring doubled from 2017 to 2018, from 14.9 to 33.4 billion cubic feet, and declined slightly to 30.8 billion cubic feet last year. That was enough gas to supply the home heating and cooking needs of 80 percent of New Mexico households for the entire year, according to the report.
      The report also found that a small number of major producers in the oilfield account for large shares of natural gas flaring. One producer, Ameredev, flared 78 percent of its gas production, while other major producers flared between 38 percent to just 4 percent of gas production. And some operators have permits from the state Oil Conservation District to flare wells continuously on a rolling basis for years.
      The report comes as the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) has proposed methane regulations that would require oil and gas operators to capture 98 percent of natural gas they produce. You can read more about the draft rules here (
       WELC has released a set of recommendations that Singer argues would help tighten the state’s draft methane rules.
       Requiring oil and gas companies to capture and sell 98 percent of the gas they produce, as proposed, would be the toughest venting and flaring rule in the nation,” Singer said in a statement. 'But it’s not enough to be tough on paper – the rule needs to be strengthened to provide more transparency and accountability for the public, to work equally well for the San Juan Basin and the New Mexico Permian, and assure that it will be strictly enforced to end the ongoing, massive waste of natural gas."
       Read the full report,         Kendra Chamberlain, Draft methane rules focus on data collection, technological solutions," New Mexico Political Report, July 22, 2020,

Alissa J. Rubin and Clifford Krauss, "Southern Iraq’s Toxic Twilight: Burning Gas and Poisoning the Air ," The New York Times, July 17, 2020,, reported, " Iraq is the rare country that imports gas but also burns natural gas from oil wells into the air. The wasted gas is enough to power three million homes. Burning it is making people sick."

Jessica Corbett, "'We Are Expecting the Worst': Alarm Over Eco Crisis Grows Amid Fears Ship Leaking Oil Near Mauritius Could Break in Two: Climate campaigers charge that "this oil leak is not a twist of fate, but the choice of our twisted addiction to fossil fuels," Common Dreams, August 10, 2020,, reported, " Urgent efforts to contain an oil spill off the coast of Mauritius reportedly ramped up on Monday due to fears that a cracked ship spilling fuel into the Indian Ocean—polluting nearby coral reefs, mangrove forests, and beaches of the island nation—could soon split in two, exacerbating the local environmental crisis.
      Though the Japanese-owned vessel ran aground on a coral reef near Mauritius on July 25, work to safely remove the estimated 4,000 tonnes of oil it was carrying kicked off last week, when the ship starting seeping fuel into the ocean. Over 1,000 tonnes of oil is believed to have leaked into the surrounding waters.
      The Associated Press reported Monday that "high winds and waves are pounding the MV Wakashio," a ship owned by Nagashiki Shipping and operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, also based in Japan. The vessel departed China on July 14 and was bound for Brazil, but is now leaking oil about a mile from Mauritius, which is east of the African continent.
      Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth has declared an environmental emergency and called for international help. France, which formerly colonized the island nation, dispatched a naval vessel, a military aircraft, and technical advisers while Japan said Sunday it would send a six-person team to help."

Eric Lipton, "A Regulatory Rush by Federal Agencies to Secure Trump’s Legacy: With the president’s re-election in doubt, cabinet departments are scrambling to finish dozens of new rules affecting millions of Americans," The New York Times, October 17, 2020,, reported, " Facing the prospect that President Trump could lose his re-election bid, his cabinet is scrambling to enact regulatory changes affecting millions of Americans in a blitz so rushed it may leave some changes vulnerable to court challenges.
      The effort is evident in a broad range of federal agencies and encompasses proposals like easing limits on how many hours some truckers can spend behind the wheel, giving the government more freedom to collect biometric data and setting federal standards for when workers can be classified as independent contractors rather than employees."

Jessica Corbett, "'Big Win for Our Climate and for Communities' as Federal Panel Rejects Attack on Rooftop Solar in US: However, green groups and renewable advocates also expressed concern that another new FERC decision will hamper clean energy expansion," Common Dreams, July 16, 2020,, reported, " Federal regulators on Thursday released a pair of decisions expected to impact the expansion of renewable power nationwide—one that was celebrated by environmentalists and clean energy advocates as a crucial win and another that critics warned 'could lead to more pollution by propping up fossil fuel power plants.'
       The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) delivered a victory to supporters of renewables by rejecting an April petition from the New England Ratepayers Association (NERA) calling for federal rather than local jurisdiction over solar net-metering policies, which had provoked strong condemnation from a bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers, solar investors, and hundreds of advocacy groups.
      As Public Citizen explained last month:
      Net-metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar power generators for the electricity they add to the grid. It is a crucial component of rooftop solar project financing because it makes solar energy systems affordable for small businesses and families through energy credits for the solar power they generate. The NERA petition would grant FERC sole jurisdiction to govern such programs through the Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act [PURPA] or Federal Power Act.
      Public Citizen, the Center for Biological Diversity, and over 450 other environmental, faith, and consumer groups sent a letter to FERC in June arguing that 'state net-metering policies and distributed solar systems are foundational to achieving the nation's urgently needed clean and just energy transition—to address historical environmental injustices, fight the climate emergency, and ensure long-term resilience.'
      Howard Crystal, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity's energy justice program, authored a legal intervention filed with FERC regarding the petition. In a statement Thursday, he welcomed the Republican-led commission's rejection of the NERA proposal.
      'This is a big win for our climate and for communities embracing clean solar power,' Crystal said. 'FERC's unanimous ruling ensures that states can keep appropriately compensating people who install rooftop solar. That allows community solar and other distributed renewables to continue playing a critical role in the urgent transition to clean energy.'
      Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, applauded the panel's dismissal of the 'flawed petition' in a statement that highlighted the solar industry's record on job creation and contributions to the U.S. economy.
      'Our industry holds great promise to help create jobs and revive local economies,' she said. 'We are grateful to the state utility commissions and many other partners who strongly opposed this petition. We will continue working in the states to strengthen net metering policies to generate more jobs and investment and we will advocate for fair treatment of solar at FERC where it has jurisdiction.'
      Tom Rutigliano, an advocate in the Sustainable FERC Project, which is housed at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), similarly welcomed the decision, saying that 'FERC did one thing right today in rejecting the outrageous petition that would have upended the ability of rooftop solar owners to get a fair price for the excess electricity they generate.'
      However, Rutigliano expressed concern about the panel's vote to overhaul PURPA, which is more than 40 years old and has been key to renewable energy growth across the country. As he put it: 'Instead of promoting small, clean generation, FERC is undercutting the ability of solar and wind power to get a fair chance to compete.'
      Noting that 'utilities have long sought changes to the law' over cost concerns while solar and wind developers say it 'is critical to giving renewables a leg up in states that aren't green-leaning,' Bloomberg reported Thursday that the panel reduced the mandatory purchase obligation for utilities to five megawatts from 20 megawatts in some markets, and gave states more authority to set the price at which small generators sell their power. The 'one-mile rule,' which determines whether generation facilities should be considered to be part of a single facility, was also changed. The agency will now require that qualifying facilities demonstrate commercial viability.
      Commissioner Richard Glick, the lone Democrat on the panel, dissented in part but said that the changes would benefit consumers. 'Under the old regime, customers were overpaying for power they were receiving' to the tune of $2.2 billion to $3.9 billion, he said.
      Rutigliano warned that 'homeowners putting solar panels on their roof, farmers leasing their land to wind turbines, and industrial facilities with efficient on-site power all lose under FERC's rule today.'
`       'FERC is pushing the nation to use more fossil fuels,' he said, 'just when it should be doing everything it can to support clean power.'
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Lisa Friedman, "E.P.A. Rejects Its Own Findings That a Pesticide Harms Children’s Brains: The agency’s new assessment directly contradicts federal scientists’ conclusions five years ago that chlorpyrifos can stunt brain development in young children," The New York Times, September 23, 2020,, reported, "The Trump administration has rejected scientific evidence linking the pesticide chlorpyrifos to serious health problems, directly contradicting federal scientists’ conclusions five years ago that it can stunt brain development in children.
      The Environmental Protection Agency’s assessment of the pesticide, which is widely used on soybeans, almonds, grapes and other crops, is a fresh victory for chemical makers and the agricultural industry, as well as the latest in a long list of Trump administration regulatory rollbacks."
       Coral Davenport , "Trump Administration Releases Plan to Open Tongass Forest to Logging: The effort to open the Alaskan wilderness area, the nation’s largest national forest, has been in the works for about two years," The New York Times, September 24, 2020,, reported, "The Trump administration on Friday finalized its plan to open about nine million acres of the pristine woodlands of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest to logging and road construction."

Catrin Einhorn, "Wolverines Don’t Require Protection, U.S. Officials Rule: The decision capped a quarter-century legal battle that exposed deep divisions over the role of government and how humans interact with nature.
October 8, 2020,, reported," The New York Times, " The federal government said Thursday that it had decided against protecting wolverines, the elusive mammal that inspired a superhero and countless sports teams around America. Despite fears that climate change threatens the animals’ habitat in the lower 48 states, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday that wolverine populations there were stable and that its own earlier concerns about the effects of global warming on the species had been overstated."

"Protections Eliminated for Tongass National Forest," Pew Charitable Trust, E-mail received October 29, 2020,, reported , The U.S. Forest Service yesterday finalized its plan to eliminate protections for roadless areas in Alaska's Tongass National Forest, the largest in the United States.Despite overwhelming local opposition, the Trump administration decision will open 9.2 million acres to commercial logging and construction—and allow clear-cutting in vast old-growth stands.
       The decision to exempt the area from the Roadless Area Conservation Rule goes against strong economic and scientific evidence.
       3 Reasons the Cuts Don't Make Sense:
      Logging here isn't profitable.
      Salmon habitat will be sacrificed
      Alaskans support the roadless rule protections."

Scott Wyland,"State fines natural gas company $5.3M for air pollution," Santa Fe New Mexican, July 7, 2020,, reported, "State regulators have slapped natural gas giant DCP Midstream with a $5.3 million fine for violating state and federal air pollution laws at its eight New Mexico plants.
      Between December 2017 and June 2019, the Denver-based company logged 367 excess emissions in New Mexico, totaling 2.1 million pounds of pollutants
, the state Environment Department said in a statement released Tuesday.
       The fine comes with an order for DCP to immediately comply with air-emission limits and operating requirements, the agency said."

Posrted by BeauHD, " Spreading Rock Dust On Fields Could Remove Vast Amounts of CO2 From Air," Slashdot, July 9, 2020,, reported that spreading dust from readily available basalt, and some other rocks' dust, on farmland could pull billions of tons of carbon dioxide out of the air every year , as indicated by the first detailed global analysis of the technique, published in Nature ( "The chemical reactions that degrade the rock particles lock the greenhouse gas into carbonates within months, and some scientists say this approach may be the best near-term way of removing CO2 from the atmosphere. The rock dust approach, called enhanced rock weathering (ERW), has several advantages, the researchers say. First, many farmers already add limestone dust to soils to reduce acidification, and adding other rock dust improves fertility and crop yields, meaning application could be routine and desirable."

Brad Plumer,  "Environmentalists and Dam Operators, at War for Years, Start Making Peace: Facing a climate crisis, environmental groups and industry agree to work together to bolster hydropower while reducing harm from dams," The New York Times, October 13, 2020,, reported, " The industry that operates America’s hydroelectric dams and several environmental groups announced an unusual agreement Tuesday to work together to get more clean energy from hydropower while reducing the environmental harm from dams, in a sign that the threat of climate change is spurring both sides to rethink their decades-long battle over a large but contentious source of renewable power."
      " In a joint statement , industry groups and environmentalists said they would collaborate on a set of specific policy measures that could help generate more renewable electricity from dams already in place, while retrofitting many of the nation’s 90,000 existing dams to be safer and less ecologically damaging."

Christopher Flavelle, "Rising Seas Threaten an American Institution: The 30-Year Mortgage: Climate change is starting to transform the classic home loan, a fixture of the American experience and financial system that dates back generations," The New York Times, June 24, 2020,, reported, " Home buyers are increasingly using mortgages that make it easier for them to stop making their monthly payments and walk away from the loan if the home floods or becomes unsellable or unlivable. More banks are getting buyers in coastal areas to make bigger down payments — often as much as 40 percent of the purchase price, up from the traditional 20 percent — a sign that lenders have awakened to climate dangers and want to put less of their own money at risk.
      And in one of the clearest signs that banks are worried about global warming, they are increasingly getting these mortgages off their own books by selling them to government-backed buyers like Fannie Mae, where taxpayers would be on the hook financially if any of the loans fail."

Hiroko Tabuchi, "New Rule in California Will Require Zero-Emissions Trucks: More than half of trucks sold in the state must be zero-emissions by 2035, and all of them by 2045," The New York Times, June 25, 2020,, reported, "Rebuffing strong opposition from industry, California on Thursday adopted a landmark rule requiring more than half of all trucks sold in the state to be zero-emissions by 2035, a move that is expected to improve local air quality, rein in greenhouse gas emissions and sharply curtail the state’s dependence on oil."

       Adam Carlesco, "Why Trump Wants to Kill The Biggest Environmental Law You've Never Heard Of: NEPA is one of the biggest federal policies ever enacted to protect our environment. But Trump is out to gut it—here's why," Common Dreams, July 8, 2020,, reported, " Following the rapid industrialization and population boom of the early 1900s, the environment stood as a casualty of society’s capitalistic growth. Rivers caught fire, DDT crashed bird populations, and scientists feared devastating harms caused by the escalating concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. These issues were exacerbated by the lack of federal regulation, as states led a “race-to-the-bottom” where environmental protections were slashed to ease the way for industry. Something had to be done to prevent the rapid destruction of natural resources and the planet.
       After analyzing the vast web of issues leading to environmental damage, Congress passed the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). In enacting NEPA, Congress recognized “the profound impact of man’s activity on the interrelations of all components of the natural environment… [and] the critical importance of restoring and maintaining environmental quality to the overall welfare and development of man[.]”
      Over the past 50 years of implementation and interpretation in the courts, NEPA has become the foundational cornerstone of U.S. environmental law, and nations worldwide have replicated its model
      NEPA Requires Federal Agencies To Understand Environmental Impacts
      Within NEPA, Congress declared “that it is the continuing policy of the federal government… to use all practicable means and measures… to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony, and fulfill the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations of Americans.” The entire premise of this law is to make sure that the federal government looks before it leaps – forcing it to understand the ramifications of its actions and how those decisions will ripple out over time.
      To this end, NEPA requires federal agencies to consider the environmental impacts of their actions, including direct action by an agency or the permitting of private activity (like when an agency issues a permit for a private company to frack). The primary decision-making agency is tasked with doing an environmental assessment of the project. If it imposes a significant impact, then a more in-depth environmental impacts statement is required. That next step is a collaborative process where meaningful involvement from affected communities and stakeholders is absolutely vital because they typically have the most knowledge of the local conditions and history.
       Legal interpretation of NEPA led to the White House Council for Environmental Quality (CEQ) being formed to craft regulations on how agencies implement NEPA. These rules have been consistent for more than 40 years, requiring consideration of all direct, indirect and cumulative impacts of any project under review.
      But the Trump administration is looking to change this.
      Trump Gutting NEPA Aids Polluters And Muzzles The Public
      First, Trump’s CEQ is trying to remove requirements to review related and cumulative effects of agency action. This intentionally prevents agencies from considering issues like overall emissions from fossil fuel infrastructure networks or related projects under development within a region. These new amendments to the regulations are tailored to allow industry-favoring regulators to ignore climate change and the foreseeable consequences of their policies and permitting.
      The proposed rules also expand “categorical exclusions” to allow far more projects to skirt the review stage, excusing polluting projects from even the most basic review of the environmental impacts they will cause. For example, these exemptions would allow the federal government to issue multi-million dollar loan guarantees to private factory farms — basically subsidizing the largest source of pollution in American waterways
       Even worse, the administration is attempting to restrict public engagement within the NEPA review process: shortening timelines, limiting the scope of comments, and providing bureaucrats great freedom in how they exclude the public from the review process.
      To top it all off, in proposing these regulatory changes, CEQ refused to perform an environmental justice review (as required by law) that would look at how these sweeping regulatory changes impact the most vulnerable communities
." This would appear to set up the entire Trump administration action to be thrown out in the courts, if it went into effect/

Although the rate of growth of solar and wind power slowed during the pandemic in 2020, it still increased by 7 percent world-wide, while over-all energy use declined by 5 percent (Stanley Reed, "Renewable Energy Gains Ground Even in a Pandemic," The New York Times, November 11, 2020.

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) clarified the rules for taking an extensive tax credit for companies trapping carbon dioxide from industrial and power producing processes to keep the greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere, allowing firms to take advantage of the credit, likely simulating more such projects (Brad Plumer, "Projects to Bury Carbon Dioxide Get a Lift," The New York Times, June 25, 2020).

The Trump Administration, in July 2020, announced meaningless new EPA standards for aviation emissions, as the world's airlines already more than meet them (Coral Davenport, "E.P.A. Proposes Standards for Aviation Emissions that Airlines Already Meet," The New York Times, July 23, 2020).

Lisa Friedman and Coral Davenport, "E.P.A. Won’t Regulate Toxic Compound Linked to Fetal Brain Damage: The move was widely expected after The New York Times reported last month that the agency’s administrator had decided to effectively defy a court order," The New York Times, June 18, 2020,, reported, "The Trump administration on Thursday finalized a decision not to impose any limits on perchlorate , a toxic chemical compound found in rocket fuel that contaminates water and has been linked to fetal and infant brain damage.
      The move by the Environmental Protection Agency was widely expected, after The New York Times reported last month that Andrew Wheeler, the E.P.A. administrator, had decided to effectively defy a court order that required the agency to establish a safe drinking-water standard for the chemical by the end of June. In addition to not regulating, the E.P.A. overturned the underlying scientific finding that declared perchlorate a serious health risk for five million to 16 million people in the United States."

Lisa Friedman, "E.P.A. Rejects Its Own Findings That a Pesticide Harms Children’s Brains: The agency’s new assessment directly contradicts federal scientists’ conclusions five years ago that chlorpyrifos can stunt brain development in young children," The New York Times, September 23, 2020,, reported, "The Trump administration has rejected scientific evidence linking the pesticide chlorpyrifos to serious health problems, directly contradicting federal scientists’ conclusions five years ago that it can stunt brain development in children.
      The Environmental Protection Agency’s assessment of the pesticide, which is widely used on soybeans, almonds, grapes and other crops, is a fresh victory for chemical makers and the agricultural industry, as well as the latest in a long list of Trump administration regulatory rollbacks."

A new study shows a clear link between exposure to toxic chemicals and coming down with Parkinson's disease ( Jane E. Brody, "The Link Between Parkinson’s Disease and Toxic Chemicals: A new book calls the increasing prominence of Parkinson’s 'a man-made pandemic,'” The New York Times, July 20, 2020,

      Amazon Watch reported in an E-mail, 6/23/20, " Indigenous communities across the Ecuadorian Amazon aresheltering in place to avoid the spread of COVID-19, while also facing the largest oil spill in the last 15 years. They are now witnessing their homes, drinking water, and food sources being destroyed. Unfortunately, even in the middle of a pandemic, Indigenous activists must continue to defend their territories from extractive industries."

Ernesto Londoño and Letícia Casado, "Under Pressure, Brazil’s Bolsonaro Forced to Fight Deforestation: After fending off international criticism on rainforest destruction, President Jair Bolsonaro caved to pressure and took steps to curb deforestation and forest fires," The New York Times," August 2, 2020,, reported, " Under pressure from European governments, foreign investors and Brazilian companies concerned about the country’s reputation, Mr. Bolsonaro has banned forest fires for the four months of the dry season and set up a military operation against deforestation."
      "Environmentalists, experts and foreign officials who have pressed Brazil on conservation matters are skeptical of the government’s commitment, afraid these actions amount to little more than damage control
at a time when the economy is in deep trouble."

Conservation Voters of New Mexico reported via E-mail, June 19, 2020, "This is historic news: after years of your support and perseverance, yesterday morning the Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) voted to end the Gila Diversion project. The plan to dam the last free flowing stretch of river in New Mexico has been in the works in some form for the last 30 years. That’s why community members and leaders, like the Gila Conservation Coalition, have been fighting to protect the Gila River from being diverted for more than a decade, and identify cost-effective sustainable alternatives to meet community water needs."

Andrea Germanos, "In Blow to Trump and Win for Bears, Federal Appeals Court Upholds Endangered Species Protections for Yellowstone Grizzlies: 'This decision solidifies the belief of numerous wildlife advocates and native tribes that protecting grizzly bears should be based upon science and the law and not the whims of special interest groups,'" Common Dreams, July 8, 2020,, reported, " Conservation and tribal groups scored a legal victory Wednesday after a federal appeals court rejected the Trump administration's bid to remove endangered species protections for Yellowstone-region grizzly bears.
      The ruling from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upholds a Montana district court's decision, means grizzlies in the national park and surrounding area won't be subjected to trophy hunting.
      The Trump administration in 2017 paved the way for such hunts by announcing the bears would be losing their federal protections, citing increased population numbers. That decision prompted objections from wildlife advocates who said it rejected science, including the climate crisis's impact on the bears' food sources and the need for higher population numbers to boost their long-term genetic health.
      Judge Mary M. Schroeder wrote in the opinion for court that 'because there are no concrete, enforceable mechanisms in place to ensure long-term genetic health of the Yellowstone grizzly, the district court correctly concluded that the 2017 rule is arbitrary and capricious in that regard.'
      Matthew Bishop, an attorney at the Western Environmental Law Center who argued the case, welcomed the ruling.
      'Grizzlies require continued protection under federal law until the species as a whole is rightfully recovered,' Bishop said in a statement. 'The best available science says not only are grizzly bears still recovering, but they also need our help to bounce back from an extinction threat humans caused in the first place.'
      'Misrepresenting the facts to promote killing threatened grizzly bears for fun is disgraceful,' said Bishop, adding that he's 'glad the judges didn't fall for it.'
      Accordidng to Sarah McMillan, conservation director for WildEarth Guardians, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the ruling represents 'a triumph of science over politics.'
       'This decision solidifies the belief of numerous wildlife advocates and native tribes that protecting grizzly bears should be based upon science and the law and not the whims of special interest groups, such as those who want to trophy hunt these great bears,' she said.
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Henry Fountain, " Global Warming Is Driving Polar Bears Toward Extinction, Researchers Say: By century’s end, polar bears worldwide could become nearly extinct as a result of shrinking sea ice in the Arctic if climate change continues unabated, scientists said," The New York Times, July 20, 2020,, reported, "Polar bears could become nearly extinct by the end of the century as a result of shrinking sea ice in the Arctic if global warming continues unabated, scientists said Monday."

      Scott Wyland, "Conservation group, agencies reach ‘understanding’ on spotted owl ," Santa Fe New Mexican, July 8, 2020,, reported, "An environmental advocacy group has agreed to drop its pending lawsuit that accused federal agencies of planning forestry projects that could harm the Mexican spotted owl.
      The bird's nesting grounds on national forest land in New Mexico and Arizona have become hotly contested battlegrounds. A separate complaint alleging federal agencies failed to properly monitor the threatened owl prompted a federal judge to halt timber activities in owl habitat last year.
       Framed as 'a new understanding,' a truce was reached this week between the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the states of New Mexico and Arizona, and the Eastern Arizona Counties Organization.
      In return for the Center for Biological Diversity scrapping its litigation, the Forest Service has ensured tree-thinning and controlled burns in six national forests in New Mexico and Arizona will better protect the Mexican spotted owl, which has been listed as threatened since 1993 under the Endangered Species Act
." In addition, the Forest Service agreed to undertake a new habitat monitoring program, and to present all Mexican spotted owl related data to the public in a standardized format."

"Victory! Federal Judge Rules Administration’s Bird-Killing Policy is Illegal: Today’s ruling makes it clear that the administration must halt its attempt to roll back the Migratory Bird Treaty Act," Adubon Spociety, August 11, 2020,, reported, - "'Like the clear crisp notes of the Wood Thrush, today’s court decision cuts through all the noise and confusion to unequivocally uphold the most effective bird conservation law on the books--the Migratory Bird Treaty Act,' said Sarah Greenberger, Interim Chief Conservation Officer for the National Audubon Society. “This is a huge victory for birds and it comes at a critical time - science tells us that we’ve lost 3 billion birds in less than a human lifetime and that two-thirds of North American birds are at risk of extinction due to climate change.'
       United States District Court Judge Valerie Caproni that the legal opinion which serves as the basis for the Trump administration rollback of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act does not align with the intent and language of the 100-year-old law. In her ruling, Judge Caproni found that the policy 'runs counter to the purpose of the MBTA to protect migratory bird populations' and is 'contrary to the plain meaning of the MBTA'.
      Today’s decision comes as a result of a series of lawsuits brought in 2018 by Audubon, several other conservation groups, and eight states."

Mihir Zaveri, "Even Paper Bags Will Be Banned From N.J. Supermarkets: The bill, which would make the state the first to ban single-use paper bags at supermarkets, would also ban single-use plastic bags in stores and restaurants," The New York Times, September 25, 2020,, reported, "The state Legislature on Thursday voted to make New Jersey the first in the country to ban single-use paper bags in supermarkets along with all single-use plastic bags in stores and restaurants."

      Marguerite Holloway, "New England’s Forests Are Sick. They Need More Tree Doctors. Climate change is taking a toll on woodlands in the Northeast. Many arborists say they are spending more time taking down dead or unhealthy trees than ever before," The New York Times, October 7, 2020,, reported, " As climate change accelerates, the trees in the Eastern forests of the United States are increasingly vulnerable. For many arborists, the challenges facing trees are reshaping and expanding the nature of their work. Many said they are spending more time on tree removal than ever before — taking down dead or unhealthy trees, or trees damaged or felled by storms."

In New Mexico, the deaths of a large number of migratory birds were under investigation, in mid-September 2020. Heat waves, drought and smoke from wildfires are being looked at as possible factors (Simon Romero, "Mystery in New Mexico: Flocks of Birds are Dying and Scientists Seek Clues," The New York Times, September 17, 2020).

" Boreal Forests: Spring Bird Migration and the Indigenous Stewardship That Sustains It, Let's use spring migration to galvanize collective action across the continent," Audubon Society, March 13, 2020,, reported, "The first pulses of the flow of bird migration have already started coursing across the hemisphere. Early vanguards of the coming numbers of Red-winged Blackbird, Sandhill Crane, and American Woodcock left their southern U.S. wintering grounds and made it to the northern U.S. and southern Canada over the last few weeks.
      Boreal forest-breeding Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Palm Warblers and Yellow-rumped Warblers are also pushing northward across the continent. Some, like the Ring-necked Ducks and Northern Pintails, may show up in the southern edge of the boreal forest by early April, others perhaps not until well into May. Still other species may not leave their South American wintering grounds for another month until the flowing current of northward bird migrants becomes a sea in late April and May, flooding the continent with returning birds and filling the air with their exuberant songs.
       Billions of these birds are headed to Canada’s boreal forest. Stretching from Alaska to Labrador, it serves as North America’s bird nursery. Every spring, birds arrive to raise their young, and every fall, 3 billion to 5 billion birds fly out of the boreal to backyards, parks, and wildlands across the U.S. and Latin America.
Sustaining boreal nesting grounds ensures these waves of birds will continue washing over the hemisphere for generations to come.
      We all anticipate the return of migrant birds each spring. Their arrival is a fundamental reiteration of the great cycles of nature and Earth. The days will get longer. Warmth will come again. Snow storms will be replaced by rain. The grass will turn green. The trees will become clothed in leaves. It makes us thankful every spring.
      Birders today celebrate spring migration through festivals, and what is now called the World       Migratory Day. Indigenous peoples have their own traditions to celebrate the return of birds. In many First Nations of Canada, the arrival of geese and ducks was the especially welcome return of an important food source after a long winter season. To show gratitude for the return of the waterfowl, many Indigenous people have special feasts, prayers, and dances that take place in the spring.
      As these multitudes of birds make their way toward their boreal forest breeding grounds, it must be their expectation that what awaits them are safe and healthy places to raise their young. We humans should find ways to ensure that birds have those intact and healthy forests, wetlands, lakes, and rivers that they need.
       Much of this rich bird habitat rests within the traditional territories of Indigenous Peoples, and many Indigenous Nations are working to conserve large stretches of the boreal . Supporting this work helps sustain the bird migration cycle for the entire hemisphere.
      That’s why bird lovers look to Canada.
       As part of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Canada plans to protect at least 25 percent of lands and waters by 2025. It can reach that target by supporting and advancing Indigenous Conserved and Protected Areas proposals. Another way is through support of Indigenous Guardians programs that manage and provide stewardship for the millions of acres that this northward-moving sea of birds needs for survival in the coming months. All of this together could show to the world a type of conservation leadership that is needed more than ever. We should show strong support for this Indigenous-led conservation in the boreal."

Wild Earth Guardians, "Historic agreement sets new model for managing national forests, path to recovery for threatened Mexican spotted owls: Agreement highlights the importance of a strong Endangered Species Act, strong National Environmental Policy Act, and the ability of citizens to hold their government accountable," October 27, 2020,, reported, "Contact John Horning, Executive Director, WildEarth Guardians: (505) 795-5083,; WildEarth Guardians, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reached an agreement ( and to resolve a major legal dispute over threatened Mexican spotted owls and national forest protection in New Mexico and Arizona. A federal court issued an injunction ( on tree cutting on national forests in the Southwest that has been in place since September 2019. The injunction came in response to a lawsuit, originally filed in 2013 by WildEarth Guardians.
       The agreement requires the U.S. Forest Service to comply with the Endangered Species Act by conducting annual Mexican spotted owl population trend monitoring through 2025, the key legal dispute at issue and the legal basis for the federal judge’s order that the agency had violated the Act.
      'This agreement provides a framework for the Forest Service to better protect national forests and Mexican spotted owls,' said John Horning, Executive Director of WildEarth Guardians. 'By agreeing to rigorously monitor species and track habitats, this management framework could be a national model for the Forest Service to protect and recover threatened and endangered species.'
      The agreement also contemplates that the Forest Service will comply with the requirements of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s spotted owl recovery plan by identifying and protecting owls by surveying for owls prior to ground-disturbing activities and protecting those areas where owls are found and tracking long-term trends in the owl’s habitat. The agreement also establishes a Mexican spotted owl leadership forum, something the agency recently created. The agreement applies to all 11 national forests in Arizona and New Mexico, which cover over 20 million acres
      'WildEarth Guardians has tenaciously fought to protect the Mexican spotted owl and its ancient forest habitat since the mid-1990s, when the species was first recognized as threatened,' said Steve Sugarman, a Guardians founder and the attorney who litigated the case on behalf of WildEarth Guardians. “Hopefully, the comprehensive management framework contemplated by the agreement reached by Guardians and the Forest Service in this case will end the cycle of forest mismanagement and ensuing litigation.'
      The agreement to end this litigation on the basis of a mutually agreed to management framework concludes the latest chapter in a 25-year saga over the management of Mexican spotted owls on national forests in the Southwest. During that period, beginning in 1996, the courts have sided with Guardians multiple times in its legal advocacy to assure that the Forest Service accounts for old-growth dependent species in its approach to national forest management in Arizona and New Mexico.
      The agreement further requires the Forest Service to assess the effects of timber management activities such as logging, thinning, and prescribed burning on the owls and their habitat. The Forest Service will then use its monitoring data and assessments of effects, along with up-to-date scientific studies, to inform, constrain, and modify ongoing and future timber management in owl habitat.
      'We have long contended that the Forest Service’s claims that logging is good for owls is not based on sound science,' stated Judi Brawer, WildEarth Guardians’ Wild Places Program Director. 'This agreement requires the agency to finally assess the impacts of its timber management actions and adjust those actions accordingly to ensure that they do not harm the owls or their habitat.'
      The parties negotiated the agreement over a six-month period and the ultimate product reflects the efforts of all of the parties to create a new paradigm for forest protection that will ensure that the agency funds, creates, and abides by the latest and best available science.
      'The agreement’s greatest significance is that it brings citizens, science, and the law together in the way that the framers of environmental laws intended,' stated Horning 'The foundational principle of environmental laws is that citizens uphold the laws. This is the core principle of healthy, functioning, and effective democracy, and one that is currently under direct threat.'
      Background: WildEarth Guardians filed the case in March 12, 2013 over the agencies’ failure to ensure the recovery of the owl by collecting basic information, for more than 20 years, about the status of owl populations across the Southwest. In September 2019, a federal district court judge in Arizona ruled that the agencies have shirked their responsibilities to ensure that Forest Service management activities are making progress towards recovery of the Mexican spotted owl. The ruling halted all “timber management actions” on six national forests in New Mexico and Arizona, including all the national forests in New Mexico and the Tonto National Forest in Arizona.
      As the September 2019 decision explains, the Forest Service was required to implement a population monitoring protocol for Mexican spotted owl since at least 1996. It was expected that, within 10-15 years, management activities such as logging and prescribed burning that the agencies claimed would improve owl habitat, supported by monitoring that would show the species recovery, would enable its de-listing from the Endangered Species Act. Yet, as the decision stated, “Over twenty years later, delisting has not occurred, and information about the current [Mexican spotted owl] population is still minimal.”
      Other Contact: Steve Sugarman, Guardians Founder and Attorney: (505) 670-8283,"

John Branch, "They’re Among The World’s Oldest Living Things. The Climate Crisis Is Killing Them: California’s redwoods, sequoias and Joshua trees define the American West and nature’s resilience through the ages. Wildfires this year were their deadliest test," The New York Times, December 12, 2020,, reported, " The wildfires that burned more than four million acres in California this year were both historic and prophetic, foreshadowing a future of more heat, more fires and more destruction. Among the victims, this year and in the years to come, are many of California’s oldest and most majestic trees, already in limited supply," the giant sequoia, the Joshua tree, and the coast redwood.

Catrin Einhorn and Christopher Flavelle, "A Race Against Time to Rescue a Reef From Climate Change: In an unusual experiment, a coral reef in Mexico is now insured against hurricanes. A team of locals known as “the “the Brigade” rushed to repair the devastated corals, piece by piece," The New York Times, December 5, 2020,, reported, " When Hurricane Delta hit Puerto Morelos, Mexico, in October, a team known as the Brigade waited anxiously for the sea to quiet. The group, an assortment of tour guides, diving instructors, park rangers, fishermen and researchers, needed to get in the water as soon as possible. The coral reef that protects their town — an undersea forest of living limestone branches that blunted the storm’s destructive power — had taken a beating.
      Now it was their turn to help the reef, and they didn’t have much time." The longer it takes to take corrective action, the less chance the reef will survive

"Victory! Court of Appeals Upholds Decision to Prohibit Offshore Aquaculture in Gulf of Mexico: Fishing and Public Interest Groups Applaud Reversal of Unprecedented Industrial Aquaculture Program," The Center for Food Safety, August 3, 2020,, reported, "Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held illegal the Department of Commerce’s federal regulations that would have permitted, for the very first time, large-scale industrial aquaculture operations offshore in U.S. federal waters (Court decision at: The appellate court affirmed a 2018 federal district court decision throwing those regulations out ( The Trump Administration appealed the lower court’s ruling, and recently reiterated the Administration’s commitment to developing commercial offshore aquaculture in federal waters. The 5th Circuit heard the case in January 2020."
      While it will not solve the entire problem, or end the debate about how cattle are raised in the U.S. and elsewhere, and how much meat should be in people's diets, the cattle factory farming industry in the United States has been seeking ways to reduce the amount of methane that cows produce by experimenting with changing cattle diets and using supplements ( Henry Fountain, "Belching Cows and Endless Feedlots: Fixing Cattle’s Climate Issues: The United States is home to 95 million cattle, and changing what they eat could have a significant effect on emissions of greenhouse gases like methane that are warming the world," The New York Times, October 21, 2020,

Catrin Einhorn, "U.S. to Remove Wolves From Protected Species List: Populations have rebounded in recent decades, but some scientists on the panel that evaluated the proposal said it was deeply flawed," The New York Times, October 29, 2020,, reported, " Gray wolves, one of the first animals shielded by the Endangered Species Act after Americans all but exterminated them in the lower 48 states, will no longer receive federal protection, officials announced Thursday."
      "Environmentalists condemned the decision as dangerously premature and vowed to take the Fish and Wildlife Service back to court
, where they have successfully blocked previous attempts to strip wolves of federal protections."

Eddie Estrada of the Endangered Species coalition reported in an E-mail, December 11, 2020, " This week I heard some very sad news. The Monarch butterfly count done a few weeks ago has reached a critical low point. If this is true, I’m afraid that Monarch butterfly numbers will never return to what they once were. There’s also a chance that with our current situation, they will have a more difficult time repopulating.
      This month the US Fish & Wildlife Service will also issue a decision on whether or not the Monarch butterfly will receive protections under the Endangered Species Act
. But sources tell me that the outlook is not good."

Lisa Friedman , " Northern Right Whales Are on the Brink, and Trump Could Be Their Last Hope," The New York Times, July 10, 2020,, reported, " The species was declared critically endangered on Thursday, with fewer than 450 left."

After years of research, s cientists at Washington University have solved the mystery of mysterious salmon die-offs in Puget Sound to a chemical used in tire manufacture that in small quantities has been reaching the ocean, beginning as roadway water runoff. The chemical also harms other fish species. The researchers have been discussing the problem with tire makers in hopes of finding a safe substitute for the toxin (Catrin Einhorn, "Finding a Mass Killer of Salmon in Puget Sound," The New York Times, December 3, 2020,

"‘The Fish Rots From the Head’: How a Salmon Crisis Stoked Russian Protests: Plentiful salmon used to be one of the few perks for residents of Russia’s Far East. Then the fish vanished, and many local residents blamed President Putin," The New York Times, August 15, 2020,, reported, " Along the Amur, one of Asia’s great waterways, Russians feel cheated, lied to and ignored. The wild salmon fishery that they once took for granted is gone, they say, because Moscow granted large concessions to enterprises that strung enormous nets across the river’s mouth."

Joseph Bullington, "The Rotten Core of Our Industrial Food System," In These Times, September 2020, Reports that the terribly polluting, and in meat production extremely badly treating animals and harming human health, industrial agriculture system has faltered in the pandemic, while much more sustainable, healthy and environmentally friendly local agriculture has been moving to fill the supply space, possibly a major step to an agricultural transition for the best.

"Great American Outdoors Act funds LWCF, pays for national park maintenance backlog," Wilderness Society, August 4, 2020,, reported, " For the first time since its creation in 1964, America’s most important conservation program will now be able to fulfill its potential as a tool for protecting wildlands and revitalizing communities.
      The Great American Outdoors Act was signed into law on Aug. 4, permanently and fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which is considered a crucial tool for guaranteeing access to public lands and helping ecosystems and communities
mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change ."

In Australia, after the mining company Rio Tinto blew up two caves at the Juukan Gorge, sacred sites and archeological treasure sites, to mine the iron ore below, company share holders revolted and fired top managers. The company chairman said the mining firm would never again destroy important cultural sites ( Livia Albeck-Ripka, "Executives to Step Down After Rio Tinto Destroys Sacred Australian Sites: The mining giant’s chief executive was among those pushed out after shareholders revolted over the destruction of ancient Indigenous sites in Western Australia," The New York Times, September 11, 2020,

       Holly Binns, " Gulf of Mexico Deep-Sea Corals Win Protection : Federal rule restricts harmful fishing gear where critical, vulnerable species grow, Pew, October 16, 2020,,
      "They are fragile, ancient, and vital to the marine ecosystem. And now they’re protected. Federal officials today issued a final rule to safeguard Gulf of Mexico deep-sea coral hot spots—priority areas for conservation, management, and research—by restricting damaging fishing gear in most of those areas.
      More than 11,000 people signed their names in support of the measure during a final round of public comment in fall 2019; the plan was initiated in 2014 and went through multiple rounds of public input and revision. The protections mark a major milestone in safeguarding coral ecosystems that provide food, shelter, and breeding grounds for wildlife ranging from sharks and crabs to fish such as snapper and grouper.
      The U.S. Department of Commerce secretary approved the first-of-its-kind plan that won initial approval in June 2018 from the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. Before the vote, nearly 18,000 people signed their names or wrote comments urging the council to act.
      The decision designates 21 sites totaling 484 square miles (more than twice the size of New Orleans) as Habitat Areas of Particular Concern. It also allows the Gulf council to recommend measures to avoid, mitigate, or offset any adverse impacts from activities authorized by federal or state agencies at these sites, including oil and gas exploration and drilling. In most of the new areas, the council restricted damaging fishing gear, such as trawls, traps, anchors, and longlines, which can break or smother corals. Trolling and other hook-and-line fishing will still be allowed, because those methods do not normally affect the deep ocean floor where these corals live."

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U.S. Developments

      Many of the reports in this issue of U.S. government legislation, agency action, and court decisions are informed by electronic flyers from Hobbs, Straus, Dean and Walker, LLP, 2120 L Street NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037, Reports from Indian Country Today, from the web, are listed as from ICTMN.

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Presidential Actions

Vincent Schilling, "White House Tribal Nations Conference to return," ICT, November 9, 2020,, reported, "Julia Krieger, regional communications director for the Biden-Harris campaign, confirmed in an email Sunday night to Indian Country Today that Joe Biden's administration will 'immediately reinstate' the White House Tribal Nations Conference, where tribal leaders are invited to Washington, D.C,. to meet with high-ranking government leaders."

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Congressional Developments

      "Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act Signed into Law," Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), Native American Legislative Update, OCTOBER 2020,, stated, "President Trump signed Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act into law on Oct. 10, following last month’s passage of the two bills in the House. The bills will establish uniform law enforcement protocols and data collection standards in cases of missing and murdered Native Americans. They would also improve coordination between federal agencies and law enforcement in responding to these cases.
       Timothy McHugh, "FCNL Congratulates House on Savanna’s Act and Not Invisible Act Passage," Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL),
September 22, 2020,, reported," The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) applauded yesterday’s passage of both Savanna’s Act (H. R. 2733) and the Not Invisible Act of 2019 (H.R.2438) by the full House of Representatives.
      Contact: Tim McHugh, Friends Committee on National Legislation,; 202-903-2515
'At long last, Congress has passed bills to develop better law enforcement practices when it comes to crimes against American Indians and Alaska Natives. This begins the process of ensuring better public safety in tribal and urban Indian communities,” said Diane Randall, FCNL’s general secretary. 'As a Quaker organization, we support legislation that honors the promises our country has made to Native Americans.'
       Having previously passed the Senate, the bills will now go to the White House for the president’s signature.
      'These bills improve two of the most problematic issues plaguing Native communities – coordination among law enforcement agencies and reporting practices,” said Kerri Colfer, FCNL’s Native American program congressional advocate. 'A new crisis begins each time a Native woman goes missing. These crises are not limited to remote, rural tribal reservations. They affect Native Americans and their families living in all major American cities and states.'
Act (H.R. 2733) is named after Savanna LaFontaine Greywind, a pregnant Lakota woman who went missing only to be found brutally murdered in August 2017. Its goal is to improve the responses to missing and murdered Native women through coordination among tribal, federal, and local law enforcement agencies. It also requires data on missing and murdered Native people to be compiled and reported.
       The Not Invisible Act (H.R. 2438) aims to address the crisis of missing and murdered Native people by creating an advisory committee on crime against American Indians and Alaska Natives to make recommendations to the Department of Justice and Department of Interior.
      FCNL and several Native American organizations have been working to ensure both houses of Congress pass legislation to address the ongoing crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women throughout the United States. Native women and girls face a murder rate 10 times the national average, and more than 4 in 5 Native women have experienced violence.
      To learn more, please visit"

"PROGRESS Act to Advance Tribal Self-Governance Enacted into Law," Hobbs-Straus GENERAL MEMORANDUM 20-014, October 23, 2020,, reported, "Almost 18 years of tribal efforts have culminated in a historic advance for tribal self-governance. On October 21, 2020 , the Practical Reforms and Other Goals to Reinforce the Effectiveness of Self-Governance and Self-Determination (PROGRESS) for Indian Tribes Act was signed into law as Public Law 116-180 (Act). The Act, which amends Titles I and IV of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) had strong bipartisan support in the House and Senate, primarily from Members of Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the House Natural Resources Committee. It is designed to enhance self-governance for tribes, improve administrative efficiencies, further tribes’ ability to govern their own communities, and more.... a copy of the Act [is available at:].
      The Act amends IV of the ISDEAA specific to the Department of the Interior (DOI), to conform it with Title V, the portion of the self-governance statute for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It creates administrative efficiencies by allowing tribes to carry out compacts with both DOI and HHS under a similar statutory framework. Many self-governance tribes manage programs within both IHS and DOI, and the PROGRESS Act will reconcile differences, streamline administration, improve efficiencies, and strengthen tribal economies.
      The PROGRESS Act also makes important amendments to Title I which applies to self-determination contracts with either the Secretary of HHS or the Secretary of the DOI for the planning, conduct, and administration of programs, functions, services and activities that are otherwise provided to tribes and their members pursuant to federal law, including clarifying reporting requirements, establishing rules of interpretation, and providing for technical assistance to tribes.
       Negotiated Rulemaking. The Act requires the Secretary of Interior to initiate negotiated rulemaking proceedings within 90 days of enactment, which is January 19, 2021, one day before the Presidential Inauguration.        Nominations for appointment of tribal representatives to the rulemaking committee will be solicited.
       Proposed Regulations. The Act requires that proposed regulations are to be published no later than 21 months after enactment."

      "House OKs bill protecting Massachusetts tribe’s reservation," Washington Post, July 27, 2020,, reported, The U.S. House of Representatives has approved legislation that would prevent the Trump administration from rescinding a Native American tribe’s contested reservation in Massachusetts.
      The amendment, included in a broader spending package passed by the Democratic-controlled chamber Friday, bars the Interior Department from revoking its 2015 decision to place some 300 acres of land into trust for the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe.
      The legislation also would prevent the agency from reversing a corresponding declaration of the lands as the tribe’s sovereign reservation, where it could legally build a casino under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act."

"H.R. 6237 - PRC for Native Veterans Act," NCAI, December 2020,, reported, "The House passed H.R. 6237 (, on November 16, 2020. This legislation would require the Veterans Health Administration to reimburse the Indian Health Service and tribal health facilities for healthcare provided to American Indian and Alaska Native veterans through contracts with other medical providers, also known as purchased/referred care. H.R. 6237 was received in the Senate and referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs for consideration.
      NCAI Contact: Nicholas Courtney, Director of Policy,"

The Native American Voting Rights Act pf 2019-20 (HR 1694) has been introduced into both houses of Congress, "To protect the voting rights of Native American and Alaska Native voters." Its provisions would include:
      "(a) In General.—The Office for Civil Rights at the Office of Justice Programs of the Department of Justice (referred to in this section as the “Office”) shall establish and administer, in coordination with the Department of the Interior, a Native American voting task force grant program, through which the Office shall provide financial assistance to eligible applicants to enable those eligible applicants to establish and operate a Native American Voting Task Force in each State with a federally recognized Indian Tribe."
      (A) shall provide a minimum of one polling place for each precinct in which there are eligible voters who reside on Indian lands, in a location selected by the Indian Tribe and at no cost to the Indian Tribe;
      (B) shall provide, at no cost to the Indian Tribe, additional polling places in locations selected by an Indian Tribe if, based on the totality of circumstances described in subsection (b), it is shown that not providing those additional polling places would result in members of the Indian Tribe and individuals residing on the Indian Tribe’s Indian lands having less opportunity to vote than eligible voters in that State or political subdivision who are not members of an Indian Tribe and do not reside on Indian lands;
      (C) shall, at each polling place located on Indian lands and at no cost to the Indian Tribe, make voting machines, tabulation machines, ballots, provisional ballots, and other voting materials available to the same extent that such equipment and materials are made available at other polling places in the State or political subdivision that are not located on Indian lands;
      (D) shall, at each polling place located on Indian lands, conduct the election using the same voting procedures that are used at other polling places in the State or political subdivision that are not located on Indian lands;
      (E) shall, at each polling place located on Indian lands, provide training, compensation, and other benefits to election officials and poll workers at no cost to the Indian Tribe and to the same extent that such training, compensation, and benefits are provided to election officials and poll workers at other polling places in the State or political subdivision that are not located on Indian lands;
      (F) shall cooperate in good faith with the efforts of the Indian Tribe to satisfy the requirements of subsection (c); and
      (G) may fulfill the State’s obligations under subparagraphs (A) and (B) by relocating existing polling places, by creating new polling places, or both.
      (b) Equitable Opportunities To Vote.—When assessing the opportunities to vote provided to members of an Indian Tribe and to other eligible voters in the State residing on Indian lands in order to determine the number of additional polling places (if any) that a State or political subdivision must provide in accordance with subsection       (a)(2)(B), the State, political subdivision, and any court applying this section, shall consider the totality of circumstances of—
      (1) the number of voting-age citizens assigned to each polling place;
      (2) the distances that voters must travel to reach the polling places;
      (3) the time that voters must spend traveling to reach the polling places, including under inclement weather conditions;
      (4) the modes of transportation, if any, that are available to voters to use to reach the polling places;
      (5) the existence of and access to public transportation to the polling places; and
      (6) any other factor relevant to effectuating the purposes of this Act."
      There are also provisions for equitable voting by mail and early voting, and for the U.S. Attorney General and private persons to bring lawsuits in cases of violations pf the act.
      In addition, “(1) IN GENERAL.—Whenever any State or political subdivision subject to the prohibition of subsection (b) of this section provides any registration or voting notices, forms, instructions, assistance, or other materials or information relating to the electoral process, including ballots, it shall provide them in the language of the applicable minority group as well as in the English language."
      The entire act as introduced is available at:

Senator Elisabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representative Deborah Haaland (D-NM), in September 2020, introduced H.R.8420 - To establish the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policy in the United States, and for other purposes. The bill was sent to the Committee on Education and Labor, and in addition to the Committee on Natural Resources (

Wasuta Waste Win, "'Remove the Stain Act' What is H.R. 3467?" Lakota Times, December 31, 2020,, reported, "In the 116th Congress (2019- 2020), Denny Heck, Representative from the 10th Congressional District in the state of Washington sponsored H.R. 3467, the bill is cited as 'Remove the Stain Act.' If passed it would rescind each Medal of Honor awarded for acts at Wound- ed Knee Creek on December 29, 1890; and for other purposes.'
      It is further noted in the bill that, 'This engagement became known as the 'Wounded Knee Massacre,' and took place between unarmed Native Americans and soldiers, heavily armed with standard issue army rifles as well as four 'Hotchkiss guns' with five 37 mm barrels capable of firing 43 rounds per minute. Nearly two-thirds of the Native Americans killed during the Massacre were unarmed women and children who were participating in a ceremony to restore their traditional homelands prior to the arrival of European settlers.'
      The findings in the bill also note that 'Poor tactical emplacement of the soldiers meant that most of the casualties suffered by the United States troops were inflicted by friendly fire.' And further that, 'On January 1st, 1891, Major General A. Miles, Commander of the Division of Missouri, telegraphed Major General John M. Schofield, Commander-in-Chief of the Army notifying him that '[I]t is stated that the disposition of four hundred soldiers and four pieces of artillery was fatally defective and large number of soldiers were killed and wounded by the fire from their own ranks and a very large number of women and children were killed in addition to Indian men.' In the findings, General Miles, 'contemporaneously stated that a '[w] holesale massacre occurred and I have never heard of a more brutal, cold-blooded massacre than at Wounded Knee.'”

"S. 4886 - Durbin Feeling Native American Languages Act of 2020," NCAI, December 2020,, reported, " On November 11, 2020, Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced S. 4886 , a bill directing the President to review federal agencies compliance with the Native American Languages Act requirements and make recommendations to improve interagency coordination in support of Native languages. S. 4886 would also authorize a federal survey of Native language use and language revitalization program unmet needs every five years. S. 4886 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs for further consideration.
      NCAI Contact: Nicholas Courtney, Director of Policy,"

"S. 4909 - A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to prohibit the collection of a health care copayment by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs from a veteran who is a member of an Indian Tribe," NCAI, December 2020,, reported, "On November 18, 2020, Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced S. 4909 , a bill prohibiting the Department of Veterans Affairs from collecting copayments from American Indian or Alaska Native veterans for hospital care or medical services. S. 4909 is companion legislation to H.R. 4908, introduced by Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-AZ). H.R. 4908 passed the House on September 22, 2020. S. 4909 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs for further consideration.
      NCAI Contact: Nicholas Courtney, Director of Policy,"

"Bipartisan Senate COVID Relief Framework Released," NCAI, December 2020,, reported, "On December 1, 2020, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers from the House and Senate released a framework for a proposed $908 billion coronavirus stimulus package. The package includes a $160 billion set-aside for tribal, state, and local governments. Text for this framework is currently not available. NCAI will continue to monitor coronavirus relief legislation, advocate for the interests of tribal nations, and share timely updates as they become available. To review a chart of the proposed funding in the plan click here.
      NCAI Contact: Fatima Abbas, Vice President of Government Relations,"

"Haaland, Cole, McCollum Introduce Bill to Protect Indigenous Burial Sites From Unlawful Excavation, Theft," NCAI, September 17, 2020,, reported, "Today, Members of the Congressional Native American Caucus leaders, Co-Chair Deb Haaland (N.M.-01), Co-Chair Tom Cole (Okla.-04) and Co-Chair Emeritus Betty McCollum (Minn.-04) introduced and bill to protect indigenous burial sites from unlawful excavation and theft. The bill will amend the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) to increase penalties for those who excavate and steal indigenous funerary objects, sacred objects, and other cultural patrimony from Tribal sites. This bill also creates efficiency in the administration and oversight of NAGPRA by transferring enforcement authority from the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) — the appropriate Interior department that works more closely with Tribes – and protects Tribe’s confidential information to prohibit the public disclosure of culturally sensitive information."
      Representative Haaland's summery is at: The Bill text is at:

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Federal Agency Developments

      "IHS FY 2020 Tribal Self-Governance Program Planning Cooperative Agreements," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 20-010, August 3, 2020,, reported, "On July 30, 2020, the Indian Health Service (IHS) announced in the FEDERAL REGISTER the availability of FY 2020 cooperative agreements for planning purposes under the Tribal Self- Governance Program (TSGP). This competitive grant program is authorized by Title V, Tribal Self-Governance Amendments of 2000, of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, PL 93-638, as amended. The TSGP is designed to promote self-determination by allowing tribes to assume more control of IHS programs and services through compacts negotiated with the IHS. Applications are due by October 28, 2020. A copy of the notice is available here:
      The purpose of this cooperative agreement is to provide planning resources to tribes interested in participating in the TSGP and/or existing Self-Governance tribes interested in assuming new or expanded Programs, Services, Functions and Activities (PSFAs). Under the agreements tribes may undertake planning such as legal and budget research that leads to a greater understanding of which PSFAs they may want to assume and any organizational changes that may be necessary to do so. Receipt of a planning grant is not a pre-requisite to enter the TSGP .
      There is $600,000 available to fund an expected five awards at $120,000 each.
      To be eligible for the planning agreement, the applicant must be a tribe, tribal organization or inter-tribal consortium and demonstrate financial stability and management capability by having had no significant and material audit exceptions for three previous fiscal years. Alaska Native Villages or Village Corporations are not eligible to apply for this funding if they are located within an area served by an Alaska Native regional health entity already participating in the Alaska Tribal Health Compact. We note that the Native Village of Eyak, the Eastern Aleutian Tribes, and the Council for Athabascan Tribal Governments have been deemed Alaska Native regional health entities and are eligible to apply.
      With regard to the required submission of resolutions accompanying the application, IHS requires that the Division of Grants Management must receive an official Tribal Resolution prior to issuing a Notice of Award to any applicant selected for funding. Resolutions must be received from all affected Tribes to be served. If a signed resolution is not able to be provided prior to the submission of the application, a draft Tribal Resolution may be submitted with the application pending the filing of a signed Resolution prior to a Notice of Award being made.
      Applications are to be submitted electronically via Detailed eligibility, application criteria and contact information are contained in the announcement."

"IHS FY 2020 Self-Governance Program Negotiation Cooperative Agreements," Hobbs-Straus  General Memorandum 20-011, August 3, 2020,, reported, "On July 30, 2020, the Indian Health Service (IHS) published in the Federal Register a notice of the availability of FY 2020 cooperative agreements for negotiation under the Tribal Self-Governance Program (TSGP). This competitive grant program is authorized by Title V, Tribal Self-Governance Amendments of 2000, of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, PL 93-638, as amended. The TSGP is designed to promote self-determination by allowing tribes to assume more control of IHS programs and services through compacts negotiated with the IHS. Applications are due by October 28, 2020. A copy of the notice is available here:
      The purpose of the negotiation cooperative agreement is to defray some of the costs tribes incur in preparing for and negotiating compacts and funding agreements. A tribe is not required to have had a negotiation agreement in order to enter the TSGP.
      There is $240,000 available to fund approximately five tribes to enter the TSGP negotiation process for compacts. Awards are expected to be $48,000 each.
      To be eligible for a negotiation cooperative agreement, the applicant must be a tribe, tribal organization or inter-tribal consortium; and demonstrate financial stability and management capability by having had no significant and material audit exceptions for three previous fiscal years. Alaska Native Villages or Village Corporations are not eligible to apply for this funding if they are located within an area served by an Alaska Native regional health entity already participating in the Alaska Tribal Health Compact. We note that the Native Village of Eyak, the Eastern Aleutian Tribes, and the Council for Athabascan Tribal Governments are deemed Alaska Native regional health entities and are eligible to apply.
With regard to the required submission of resolutions accompanying the application, IHS requires that the Division of Grants Management must receive an official Tribal Resolution prior to issuing a Notice Award to any applicant selected for funding. Resolutions must be received from all affected Tribes to be served. If a signed resolution is not able to be provided prior to the submission of the application, a draft Tribal Resolution may be submitted with the application pending the filing of a signed Resolution prior to a Notice of Award being made
      Applications are to be submitted electronically via Detailed eligibility, application criteria and contact information are contained in the notice."

"CDC Order Establishes Nationwide Eviction Moratorium," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 20-012, September 4, 2020,, reported, "On Friday, September 4, 2020, citing its authority under Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act and 42 CFR 70.2, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) published an Eviction Moratorium Order (“Moratorium”) in the form of an agency emergency order that applies nationwide, after circulating a draft earlier this week. [1] The Moratorium prohibits all private and public landlords and property owners from evicting [2] individuals from residential properties between now and December 31, 2020 for failure to make rental or housing payments, so long as the tenant submits a declaration to the landlord (in the form attached to the Moratorium Order). The Moratorium provides that individuals may still be evicted for reasons other than not paying rent or making a housing payment. Further, the Moratorium does not remove the obligation to pay rent or make housing payments—all rent or housing payments, fees, penalties, and interests may continue to accrue between now and December 31, 2020.
      The reasoning behind the Moratorium is spelled out in detail in the opening sections. It references the COVID-19 pandemic, that the disease 'spreads very easily and sustainably between people who are in close contact with one another,' has resulted in significant mortality, that it is widespread in the United States (citing 5.5 million cases and 174,000 deaths and rising), and that it “presents an historic threat to public health.” The CDC notes that, “[i]n a pandemic, eviction moratoria – like quarantine, isolation, and social distancing – can be an effective public health measure utilized to prevent the spread of communicable disease.” It goes on to note that evictions often result in homelessness and overcrowding in other homes and in homeless shelters, and that these conditions are known to facilitate the spread of the disease. The CDC also notes that the CARES Act contained a limited eviction moratorium, but it only covered tenants in certain rental properties with federal assistance or federally-related financing, and that it expired on July 24, 2020. It goes on to note that without the Moratorium, 'as many as 30-40 million people in America could be at risk of eviction,' which would be a scale that is 'unprecedented in modern times.” Finally, the CDC notes that “a large portion of those who are evicted may move into close quarters in shared housing or … become homeless, thus contributing to the spread of COVID-19,' and that '[t]he statistics on interstate moves show that mass evictions would likely increase the interstate spread of COVID-19.'
      The effective text of the order states as follows:
      Therefore, under 42 CFR 70.2, subject to the limitations under the 'Applicability' section, a landlord, owner of a residential property, or other person with a legal right to pursue eviction or possessory action shall not evict any covered person from any residential property in any State or U.S. territory in which there are documented cases of COVID-19 that provides a level of public-health protections below the requirements listed in this Order.
The order is to be enforced by Federal authorities and cooperating state and local authorities, and contains criminal penalties for violations (up to $100,000 if the violation does not result in a death, or up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $250,000 if the violation results in a death).
      A 'covered person' for the purpose of the Moratorium is a tenant, lessee, or other resident of a residential property who provides the landlord or other owner of the property a declaration, under the penalty of perjury, that:
The individual has used best efforts to obtain all available government assistances for rent or housing;
The individual will earn no more than $99,000 ($198,000 if filing a joint return) in 2020;
The individual is unable to pay the full rent or make the housing payment due to a substantial loss of income, loss of hours, lay-off, or 'extraordinary' out of pocket medical expenses;
The individual is making best efforts to make timely partial payments; and
Eviction would likely render the individual homeless or force him or her to move into an overcrowded living situation.
      The exact language for the Declaration is set out in an Attachment to the Moratorium.
       The terms of the Moratorium are somewhat confusing as to whether it applies to Indian tribes. In the effective text cited above, it prohibits person 'in any State or U.S. territory' from carrying out evictions, and the definitions of those terms do not include tribes. However, there are several references to tribes in the Moratorium, such as excluding from coverage 'any State, local, territorial, or tribal area with a moratorium on evictions that provides the same or greater level of public-health protection than the requirements listed in this Order.' (Emphasis added.) We note that many tribes have already instituted such moratoria. Thus , it appears that the CDC intends that the moratorium apply to tribes. In light of the significant criminal penalties and the CDC’s intent, we are advising clients to assume that the Moratorium does apply to Indian tribes.
      The Moratorium contains no provisions encouraging or requiring renters to enter into repayment plans. Renters who defer payments will then be faced with paying the charges that accrue between now and the end of the year, with no plan in place to protect them from having to pay the accrued charges and interest all at once.
Further, the Moratorium allows evictions for other lease violations, such as criminal activity, nuisance, and drug-related criminal activity, as well as for violations of public health codes or ordinances (the latter was likely included to address tenants who are not complying with COVID-19 protection measures such as mask-wearing and social-distancing).
      We anticipate that there may be litigation filed challenging the application of the Moratorium to private landlords.
      Please let us know if we may provide additional information about the Moratorium.
[1] Eviction Moratorium Order, Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 85 Fed.Reg. 55292 (Sept. 4, 2020). Copy attached to this memo.
[2] This does not include foreclosure on a home mortgage."


Dear Tribal Leader:
United States Department of the Interior

OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY Washington, D.C. 20240
AUG 06 2020,
      Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been the Bureau of Indian Education's (BIE) goal to provide continuity of education for all BIE students who depend on us. While we will begin the 2020-2021 school year in an unprecedented way, we will continue striving for excellence in teaching and learning. As a follow-up to the BIE tribal consultations held on July 9, 10, and 14, 2020, regarding school reopening, I am pleased to share with you our plans for the reopening of BIE school sites during the COVID- 19 pandemic recovery.
      We have been actively preparing for the start of 2020-2021 school year for several months. As you know and have experienced, it has been challenging and complex. The Department of the Interior (Department), Indian Affairs, and the BIE are actively involved in supporting the federal response to COVID-19. We continue to collaborate with states and other federal agencies including the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Education and Agriculture, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) school system.
      The guidance in this letter specifically pertains to Bureau-operated schools. However, BIE recommends tribally-controlled schools operated pursuant to a grant under the Tribally Controlled Schools Act of 1988 (25 U.S.C. SS 2501 et seq.) or pursuant to a contract under the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 5301 et seq.) take the recommendations included as guidance to inform their general operations and to prepare each learning environment for the 2020-2021 school year.
      September 16, 2020. Based on initial feedback collected through formal tribal consultation and stakeholder surveys, BIE-operated K-12 schools will use a uniform start day of September 16, 2020, for the 2020-2021 school year. This will allow schools to prepare for the safe return of students and staff while following the CDC Guidelines for opening schools. Students more effectively learn and grow while attending school during in-person academic instruction. The BIE is also better able to ensure continuity in student academic services and enrichment when students are present at school.
      • To the maximum extent possible, BIE schools will operate brick and mortar schools. Schools will have a range of options for scheduling students, e.g., full-time attendance, rotational schedule with reduced class sizes and reduced number of students in the buildings. Local decisions will be made in coordination with tribes, states and local public health officials.
      BIE schools will be ready to employ a remote learning model if COVID-19 spread leads to a shutdown of schools. For anticipated closures of five days or less, there is no requirement to switch to full-time remote learning.
      Families with health vulnerabilities related to COVID-19, or who are concerned about returning to a brick and mortar school setting, will be provided a virtual platform to continue learning.
Families without the capability to connect to a virtual learning model will be provided an alternative education program.
      The BIE School Reopening Task Force (Task Force) gathered tribal consultation comments and stakeholder survey responses to inform the School Reopening Plan, Return to Learn!, referred to herein as the Plan. The Plan will provide school leaders with general guidance and protocols for educational continuity within a safe and healthy environment for BIE students.
      School leaders and Education Program Administrators (EPA) will work with local tribes to implement school specific plans for the start of the school year. Each school, in coordination with their EPA and tribal leaders, will have the flexibility to implement the guidelines in a manner that best meets the health and safety needs of students and staff while minimizing the impact on teaching and learning. Where needed, schools will solicit support from the Department's leadership to overcome obstacles towards achieving their goals.
      Educators will receive professional development which supports them in being effective instructional leaders in a COVID-19 environment. They will receive training and the protocols essential for establishing and maintaining safe and healthy school environments that reduce the risk of COVID-19 for students and staff. School leaders will incorporate risk mitigation measures and prepare facilities and buses based on the recommendations from BIE's Plan, each state's reopening plan, and the latest guidance from the CDC including CDCs Preparing K-12 School Administrators for a Safe Return to School in Fall 2020.
      The Task Force is developing a toolkit for each BIE-operated school that will provide resources for school personnel:
      Communications — Key messages and talking points for tribal and school leaders to facilitate communication in a variety of forums.
      Resources — The Plan ("Return to Learn") and operational guidelines and protocols for a safe and healthy school environment (e.g., wearing of masks, hygiene, disinfecting spaces).
      o Social Distancing at Schools (e.g., classrooms, corridors, common areas, playgrounds). 2
      o Mental Health and Well-Being — Resources to support the emotional well-being of students.
      o Reopening Safely — CDC health and safety requirements including training on blood borne pathogens; PPE control and disinfection; social distancing in classrooms, retrofitting equipment, assessing water supplies and HVAC systems, food and security options for students; and accommodations for students with special needs.
o Students with Disabilities — Schools must provide all services pursuant to student individualized education programs through in-person or structured remote instruction, with an emphasis on providing in-person instruction to this particularly vulnerable population of students. In response to tribal consultation comments, we will give guidance to make the transition into the upcoming school year easier for students with special needs.
      Waiver Request Template — Application to request waivers of 25 CFR Subchapter E requirements.
      Frequently Asked Questions
      We have a two-pronged approach to enhance our instructional technology platform.
      Short Term: We will provide secure, wireless access in each school, and to the extent possible, for families (including mobile hotspots and Jetpack). We will inventory and evaluate the current information technology infrastructure, equipment and curricular requirements (e.g., recommendations for a Learning Management System) and develop a long term strategy for improvements.
      Long Term: Our inventories and evaluations will help us understand the true connectivity challenges in the communities where BIE schools are located and develop solutions to enhance the integration of technology in our instructional practices and in our virtual learning setting. We will be reaching out to tribal leaders and technology experts to understand the local challenges faced by your community. If your tribe is interested in engaging in this discussion, please have your office contact my broadband subject matter expert, Stephanie Henning at:
      Bureau operated residential facilities, including Off Reservation Boarding Schools (ORBS) and dormitories will only provide day-school instruction. This will avoid students traveling outside the commuting area. Students enrolled for the 2020-2021 school year will be provided distance learning opportunities to continue their BIE education. Current residential staff who would normally support 24-hour services at ORBS will continue to work within the BIE facility. Their roles and responsibilities may be modified to support day-school operations.
      School leaders are expected to continue coordination with their respective school boards and local tribal governments to provide school lunches. Training will be provided to food service staff to ensure proper safety and food handling protocols are consistent with the Food and Drug Administration guidelines and CDC guidance regarding COVID-19.
      Consistent with the BIE's June 25, 202(), Dear School Leader Letter, school leaders may submit a waiver request of any 25 CFR Subchapter E requirements they are unable to meet because of modified school schedule and operations. Approval of any waiver application will be conditioned on assurances of the school's compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, with the submission of a distance learning plan, including assurances for students to access school lunch services. The BIE will provide a waiver request template, which school leaders may use to submit a waiver application.
      For updated information, CDC Guidelines, communication materials, links to documents and the BIE Reopening Plan (Return to Learn!), please visit the BIE website at and
      COVID-19 is an unprecedented challenge to tribal governments, BIE schools, and all our communities on a scale never before experienced. We take immense responsibility of educating and creating opportunities for every student seriously. The Department, Indian Affairs, and BIE leadership stand ready to work alongside tribes, communities and staff to meet the daily needs of our students and families. I am confident that we will join together to address these unique challenges. If you have any questions regarding school reopening, please contact Dr. Tamarah Pfeiffer, BIE Chief Academic Officer, at or by phone at (202) 631-4074.


       Children's Bureau (CB); Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF); Administration for Children and Families (ACF); Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), " Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System: A Rule by the Children and Families Administration ," Federal Register, May 12, 2020,, " This rule finalizes revisions to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) regulations proposed on April 19, 2019. AFCARS regulations require title IV-E agencies to collect and report data to ACF on children in out-of-home care, children who exit out-of-home care to adoption or legal guardianship, and children who are covered by a title IV-E adoption or guardianship assistance agreement.
       This final rule is effective on July 13, 2020. As of May 12, 2020, the effective date for amendatory instructions 3 and 5, published December 14, 2016, at 81 FR 90524, and delayed August 21, 2018, at 83 FR 42225, are further delayed to October 1, 2022.
      For Further Information Contact:
      Kathleen McHugh, Director, Policy Division, Children's Bureau, (202) 205-8618,"
      "2) Summary of the major provisions of the final rule.
      (a) Out-of-home care data file data elements. We finalize the out-of-home care data elements proposed in the 2019 NPRM. The out-of-home care data file in the 2016 final rule requires title IV-E agencies to report approximately 272 items; this final rule reduces the number of required items to approximately 183. This final rule does not include data elements asking for information on, among other things, the sexual orientation of the child, foster parent, adoptive parent, or legal guardian, and reduces data elements related to the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA).
      (b ) Conforming changes. We made conforming changes to §§ 1355.40, 1355.41, 1355.43, 1355.45, and 1355.46 to update the citations or dates as a result of amendments in other sections.
      (3) Costs and benefits. The benefits are that the streamlined AFCARS data elements will reduce the title IV-E agency reporting burden from the 2016 final rule, thus resulting in an estimated $46 million in total annual savings. (Affected entities will continue to incur $43 million in annual costs, net of Federal reimbursements, attributable to the 2016 final rule.)"
      See a report of the lawsuit brought against this rule in "Protect ICWA Campaign Partners Applaud Lawsuit Challenging Data Collection Withdrawal in the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) Final Rule," in U.S. Activities above.

"Federal Communications Commission Establishes 5G Fund for Rural America; Includes Set Aside to Support Service on Tribal Lands," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 20-015, December 1, 2020,, reported, "On November 25, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a final rule establishing the 5G Fund for Rural America (5G Fund: 85 Fed. Reg. 75770 (Nov. 25, 2020). The 5G Fund will subsidize the deployment of 5G-capable networks in the rural United States, and it includes $680 million for deployment on tribal lands.
      The 5G Fund will replace the Mobility Fund Phase II, which was the second round of an effort to subsidize the deployment of 4G networks in high-cost areas. Like other FCC programs focused on providing access to high-cost and underserved areas, the 5G Fund will be paid for using the Universal Service Fund, which is funded through FCC-imposed fees on telecommunications carriers.
      The 5G Fund will provide support in two phases, which will occur after gathering data through the Digital Opportunity Data Collection proceeding that the FCC initiated in August 2019.
      Phase 1 will provide $8 billion in support to eligible rural areas that lack unsubsidized 4G LTE and 5G broadband. This includes $680 million reserved to support service to Tribal lands, although the FCC says it is open to revisiting whether this is a sufficient amount in the future.
The final rule amends the FCC's definition of tribal lands for the purposes of all high-cost support. The new definition includes "any land designated" as tribal land by the FCC in addition to "any federally recognized Indian tribe's reservation, pueblo or colony, including former reservations in Oklahoma, Alaska Native regions established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (85 Stat. 688) and Indian Allotments, see § 54.400(e), as well as Hawaiian Home Lands...." Id. at 75817. In the final rule FCC designates as tribal lands: "any federally recognized off-reservation trust lands, tribal designated statistical areas ..., or joint use areas" in addition to certain checker-boarded lands in New Mexico and "areas within the geographic boundaries reflected in the Historical Map of Oklahoma (1870–1890), including the Cherokee Outlet." Id. at 75775–76.
      Phase 2 will provide $1 billion to support the deployment of 5G networks that facilitate "precision agriculture." Id. at 75774. Both phases will proceed through reverse auction.
1. We note that the 5G Fund will not provide support for services to Alaska, which are instead provided under a separate Alaska Plan."

"Deadline extended for tribes to seek broadband licenses," Lakota Times,  August 06, 2020,, reported, "The Federal Communications Commission is giving tribes another month to apply for a band of wireless spectrum that would help them establish or expand internet access on their land — far less time than what tribes had sought." The closing date has been extended from August 10 to September 2, 2020. Tribes had requested a 90 day extension.
      " B21 Main Operating Base Beddown at Dyes AFB Texas or Elswotrh AFB South Dakota, Environmental Impact Statement, Virtual Public Hearing, You are invited," announced that four virtual public hearings were to be held in October 2020 on the environmental impact statement under development concerning the home base choice for the new long range bomber. Published in Indian Country Today, October 8, 2020,

Kolby KickingWoman, "Native veterans memorial unveiled," ICT, November 11, 2020,, reported, The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., is commemorating Veterans Day 2020 by unveiling the National Native American Veterans Memorial.
      The museum originally planned to host a veterans’ procession and dedication ceremony but is looking to reschedule those events for later due to the COVID-19 pandemic."

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Federal Indian Budgets

"FY 2021 Continuing Resolution through December 11, 2020 to Fund All Federal Agencies," Hobbs-Straus, General Memorandum 20-013, September 30, 2020,, reported, " The House of Representatives and Senate have passed HR 8337, a Continuing Resolution (CR), to provide funding to keep federal agencies running through December 11, 2020, at largely FY 2020 terms and spending levels. The President is expected to sign it before midnight tonight, when the fiscal year ends.
      The CR is designed to give Congress leeway to continue negotiating the FY 2021 spending bills even after the beginning of the new fiscal year (October 1, 2020). None of the twelve FY 2021 appropriations bills have been enacted into law, although the House has approved ten of them, including passage of the bill which includes the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies funding. The Senate Appropriations Committee has not marked up any of its FY 2021 appropriations measures although we understand that they will post proposed spending levels on its website and these will be used as a negotiations marks for conferencing with the House on full year FY 2021 appropriations bills. As Congress is basically out of session until the week following the November 3 election, this important appropriations work will take place during what is termed a “Lame Duck” session.
      It has unfortunately become the norm that federal agencies are funded for periods of time under CRs, limiting their ability to plan and requiring their time to constantly reallocate funds. Tribal and tribal organizations are directly affected in the same manner, hence the tribal efforts for enactment of advance appropriations for the Indian Health Service and Indian Affairs budgets.
      As is common in CRs, the funds will not be distributed for programs that may have high initial rates of operation or for funds which are fully distributed at the beginning of the fiscal year. This is because of the possibility that Congress might eliminate or reduce funding for those particular programs in a final appropriations bill. The bill directs agencies to use the most limited funding action permitted in the Act in order to provide for continuing of projects and activities.
       Health Extenders, Including SDPI. The bill extends the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) from its current expiration date of November 30, 2020, to December 11, 2020, – a 12 day extension. The Community Health Centers and the National Health Service Corps are also extended to December 11, 2020.
       IHS, BIA, BIE. The bill does not include any specific new funding above FY 2020 levels for the Indian Health Service or Indian Affairs (BIA/BIE).
       One-Year Surface Transportation Extension. The CR contains an extension of the current surface transportation authorization (highway bill) at FY 2020 terms and funding levels. The Tribal Transportation Program is among the many programs authorized by the surface transportation authorization. Absent this extension, the current surface transportation authorization was set to expire today. The CR also contains a $13.6 billion transfer from the U.S. Treasury General Fund to the Highway Trust Fund to ensure its solvency this year.
       Human Services and Nutrition. Entitlement funding is maintained for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Child Care during the CR period. The CR also contains a provision to renew some pandemic-funding for subsidized meals for children who would normally receive them when schools are open and for Food Stamp (SNAP) pandemic-related flexibilities....
      a 9-page summary of the CR prepared by the House Appropriations Committee [is available at:].

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In the Courts

The U.S. Supreme Court

Brooklyn Wayland and Nina Golgowski, "Supreme Court Rules Eastern Oklahoma Land Is Tribal Territory: The justices ruled 5-4, declaring that Congress never diminished or disestablished the land as a reservation, Hufffpost, July 9, 2020,, reported, "In a stunning blow to Oklahoma’s state government, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that much of eastern Oklahoma is located on an Indian reservation.
       In a 5-4 ruling (, the justices declared that Congress never diminished or disestablished the land as a reservation. Major crimes committed by a tribal member on their own reservation, in effect, must be prosecuted by the federal government in accordance with the Major Crimes Act.
       'Today we are asked whether the land these treaties promised remains an Indian reservation for purposes of federal criminal law. Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word,' Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion."
       In all, some 19 million acres of Eastern Oklahoma with a population of 19 million people, mostly non-Indian are on tribal land. Major crimes alleged to be committed on those lands by members of Indian Tribes will now have to be prosecuted by the federal government, not the state. The case dealt only with criminal law, raising major questions of what the impact will be on civil law, and issues like taxes, zoning, environmental regulation and family law. Chief Justice Roberts dissented on consideration of the civil law consequences of the decision.

"Supreme Court halts census in latest twist of 2020 count," Lakota
, October 15, 2020,, reported that in an unsigned opinion, " The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday stopped the once a decade head count of every U.S. resident from continuing through the end of October.
      President Donald Trump’s administration had asked the nation’s high court to suspend a district court’s order permitting the 2020 census to continue through the end of the month. The Trump administration argued that the head count needed to end immediately so the U.S. Census Bureau had enough time to crunch the numbers before a congressionally mandated year-end deadline for turning in figures used for deciding how many congressional seats each state gets."

Lower Federal Courts

       MacKenzie Belley, "Judge halts plan to end Census early as tribal responses lag," ICT, September 11, 2020, reported, "A federal judge has temporarily blocked a Census Bureau plan to end its counting a month earlier than planned, ruling in a suit [by numerous plaintiffs] joined last week by the Navajo Nation and Gila River Indian Community." U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh issued a temporary injunction on September 11, 2020 until September 17, to allow time to consider the serious questions in the case.

      Howard Fischer, " 9th Circuit dismisses suit seeking more days to vote, Arizona Capitol Times, October 15, 2020,, reported that in agreement with the District Court, a three judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Residents of the Navajo Nation won’t get extra time to cast their ballots and be sure they are counted.
      In a unanimous ruling Thursday, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals did not dispute evidence presented by challengers that it takes longer for ballots to be mailed to reservation addresses than it does for people — non-Indians — not living on tribal lands. Ditto the reverse of the process of more time needed to get ballots from reservation address to county election offices.
Nor did they address other factors that can give reservation residents less time to consider their ballots, including the lack of mail delivery and financial hardships to get to the post office.
      Instead, the judges said all that is irrelevant to the effort tochallenge the law that requires ballots to be received by county election officials by 7 p.m. on Election Day to be counted."

"Native American groups sue South Dakota over voting rights, " Lakota Times, September 24, 2020,,reported, " A Native American voting rights group and two tribes on Wednesday [September 23, 2020] filed a federal lawsuit against South Dakota state agencies, alleging that the state is violating federal law by failing to offer adequate voter registration services.
      The lawsuit alleges that the state’s agencies didn’t provide ample opportunities to register to vote or update voter registration information at places like motor vehicle and public assistance offices in areas near Native American reservations. Federal law requires the agencies to help people register to vote at those kinds of offices, including ones that provide public assistance or serve people with disabilities."
      The suit was brought by the Oglala Sioux Tribe, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and the voting rights group Four Directions, against the South Dakota Secretary of State, Department of Public Safety, Department of Social Services and Department of Labor and Regulation. The plaintiffs complain that since 2004, the number of voter registration applications has “precipitously declined’’ while presenting documentation of instances in which Department of Social Services offices near reservations failed to help people register to vote or update their voter registration.

A lawsuit was filed by a broad coalition of tribal nations and foster and LGBTQ+ youth organizations, August 27, 2020,  in Federal District Court in the Northern District of California, plaintiffs California Tribal Family Coalition, Yurok Tribe, Cherokee Nation, and number of organizations serving LGBTQ+ youth asserting that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (DHHS-ACF) violated the Administrative Procedures Act when the agency issued its May 12, 2020, AFCARS Final Rule. The Final Rule eliminated over 90 percent of the previous 60 plus AFCARS data elements for American Indian and Alaska Native children established within the 2016 AFCARS Final Rule. AFCARS is the federal government’s largest source of data on children who are in out of home placement. The plaintiff's complaint is at: ("Protect ICWA Campaign Partners Applaud Lawsuit Challenging Data Collection Withdrawal in the Adoption and Foster Care," National Congress of the American Indian (NCIA), August 27, 2020,

State and Local Courts

      "1916 Tribal Rights Case Ruled Racist and Voided," Lakota Times, July 16, 2020,, reported, " Washington state’s Supreme Court on Friday vacated a 1916 ruling that allowed a prosecutor to bring criminal charges against a tribal fisherman as racist and unjust.
      The justices unanimously said they were compelled to void the decision, even though it was overruled in 1957, because “such past opinions can continue to perpetrate injustice by their very existence.’’ Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis, the state’s first Native American justice, read the decision
from the bench in Olympia."
      The 1916 case involved Yakama Nation member Alec Towessnute, who was arrested for fishing in a traditional way with a gaff hock 5 miles from the reservation. The state supreme court upheld Towessnute's conviction despite his correctly claiming that the Yakamas’ 1855 treaty with the United States allowed him, as a tribal member to fish where he did on traditional tribal fishing grounds. The Supreme Court's 1916 decision described Native Americans as “a dangerous child’’ who squandered “vast areas of fertile land before our eyes.’’
       The Washington Supreme Court in 1957 recognized Yakama treaty fishing rights, in overturning the 1916 ruling.  The high court went further, on July 10, 2020, stating, "“We take this opportunity to repudiate this case, its language, its conclusions, and its mischaracterization of the Yakama people. We cannot forget our own history, and we cannot change it. We can, however, forge a new path forward, committing to justice as we do so.’’

"Law Blocked Restricting Voting Rights of Native Americans," Lakota Times, July 16, 2020, reported that the Montana 13th Judicial District Court in Yellowstone County, Montana blocked the application of Montana Ballot Interference Prevention ACT (BIPA), which severely restricted who could collect and deliver ballots to election authorities, imposing criminal penalties for violation of the act. If the act had gone into effect, it would have severely restricted the ability of American Indians on reservation to vote. Most Montanan's vote by mail, including on reservations where access to mailing facilities is limited, necessitating the collection of ballots by people able to either mail them or turn them in to election authorities. The court ruled that the act was unnecessary and would violate Native peoples' voting rights.
      The case was brought by the Native American Rights Fund, American Civil Liberties Union, and ACLU of Montana on behalf of the Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes of Fort Peck, Blackfeet Nation, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation, Crow Tribe, and Fort Belknap Indian Community, as well as Western Native Voice and Montana Native Vote, Native American-led organizations focused on getting out the vote and increasing civic participation in the Native American community.      
      The decision is available at: Other document in the case are at:

The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled unanimously in the Kalima Class Action Suit, in a case first brought in 1999, that Native Hawaiians could suit the state for money damages for having to wait for decades to receive homestead sites from the homelands trust ("U.S.: Sate Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Native Hawaiians," Cultural Survival Quarterly, September, 2020).

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Tribal Government and State and Local Government Developments

      Ken Miller, "Projects To Focus On Missing, Murdered Indigenous Peoples," ICT, November 25, 2020,, reported, " Oklahoma and five other states will participate in pilot projects to better coordinate investigative efforts surrounding cases of missing or murdered Indigenous peoples, U.S. Attorneys Trent Shores and Brian Kuester announced Monday.
      The U.S. Department of Justice projects created protocols for federal, state and tribal investigative agencies to work together and with victims' families when American Indian or Alaska Native jurisdictional boundaries are crossed,
said Shores of the Northern District of Oklahoma."
       The initial pilot project will take place in Oklahoma in collaboration with the Cherokee and Muscogee (Creek) nations. It will be followed by projects in Alaska, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana and Oregon.

      Recognizing that reservation resident's often do not have street address, the Arizona Secretary of State issued a policy, September 4, 2020, allowing voters with non-traditional addresses to register to vote using plus codes, locating a residence by longitude and latitude. That has made it possible for many more people on the Navajo and other reservations to vote, and may have been a factor in the outcome of the 2020 election in Arizona (Calah Schlabach, "System could help tribal members past one voter registration hurdle, Navajo Times, September 17, 2020).

      The Governor of Vermont signed into law a bill to issue free housing and fishing licenses to the state's Native people, July 12, 2020, in recognition of treaty rights to access natural food sources without financial requirements ("U.S.: Victory for Vermont's Native American Tribes," Cultural Survival Quarterly, September, 2020).

Dalton Walker, "Minnesota National Guard sent to help tribe," ICT, November 17, 2020,, reported, On Monday, Red Lake Chairman Darrell Seki Sr., said 19 residents and 13 staff members at the [Jourdain/Perpich Extended Care Center] nursing home have tested positive and of the 19, three are in intensive care.
      Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz authorized state National Guard nurses to be deployed to the facility

The Governor of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham, used her line item veto to preserve her power to determine the spending of funds under the CARES Act, striking out a paragraph designating distribution of those funds to local, including tribal, governments. The action left temporarily unclear how much of this funding would go to the state's Indian Nations. The legislature had authorized $23 million for tribal governments (Cedar Attanasio, "Governor's vetoes could cost New Mexico tribes some funding," Albuquerque Journal, July 9, 2020).

During the pandemic, the state of Colorado's health officials and its tribal leaders have held recurring weekly and bi-weekly meetings on the COVID-19 situation of the Indian nations, in addition to state's regular quarterly Colorado Commission on Indian Affairs sessions with its tribes, which during the pandemic have ben carried out virtually (Lindsey Box, "Tribal and State leaders conduct quarterly CCIA meeting virtually," Southern Ute Drum, October 9, 2020).
      The Southern Ute Tribe of Colorado has been seeking input into the development of Colorado's newest state park, led by its NAGPRA Coordinator, Garrett Briggs who seeks an appropriate land use plan concerning plants, animals wetlands and cultural resources on the recently acquired former ranch property (Wade Schockley, "NAGPRA seeks Tribal voice in development of newest state park," Southern Ute Drum, November 20, 2020).
       The Southern Ute Tribe and LaPlata County, CO are partnering in the development of a weather radar monitoring station on tribal land at the site of the Nation's ambient air monitoring station ("Tribe, County partner on weather radar station," Southern Ute Drum, October 9, 2020).

Concerned about protecting subsistence hunting in Alaska, the Organized Village of Kake, Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Bristol Bay Native Association, Kuskokwim Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, Native Peoples Action, First Alaskans Institute, and Sealaska Corporation, released a joint statement, in August 2020, protesting the state of Alaska's suit against the Federal Subsistence Board's closing of an extensive area to hunting except for local people. The board acted to preserve the populations of game and wanted to stop the Native hunts. With the pandemic causing food shortages in Native villages, emergency hunts became a necessity. The Native organizations' statement asked the state to cease “state oppression of Indigenous ways of life” (Joaqlin Estus, "Alaska Natives protest state lawsuit on subsistence hunting," ICT, August 27, 2020,
      In early December, the Federal Court dismissed the State of Alaska's motion for a preliminary injunction ("Emergency Hunts in Alaska Can Continue," ICT, December 3, 2020,

Kevin Draper, "Washington and the N.F.L. Might Change the Redskins Name. Why Now? The move toward changing a mascot name after decades of complaints underscores how America’s most popular sport has scrambled to keep up with shifts in public opinion," The New York Times, July 3, 2020,, " By the time they take the field this fall — that’s assuming there is a season given the coronavirus pandemic — the National Football League team in Washington, D.C., might have a new nickname.
      'In light of recent events around our country and feedback from our community, the Washington Redskins are announcing the team will undergo a thorough review of the team’s name,' the team said in a statement Friday morning. The brief statement, which itself included the word 'redskins' seven times, also said the team had been discussing its name with the N.F.L. for weeks."

Eddie Chuculate, "Dozens housed from 'Wall of Forgotten Natives'," ICT, October 2, 2020,, reported that in Minneapolis, MN, " Traffic barriers and streetlight posts are back up and gates erected and padlocked as a homeless encampment on land here dubbed the "Wall of Forgotten Natives" was officially closed this week after temporary housing was obtained for any Native person who wanted it, officials said.
      Perhaps learning from a nightmare experience in 2018 — when a months-long encampment at the site grew to more than 400 people and captured national attention — city, county and state departments worked quickly with Native outreach workers and [numerous] social agencies to limit this year's camp to the month of September and a maximum population of about 120."

Stewart Huntington, "Are the Twin Cities listening to statue protests?" ICT, December 9, 2020,, reported that in most cities when protesters topple pioneer monuments or spray "land back" on them they are often arrested for a felony with substantial sentences. "That’s not the response in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, where prosecutors acknowledge historical trauma and employ restorative justice measures while city officials call for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission led by Indigenous leaders to review public art installations."
      When Michael A. Forcia of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa toppled a statue of Christopher Columbus in front of the state Capitol in St. Paul during the summer of 2020, " prosecutors opted for a restorative justice approach that includes 100 hours of community service and would keep Forcia out of jail.
      The move came after community input was sought, including talking circles that explored the painful legacies of colonization

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Tribal Developments

       Kate Conger, Robert Gebeloff and Richard A. Oppel Jr., " Native Americans Feel Devastated by the Virus Yet Overlooked in the Data: Statistical gaps can make it difficult to properly allocate public resources to Native Americans. When that’s the case, one leader said, 'tribal nations have an effective death sentence,'” The New York Times, July 31, 2020,, reported, for example, that the lack of ethnic/racial identity made it hard to tell the exact impact of the pandemic at Yakama Nat ion in Washington. A nurse at the Yakima County hospital, in June 2020, knew that while Indigenous Americans constituted only about 7% of the county population, most of the flood of COVID-19 patients they were receiving were from Yakama, but because the hospital did not keep track of patients ethnicity, the number was unclear. Lack of that information made it difficult for tribal officials and healthcare workers to know how to meet the pandemic, and limited the resources the Nation could obtain to fight it. Later the Nation was able to determine that about 650 tribal members had been diagnosed with COVID - around 6% of the tribal population, and 28 had died.
      "The situation among the Yakama Nation is not unique. Even with significant gaps in the data that is available, there are strong indications that Native Americans have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus.
      The rate of known cases in the eight counties with the largest populations of Native Americans is nearly double the national average, a New York Times analysis has found. The analysis cannot determine which individuals are testing positive for the virus, but these counties are home to one in six U.S. residents who describe themselves in census surveys as non-Hispanic and American Indian or Alaska Native.
Native Americans at Risk
Counties with large Native American populations with reported infection rates above 1,500 cases per 100,000 residents.

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San Juan
San Juan
La Paz
By Scott Reinhard | Source: Times database of coronavirus cases compiled from state and local health agencies as of July 24."
       Among smaller counties with significant populations of Native Americans, The New York Times, in late July, identified at least 15 counties that have elevated case ral. These counties ranged from large metropolitan areas in Arizona to rural communities in Nebraska and Mississippi. The worst impact of the pandemic has been on Navajo Nation (reported in the last issue of IPJ and below). In New Mexico, where 9% of the population is Indigenous, as of late July, Native American and Alaska Native people had suffered almost 40% of the COVID-19 infections in the state. In the Phoenix metropolitan area Native peaple had been infected at four times the rate of the non-Indian population. This included heavy outbreaks at the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation and in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. Large numbers of corona virus cases had been reported among the Lumbee Tribe in North Carolina, the Choctaw in Oklahoma and Mississippi , and at two reservations in Thurston County, NE.
Allison Barlow, director of the Center for American Indian Health at Johns Hopkins University noted, “ The disparities we see there with Covid are aligned with those that we see for hospitalizations and deaths due to influenza and other respiratory viruses.” Overcrowded living, poor housing conditions, inadequate health care, food and water insecurity, and significant preexisting health conditions impacted by those factors, are all contributors to the high rate of Native infections on reservations.
       As of late July 2020, the Indian Health Service (IHS) had identified at least 30,987 cases among Native Americans and Alaska Natives. IHS reported slightly less than half of tribal health centers and 61 percent of urban health services serving Native Americans had provided case information. New York Times analysis of data available at the end of May showed that people who were Black or Latino were three times as likely to become infected as people who were white, and with incomplete data, the Times estimated that "the infection rate for Native Americans was 1.7 times the rate for white people over all, and somewhat higher in younger age groups."

Mark Walker, "‘A Devastating Blow’: Virus Kills 81 Members of Native American Tribe: More than 10 percent of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians has had the coronavirus, and the tribe is bracing for a second wave and more devastation," The New York Times, October 9, 2020,, reported, that after only a few infections, "the cases would continue to tear through the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians unabated, eventually sickening more than 10 percent of the tribe’s 10,000 residents and killing at least 81 people."
      "And despite making up 18 percent of the county’s residents, tribal members have accounted for more than half of the county’s virus cases and about 64 percent of the deaths.
      'We aren’t just losing family members or an aunt or uncle, we are losing parts of our culture,' said Mary Harrison, interim health director for the Choctaw Health Center." Many are elders fluent in the tribal language.
      Meanwhile, in Arizona, as of early October, Native Americans, who 5 percent of the population had suffered percent of the virus-related deaths.
      Jerry Mitchell, James Finn and Samuel Boudreau, "More Mississippi Choctaws have died of COVID than those who died of the disease in Hawaii. Or Alaska. Or Wyoming," ICT, September 9, 2020,, reported, " The coronavirus pandemic has hit the Mississippi Choctaw Band of Indians harder than any major city in the nation — and 10 times harder than the rest of Mississippi.
      Of the 10,000 Choctaws served by the tribe, one in 10 — 1,092 — have tested positive for COVID-19
      " Neshoba County, where much of the tribe lives, has the highest death rate per capita in Mississippi and one of the highest in the nation. Among the Choctaws, 78 have died, or 1 out of 128 — more than twice as many per capita as New York City."

"Chickasaw Caring Cottages to provide housing for COVID-19 patients," Lakota Times,| December 31, 2020,, reported that in ADA, Oklahoma " The Chickasaw Nation’s fight to stem the spread of COVID-19 now includes nine 'cottages' where COVID-19 positive Chickasaw citizens, First Americans living in the Chickasaw Nation service area, and Chickasaw Nation employees and their in-home dependents may isolate."
      'Our mission is to provide a safe, clean environment in a comfortable setting so individuals may isolate themselves from loved ones while recovering,' said Jason Perry, executive officer of Chickasaw Nation Health Outreach."

Trials of the Pfizer/GioNTech vaccine encompassed testing on the Navajo and White Mountain Apache reservations, to provide some of the needed diversity in the test population (Cindy Yurth, "Local vaccine trial staff jubilant over news," Navajo Times, November 12, 2020).
      In December, Indian Nation began receiving their first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, including at Navajo and Southern Ute Nations ("tribe receives Pfizer vaccine," Southern Ute Drum, December 18, 2020).

On Navajo Nation, as of November 2, 2020, there were 73 new confirmed cases raising the total to 11,830, with 581 known deaths. 125,851 people on the reservation had been tested and 7,546 had recovered ("Navajo Nation tallies 73 new virus cases, no deaths," ICT, November 2, 2020, As of December 10, 2020, "ICU beds nearing capacity on Navajo Nation as virus surges," Lakota Times, December 10, 2020,"Navajo Nation officials say nearly all intensive care unit beds on the reservation are being are used as COVID-19 cases surge and warned the tribe is nearing a point where health care workers will have to make difficult decisions about providing care with limited hospital resources.
      Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said Sunday evening that there are few options to transport patients to other regional hospitals that are near full capacity. 'This second wave of COVID-19 is much more dire and much more severe than the first wave we had in April and May,' Nez said in a statement."
       The Nation has extended a three week stay at home order already in place to December 28, to try to contain the virus. Isolation sites have been established at hotels where people who test positive for the COVID-19 can be housed and be clinically monitored. To date, Navajo Nation has reported 17,915 COVID-19 cases with 667 deaths.
       St. Michael Indian School on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, like other schools there and on other reservations, has been providing meals for children to be picked up or delivered to their homes ("St. Michal to-go meals pick-up, delivery, Navajo Times, October 22, 2020).

Tom Crash, "COVID-19 positives spike," Lakota Times, October 08, 2020,, reported, "According to the SD Department of Health, Oglala Lakota County added 18 positives on Saturday, Sept. 26 and 11 on Sunday, Sept. 27. The OST Coronavirus Task Force met Sunday night and Monday, rumors abounded that the Task Force was going to recommend a seven-day lockdown, instead a multi-phase plan was recommended with a curfew as the first phase."
      "On Wednesday [October 7. 2020], during the second day of the regular council meeting, the council voted 13-0-2 to set a curfew for Pine Ridge Reservation, 8:00pm- 6:00am for businesses and 10:00pm – 6:00am for individuals; because of the number of people who travel every day for dialysis, businesses who sell gas have a curfew from 10:00pm-6:00am. Bob Ecoffey, chief of police, stated they would serve citations to people who violated the curfew."

"Tribe reports scramble for hospital beds in South Dakota," Lakota Times, October 15, 2020,, reported, " A small hospital serving the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe has sent two coronavirus patients to an out-of-state hospital in recent days, the tribe’s health department said Wednesday, even as South Dakota’s top health officials insist the state has plenty of hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients." The Tribe sent the patients out of state as the 14 hospitals in South Dakota equipped to handle them said they were diverting patients out of state.
      " Native Americans have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, accounting for nearly a quarter of hospitalizations statewide despite making up roughly 9% of the population. About 19% of the 258 people who have died from COVID-19 in South Dakota have been Native American."

Gina Kolata, "On Native American Land, Contact Tracing Is Saving Lives: As the coronavirus spread on the Fort Apache reservation in Arizona, medical teams sought out residents who might have been exposed. The effort paid off in unexpected ways," The New York Times, August 13, 2020,, reported , "The coronavirus is raging through the White Mountain Apache tribe. Spread across a large reservation in eastern Arizona, the Apaches have been infected at more than 10 times the rate of people in the state as a whole.
      Yet their death rate from Covid-19 is far lower, just 1.3 percent, as compared with 2.1 percent in Arizona. Epidemiologists have a hopeful theory about what led to this startling result:
Intensive contact tracing on the reservation likely enabled teams that included doctors to find and treat gravely ill people before it was too late to save them."

On the Acoma Pueblo, where the rate of COVID infections has been about half the national average, at least in part because of a lock-down, in December, the Pueblo began tracking those who become infected to be able to make rapid interventions if their symptoms worsen. It was hoped this would reduce the number of deaths. As of December 3, 2020, 86 tribal members had tested positive and 15 had died (Bill Donovan, "Acoma to track at-risk members through pandemic," Navajo Times, December 3, 2020.
      As of mid-December, the Southern Ute Tribe of Colorado, which has been on lockdown since early on in the pandemic, has had only one tribal member living off reservation test positive, and none on the reservation (various issues of the Southern Ute Drum)

The short time available in which CARES At funding could be spent by Indian Nations, combined with complex rules on for what and how the money could be applied has caused difficulty on a number of reservations. On the Navajo Reservation that was complicated by the size and diversity of the nation with 110 chapters, and differences in views needing to be worked out between the council and the president. Many of the chapters were unhappy with the short time to decide and changing deadlines . The chapters received $90 million for a long list of COVID relief items, but ultimately only $28 million was spent on essential food, protective gear and sanitation supplies. Hardship money to individuals was to be limited to $1500 per adult and $500 per child, but as of December 2020, the maximum in fact had been $249 per adult and $83 per child. The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) used CARES act funds to connect 260 homes to electricity, upgrade 33 water wells and instillation of 150 cistern systems. A number of Navajo owned businesses were unable to file for CARES Act funds because the deadline to apply was moved up on short notice.
      As of December 3, the Nation had spent $308.6 million, $120.8 million had been obligated (until December 16), and $284.8 million unspent, including $49.5 million in the hardship fund, which could be lost, but seemed likely to go into the hardship fund with a good chance of being spent before the deadline (Rim Krisst, "A work in progress," and "Application set for Nov.2; elders, persons with disabilities," Navajo Times, October 22, 2020; Rima Krisst, "Businesses lose out due to deadline snafu," Navajo Times, November 25, 2020;  and Rima Krisst, "Chapters are not happy" and Cindy Yurth, "CARES kerfuffle: Delegates angry over hardship memo extending deadline" Navajo Times, December 3, 2020).
      The Dine Hataali (Traditional Medicine) Association proposed, and the Council accepted, but the President vetoed - believing it not within federal government guidelines - a CARES Act project to help tribal members meet COVID-19, including mentally, by educating Dine in traditional wisdom and healing practices (Dine Hataali Association, "Our purpose is to continue the journey towards Hozho," Navajo Times, July 16, 2020).

The partial, and at times complete, closure of Navajo government during COVID has led to a reduction in operation and services. For example, even though money is available, the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund has not been able to keep up in supplying water resources, repair windmills and dams to assist livestock owners during the drought, or to keep up with the feral horse problem (Rima Krisst, "Pandemic dampens emergency drought response," Navajo Times, July 15, 2020). Many Navajo government workers were placed on paid leave in March, and retuned (at least temporarily) in late August (Rima Krisst, "'Always wear your mask'," Navajo Times, August 20, 2020).

The Navajo Nation has continued to be assisted by considerable private aid. For example, the Navajo and Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund, which from March to July had raised $5.6 million, partnered with Air Serv International to bring supplies to isolated communities (Rima Krisst, "'Fighting COVID-19 with airplanes," Navajo Times, July 23, 2020). The Days for Girls Foundation began sending face masks and feminine kits to the Nation in late April ("Foundation Society Donates to coronavirus efforts," Navajo Times, April 30, 2020). Workers at the Foundation for the Blind Child in Phoenix, AZ donated 245 cases of water to the Navajo Nation in July (Pauly Denetclaw, "Co-workers respond to Dine with 245 cases of water," Navajo Times, July 16, 2020).

The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council voted, September 9, 2020 , to have all the employees at its East Wind Casino return to work September 1, and the casino to reopen with appropriate protections September 15 (Tom Crash, "Council votes to open casinos," Lakota Times, September 10, 2020,
       However, when the second wave hit later in the fall, the casino had to close again. However, as of December 15, 2020, the council was considering opening it again (search of Lakota Times archive,
      On October 22, the Oglala Sioux Tribe Election Commission had to stop work counting ballots and handling complaints as the office manager was diagnosed with COVID-19 and two commissioners had to quarantine. It was hoped work could start up again in a few days (Yom Crash, "Covid-19 brings election process to a halt," Lakota Times, October 22, 2020,
      Joaqlin Estus, "First tribal nation congressional delegate outlines goals," ICT, November 18, 2020,, reported that in accordance with a treaty between the Cherokee Nation and the United States, Cherokee Principle Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. stated, “'With the unanimous support of the council of the Cherokee Nation, I have named Kim Teehee as the first Cherokee Nation delegate to the House of Representatives,' ... at a National Congress of American Indians convention. 'Seating Kim Teehee will not only give the Cherokee Nation a strong voice in Washington, D.C., it will give all of Indian Country a strong voice in Washington, D.C.'
      The House still needs to vote to seat Teehee, who would serve as a non-voting delegate similar to those representing Washington, D.C, and the U.S. territories. Such action typically is taken after a new Congress is seated.'"

Aliyah Chavez and Kolby KickingWoman, "Washington NFL team kicks R-word to the curb," ICT, July 12, 2020,, reported, "The Washington NFL franchise announced Monday it is retiring its team name and logo, a fight Native activists have been leading for decades."
      The team gave no timeline on when a new name and logo will be released. Spokesman Sean DeBarbieri told Indian Country Today in an email, 'We won’t be commenting until the full process has been completed.'"

      "Lack of Broadband Access Within Tribal Communities, Fuels Grave Concern Among Nation’s Library Leaders," American Library Association (ALA), via E-mail. August 3, 2020, "On Tuesday, Aug. 4, at 2 p.m. CT, American Library Association (ALA) President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr., will pay a virtual visit to the Jemez Pueblo Community Library, in Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico, where he will discuss the dire need for broadband access among tribal communities and the central role libraries can play in connecting diverse populations with high-speed internet access.
      This event entitled “The Imperative of Broadband for Tribal Libraries,” is one of the stops on Jefferson’s12-stop virtual tour, Holding Space: A national conversation series with libraries, to spotlight how libraries of all kinds across the country are addressing the needs of their diverse communities and engaging stakeholders to advocate for libraries.
       'Roughly one in four rural households cannot connect to the internet, and it is often too slow and too expensive for the households that have access,' said Jefferson. 'Affordable, high-speed internet access is critical as library connectivity serves as a lifeline for patrons who need access to digital collections, e-government services, legal information, distance learning, telemedicine, and many other essential community services.”'
       Residents in tribal communities often lack high-capacity broadband service, inhibiting access to information, education, and work. Visit with tribal librarians, including participants in the Middle Rio Grande Valley Cooperative and Jemez-Zia Pueblo Tribal Consortium. Tribal leaders will discuss innovative approaches to improving broadband infrastructure for their respective communities and successes. This discussion also will focus on needed for additional policies to ensure equitable access to connectivity. Jefferson and members of ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office will share a newly released case study from ALA that features the Middle Rio Grande Valley Cooperative and the central role of libraries in expanding broadband access.
Joining Jefferson are:
      Arlan Sando, Chief of Jemez Pueblo and Archivist, Jemez Pueblo Community Library and Archives
Aaron LaFramboise, Director of Libraries, Blackfeet Community College
      Sonya Lopez, Field Representative, Office of Congressman Ben Ray Luján
      Kimball Sekaquaptewa, Santa Fe Indian School
      Marijke Visser, Associate Director and Senior Policy Advocate, Public Policy, American Library Association
      Maureen Wacondo, Librarian, Jemez Pueblo Community Library and Archives
      'Jemez Pueblo Community Library strives to improving lives every day through literacy and lifelong learning,' said Jefferson. 'Many of library successes and struggles to secure resources to enhance library services take place in the shadows. Their stories need to be told, their professional organization and local community need to listen, and their elected leaders need to support them.'
      Each Holding Space community discussion will explore local and national solutions to local and national issues and feature deep dives into an area of library service, including workforce development programs, children and family services, outreach to rural residents, and broadband for Tribal communities.
      Jefferson will also invite tour participants to join ALA advocates, who are currently supporting the Library Stabilization Fund Act to provide federal resources to libraries during the COVID pandemic.
      For more information on tour stops and how to join, visit
      Media interested in registering for the event or speaking with ALA President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr., library leaders or advocates, may contact Macey Morales, deputy director, ALA Communications and Marketing Office, at (312) 280-4393 or, Shawnda Hines, assistant director, communications, ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office at 1 (800) 941-8478 or, or Steve Zalusky, Communications Specialist, ALA Communications and Marketing Office, at (312) 280-1546 or
       About the American Library Association
      The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government, and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library's role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit
Macey Morales
Deputy Director
Communications and Marketing Office
American Library Association
225 N Michigan Ave
Suite 1300
Chicago, IL 60601

A number of Indian Nations have been asking the federal government to extend the December 30, 2020 deadline for spending Cares act funds, which would be lost if not spent by the deadline. The short period of time the much needed funding has been available, combined with the complexity of the limitations on how it can be spent find numerous Tribes unable to spend the money before the deadline, although they are very much in need for it (Dalton Walker, "Deadline Looms for Tribes’ Cares Act Spending," ICT, December 23, 2020,
      Cedar Attanasio, "US grants broadband licenses to rural tribes," ICT, October 10, 2020,, reported, " The Federal Communications Commission has granted broadband licenses ideal for high-speed wireless internet to rural tribal governments in New Mexico, Arizona and elsewhere." 154 of the 400 requests from Native Nations for high speed internet licenses were granted, and more are under consideration.
      Aliyah Chavez, "Bringing awareness to Indigenous men’s mental health through biking," ICT, September 26, 2020, bringing-awareness-to-indigenous-men-s-mental-health-through-biking-6ve4RJG2Gkyt3fAfj7WYcg, reported, "A group of Indigenous men cycling more than 800 miles say they have one goal in mind: to bring hope and healing for Black and Indigenous men.
      The ride is sponsored by Break the (BI)CYCLE, an organization dedicated to bringing awareness to the
mental health challenges faced by men of color. It began on Sept. 14 in Wyoming and will conclude in the coming days in New Mexico."

"Iroquois Nationals accept invitation to World Games," ICT, September 7, 2020,, reported, "The Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team has accepted an invitation to compete at the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama."

      Mary Annette Pember, "Native American Graves Repatriation Act turns 30," ICT, November 21, 2020,, reported, "Despite federal law ordering their repatriation, thousands of ancestors remains still languish in boxes and basements."
      Although many body parts and artifacts have been returned under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act ( NAGPRA), passed in December 1991, numerous institutions have not acted in good faith and still retain a huge numbers of items that Tribes have requested and are entitled to. Separate legislation requires the Smithsonian Institution to repatriate remains and artifacts to tribes, Public Law 101-185.

Sandra Hale Schulman, "Big Win in #Nomorestolenancestors Fight," ICT, December 10, 2020,, reported,  " Recent policy changes at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., will provide an unprecedented opportunity to repatriate thousands of ancestors and sacred funerary objects to the Seminole and other tribes across the U.S.
      The Repatriation Committee of the Seminole Tribe of Florida led the push for the revisions
, which included years of emotional meetings."

The Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Tribe (IDJC Tribe) of Louisiana, has been losing land, homes, jobs and income on its homeland of Isle de Jean Charles, which is increasingly being inundated by rising seas and major storms. The IDCC Tribe has been seeking a new homeland inland, but with a bridge to the Isle. A $48 million Housing and Urban Development National Disaster Resilience Grant to the State of Louisiana in 2015, which included a Tribal Resettlement plan, and then the inclusion by the state of Louisiana of a tribal resettlement plan, has provided an initial step for the UDJC Tribe to move toward its vision of "Tribal resettlement as a living and active bridge to our ancestral Island. Our relationships, ways of life, and identity will be supported by a community center, a museum, and gatherings on acreage inland—all toward the entire Tribe moving back together." In order to realize its plan, the Tribe is seeking grants and donations, as well as collaboration with local colleges, universities, nonprofits, communities, and other Indian nations ( Chantel Comardelle, "Preserving Our Place: Isle de Jean Charles," Nonprofit Quarterly, October 19, 2020 , ).

Clifton Adcock, "After SCOTUS decision, some jailed American Indians wait weeks without access to attorneys," The Norman Transcript, August 30, 2020,, reported, " Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark [ McGirt] decision in early July holding that the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s reservation was never disestablished, many American Indians arrested in Tulsa have found themselves in a sort of legal limbo, often being held without bond in jail for days or weeks before ever seeing a judge or provided access to an attorney."
      While non-Indians who have been arrested on relatively low-level crimes usually receive a bond hearing within 24 hours, American Indians arrested on similar complaints could find themselves waiting days or even weeks while federal, state and tribal authorities decide who, if anyone, will pursue charges against them."
       The problem is multifold. While the Muskogee Nation, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies cross deputized their officers to make arrests, and prosecutors of the involved jurisdictions coordinated their operation to keep arrests for crimes flowing, the processing of prisoners was stalled in several ways. First, there was confusion or just delay in deciding in many cases over who had jurisdiction to prosecute, whether the charge was for a major crime, prosecutable by the federal government, or a minor offense to be tried in tribal court.
      Second, with the Muscogee holding facilities some distance from Tulsa unable to hold the influx of new prisoners, there are communication and transportation problems in getting those held under Muskogee jurisdiction transferred from jail in Tulsa. More important, neither the Muscogee Nation nor the Federal law government in the Tulsa region have the court personnel or facilities to keep up with sudden increase in cases. That part requires federal financing and trial and judicially related development that will take time to develop, and bridging arrangements.
      In addition, the McGirt decision has led to legal and financial problems. Concerning domestic violence, in particular, protective orders are issued under state law, but without new legislation it would appear they are not enforceable by tribal courts. For those being held in Tulsa lockup under federal charges, the federal authorities do not have a contract with the Tulsa jail to hold them, so the jail is not being reimbursed the cost of holding them.

Kolby KickingWoman, "US attorney general pledges resources at Cherokee meeting," ICT, September 30, 2020,, reported, " U.S. Attorney General William Barr told tribal leaders in Oklahoma on Wednesday that additional resources are planned to help address an increase in criminal cases that followed a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
      Barr said funds were being allocated to hire four federal prosecutors, two each for the eastern and northern districts of Oklahoma, after the decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma. They are expected to be cross-designated to be able to prosecute criminal cases in federal and tribal courts
, he said."

The McGirt decision, in putting new life into the U.S. 1866 treaty with the Muskogee Nation, has raised the hopes of Black Muscogees, descendants of freed slaves of Muscogee tribal members, that the provision in the treaty granting them membership in the Nation, long overlooked, will now be enforced (Jack Healy, "Black and Bent on his Native American Rights," The New York Times, September 8, 2020).

"Operation Lady Justice Task Force Opens Second Cold Case Office in Rapid City," Lakota Times, August 06, 2020,, reported, "Today, Today, officials from the U.S. Departments of the Interior and Health and Human Services announced the opening of the second of seven cold case offices established through an initiative of Operation Lady Justice to investigate cold cases involving missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives."

Stewart Hungtington, "Historic land settlement inches closer in South Dakota," Lakota Times, October 08, 2020,, reported that researchers trying to find out what happened to Indian children who died in the early twentieth century at long closed Indian boarding school in Rapid City, SD discovered that on closing it the federal government established never exercised Indian land rights on the property, " Through title records, they traced a string of questionable transactions that shows how municipal power brokers kept out of Indian hands all of the 1,200 prime, in-town acres left behind when the federal government quit the property – despite a 1948 federal law spelling out how Natives could share the wealth.
      Today, the tightly argued legal claim for small parcels of the vast acreage has brought the city to the negotiating table to discuss terms of a land and asset transfer that, if executed, would mark the first time the city has reversed itself to address decades of demands that local Natives derive some benefit from the school property.

Michael Levenson, "Kansas City Chiefs Ban Headdresses at Stadium: The announcement came just over a month after Washington’s football team announced, under pressure from corporate sponsors, that it would drop its logo and name," The New York Times, August 20, 2020,, reported, " The Kansas City Chiefs said on Thursday that the team was prohibiting fans from wearing ceremonial headdresses and Native American-style face paint at Arrowhead Stadium, becoming the latest organization to confront offensive symbols amid a nationwide discussion of racist imagery and iconography."

Joseph Martin, "Braves work with tribe to address cultural concerns," ICT, August 28, 2020, cOw, reported that the Atlanta Braves baseball team, wanting to keep their name while removing racist connections with it, appointed two members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to advise it in dealing appropriately with cultural issues. "Before the Atlanta Braves' home opener this summer at Truist Park, the team showed a video ( the region’s Cherokee culture.
      "It featured elements of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ landscape, language and traditions, along with comments from the tribe’s chief and multiple tribal citizens echoing the refrain, 'We are still here.'”
       The minor League Spokane, WA Indians baseball Team long has been engaged with the Spokane Tribe of Indians to maintain respectful relations and representation of tribal references (David Walstein, "They're Indians, With Native American Support," The New York Times, August 4, 2020).

Arlo Iron Cloud, "Mni Luzahan Patrol ," Lakota Times, October 22, 2020,, reported, " The Mni Luzahan Patrol was created to aid the homeless in Rapid City S.D. The mayor of Rapid City, Steve Allender stated in an article written in the cities local paper that t here is a major homeless problem. The problem is a 'Native American' problem, according to the mayor. The majority of the people walking the streets are indigenous, however they are not moving here from reservations, as the major also stated in the paper. Reports of mistreatment from local homeless shelters and other entities that aid homeless in Rapid City created a movement of local people. This grass roots movement is comprised of indigenous and non-native partners walking the streets from sun down to sun up making sure those that are homeless are at least given their basic needs."

Mary Annette Pember, "A 'monumental first' for the Oglala Sioux," ICT, November 24, 2020,, reported that Alicia Mousseau, "elected on November 3, is believed to be the first publicly LGBTQ candidate to win a seat on the tribe’s executive council."

The Northern Ute's, Ute Bulletin, reported, July 27, 2020,, July 20, 2020, Subject: Emergency Management Situation Report, As of Today, we have 4 Confirmed Case on the Uintah & Ouray Indian Reservation. There are 60 confirmed Cases in Uintah County, 5 hospitalizations, 31 recovered, with 29 overall active cases. There are 35 confirmed case in Duchesne County, 2 hospitalization with 15 recovered, and 28 overall active cases." There were no COVID-19 hospitalizations and no one was reported recovered on the reservation.
      The Bulletin in late December indicated 54 active cases, 195 recovered and 1 death.

Kendra Chamberlain, "Acoma Guv: No tribal consultation before IHS suspended services at medical facility," New Mexico Poltical Report, November 17, 2020,, reported, " Acoma Pueblo Governor Brian Vallo said the federal government did not consult with pueblo leaders before deciding to end most of the healthcare services offered at a regional medical facility that serves roughly 9,000 Indigenous residents.
      Indian Health Service (IHS), which sits under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recently suspended most of the services offered at the Acoma-Cañoncito-Laguna (ACL) unit, including inpatient critical care and emergency room services, converting the facility into a “limited hour urgent care,” according to a press release from Acoma Pueblo. The facility will still offer COVID-19 testing, but will no longer accept patients or offer emergency room services.
      The facility s erves Indigenous communities of Acoma Pueblo, Laguna Pueblo and the To’Hajiilee chapter of the Navajo Nation. The hospital serves roughly 9,000 Indigenous residents, and has a 25 inpatient bed capacity.
      The suspension of services comes as COVID-19 cases surge across the state and hospital bed capacity has quickly been filled. Vallo issued a state of emergency declaration on Nov. 6 in response to the closure."

The Navajo Nation Council passed a fiscal year 2021 budget, in November, down $50 million from FY2020 because of loss of the Navajo Generating Station and COVID (Arlyssa Becenti, "Council passes budget 2 months after start of fiscal year 2020," Navajo Times, November 12, 2020).

Members of Navajo Nation who traditionally lived off the land but who have abandoned farming in recent years have begun to return to farming on the reservation as a result of the lockdown from a very serious COVD-19 outbreak on the reservation. With tough measures, the pandemic has eased on Navajo land, but with a huge surge in Arizona, and an increase in cases in New Mexico and elsewhere, the Nation's government has banned traveling outside the nation. That has further encouraged local folks to farm, and improve the Nation's food situation. However, there is a clean water problem from leaking mine sites upstream in Colorado. As of July 2020 the pollution problem is minor, but the potential is there for spills to raise pollution to serious levels (Laurel Morales, "Navajo Nation Sees Farming Renaissance During Coronavirus Pandemic," NPR, All Things Considered,
       The Rotary Clubs of Sonoma Valley and Sedona have been providing water assistance in various forms on the Navajo Nation, including donating $5000 in August 2020 to the Navajo Water Project ("Rotarians authorize $5000 for Navajo Water Project," Navajo Times, September 3, 2020).

The Navajo Nation town of To’hajiilee does not have enough water from its one well for its 2,000 residents. To have enough water, the town wants to build a 7.3 water pipeline to the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority’s westernmost water tank to access Navajo Nation water rights. However, Western Albuquerque Land Holdings has refused to enter into negotiations for the pipeline to cross its property. The next step is unclear. eminent domain might be a possibility (Jessica Dyer. "County stepping in to help To’hajiilee to get clean," Albuquerque Journal, July 30, 2020,
       Kendra Chamberlain, "A ‘humanitarian crisis’: To’Hajiilee’s aquifer is running out of water," New Mexico Political Report, September 1, 2020,, reported, " The Diné community of To’Hajiilee is named after a spring in the area, which at one point sputtered up enough freshwater to fill one bucket after another. That’s what the name references, roughly translated into English. Today , the segment of Rio Puerco aquifer that is located beneath the village, which sits just outside Albuquerque near I-40, is running out of water."
      In late 2020, an arrangement was made to put through the pipeline to provide sufficient water to To’hajiilee.

      Aliyah Chavez, "Tó Éí Iiná Bottle Benefits Navajo Nation," ICT,  November 25, 2020,, reported, " Popular water bottle maker Nalgene is pledging to help the Navajo Nation battle its water crisis by donating part of its sales [of exclusive bottle 'Tó éí iiná,' meaning 'Water is Life,'] to 90 citizens who lack access to running water. "
      "The bottle retails for $15 on the company’s website, and $5 from every bottle sold will benefit the Navajo Nation. Nalgene also donated nearly $30,000 in funds and supplies to the nation in August."

The Southern Ute Tribal Council, in early November 2020, set up a working group to examine areas to improve the Tribes operation, following several years of hearing increasing complaints about the size and inefficiency of its administration. Consistent with the tribe's emphasis on including traditional inclusive member participation in its decision making, tribal member were invited to provide ideas and information to the working group either by e-mail or phone message ("Tribe approves reorganization working group," Southern Ute Drum, November 3, 2020).
      A complaint by a citizen of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma on election night that American Indians were invisible in CNN reporting, as one of its charts listed how people voted by race, as white, Latino, Black, “something else” and Asian
(Cheyanne Mumphrey and Felicia Fonseca,  "When 'Something Else' Equals Invisible," ICT, December 10, 2020, ", is a reminder that, although there has been some improvement, American Indians an Alaska Natives continue to be left out of a great deal of essential studies. Moreover, when Native people are studied, the studies are often not continued over time, while similar studies that include Indigenous Americans on the same issues in different time periods are often undertaken or reported differently, making longitudinal comparisons difficult to impossible (for example, see, Ladonna Harris, Stephen M. Sachs and Barbara Morris, Recreating the Circle: The Renewal of American Indian Self Determination (University of New Mexico Press, 2011), Ch. 2).
      "Tribes in NM under intense pressure to complete census count by new deadline, New Mexico Political Report ( first published by New Mexico In Depth ), September 13, 2020,, reported,
By, reporrted, " With three weeks to go before the US Census is scheduled to end, 19 percent of Navajo people have responded to the U.S. Census, a much lower rate than for New Mexico and the U.S. overall, and lags behind all other tribes located within the state other than Jicarilla Apache.
      The once-a-decade head count of the U.S. population helps determine federal funding for healthcare, housing, roads, and a range of other important services and robust responses by tribal members ensure that their communities receive an equitable share of federal resources."
      "But the census deadline looms ominously following the Trump administration’s decision in early August to abruptly move it from the end of October to September 30. Earlier this month the Navajo Nation and the Gila River Indian Community joined a lawsuit filed last month by several nonprofits, including the National Urban League and the League of Women Voters, as well as cities and counties in a number of states, to keep the census deadline at the end of October."
       Efforts by Navajo Nation to increase census response since the end of July have increased the response rate, but so far nowhere near quickly enough to reach the 53.6% counting set by the Navajo Nation's president.      

Marissa Higgins, " After more than 200 years, Esselen Tribe rightfully regains ancestral lands in California," Daily Kos, July 29, 2020,, reported that " the Esselen Tribe is finally getting back some of its ancestral lands. The Esselen Tribe of Monterey County, a nonprofit designed to preserve tribal heritage, is being transferred ownership of just under two square miles of the undeveloped property in Big Sur. The land is about five miles from the ocean and has previously been known as the Adler Ranch. As Tom Little Bear Nason, chairman of the Essen Tribe of Monterey County, told Monterey County Weekly: 'We are back after a 250-year absence—because in 1770 our people were taken to the missions.' He added: 'Now we are back home.”

Nanette Deetz, "‘Positive step forward’: California ski resort to change its name," ICT, August 26, 2020,, reported, " California’s popular Squaw Valley Ski Resort will change its name because the word is a derogatory term for Native American women, officials announced August 25.
       The decision was reached after consulting with local tribes and extensive research into the etymology and history of the term 'squaw,' said Ron Cohen, president and COO of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows."
       Those consulted included leaders of the Washoe Tribe, whose Chairman and Vice Chairman said, “The Washoe People have lived in the area for thousands of years. We have great reverence for our ancestors, history and lands. We are very pleased with this decision. Today is a day that many have worked towards for decades.... The Washoe Tribal Council recognizes the significance of the name change and on behalf of the Washoe people expresses its great appreciation for this positive step forward."

Amanda Jackson, "After 250 years, Native American tribe regains ownership of Big Sur ancestral lands," CNN, 30th July 2020,, "A northern California Indian tribe's sacred land is now back under their ownership, thanks to the help of a conservancy group.
       The Esselen Tribe, one of the state's smallest and least well known tribes, inhabited the Santa Lucia Mountains and the Big Sur coast for thousands of years, according to their website. Nearly 250 years ago, their land was taken from then by Spanish explorers, according to the tribe's history. The tribe remained landless until Monday.
       The Esselen Tribe of Monterey County (ETMC) closed escrow on a $4.5 million deal with Western Rivers Conservancy (WRC ), an environmental group, to purchase nearly 1,200 acres in Big Sur. The WRC acquires land with the purpose of finding a long-term steward that will conserve the natural habitat. In October the group announced it helped the tribe to be rewarded a grant through the California Natural Resources Agency that covered the purchase of the land."

"Steps taken to create Alaska regional tribal government," ICT, November 7, 2020,, reported, " An Alaska Native regional corporation has set a path toward a plan to organize tribes into a regional government in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, an official said.
      The Calista Corporation established a process for each of 56 tribes to signal their intent to vote on the creation of a government for the western Alaska region, KYUK-AM reported Wednesday." The deadline for responding was extended to December 31, 2020, because of the pandemic.

Inuit Circumpolar Council Alaska, " Food Sovereignty and Self-Governance - Inuit Role in Arctic Marine Resource Management," Cultural Survival, September 14, 2020,, stated, " The Inuit Circumpolar Council Alaska, in collaboration with partners, is pleased to release the report: Food Sovereignty and Self-Governance - Inuit Role in Arctic Marine Resource Management . This Inuit-led report illuminates the unique and rich Inuit values and management practices that have successfully safeguarded the Arctic for thousands of years.
      We, Inuit, are at the forefront of the drastic changes taking place in the Arctic. As the world community increasingly turns its focus to the Arctic, it is important to ensure that Inuit Food Sovereignty is a priority in every context. This report links Inuit Food Sovereignty to holistic and adaptive management strategies that can ensure the food security, health, and well-being of Inuit throughout the Arctic for generations to come
      The legal systems summarized in the report were formed at a time when Indigenous Knowledge and Inuit management approaches were not given the respect and recognition they deserve by western cultures. For thousands of years, we have thrived in the Arctic. Our culture is rooted in values that shape the relationships we hold with everything within the Arctic ecosystem. Our values—including respect, collaboration, and sharing—all aid in supporting healthy and harmonious relationships and communities. These values are the core of our traditional management practices.
       Western management systems overlaid on top of traditional Inuit practices often take a different approach, sometimes grounded in historical discrimination. This report elevates our values, knowledge, and practices to bring forward the roles and perspectives of Inuit to support equity and food sovereignty.
      The report uses four case studies focused on walrus, char, beluga, and salmon as a lens to explore current management and co-management practices in Alaska and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. The report further offers snapshots of important connecting components, such as climate change, the need for an ecosystem-based approach, the impacts of imposed borders, and the strength and resilience of Inuit culture. Throughout this work, the authors have emphasized the importance of law and policy reforms needed to capture the perspectives of Inuit. In addition, the interpretation and implementation of such law and policy must be understood in relation to how they support or impede our food sovereignty in a rapidly changing Arctic.
      All of the dimensions of self-determination related to management and co-management are reflected in the transformative recommendations offered by the contributing authors. These recommendations span across national and international realms. If implemented, the recommendations will support Inuit food sovereignty, holistic and adaptive decision-making, and the well-being of the entire Arctic.
      This project was conducted in partnership with the Eskimo Walrus Commission, the Inuvialuit Game Council, the Fisheries Joint Management Committee, the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, the Association of Village Council Presidents, Environmental Law Institute, and advised by ICC Canada. The report is a product of over 90 Inuit authors and a nine member Advisory Committee.
      This report will be of use to a broad spectrum of people. Inuit communities and co-management groups may use the reports to aid in communicating with those from outside their communities. Decisionmakers, federal/state/territorial governments, academics, environmentalists, policy-makers, and industry may use the Final Report as a tool to enhance their understanding of the Arctic and to heighten Inuit Food Sovereignty.
       This report is accessible on our website at The following link will take you directly to the report –
This work is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1732373. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
      Contact: Carolina Behe ICC (Alaska) Cell # - 917.415.7345
      Founded in 1977 by the late Eben Hopson of Sr. of Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow), Alaska, the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) has flourished and grown into a major international non-government organization representing approximately 180,000 Inuit of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Chukotka (Russia). The organization holds Consultative Status II at the United Nations Economic and Social Council and is a Permanent Participant at the Arctic Council. To thrive in our circumpolar homeland of Inuit Nunaat, we had the vision to realize that we must speak with a united voice on issues of common concern and combine our energies and talents towards protecting and promoting our way of life. ICC represents the interests of Inuit and we have offices in four Arctic regions – Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Chukotka. Though each of our communities are unique, we are one people, in a single homeland, across four countries."

First Peoples Worldwide, "United Nations Investigates Allegations that U.S. Violates the Rights of the Gwich’in with Proposed Oil and Gas Development in the Arctic Refuge," Cultural Survival, September 01, 2020,, reported, " The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has taken the extraordinary measure to call for an investigation of the United States ( regarding proposed oil and gas development in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. CERD’s inquiry highlights concerns that planned development by the United States was 'conducted without the free, prior and informed consent of and adequate consultation with Gwich’in Indigenous Peoples, despite the serious harm such extractive activities could allegedly cause.'
      CERD’s letter to the United States, sent August 7, and posted this week to CERD’s website (,  responds to the Request For Early Warning Measures and Urgent Action Procedures ( submitted by the Gwich’in Steering Committee, Cultural Survival, Land is Life, First Peoples Worldwide, and the American Indian Law Clinic at the University of Colorado on November 13, 2019.
      Since the initial submission and CERD’s response, the Trump administration took final action and released its record of decision to allow oil leasing ( program/fpw/sites/default/files/attached-files/gwichin_steering_committee_request_to_cerd.pdf) in the Arctic Refuge. The Gwich'in Steering Committee and allied groups filed domestic litigation ( ) challenging the lease program on August 24.
      In its response , CERD expressed grave concerns and asked the U.S. government to provide information as to how it is taking measures to guarantee the Gwich’ins right to free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC), to protect sacred sites, prevent violence against Indigenous women, mitigate the climate impact of drilling in the Coastal Plain, and 'ensure effective remedies against instances of racial discrimination, including in the context of extractive industries.'      
       The UN also expressed concern that proposed development could infringe on the Gwich’in peoples’ human rights 'by significantly reducing their traditional source of food, the caribou, encroaching on the sacred site of the coastal plain, increasing health risks due to environmental degradation, including air pollution, and by increasing the risk of violence against Indigenous women due to the arrival of extractive industry workers.'
      When U.S. policy inadequately considers the rights of Indigenous Peoples, international mechanisms such as CERD are crucial to preventing devastating impacts. This is a major development in the recognition of the human rights of the Gwich’in. CERD is the treaty body responsible for monitoring the implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), which the United States has signed and ratified. The letter notes that 'domestic remedies available to Indigenous Peoples do not provide a legal basis for addressing the underlying cause of structural discrimination.'
      'We urged the international community to hold the United States responsible for ongoing discrimination towards us as Indigenous Peoples. That call has been answered by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination,' said Bernadette Demientieff, Executive Director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee. 'Almost all international human rights conventions recognize the Gwich’in people’s fundamental rights to our culture, health, nutrition, and subsistence. Securing permanent protection for ‘Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit’ (The Sacred Place Where Life Begins) is about our human rights, our way of life, and our very survival.'
      'We are encouraged that the United Nations has taken this critical step to protect the human rights of the Gwich’in people and their sacred homelands, especially their right to free, prior and informed consent as enshrined in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,' said Carla Fredericks, Director of First Peoples Worldwide and the American Indian Law Clinic at the University of Colorado Boulder, and Cultural Survival Board Member.
       'The CERD inquiry underscores how the fight to protect the Arctic Refuge is as much a human rights issue as it is an environmental issue,' said Sierra Club Senior Campaign Representative Ben Cushing. 'As international treaty bodies express serious concern about the Trump administration’s fast-tracked plans for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Refuge, oil companies and the banks that fund them should take note. Arctic drilling would be a violation of human rights, and is an investment not worth pursuing.'”

The Biden-Harris Transition announced in a December 17, 2020 E-mail, " Congresswoman Deb Haaland as Secretary of the Interior," "Haaland is a barrier-breaking public servant who has spent her career fighting for families, including in Tribal Nations, rural communities, and communities of color. Currently serving as Vice Chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Haaland will be ready on day one to protect our environment and fight for a clean energy future. If confirmed, she will make history as the first-ever Native American Cabinet secretary.

On the eve of the November 2020 election: Mary Annette Pember, "Native vote plays powerful role, especially in swing states," ICT, October 29, 2020,, reported, "Native voters stand to play a crucial role in the 2020 election, especially in swing states where they make up significant portions of eligible voters. States in which two major parties have similar levels of support and high numbers of electoral votes are also home to large Native populations.
      The approximately 3.7 million Natives and Alaska Natives of voting age are represented in this election’s crucial swing states.
      Swing states and percentage of eligible Native voters:
Arizona — 5.6 percent
Colorado — 2.5 percent
Michigan — 1.4 percent
Minnesota — 1.8 percent
Nevada — 2.5 percent
North Carolina — 2.1 percent
Wisconsin — 1.5 percent."

       Native Candidates on the Ballot on the Eve of the November Election, 2020, with results when known (In all, for U.S. President 1, for U.S. Senate 1, for U.S. House 13, for state senate 23, for state house 50, for other state positions 8, for judgships 6, and for county and municipal offices 9)
      Running for U.S. President: Mark Charles (Independent), Diné, was on the ballot in a few states, including Vermont and Colorado, and a write in candidate in 30 states.
       Running for U.S. Senate: Paulette Jordan (D) Coeur d’Alene, in Idaho.
       Running for U.S. Congress:
      Running for reelection were: Sharice Davids (D), Ho Chunk, in Kansas, 3rd District; Markwayne Mullin (R), Cherokee, in Oklahoma's 2nd District (opposed by Danyell Lanier (D), Cherokee); Tom Cole (R), Chickasaw Nation, in Oklahoma's 4th District; and Deb Haaland (D) of Laguna and Jemez Pueblo in New Mexico's 2nd District. XochitI Torres Small (D), though not a tribal member, is Aztec, in New Mexio's 3rd District, opposed for the second time by Yvette Herrell (R), Cherokee. Winning were: Davids, Haaland, Mullin, Cole, Herrell and Kahele, a record six Natives will be in the next congress.
       Running to enter Congress: Tricia Zunker (D), Ho-Chunk, in Wisconsin's 7th District; Lynnette Grey Bull (D), Northern Arapaho and Hunkpapa Lakota, in Wyoming's state wide district; Darren Parry (D). Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation, in Utah's 1st District; Rudy Soto (D), Shoshone-Bannock, in Idaho's 1st District; and Kaiali’i ‘Kai’ Kahele (D), Native Hawaiian,) in Hawail'is Second District.
       State Legislatures: Four American Indians were on the ballot for the Kansas legislature,  including Christina Haswood (D), Navajo, who is unopposed and won in District 10 and would be the youngest sitting legislator in the state, along with Stephanie Byers (Chickasaw), who won, and Ponka-We Victors (Tohono O’odham and Ponca), reelected for a sixth term; Six Natives were on the in Minnesota ballot for the legislature, three in the Senate: Alan Roy (D), White Earth Nation, Mary Kunesh-Podein (D), Standing Rock Soux descent and Donna Bergstrom (R), Red Lake Nation, in District 7, and three in the House: Heather Keeler (D), Yankton Sioux, in District 4A, along with incumbent Jamie Becker-Finn (D), Leech lake Band of Ojibwe descent, and Gaylene Spolarich (D), Turtle Mountain Band of Chippew ; Three Natives were running for the Oklahoma legislature, including Shane Jett (R), Cherokee, for state Senate seats in Oklahoma . In Wyoming, incumbent Andi Clifford (D), Northern Arapaho, defeated Valaira Whiteman (R), Northern Arapaho, in a state house race, while Affie Ellis (R), Dine, won reelection to the Senate.
       State-wide office: Shane Morigeau (D), Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, was running for Montana Auditor; Remi Bald Eagle (D), Mnicoujou Lakota, was running for a six-year term on the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission
       State Judges: Raquel Montoya-Lewis , Isleta Pueblo, was successful in remaining a Washington Supreme Court justice; Katherine Mary Nepton, Pekuakamiulnuatsh First Nation, was a candidate for the Michigan Supreme Court.
       Judy Begay (D), Navajo, was e lected to the Coconino County, AZ Board of Supervisors, District 4,
       City Council: Lyz Jaakola, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, for the Cloquet City Council.
       Other State races (from, "Native candidates light up state, local ballots," ICT, November 4, 2020,
Neal Foster, Inupiaq, State House 39, Democrat
Tiffany Zulkosky, Yup'ik, State House 38, Democrat
UNOPPOSED: Bryce Edgmon, Yup'ik, State House 37, Independent
Elizabeth Ferguson, Inupiaq, State House 40, Democrat
Donny Olson, Inupiaq, State Senate T, Democrat
Thomas Baker, Inupiaq, State Senate T, Republican
WON: Judy Begay, Navajo, Coconino County Board of Supervisors, District 4, Democrat
LOST: Bernadette Kniffen, San Carlos Apache, Gila County Board of Supervisors, District 3, Democrat
UNOPPOSED: Lena Fowler, Navajo, Coconino County Board of Supervisors, District 5, Democrat
LOST: Makaius Marks, Navajo, Flagstaff Unified School District Board, Coconino
WON: Deborah Ann Begay, Navajo, Justice of the Peace, Moon Valley, Democrat
WON: Jennifer Jermaine, White Earth Nation, Arizona House 18, Democrat
WON: Arlando Teller, Navajo, Arizona House 7, Democrat
WON: Myron Tsosie, Navajo, Arizona House 7, Democrat
WON: Domingo DeGrazia, Eastern Band of Cherokee, Arizona House 10, Democrat
LOST: Felicia French, Pascua Yaqui, Arizona Senate 6, Democrat
UNOPPOSED: Sally Ann Gonzales, Pascua Yaqui, Arizona Senate 3, Democrat
UNOPPOSED: Jamescita Peshlakai, Navajo, Arizona Senate 7, Democrat
UNOPPOSED: Victoria Steele, Seneca, Arizona Senate 9, Democrat
WON: Gabriella Cazares-Kelly, Tohono O’odham, Pima County Recorder, Democrat
WON: James Ramos, Serrano/Cahuilla, State Assembly 40, Democrat
LOST: Jackie Fielder, Hidatsa, Arikara, Mandan, State Senate 11, Democrat
LOST: Lanakila Mangauil, Native Hawaiian, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Hawai'i Island Trustee, nonpartisan
WON: Ty Cullen, Native Hawaiian, State House 39, Democrat
WON: Lynn Decoite, Native Hawaiian, State House 13, Democrat
LOST: Jacob Aki, Native Hawaiian, Honolulu City Council, District 7, nonpartisan
WON: Keola Lindsey, Native Hawaiian, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Hawai'i Island Trustee, nonpartisan
Luana Alapa, Native Hawaiian, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Molokai, nonpartisan
Colette Machado, Native Hawaiian, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Molokai, nonpartisan
Keli'i Akina, Native Hawaiian, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, at large, nonpartisan
Keoni Souza, Native Hawaiian, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, at large, nonpartisan
LOST: Christina Blackcloud, Meskwaki, State House 72, Democrat
UNOPPOSED: Christina Haswood, Navajo, State House 10, Democrat
WON: Ponka-We Victors, Tohono O’odham and Ponca, State House 103, Democrat
WON: Stephanie Byers, Chickasaw, State House 86, Democrat
LOST: Julie Dye, Pokagon Band Potawatomi Nation, Cass County Commissioner, Board 1, Democrat
LOST: Katherine Nepton, Pekuakamiulnuatsh First Nation, Michigan Supreme Court, Libertarian
WON: Audrey Thayer, White Earth Nation, Bemidji City Council, Ward 1
WON: Tim Sumner, Red Lake Ojibwe, County Commission 4
WON: Jamie Becker-Finn, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, State House 42B, Democrat
WON: Heather Keeler, Yankton Sioux and Eastern Shoshone, State House 4A, Democrat
LOST: Gaylene Spolarich, Turtle Mountain Chippewa Band, State House 10B, Democrat
LOST: Donna Bergstrom, Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, State Senate 7, Republican
LOST: Alan Roy, White Earth Nation, State Senate 2, Democrat
UNOPPOSED: Jeannice Reding, Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans, Fourth Judicial District, nonpartisan
UNOPPOSED: Korey Wahwassuck, Cree, Ninth Judicial District, nonpartisan
WON: Mary Kunesh-Podein, Standing Rock Sioux, State Senate 41, Democrat
WON: Elizabeth Jaakola, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Cloquet City Council
LOST: Dan Jourdain, Red Lake Nation, Bemidji City Council
(Photo courtesy of Donna Bergstrom for Minnesota State Senate)
LOST: Shane Morgieau, Confederated Salish Kootenai, State Auditor, Democrat
Jade Bahr, Northern Cheyenne, State House 50, Democrat
LOST: Barbara Bessette, Chippewa Cree, State House 24, Democrat
WON: Donavon Hawk, Crow, State House 76, Democrat
UNOPPOSED: Rhonda Knudsen, Turtle Mountain Chippewa, State House 34, Republican
LOST: Bruce Meyers, Chippewa Cree, State House 32, Republican
UNOPPOSED: Tyson Running Wolf, Blackfeet, State House 16, Democrat
UNOPPOSED: Frank Smith, Assiniboine Sioux, State House 31, Democrat
UNOPPOSED: Sharon Stewart-Peregoy, Crow, State House 42, Democrat
UNOPPOSED Marvin Weatherwax, Blackfeet, State House 15, Democrat
UNOPPOSED: Rynalea Whiteman-Pena, Northern Cheyenne, State House 41, Democrat
WON: Jonathan Windy Boy, Chippewa Cree, State House 32, Democrat
UNOPPOSED: Mike Fox, A'aniiih (Gros Ventre), State Senate 16, Democrat
Rae Peppers, Northern Cheyenne, State Senate 21, Democrat
Jason Small, Northern Cheyenne, State Senate 21, Republican
Jonathan Windy Boy (Montana Legislature)
WON: Anthony Allison, Navajo Nation, State House 4, Democrat
UNOPPOSED: Doreen Wonda Johnson, Navajo Nation, State House 5, Democrat
WON: Derrick Lente, Sandia & Isleta Pueblo, State House 65, Democrat
UNOPPOSED: Georgene Louis, Acoma Pueblo, State House 26, Democrat
WON: Patricia Roybal Caballero, Piro Manso Tiwa, State House 13, Democrat
WON: Shannon Pinto, Navajo Nation, State Senate 3, Democrat
WON: Benny Shendo Jr., Jemez Pueblo, State Senate 22, Democrat
WON: Brenda McKenna, Nambe Pueblo, State Senate 9, Democrat
LOST: Gertrude Lee, Navajo Nation, New Mexico Court of Appeals, Position 2, Republican
LOST: Thomasina Mandan, Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, State House 4, Democrat
LOST: Tracey Wilkie, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, State House 16, Democrat
LOST: Lisa Finley-Deville, Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, State Senate 4, Democrat
LOST: Chelsey Branham, Chickasaw, State House 83, Democrat
UNOPPOSED: Mark McBride, Potawatomi, State House 53, Republican
WON: Collin Walke, Cherokee Nation, State House 87, Democrat
LOST: Summer Wesley, Choctaw, State House 100, Democrat
WON: Shane Jett, Cherokee Nation, State Senate 17, Republican
LOST: Jennifer Wilkinson, Cheyenne and Arapaho, State Senate 45, Democrat
UNOPPOSED: Tawna Sanchez, Shoshone-Bannock, Ute & Carrizo, State House 43, Democrat
LOST: Carina Miller, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, State Senate 30, Democrat
LOST: Remi Bald Eagle, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, Democrat
WON: Shawn Bordeaux, Rosebud Sioux, State House 26A, Democrat
WON: Peri Pourier, Oglala Lakota, State House 27, Democrat
WON: Tamara St. John, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, State House 1, Republican
LOST: Ernest Weston Jr., Oglala Lakota, State House 27, Democrat
WON: Red Dawn Foster, Oglala Lakota, State Senate 27, Democrat
WON: Troy Heinert, Rosebud Sioux, State Senate 26, Democrat
WON: Bryan Terry, Choctaw, State House 48, Republican
UNOPPOSED: Debra Lekanoff, Tlingit/Aleut, State House 40, Democrat
WON: Raquel Montoya-Lewis, Isleta Pueblo, State Supreme Court, Position 3, nonpartisan
LOST: Amanda White Eagle, Ho-Chunk, State Assembly 92, Democrat
WON: Andi Clifford, Northern Arapaho, State House 33, Democrat
LOST: Valaira Whiteman, Northern Arapaho, State House 33, Republican
WON: Affie Ellis, Navajo Nation, State Senate 8, Republican.
(Meghan Sullivan, "Possibly many firsts for Tricia Zunker in Wisconsin," ICT, October 19, 2020,; Eddie Chuculate, "Candidate: Tribal citizens' voice 'vital' in energy regulation," ICT, October 19, 2020,; Dalton Walker, "Native Hawaiian candidate a favorite for US House," ICT, October 31, 2020,; " Indian Country Today election coverage," ICT, October 31, 2020,; and numerous web searches of candidates and state races; and "Native candidates light up state, local ballots," ICT, November 4, 2020,

       Terry Yellowhammer, Standing Rock Sioux, was appointed a judge in Minnesota's Fourth Judicial District, In October 2020. Previously she served as Hennepin County American Indian community relations development manager. One of her projects was to make the Hennepin County Juvenile Justice Center courtroom, that hears many of the state’s Indian Child Welfare Act cases, friendly to Native people by arranging to have the state's 11 Indian Nations have their flags in the courtroom along with other traditional Native objects (Dalton Walker, "Indigenizing Minnesota’s largest courtroom," ICT, October 22, 2020,

       Roberta "Birdie" Wilcox Cano (Navajo) became the first American Indian to be elected mayor of Winslow, AZ, in the November 2020 election (Rima Krisst, "'I represent everybody:" Dine to lead Winslow as first Native American Mayor," Navajo Times, November 19, 2020).

Hoksila White Mountain, after winning a battle to be put back on the ballot with the backing of the Lakota People's Law Project, lost his race for Mayor of McLaughlin, South Dakota. However, he was promised a seat on the city council (Lakota People's Law Project E-mail, August 11. 2020).

Kolby KickingWoman, "Montana setting the example," ICT, October 27, 2020,, reported, " Perhaps Congress could learn a lesson from Montana, where the number of tribal citizens in the state legislature equals the percentage of Natives residing in the state [7 percent]. Shane Morigeau, Salish and Kootenai, recently told Indian Country Today that representation ensures Native voices are heard on issues that affect tribal communities"
      "In total, there are 11 Native members of the Montana state legislature. Morigeau, along with Barbara Bessette, Chippewa Cree; Jade Bahr, Northern Cheyenne; Rae Peppers, Northern Cheyenne; Marvin Weatherwax Jr., Blackfeet; Tyson Runningwolf, Blackfeet; Sharon Stewart-Peregoy, Crow; Jonathan Windy Boy, Chippewa Cree; Jason Small, Northern Cheyenne; Susan Webber, Blackfeet; and Frank Smith, Assiniboine and Sioux."

Joaqlin Estus, "Tlingit Man Elected Mayor of San Diego," ICT,  December 10, 2020,, reported, "On Novemer 3, Todd Gloria, Tlingit, was elected mayor of San Diego, the nation’s eighth-largest and California’s second-largest city."

" Hoksila White Mountain (Lakota of Standing Rock) is now sitting in his rightful place on the McLaughlin, SD City Council." He was improperly removed from the list of candidates for Mayor. Under pressure, especially from the Lakota People's Law Project, the City agreed to place him on the City Council. When the city failed to follow through, new pressure led to his appointment (December 10, 2020 E-mail from the Lakota People's Law Project).

Native American Rights Fund (NARF ), Obstacles At Every Turn: Barriers To Political Participation Faced By Native American Voters , June 2, 2020,, was produced after a series of hearings in Indian Country, and is available on the web.
      " Introduction and Summary of Report
      1. Overview of Findings

      In 2015, the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) created the Native American Voting Rights Coalition (NAVRC), a coalition of national and regional grassroots organizations, academics and attorneys advocating for the equal access of Native Ameri- cans to the political process. To begin this important work, the Coalition needed a more complete under- standing of the barriers that Native Americans face when trying to register and participate in elections. So the Coalition conducted the series of field hearings chronicled in this report with the goal of pursuing remedies for the problems we uncovered.
      The hearings had two other purposes: (1) to assist in the development of better public policy and (2) to promote public education on voting rights in Indian Country. Technology, the Internet, mail-in voting, online registration, and polling places located in the local elementary school where you just stop by to vote on the way home, have fostered a view that it is easy to vote now. For many Americans that is true. The field hearings revealed that this is not true for Native Americans. Instead, they continue to face a wide array of first generation barriers to voting – actual barriers to voting – that are in fact preventing them from exercising their rights to vote and stripping them of their political power.
      There are 574 federally recognized Indian tribes in the United States. They are not 'groups' – they are functioning governments, sovereigns, that maintain individual government-to-government relationships with the United States. They exercise degrees of civ- il, criminal and regulatory jurisdiction, and there is an entire section of the United States code (Title 25) that consists of laws applying just to them. They hold a unique place in the American political land- scape. As is clear in this report, they are also subject to unique barriers to voting.
      There are approximately 6.8 million American Indians and Alaska Natives living in the United States today. This is likely a very low estimate, as the American Community Survey that this number is based on notoriously undercounts Native Americans. While a smaller segment of the U.S. population, they are increasing in population, and they are often concentrated in communities that make them a political force.
      In fact, Native American voters have made a difference in elections for both political parties in numerous states. They are regularly determinative in the Dakotas, Alaska, and parts of the Southwest. They are determinative in Congressional districts in an even greater number of states. Perhaps this ability to “swing” elections has made them the target of voter suppression tactics in communities that are not used to Native Americans flexing their political power.
      Native Americans have been subject to genocide and racism for more than 500 years. For the first 150+ years of the existence of the United States, Native Americans were not allowed to vote. In 1924, the Indian Citizenship Act formally made them U.S. citizens, but states continued to prevent them from voting for much longer, arguing that they: (1) did not pay taxes, (2) were under guardianship of the U.S. and therefore were incompetent to vote, (3) were not literate in English, and (4) were more citizens of the tribes and too closely tied to tribal culture to be citizens of the states in which they lived. The passage of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) had the effect of bringing voting rights to Indian Country and Native Americans began to challenge many of those barriers.
      The addition of the language assistance provisions in 1975 further made it possible for those who still spoke Native languages to vote and also gave Native Americans a mechanism to enforce language access to the ballot through the courts. They have been roundly successful in doing so. Overall, given the appalling facts underlying Native American voting cases, Native Americans have been successful in an astounding 90+% of the cases they have brought, in liberal and conservative districts alike.
       Although Native Americans are among the fastest growing populations in the United States, there are strong forces preventing their full political participation. The factors discouraging political participation are: (1) geographical isolation; (2) physical and nat- ural barriers; (3) poorly maintained or non-existent roads; (4) distance and limited hours of government offices; (5) technological barriers and the digital di- vide; (6) low levels of educational attainment; (7) de- pressed socio-economic conditions; (8) homelessness and housing insecurity; (9) non-traditional mailing addresses such as post office boxes; (10) lack of funding for elections; (11) and discrimination against Na- tive Americans.
      In addition to this daunting list of factors, language is 'one of the closing gaps in the election process' for Native American voters. Over one quarter of all single-race Native Americans speak a language other than English at home. Section 203 of the VRA, the language assistance provisions, helps these voters overcome language barriers by requiring covered jurisdictions to provide bilingual written election materials and oral language assistance. This provision applies to all 'voting materials,' which is broadly defined as anything produced by a jurisdiction for an election.
      Under the 2011 determinations of jurisdictions that required language assistance, Native American languages were the second most common language group after Spanish. Section 203 language assistance protections were required in 33 political subdivisions in five states. This rose to 35 jurisdictions in nine states in the 2016 determinations. Despite these broad protections, jurisdictions have often failed to provide the required translations, forcing Native American voters to file lawsuits in Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah.
      The field hearings revealed that Native American voters faced significant hurdles at the very first step to voting: registration. Despite the protections offered by the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), and the VRA, the field hearings revealed that there were many barriers to registration: (1) lack of traditional mailing addresses, (2) homeless and housing instability, (3) voter identification requirements (which can be hard for many Native Americans to obtain), (4) unequal access to online registration, (5) unequal access to in-person voter registration, (6) restrictions on access to voter registration forms, (7) denial of voter registration opportunities due to previous convictions, (8) rejection of voter registration applications, (9) voter purges, and (10) failure to offer registration opportunities at polling places on Election Day.
      Even if Native Americans are able to register, the field hearings showed that they then face another set of barriers to actually casting a ballot. These include: (1) unequal funding for voting activities in Indian communities; (2) lack of pre-election information and outreach; (3) cultural and political isolation; (4) unequal access to in-person voting; (5) unequal access to early voting; (6) barriers caused by vote-by-mail, which are numerous; (7) barriers posed by state laws that create arbitrary population thresholds in order to establish polling places; (8) the use of the ADA to deny polling places on reservation lands; and (9) the lack of Native American election workers.
      The field hearings revealed yet another set of hurdles in the form of barriers to having their ballots counted. Assuming a Native American can register and then vote, they then faced additional barriers including: (1) lack of ballot canvassing opportunities; (2) failure to count ballots cast out-of-precinct; (3) ballot harvesting bans and similar laws; and (4) lack of information about ballot status (whether it was counted) and the inability to correct errors.
      Excerpts from the table of contents
PART 6: BARRIERS TO CASTING A BALLOT.....................................................................................87
Unequal Funding for Voter Activities on Tribal Lands................................................................... 87
Lack of Pre-Election Information and Outreach............................................................................ 88
Cultural and Political Isolation of Native Voters From Rest of The Electorate................................ 89
Unequal Access to In-Person Voting.............................................................................................. 90
Unequal Access to Early Voting..................................................................................................... 92
Barriers Caused by Vote-By-Mail (VBM)....................................................................................... 93
Distrust of VBM and Preference for In-Person Voting......................................................... 93
VBM Replicates The “Tyranny Of Distance”........................................................................ 95
Barriers Posed by Non-Traditional Addresses Remain Under VBM..................................... 95
Increased Confusion and Misplaced VBM Ballots................................................................ 96
Postage Costs Are A Barrier to VBM.................................................................................. 97
Lack of Timely Access to Mail Through Post Offices Impedes VBM..................................... 97
Lack of Access to Drop Boxes or “Voting Centers” for VBM................................................. 97
Absence of In-Person Language and Voter Assistance Through VBM................................... 98
Other Forms of Disenfranchisement Through VBM........................................................... 101
VBM Widens The Gap Between Non-Native and Native Voting.......................................... 101
Barriers Posed by Population Thresholds for Polling Places.......................................................... 103
Application of Federal Disability Laws to Deny Polling Places on Tribal Lands............................ 104
Impact of Same Day Voting for Tribal and Non-Tribal Elections.................................................. 107
DiscriminatoryImpactofLackofNativeAmericanFull-TimeElectionWorkersandPart-TimePoll Workers..................................................................................................................................... 108
PART 7: BARRIERS TO HAVING THE BALLOT COUNTED...................................111
Lack of Ballot Canvassing Opportunities................................................................ 111
Failure to Count Ballots Cast Out-Of-Precinct....................................................... 111
Ballot Collection Bans......................................................................................... 113
Lack of Information About Ballot Status and Inability to Correct Errors. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113
Cracking.............................................................................................................. 115
Packing................................................................................................................ 116
Violation of One Person, One Vote........................................................................ 117
At-LargeElections................................................................................................. 118
Other Efforts to Prevent Native American Representation...................................... 119
Unequal Access to Resources for Native American Candidates............................... 121
Denial of Equal Access to Representation and Government Services...................... 122 "
      With the pandemic, the barriers for Native Americans to voting by mail have been particularly a problem in 2020, Joaqlin Estus, "Will vote-by-mail leave out Native Americans?" ICT, September 1, 2020,

      Calah Schlabach, "Arizona policy could help Natives in voter registration hurdle," ICT, September 15, 2020,, reported, "Advocates said a new policy that lets Arizona residents without traditional street addresses register to vote online is not perfect – but it’s a vast improvement over the old process."
      "The change allows prospective voters with nontraditional addresses to still
register online with the use of “plus codes” – latitude- and longitude-based location codes that can be used to identify homes without street addresses."

Native American efforts to get Native people registered and to the polls were intense in 2020, including by Four Directions, whose efforts in Arizona helped turn that state Blue. Maggie Astor, "Native Americans Helped Flip Arizona. Can They Mobilize in Georgia? Very few of Georgia’s more than 100,000 voting-age Native Americans cast ballots in November. Even a small increase could make a difference in the Senate runoffs," The New York Times,
December 4, 2020,, reported, "... nearly 150,000 Native Americans still live in Georgia, by the Native voting rights group Four Directions’s estimate. They receive few government services and tend not to participate in nontribal elections, both because they face structural barriers — like hard-to-reach polling places and lack of voter ID — and because of the mistrust built by brutality and broken promises. Of the estimated 100,000 who are of voting age, only about 15,000 are registered to vote.
      Organizers and tribal leaders recognize that if even a few thousand more Native Americans were inspired and able to vote in Georgia, they could play a meaningful political role in a closely divided state where two runoff elections on Jan. 5 will decide which party controls the Senate. Buoyed by remarkable Native American turnout in other states last month, advocates are trying to make that happen at breakneck speed."

Alaina Beautiful Bald Eagle, "Native American Delegates to participate in 2020 DNC," Lakota Times, August 20, 2020, " Making history this year, seven Native American delegates from South Dakota will take part in the virtual [Democratic] national convention. Of the 28 Delegates from South Dakota, seven are Lakota tribal citizens, and they comprise 25 percent of the state’s Democratic representation at the DNC.
      The distinguished delegates are Alexandra Frederick (Oglala Lakota), Remi Bald Eagle (Mnicoujou Lakota), Candice Brings Plenty (Oglala Lakota), Lynn Hart (Yankton), Kellen Returns From Scout (Oglala Lakota), Senator Troy Heinert (Sicangu), and Lower Brule Sioux Tribe Chairman Boyd Gourneau."

Clara Pratte, Diné, was hired by the Biden presidential campaign as its national tribal engagement director (Aliyah Chavez, "Joe Biden campaign steps up in Indian Country," ICT, July 22, 2020,

At the virtual Democratic convention a number of Native speakers were featured, including an address by New Mexico Congress Person Deb Haaland (Laguna and Jemez Pueblo) and several Natives gave short speeches in announcing the vote for the presidential nominee from U.S. states and territories: Derrick Lente (Sandia Pueblo) for New Mexico, Cesar Alvarez (Mandan, Hidasta and Arikara Nation) for North Dakota, Kellen Returns From Scout (Standing Rock Sioux) for South Dakota, and  Chuck Degnan (Yup’ik and Unupiaq) for Alaska, along with Native leaders from Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands (Aliyah Chavez, "Native leaders featured in DNC roll call," ICT, August 18, 2020,

Dalton Walker, "'A space for dialogue' in North Dakota," ICT, September 16, 2020,, reported, " For the first time North Dakota’s Democratic Party has a Native American Caucus, an accomplishment organizers say is 40 years in the making.
      Leading the effort are three women, all Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation citizens, who completed a caucus application before it was unanimously approved by the party’s State Policy Committee on Saturday."

Mary Annette Pember, "Donald Trump releases vision for Indian Country," ICT, October 21, 2020,, reported, " President Donald Trump released his policy vision for Native Americans on Wednesday [October 21, 2020] via the White House Twitter account.
      In the three-page “ Putting America’s First People’s First: Forgotten No More!” document (available at:, Trump champions developing free enterprise, encouraging business development, reducing regulations on developing natural resources and energy, as well as empowering tribes to manage their own lands through self-governance programs.
The core principles of Trump’s plan are listed as:
Respecting tribal sovereignty and self-determination
Promoting safe communities
Building a thriving economy with improved infrastructure
Honoring Native American heritage and improving education and delivering health care

"The Biden Agenda for the Indian Country," accessed October 23, 2020,, stated, " Make tribal self-governance and sovereignty cornerstones of federal policy”.
      Ensure tribal nations will have a strong voice and role in the federal government and immediately reinstate and make permanent the White House Council on Native American Affairs and the annual White House Tribal Nations Conference, and nominate and appoint people who look like the country they serve, including Native Americans.
      Tackle the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
Restore Tribal lands and safeguard natural and cultural resources.

      Tackle climate change and pollution.
      Invest in Native students. Joe will dramatically increase funding for both public schools and Bureau of Indian Education schools.

      Provide reliable, affordable healthcare.

      Expand economic and community development in Indian Country. ​Joe is calling for a transformational investment in our country’s infrastructure, housing, and economic development in every corner of the country, including in Indian Country.

      Fight for Native voting rights
      The full statement is at:
      President Biden's transition team website is at:, and the statements on "racial equality" and "economic recovery," that include "Native" references, and on "climate change" (which also has a "tribal" reference) are below in Dialoguing.

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Economic Developments

Mavis Harris, " 2019 Indian Gross Gaming Revenues of $34.6b Set Industry Record and Show a 2.5% Increase," National Indian Gaming Commission, December 8, 2020,, Media Contact: Mavis Harris (202) 632-7003, reported, "Today Chairman E. Sequoyah Simermeyer and Vice Chair Kathryn Isom-Clause of the National Indian Gaming Commission announced the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) for the Indian gaming industry. Revenues for FY19 total $34.6B; an increase of 2.5% over 2018.
      In the 32 years since the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was enacted, 2019 marked the Indian gaming industry’s highest ever revenue report. During FY19, nearly every NIGC region experienced growth. The Oklahoma City region saw the largest increase of 7.7%. Additional information and a summary of gross gaming revenue according to the NIGC’s administratively determined regions can be found on the NIGC’s website.
      'Heathy tribal economies are important to promoting the tribal self-sufficiency envisioned in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The growth reflected in the 2019 gaming revenue demonstrates the strength of tribal economies in recent years. The Indian gaming industry is a vital component to many tribal economies across the country,' said Chairman Simermeyer.
       The reporting period for FY19 ended before the COVID-19 Pandemic forced the temporary closure of every Tribal Gaming Operation. Although the full effect of the Pandemic is yet to be realized, many Indian gaming operations remain closed or operate at reduced capacity. Some Indian gaming operations have been closed since March 2020. The Pandemic’s impact on the Indian gaming industry will be reflected in the Fiscal Year 2020 GGR report.
      Chairman Simermeyer cautioned that, 'it is important to recognize the Pandemic’s impact on Tribes.' Chairman Simermeyer went on to say, 'Tribes’ dedication to a safe and sustainable Indian gaming industry is demonstrated in the preventative measures Tribes continue to take during the challenging economic times brought on by the Pandemic. This same dedication has fostered a successful and responsibly regulated Indian gaming industry over several decades.'
      Vice Chair Isom-Clause added that 'While we welcome this positive report from FY2019, we know that the current reality is dramatically different. Future reports will reflect the effects of the pandemic on the industry, as well as how it continues to adapt to changing circumstances. Despite these current hardships, Indian gaming, like the tribal nations it benefits, has proved its resiliency over the years.'
      The FY19 GGR figure is calculated from 522 independently audited financial statements submitted to the NIGC by 245 federally recognized Tribes across 29 states. An operation’s GGR is the total amount of money wagered less any amounts paid out as prizes and before deducting operating expenses. [1]
      For additional information regarding FY19 GGR, including information by region and facility size, as well as information regarding the Pandemic’s effect on the tribal gaming industry, please visit the NIGC website at For media inquires, please contact Mavis Harris at"

The impact of the Pandemic on Indian nations in Arizona was partially indicated in the reports of tribal contributions from gaming to the state. J oshua Morales , "On Sep. 1, The Arizona Department of Gaming reported $13.9 million in Tribal Gaming Contributions for the first quarter of the 2021 Fiscal Year.
      According to data, this represents a 52 percent decrease when compared to the fourth quarter in 2020" (Full Court Press, September 1, 2020,

Ernest L. Stevens, Jr., Chairman, National Indian Gaming Association and Ben Nighthorse Campbell, U.S. Senator - Retired, "In the national pandemic, Native Americans suffer catastrophic losses," ICT, August 5, 2020,, reported, "The National pandemic is entering a new phase, with more than 4.6 million cases nationwide, 2,000,000 new cases in July alone, and 1,200 deaths yesterday. Native Americans suffer serious disease and death at the highest per capita rate. The American economy is in dangerous territory, with a 33% drop in the GDP during the second quarter. Indian nations face catastrophic economic losses, and without additional support, many tribal businesses will never recover."

"Survey Results Detail COVID-19’s Impact on Indian Country’s Economy," The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development," September 9, 2020,, reported, " More than two-thirds of Native-owned businesses have experienced significant revenue loss during the pandemic September 9, 2020 MESA, AZ – The economic impacts of COVID-19 have been particularly harsh on businesses in Indian Country, based on the results of a survey conducted by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (National Center) and the Center for Indian Country Development (CICD) at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. More than 400 businesses responded to the survey, completed in mid-July. The survey examined revenue losses, furloughs and layoffs, the types of assistance and credit businesses are receiving, and short and long-term economic confidence. The full results of the survey can be found in a recently published white paper, available at: In addition, representatives from the National Center and CICD will discuss the survey results and their implications in a webinar on Tuesday, September 15 at 3:00 p.m. EDT. Click here ( to register for the webinar. “The pandemic has hit Indian Country and Native-owned businesses particularly hard, but until now we haven’t had a way to quantify the economic impact in our communities,” said Chris James, President and CEO of the National Center. “The results make it clear that many of our businesses are struggling, and do not have confidence that the economy will bounce back quickly. The survey is another indicator that we are not yet out of the woods and Native-owned businesses still need support and assistance to continue to serve their communities and create jobs.” Insights from the survey include:
68% of respondents reported at least a 20% revenue loss; 16% experienced a 100% loss in revenue.
41% of respondents have furloughed or laid off employees as a result of the pandemic.
36% of businesses surveyed applied for a loan through the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), with 22% (of all survey respondents) receiving a PPP loan.
Nearly half (48%) of respondents believe their businesses are more than six months away from returning to normal relative to one year ago, with 27% predicting business will never return to normal."

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The time of the pandemic has been extremely hard on tribal and tribal member owned business, greatly reducing tribal and member income. Many casinos have closed, at least part of the time, and when open have operated at a fraction of their capacity while there have been many fewer customers. The same is true of other tribal related businesses.
      One example is the Southern Ute Youth Employment Program (YEP), that normally provides dozens of young tribal members hands on job experience during the summer, but which had to shut down in summer 2020 (Jeremy Wade Shockley, "Youth employment Program Creates New Opportunities," Southern Ute Drum, September 11, 2020).
       Many Navajo owned businesses have been struggling or have had to close, unable to receive COVID PPE relief, as a result of no or poor credit history and/or poor documentation (Rima Krisst, "'Almost in Ruins,'" Navajo Times, October 22, 2020).

The Shinnecock Nation on Long Island, NY is again attempting to find appropriate land for a first class casino-resort complex in a new partnership with Seminole Hardrock. Once a basic plan is established, the nation will have to negotiate a compact with the State of New York (Sandra Hale Schulman, "Shinnecock partner with Seminole Hard Rock on casino venture," ICT, September 27, 2020,

Dalton Walker, "Arizona tribe bets on pro basketball," ICT, November 26, 2020,, reported, " Gila River Hotels and Casinos , the tribal gaming enterprise of the Gila River Indian Community, has partnered with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. The partnership includes a newly renovated courtside property called “Club Gila River” inside PHX Arena, the downtown Phoenix home to both teams.
      In a first, according to the NBA, Gila River has introduced gaming chips and gaming table felts adorned with the logos of the Suns and Mercury at its gaming properties. The partnership also includes team branding on select hotel rooms owned by the tribe

Navajo Nation opened its 9000 square foot Blue Lake Travel Center at its Twin Arrows Casino east of Flagstaff, AZ, in late September 2020 (Grand opening held for Blue Lake Travel Center," Navajo Times, October 1, 2020).

Because of increased costs from handling COVID-19 patents, Classic Air Medical, one of the few air transport companies serving Navajo Nation, states in June that it will have to cease operations on the Nation unless the reimbursement rate for medical air evacuations is increased (Cindy Yurth, "Medevacs hit turbulence," Navajo Times, June 28, 2020).

Citing numerous legal violations, the Navajo Nation shut down hemp growing on San Juan River Farm, in September 2020 (Arlyssa Becenti, "NEPA: many violations at hemp farms," Navajo Times, October 8, 2020; and Arlyssa Becenti, "Police start shutting down hemp farms," Navajo Times, September 24, 2020).

Joaqlin Estus, "Alaska Native corporations dominate list of state’s top businesses," ICT, October 4, 2020,, reported, "Alaska Native corporations top a list of Alaska-owned businesses ranked by gross revenues.
       Alaska Business magazine annually publishes a list of the 49th state’s 'Top 49ers.' This year 18 of the top 20, and 25 of the 49 are Alaska Native corporations."

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Education and Culture

With COVID, college enrolments have dropped, especially among people of color, but most of all at tribal institutions. While over-all in the U.S. there are 13% fewer freshman in fall 2020, at tribal colleges the drop is nearly 75%. The reasons are multiple. With learning moved to the internet, more than 25% of Native students do not have reliable internet at home. For some obtaining it is too expensive, and some do not like learning on line. Many cannot go to classes, or away from home internet active locations because, with schools closed, they have children at home, for whom they, must care.
      A few tribal institutions have gained more students then they have lost, as internet classes have allowed some to attend who either could not leave home or were too far away to commute. Tohono O'odham Community College is an example, with close to a 150% increase in first year students in fall 2020.
      Tribal colleges have responded reducing tuition, at Dine College by half, contacting non-returning students as to why they are not attending, and, where campuses are open, insuring students and parents that campuses are safe. Those responses have helped, but the schools have still experienced enrolment declines, at Dine College by 42% (Kelly Field, "As Native freshman enrolment drops sharply, tribal colleges respond," Christian Science Monitor, December 7, 2020).

Kolby KickingWoman, "University of Montana launches tribal policy institute," ICT, October 6, 2020,, Reported, "Across the country, a handful of colleges and universities have established think-tank-like policy institutes to help tribes tackle issues facing their communities.
      Last week, the University of Montana joined their ranks with the newly created American Indian Governance and Policy Institute. The institute will be housed within the Payne Family Native American Center on the school’s campus.
      Its mission is to provide tribes in the state with the Montana University System’s research and services for data- and evidence-informed tribal policymaking

The New Mexico Higher Education Department, in October 2020, extended New Mexico Lottery Scholarships and Opportunity Scholarships to tribal colleges, while establishing the Indian Education Division and partnering with Navajo Technical University to establish a two-year nursing program ("Native education initiatives rolled out in NM," Navajo Times, October 22, 3030).

Tom Crash, "Distance learning on Pine Ridge brings challenges," Lakota Times, October 08, 2020,, reported that as COVID-19 cases in the area were increasing, in early October 2020, " During the spring of 2020, the OST Council, in the face of the impending coronavirus pandemic passed a Shelter in Place ordinance to protect the membership of the Oglala Lakota Nation; in response to that action, schools across the reservation went to distance learning to finish out the school year then spent the summer preparing for the possibility of ongoing distance learning this fall. Continued distance learning for the first nine weeks of the new school year and the very possibility of continuing through the first semester and beyond presents unique challenges to school systems across the reservation.
      'Everyone is doing the best they can, dealing with connectivity issues, devices and getting students and parents involved, we have 4-6 schools who are still waiting for devices, so some schools are using packets until they receive their devices,' said Dayna Brave Eagle, Director of the OST Tribal Education Agency, 'some schools with staff back in the building have had some COVID-19 positive issues and closed down school buildings and had staff work from home for periods of time; the Task Force and Education Committee have been concerned about meals as well, have schools been able to continue to provide and deliver meals to students, we don’t know how long the positive cases will continue to go up, some schools have already decided to continue distance learning through the first semester
, we are all in this together and need to support each other.'"

Julia Sclafani, Searchlight New Mexico, "Wired for success: How tiny Navajo Technical University took big steps to keep students connected," New Mexico Political Report (first published in Spotlight New Mexico), September 17, 2020,, reported that Navajo Technical College did very well adapting to COVID-19, despite coming to it already burdened by challenges. The small school, founded in 1979 as the Navajo Skill Center that expanded to include four satellite campuses , functioned in an educational environment where the high school dropout rate was one of the worst in the United States. Only 8 percent of Navajo adults had achieved a bachelor's degree.
      To deal with the pandemic on a reservation that locked down tight in the face of a very serious spread of the disease - as of mid-September an estimated 9982 people on the reservation had tested positive and 536 had died - "For starters, the school offered subsidized laptops to students who receive financial aid, cut tuition by half and, with permission from the Federal Communications Commission, extended the school’s internet infrastructure into the surrounding communities. Nearly a month into the fall semester, classes now include a mix of distance and in-person instruction, with reduced class sizes, strict social distancing guidelines and ramped-up sanitation protocols on campus."
      In order to reach all of its students the school purchased laptops for those who did not have them. It expanded the internet reach's by gaining permission from Navajo Nation and the FCC to run lines to towers around the Eastern portion of the Nation. For those still beyond the reach of the internet and who lacked vehicles to get to campus or internet reception, the college's bus drivers circulated to drop off and pick up assignments and student-faculty written communications

BIE schools, half of which were on the Navajo Reservation, having closed in March, had planned to open on campus, September 16, but shortly before that, in the face of objections from the President of the Navajo Nation and others, the schools were ordered to shift to online learning. The short notice has made it difficult for schools and teachers to be fully prepared (Cindy Yurth, "BIE schools face chaotic opening," Navajo Times, October 17, 2020).
      But that is not the only problem. In the face of a national backlog in producing and making available lap top computers, the BIE was late distributing CARES Act funding, resulting in it not having enough computers for students who needed them when classes began. The schools hoped to have sufficient computers by November. BIE schools began the year generally behind in technology. Where at the end of spring 2020, 85% of U.S. public schools offered virtual learning, 45% of BIE schools did.
      In the meantime, learning had to proceed via packets delivered to students with homework picked up, with students in theory able to talk to teachers by phone. In principle, this is a good adaptation in the circumstances. However, there were complaints by at least some parents that the lessons were not sufficiently challenging, as they repeated familiar material, and phone calls from teachers (who granted were overloaded and had many students) were few.
      A major problem is that there are many locations on the reservation with no internet service, and many of these places have no cellphone or landline service either. Some BIE schools have reported that 95% of their students do not have internet connections (Alden Woods, "Lessons Lost," Navajo Times, October 8, 2020).

Reports from the Navajo Nation indicate that during the fall of 2020 virtual learning was not doing well for many. Many students had time management problems or for other reasons were not participating. One teacher said a third of her students had just disappeared, had not joined classes online or turned in any work. Many teachers said that it was hard getting used to teaching online, including getting used to the software, and more work than face to face teaching. Where parents had a choice to send students to school or have them learn virtually at home, teachers said the extra work of preparing both formats was difficult. Many parents said the teachers assigned too much homework, with teachers responding that the software required it. If classes are participatory, students would have to do more work at home. Many students said that once their teachers became used to teaching online, they enjoyed the classes (Cindy Yurth, " Virtual Learning," Navajo Times, October 16, 2020).

The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission held a public virtual hearing, July 30, 2020, " to assess mistreatment of Navajo and Native American Children," with written testimony accepted until August 13 ("Online Public Hearing," Navajo Times, July 16, 2020).

The Keres Children's Learning Center (KCLC) at Cochiti Pueblo in New Mexico, in its nineth year, and third as a full emersion duel language Montessori school, was able to move learning entirely on line when the pandemic hit, and with good results. Substituting for the annual student play, students shared their research with each other, teachers and parents on Zoom.
      Meanwhile, KCLC has continued for a second year its outdoor Keres Language learning on various topics for members of the wider community, and emersion language learning for parents. The annual November Native Language Symposium was postponed to April 22-23 in Albuquerque. Form more information visit: (KCLC letter of December 11, 2020).

St. Michaels Indian School, on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, whose principle is Dine and whose new vice principle is a former student, was able to switch easily to virtual learning in the pandemic, having been updating its technology for five years. Every classroom now has internet connection, and teachers spent the summer of 2020 preparing for teaching differently in the fall. St. Michaels offers three learning options: via internet, in person on campus, and a combination. The school has also been moving toward dual enrolment with Xavier University ( St. Michaels Indian School Cardinal News, October 2020. For more information go to:

The Wampanoag Nation, on Cape Cod, has been revitalizing their language that had not been spoken for 150 years. They began the Wopanaak Language Project in 1990, studying written records of the language and then compared it with still spoken related languages. Students can now study it in school, and over 100 tribal members now speak it (Melissa Mohr, "A Native American tribe reclaims its language," Christian Science Monitor, November 23, 2020).

The Sicangu CDC’s Education Initiative is launching the Mission’s new Lakota language immersion school, Wakanyeja Tokeyahci Wounspe Ti (Children First Learning Center), on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. Director Sage Fast Dog stated that the school will operate “Creating authentic dialogue, seeing how the language is contextualized we want to make the classroom a really rich language environment, with language that kids can hear and practice," He added, "The kids will have either a fluent speaker or second language teacher working with them." The learning will focus on Lakota language and identity, in an individualized student-driven educational experience. At the heart of the learning process will be project based learning, or 'hands-on learning' aiming at increasing students’ problem solving and critical thinking skills.
      For more information on how Fast Dog came to create the school, and why a Lakota language school is important see 7Gen Voices episode ( dAcpnu6SWBA). Also on that episode is Aaron Epps, a former teacher at Saint Francis Indian School who compiled the 2019 State of the Future Workforce Report. Epps, pointing out how schools like this one that teach according to Indigenous cultural understandings and values can improve Indian education, comments, “For every 100 high school freshmen who start at Todd County, White River and St. Francis, about 70 of those will complete high school, and about 21 of those students will enroll in some sort of post-secondary education. But of those 21, only about 5 will graduate with some form of degree within six years after high school graduation,” Epps stated. “There’s a need for different thinking; the current system isn’t working for our students, families and communities”  (Tom Crash, "New Lakota Immersion School Will Indigenize Local Education." Lakota Times, August 06, 2020,

Arlo Iron Cloud, "Lakota language and culture could be option to virtual learners," Lakota Times, August 13, 2020,, reported, "Earlier this year, schools in South Dakota switched to a virtual learning platform to counter the virus’s ability to spread. The group of parents agreed that they would extend that protection this year or even home school their children before they agree to have them exposed to the virus this fall semester. A brilliant idea came from the exploration of options through virtual learning, why not partner with a reservation based school – Oglala Lakota County School District (OLCSD) would answer their need.
      Since Rapid City Area Schools plan was not focused or concrete, parents took to this partnership initiative. Not only would Rapid City students be exposed to language and culture they would also have the opportunity to do this via virtual learning and secure their safety. Another plus to this partnership is the ability to perform school instruction at the convenience of student and parents’ schedules."

Mary Annette Pember, "Agency abruptly changes course on Navajo schooling," ICT, September 11, 2020,, reported,  " Schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Education on the Navajo Nation will be opening under a distance-learning plan next week [of September 14, 2020] , a stunning reversal of the agency’s plans to hold classes in person.
      The agency apparently changed course after a discussion between Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and BIE Director Tony Dearman."

Kalle Benallie, " Students shape Wind River virtual tour," ICT, August 30, 2020,, reported, " The heart of a new Wind River Reservation virtual tour is a group of local high school students who helped create narratives for 10 significant locations."
      Senior Larami Azure, Eastern Shoshone, said,  “I just wanted to show the reservation is actually a very beautiful place, and there’s a lot of good things here that a lot people take for (granted) and don’t actually think about,”
      TravelStorysGPS requested the Fort Washakie High School students to tell their tribes' stories on a virtual tour of the reservation, that can be accessed on the company's website and app.
      "The tour allows people to experience the sights remotely or listen and learn about them as they drive through the Wyoming reservation. Highlights include scenic Ray Lake and the final resting places of Sacagawea and legendary Eastern Shoshone leader Chief Washakie."

From John Reyhner, Northern Arizona University, "Dear Friends of Indigenous Languages.
      I wanted to let you know about a new 11 1/2 minute video entitled "Walking in Both Worlds: Native American Students and Language Acquisition" that is available to view at
      While the video discusses English language acquisition, it also supports Indigenous language revitalization and and culturally responsive education. If you know of other videos like this that are freely available that I could add links to on my Teaching Indigenous Languages web site, please e-mail the URL to me at .
Jon Reyhner, Ed.D.
Professor of Education and Stabilizing Indigenous Language Symposium steering group chair
P. O. Box 5774
Northern Arizona University
Flagstaff, Arizona 86011"

"Indian Country Today’s daily newscast will air on Arizona PBS World," ICT, May 8, 2020,, reported, " What started in March as a live-streamed discussion about the coronavirus pandemic and its impact , on Indian Country has quickly transformed into a weekday newscast delivered to nearly 75 million households.
      In the newscast’s fifth week of production, Indian Country Today is announcing that the half-hour broadcast will be picked up by Arizona PBS . The show, called Indian Country Today, will air weekday nights at 11 p.m. on the Arizona PBS World channel, starting May 11. The news show is aimed at an Indigenous audience and produced by Indigenous journalists."

"New documentary on Indigenous food sovereignty," Lakota Times, September 03, 2020,, reported, "A feature length documentary celebrating Indigenous food systems and the efforts underway nationwide to reclaim and rebuild them will be available on iTunes starting September 8, 2020.
       Gather is an intimate portrait of the growing movement among Native Americans in the aftermath of centuries of genocide to ensure the health, strength and future of Native communities. The film is the result of a three-year collaboration between the First Nations Development Institute and award-winning director Sanjay Rawal."

Vincent Schilling, "Four new Indigenous films by and about Native women ," ICT, November 2, 2020,, reported, "For the past 45 years, the nonprofit Women Make Movies ( has been one of the leading industry organizations working to help female filmmakers, directors and producers create films with a message of female empowerment and resilience.
      Among its latest efforts are four Indigenous-themed films, each employing a female Native producer and/or director
," which were viewable in a virtual film festival November 1-8, 2020. These films are: Without a Whisper: Konnon:kwe by film maker Katsitsionni Fox, Mohawk; Paulette from Director/Producer: Heather Rae, with a commentary on it that can be viewed from:; Sisters Rising , by Directors: Willow O’Feral & Brad Heck,  and Executive Producer: Tantoo Cardinal, Cree/Metis and
Producer: Jaida Grey Eagle, Oglala Lakota; and Conscience Point with Director: Treva Wurmfeld and Producer: Julianna Brannum, Comanche."

Alexandra Alter, "‘We’ve Already Survived an Apocalypse’" Indigenous Writers Are Changing Sci-Fi: Long underrepresented in genre fiction, Native American and First Nations authors are reshaping its otherworldly (but still often Eurocentric) worlds," The New York Times, August 14, 2020,, " Dimaline, along with Waubgeshig Rice, Rebecca Roanhorse, Darcie Little Badger and Stephen Graham Jones , who has been called “ the Jordan Peele of horror literature ,” are some of the Indigenous novelists reshaping North American science fiction, horror and fantasy — genres in which Native writers have long been overlooked.
      Their fiction often draws on Native American and First Nations mythology and narrative traditions in ways that upend stereotypes about Indigenous literature and cultures. And the authors are gaining recognition in a corner of the literary world that has traditionally been white, male and Eurocentric, rooted in Western mythology."

Sandra Hale Schulman, "Met names first full-time curator of Native art," ICT, October 3, 2020,, reported, "Scholar, author and former director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian-New York , Patricia Marroquin Norby, Purépecha, has been named the [Metropolitan Museum of Art]'s   inaugural associate curator of Native American art.
      Norby’s focus will be work on the Met’s collection development and exhibition programming that focuses on Native arts. Her other goal is outreach to Indigenous communities, scholars, artists and audiences."

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International Developments

International Organization Developments

"A day to recognize the resilience of indigenous peoples," UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs," August 3, 2020,, reported, " Indigenous peoples have been heavily impacted by COVID-19. Nevertheless, their response to the global pandemic has shown their resilience in overcoming challenges. Indigenous peoples continue to use unique solutions to tackle the pandemic – as they have for centuries. They are taking action, drawing on their traditional knowledge and practices, such as voluntary isolation, and sealing off their territories.
      For example, the Karen people of Thailand have revived their ancient ritual of 'Kroh Yee' (village closure) in efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19. In Honduras, several Lenca and Maya Chortí communities have put in place ‘sanitary cordons’ to enclose their villages and to prevent outsiders from entering their territories.
      Indigenous peoples are also implementing preventive and protective measures – providing key messages and launching media campaigns in indigenous languages to ensure greater awareness and outreach. These and many other practices are vital to preserve indigenous peoples’ and their communities and cultures, as they continue to be disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
       Indigenous youth in many communities are playing a key role in supporting community decisions, by enforcing restrictions and lockdowns, distributing essentials and health equipment, as well as gathering information on the impact of the pandemic. Elders, who are the guardians of history, traditions, languages and cultures of indigenous peoples are particularly vulnerable, and deserve special attention to prevent an immense bio-cultural loss.
       Indigenous women, who are responsible for the health, nutrition and care of their families and communities, are bearing a huge toll in this pandemic. Their main source of income from handicrafts, vegetables and other products, is currently curtailed, as they struggle to provide for their families. Indigenous children – especially those located in remote areas who do not have access to essential distance learning tools such as Internet access and are experiencing a digital divide, will most likely be placed even further behind. Special measures are needed to address the challenges faced by indigenous peoples in different parts of the world, in particular indigenous women and children.
       COVID-19 is by far not the only threat to the health and survival of indigenous peoples, who face numerous challenges, including poor access to sanitation, lack of clean water, inadequate medical services, widespread stigma and discrimination in healthcare settings, and land grabbing and encroachment on their lands. Nevertheless, indigenous peoples maintain practices that can serve as inspiration in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic globally, and their collective traditions and strong support systems in their communities can serve as an inspiration to all communities.
      The commemoration of the 2020 International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples will offer a glimpse of the challenges and responses faced by indigenous peoples during this pandemic, as well as good practices that can be shared around the world.
      For more information: ."

" 13th session/ Regional meetings of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: The impact of COVID-19 on the rights of indigenous peoples under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, Accessed January 11, 2020,, reported with web accessible submissions, "The 13th session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, initially scheduled to take place from 8 to12 June 2020, was postponed to take place from 30 November to 4 December 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Following the ongoing COVID-19 crisis affecting the travel of members, indigenous peoples, Member States and others, the EMRIP decided to convert its postponed 13th into four virtual regional meetings, followed by a wrap up meeting for the EMRIP members and Secretariat only.
      The topic of the regional meetings will be, "The impact of COVID-19 on the rights of indigenous peoples under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples". See Concept Note. The outcome of these regional meetings was recorded in the EMRIP's annual report and may be viewed on the webcast here:
      The regional meetings were held as follows:
       Africa and North America - Monday 30 November from 15:00 to 17:00 (Geneva time). Interpretation in English, and French. Agenda: English | Français
       Pacific and Asia - Tuesday 1 December from 9:00 to 11:00 (Geneva time). Interpretation in English and French . Agenda
      The Arctic; Central and Eastern Europe, Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia
- Wednesday 2 December from 15:00 to 17:00(Geneva time). Interpretation in English, French and Russian. Agenda
       Central and South America and the Caribbean - Thursday 3 December from 15:00 to 17:00 (Geneva time). Interpretation in English, French and Spanish. Agenda
      The following submissions were received by the EMRIP, and some were given as statements by participants during the regional meetings:
A) Africa and North America – 30 November 2020
Congres Mondial Amazigh,
FHQ Tribal Council (FHQTC), Canada
Hai Om San Bushmen Community Development Organisation, Namibia
Indigenous Bar Association, Canada
Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee
International Indian Treaty Council (IITC)
International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) News Report 2020
Indigenous World Association (IWA), Canada
Ministere de la Justice, Congo
National Statement, Canada
PineCreek First Nation Manitoba, Canada
Santa Mbororo Youths Association (SAMUSA-SANTA), Cameroon
Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Canada
B) Asia and Pacific – 01 December 2020
Aid to Tai People
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)
Asia Indigenous Peoples' Caucus, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, Indigenous Peoples Disabilities Network
Hokkaido Ainu, Japan
Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), Malaysia
Human Rights Commission Te Kāhui Tika Tangata, New Zealand
India Indigenous Peoples and Adivasi Samanway Manch Bharat
Indigenous Peoples' Organization (IPO), Australia
Indigenous Women's Network, India
Independent Iwi Monitoring Mechanism (IWI), New Zealand
Joint Statement, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Asia Indigenous Peoples Caucus, Asia Indigenous Youth Platform (AIYP) and Asia Young Indigenous People's Network (AYIPN)
Joint Statement, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Asia Indigenous Peoples Caucus & Network of Indigenous Women in Asia (NIWA)
Joint statement Kapeeng Foundation (KF), Bangladesh Indigenous Women Network (BIWN), Jatiya Adivashi parishad (JAP), Bangladesh
Joint Statement, Lawyers' Association for Human Rights of Nepalese Indigenous Peoples (LAHRUNIP), Indigenous Peoples Nepal Trust, Community Law Firm Study and Research Dabu
Joint Statement, Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR), Karbi Human Rights Watch (KHRW), Borok Peoples' Human Rights Organization (BPHRO), Zo Indigenous Forum (ZIF), Boro Peoples Committee for Peace Initiatives (BPCI), Northeast India
Joint Statement, Nirai Kanai nu Kai and Shimin Gaikou Centre
Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF)
National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Philippines
National Indigenous Australians Agency
New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council
New Zealand, Ministry for Māori Development
United Nations Association of Australia- Qld-Division
West Papua Interest Association (WPIA)
C) The Arctic; Central and Eastern Europe, Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia – 02 December 2020
Aborigen Forum, Russian Federation
Association Indigenous Minorities North Ulch District
Association of indigenous peoples Yamal-potomkam
Community of Indigenous Peoples Tyakha Krasnoyarsk region, Russia
Ecospirituality Foundation Onlus
Inuit Cirumpolar Council, Greenland
Intervention by First Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine
Intervention European Union
Joint Statement delivered by Denmark on behalf of a group of states
KmnSOYUZ Organization
National Statement, Russia
Saami Council
Sami Parliament, Finland
Sámi Parliament, Norway
Sámi Parliament, Sweden
The Arctic Counsel Russia
D) Central and South America and the Caribean – 03 December 2020
Agricultural Service for Research and Economic Development - SAIPE, Peru
Ayullu Tawqa Killaka, Bolivia
Comunidad San Francisco de Cajas, Ecuador
Defensoría del Pueblo, Ecuador
Federação das Organizações Indígenas do Rio Negro (FOIRN) y Rede de Cooperação Amazônica (RCA)
Fondo para el desarollo de los pueblos indígenas de Americá Latina y el Caribe (FILAC)
Indian Law Resource Center
Individual Statement Nazareth Cabrera G
Intervención de Venezuela
Intervención de España
Interventión de Guatemala
Intervención de México
Intervención Pueblo Rapa Nui
Joint Statement CODECA, Asociacon B'elejeb Tz's, Fransisicans International, Fastenopfer - Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund
Joint Statement Organización Nacional de los Pueblos Indígenas de la Amazonía Colombiana-OPIAC, Amazon Conservation Team - Colombia, DeJusticia, Fundación Gaia Amazonas, Sinergias-Alianzas Estratégicas para la Salud y el Desarrollo Social y Clinica Juridica
Ka'Kuxtal Much Meyaj/Organizaciones Mayas
Ministerio de Cultura, Perú
Organisation des Nationes Autochtones de Guyane (NAG)
Organización Regional de la Asociación Inter éthnica de Desarollo de la Selva Peruana Uayali-ORAU
Presentación del Ombudsman de El Salvador
Pueblo Pijao, Colombia
Red Ecledial Panamazónica - Dossier Covid-19 en la Panamazónia
Comunidades Nativas Shipibo-Konzibo, Ucayali, Amazonía del Perú
Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (SESAI)/ Ministry of Health and the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), Brazil
United Confederation of Taino People and the Caribbean Development Organization Amerindian
Yamasi People"

Ariel Iannone Román, "UNPFII Releases Study Indigenous Peoples’ Autonomies," Cultural Survival, October 3, 2020,, reported, " The Study on Indigenous Peoples’ Autonomies: Experiences and Perspectives , issued in April 2020 what was supposed to be the 19th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, is an analysis of the current state of Indigenous Peoples’ right to autonomy as outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The study builds on the proceedings and outcome of the January 2018 Economic and Social Affairs meeting, the March 2019 Inter-American Commission on Human Rights seminar, and the July 2019 report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. For the purposes of the study, autonomy is defined as /the de facto implementation of self-determination by Indigenous Peoples.'
       The study breaks autonomy into two categories: territorial and functional. Territorial autonomy is a 'breaking-out' strategy 'that aims to create autonomy and self-determination through territorial self-rule.' Functional autonomy is a 'breaking-in' policy which involves the continuous promotion of Indigenous rights in agreements with the State via 'legitimate Indigenous political leadership.' Functional autonomy may include territorial self-rule, but the important distinction is that it attempts to go beyond the establishment of rights in relation to a specific territory.
      In certain cases of territorial autonomy, the State may determine a specific territory in which Indigenous Peoples are given specific rights. Other cases involve the forced displacement of Indigenous Peoples into government-determined autonomous territorial structures. Territorial autonomies around the world have been established at the family, village, community, and regional levels. In each case, this form of autonomy can be considered a form of government where all citizens are given equal rights in principal, and those who fulfill specific criteria have voting rights in the governing structures.
       In cases where the establishment of territorial and political autonomy appears unrealistic for the foreseeable future, Indigenous Peoples have been able to negotiate land claims in order to exert the rights of collective ownership, or other forms of control, over their traditional territories. All land claims involve surface and subsurface rights, and Indigenous Peoples for the most part have only been granted surface rights, with limited subsurface rights. Sometimes, land claims are restricted by use, as well.
       Functional autonomy includes ethnic and cultural categories. 'Ethnic autonomy within a nation-State gives specified rights to all members of the Indigenous group, for example, when Indigenous groups are allowed to establish their own schools or speak their own language in court.' Cultural autonomy is a more limited form that attempts to unite Indigenous Peoples who have been scattered between urban areas and traditional homelands, so that their rights may be recognized despite the “diasporic indigeneity” that has seen the community become physically separated.
      Though Indigenous autonomies are always a part of the nation-State, they can exist with independent, parallel, or subsumed integration, with most autonomies including different aspects of each type, particularly subsumed integration. Independent autonomy is type of a 'nested autonomy,' where the State government can’t intervene in decisions made by the autonomous government as long as those decisions don’t fall outside of the scope of the autonomous unit’s authority. Parallel autonomy is 'where the Indigenous autonomy exists in parallel to the national structures.' In these cases, the Indigenous community as a whole has 'exclusive land rights within a certain territory,' while each member of the community still maintains their individual rights as a citizen of the State. In subsumed autonomies, the Indigenous autonomy is subsumed to the national political structure in one way or another. The most extreme version of this occurs when “the general rules of the autonomy are the same as those under which the rest or majority of the population live.” In these cases, Indigenous autonomy is administered by the national system in the same way as a regional or municipal unit.
      The most radical form of autonomy is voluntary isolation, which is 'a form of forced isolation or a reaction to being excluded and a need to flee from atrocities.' The Indigenous communities who fall under this category are among the most vulnerable peoples in the world, and the study emphasizes the need for a legal and political framework that ensures that the choice to isolate is respected and protected, and that prepares for the day the community may choose to contact the outside world.
       The bulk of the study is dedicated to a discussion of thematic issues. Key obstacles identified by Indigenous Peoples in the successful establishment of autonomy are 'natural resource extraction, lack of political recognition and the influx of settlers.' Other external factors mentioned are 'racism, the caste system, opposition from other Indigenous groups in the country, the criminalization of Indigenous Peoples, a lack of involvement in projects affecting them and increasing disrespect for human rights by politicians, the authorities and the general public.'
      The process of negotiating autonomies is long and expensive, and often Indigenous communities lack legal or publicly elected representatives who can spearhead negotiations. Working with non-Indigenous recruited experts has mixed results, as they don’t typically speak the Indigenous language or share the same traditions. Another issue is organization, as most Indigenous Peoples find the national political parties of their country to be of no help in promoting their rights. The study states that 'although Indigenous Peoples in most countries relate to political parties for jobs, national elections, lobbying, etc, other ways must be found for promotion of autonomy
      It is difficult to establish territorial autonomy when Indigenous Peoples are not the majority population in the area. A parallel functional autonomy is a more realistic choice for these situations. Other alternatives include autonomy at the community level, or in one particular case in Canada, the merging of 'a First Nations band government and a municipal government into a single authority.' Even after autonomy has been successfully established, there is often a lack of implementation of key agreements since the negotiated rights haven’t been translated into legislative, administrative, or other measures. Another issue has been the process of regression that has Indigenous Peoples witnessing the erosion of rights that had been previously established.
      When the choice is available, Indigenous communities must decide if their autonomy should be structured as a public government or an Indigenous self-government. When an autonomy becomes a public government, then it becomes fully subsumed in the State’s political and administrative structure. This can limit the promotion of Indigenous rights given the weight of most State bureaucracies, which use frameworks that are very different from the traditional Indigenous structures. If the autonomy becomes an Indigenous self-government, the community must decide if their governance should align with national rules, local traditions, or a combination of both.
      In the absence of being able to establish autonomy, Indigenous Peoples have made attempts to modify land claims into comprehensive agreements to combine political rights with territorial rights. Land claim titles have often been awarded without being negotiated by Indigenous representatives. This results in the land being vested in regional and for-profit corporations, and reduces the Indigenous community to being shareholders. This illustrates the drawback of land claims, as 'the experiences of many countries have shown that this does not protect the lands against intruding interests and that discrimination continues into the court system.'
      Recognition is an obvious pre-condition to genuine autonomy, and provides a platform from which to move forward with attempts to establish autonomy and Indigenous rights to self-determination. A key issue here is 'who has the right to define Indigenousness.' There are different ways to achieve recognition, including through constitutional amendments, by law, or by legal provisions. In countries that lack official recognition, 'Indigenous Peoples can be said de facto to have some degree of recognition as being labelled scheduled tribes, marginal or vulnerable groups.'
       Many governments around the world have established institutions dedicated to promoting the rights of Indigenous Peoples, though the study notes that these attempts would be better served by turning the control of these institutions over to Indigenous Peoples. In general, the promotion of Indigenous rights is better guaranteed when co-management and conflict resolution mechanisms are legally and politically guaranteed with procedural consistency. 'The most successful autonomies are those where both the Indigenous Peoples and the Governments feel ownership of and responsibility to the establishment of Indigenous autonomies.'
       The study closes by making several recommendations to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues that include promoting dialogue between Indigenous Peoples and Governments, increasing the understanding and support of United Nations agencies and other relevant institutions, and facilitating an inclusive process to develop guiding principles for the implementation of Indigenous Peoples’ rights to autonomy and self-government. At the State level, the study encourages the establishment of 'ombudsman institutions to ensure that the rights of all Indigenous Peoples are respected and protected.' It also stresses the importance of developing official grievance mechanisms to hold States accountable and establishing protective frameworks for Indigenous Peoples living in isolation.
       Read the entire Study on Indigenous Peoples’ Autonomies here:"

"Cultural Survival Collaborates with UNESCO to Support Journalists During COVID-19," Cultural Survival, September 09, 2020,, reported, "Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, UNESCO, the United Nations organization with a mandate to promote freedom of expression, launched the Support Group for Journalists. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Mary Lawlor, supports this initiative.
       The threats faced by journalists who defend human rights are multiple, and sometimes lethal. Journalists around the world face intimidation, abuse and harassment online, hacking, illegal detention, physical threats and murder. And when journalists are killed, their perpetrators are often not brought to justice. It is difficult to imagine the level of stress that these journalists, who are often women, have to absorb in order to carry out their work defending the rights of others. Their families endure that anxiety, too, making their vital work even more difficult,' says Lawlor.
      The pilot project is coordinated by the UNESCO Multi-Country Office in San José, with the support of the UNESCO Multi-Country Office in Quito and the UNESCO National Offices in Mexico and Guatemala. The initiative is supported by Cultural Survival, the International Federation of Journalists (FIP), IREX, the Shelter City Program, Fundamedios, and the International Justice Mission (IJM).
       Journalists and their families will be able to obtain accompaniment and psychological support through webinars that will be moderated by psychologists, podcasts, monthly newsletters, and individual and group sessions. Through these activities, journalists and their families will be able to count on more strategies for emotional management and strengthening of their self-care skills. In addition, these activities will provide spaces for journalists to share their experiences with other colleagues. Additionally, radio programs are being produced and broadcast by Cultural Survival in 13 Indigenous languages ​​through community radios in Central America and special webinars will be held for journalism students on self-care, so that they are prepared to face the challenges caused by future crises.
      Esther Kuisch Laroche, Director of UNESCO in San José, highlights the relevance of developing this project during the Covid-19 pandemic, 'More than ever it is important that we support journalists and freedom of expression. In these times of crisis, your work is essential to promote transparency and accountability. However, the spread of the coronavirus, confinement, and uncertainty have led to stress, depression, fatigue, burnout, and loss of interest in work. As a consequence, many journalists are unable to defend freedom of expression adequately. This support group is a good example of collaboration between stakeholders, and will help journalists be more efficient and productive.'
      The importance of supporting journalists has been highlighted by many organizations including the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its director of the Regional Office, Paula Cejas says, 'It is essential to provide tools and resources that ensure the psychological and emotional health of journalists and media workers, who today are exposed to carry out their work, in a context of total uncertainty, insecurity and fear. Covering COVID-19 not only means assuming the role of witnesses to a traumatic and anguish situation, but also facing the risk of becoming victims of this disease on a daily basis.'
       The pandemic has affected the lives of many people, including those journalists in indigenous peoples who are in a vulnerable situation. As Galina Angarova (Buryat), Executive Director of Cultural Survival explained, 'Indigenous Peoples have been vulnerable prior to COVID-19, and today they continue to be disproportionately affected by the pandemic. However, Indigenous communities around the world are responding to the virus with resistance, using their ancestral knowledge to cope with the situation. Among them are courageous Indigenous journalists and communicators who, despite the lack of adequate conditions, continue to carry out their work and make an enormous effort to keep their communities informed about COVID-19 in their native languages.'
      For more information about the Support Group for Journalists, please contact Jamion Knight, in charge of the Communication and Information Program at the UNESCO Office in San José."

"Unique event: indigenous voices heard for first time in EU debate on conservation," Survival International, November 17, 2020,, reported, " For the first time, indigenous people and activists affected by protected areas on their land will have the chance to tell European policy makers what they think about conservation.
unique conference , taking place on November 19, is hosted by European parliamentarians and will bring together representatives of indigenous peoples and local communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America, NGOs, European Commission officials, and MEPs.
       The debate will be livestreamed, and comes against the backdrop of a push by the EU, UN and others to turn 30% of the world’s surface into protected areas by 2030 .
       Survival and others are campaigning to stop this #BigGreenLie as it would constitute the biggest land grab in world history, reducing hundreds of millions of people to landless poverty.
Among the activists present will be:
      - Pranab Doley, indigenous activist from the Mising tribe, Kaziranga, India
            - Mordecai Ogada, conservationist, Kenya
      - Delcasse Lukumbu, Congolese activist and member of Lucha RDC, Congolese citizen movement, DRC
      - Guillaume Blanc, Environmental historian, specialist in contemporary Africa and lecturer at University of Rennes 2, France
      They will come face to face with officials such as:
      - Herbert Lust, Vice President and Managing Director of Conservation International Europe
      - Chantal Marijnissen, Head of Unit, Environment, Natural Resources, Water, Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, European Commission (the department linked to the notorious Messok Dja park in Congo)
            - Luisa Ragher, Head of Division Human Rights, European External Action Service (EEAS)
      To attend the event for free and receive simultaneous translation in English, French, Spanish and Russian, register via Zoom:
      Or watch the livestream on Facebook:"

"WWF releases report on its human rights abuses," Survival International, November 24, 2020,, reported, " Today, WWF has released a report it commissioned on its human rights abuses in the Congo Basin, India and Nepal. It 'did not seek to determine… whether the alleged abuses… occurred '.
      Its focus was, 'that WWF knew about the alleged abuses by rangers… but… continued to support and collaborate with them, and… failed to take effective steps to prevent, respond to and remedy the alleged abuses.' The report echoes previous WWF responses in passing blame onto “government rangers,” funded and trained by WWF.
       The report clearly shows that the senior management of WWF International, which was responsible for the direct management of programs in Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, repeatedly failed, over the course of several years, to take corrective action. It also says WWF has continued to fund and support rangers who have committed abuses in the Congo Basin: 'By 2008 at the latest, WWF Cameroon staff had heard allegations of beatings and physical violence by eco-guards in the national parks of south-eastern Cameroon. Nevertheless, WWF continued to fund, support and collaborate with ecoguards in a variety of ways.'
      The report also found that 'the implementation of [WWF’s] social policies on the ground has been inconsistent, and in many respects ineffective during the period covered by this report.'
      The report was commissioned in March 2019 following Buzzfeed reports which supported investigations previously made by the Rainforest Foundation (UK) and Survival International: WWF projects in the Congo Basin had taken the land of the local Baka, Bayaka and other (so called “Pygmy”) tribes without their consent, and its rangers had severely mistreated them under the guise of the fight against poaching.
Tribespeople were beaten, tortured, imprisoned and killed. Neither women, nor children nor the elderly, were spared.
      WWF asked London law firm, Kingsley Napley – specialists in reputational protection – to carry out an investigation. This comprised a review of documents and decisions. The investigation was then “assessed” by a team of human rights consultants, including the former UN special rapporteur on human rights and the environment, John Knox.
      The 160-page report was finally released today, two days before U.S. Thanksgiving Day.
      On 18 November, the UNDP responded to the abuses committed by WWF funded rangers in the North of Congo by also releasing its decision to end its support for its 'Transboundary Biodiversity Conservation into the Basins of the Republic of Congo' project, and to do a 'fundamental reset' of its work in the area. However, it will continue to support conservation there and intends to continue working with WWF, in spite of the acknowledged human rights violations.
      Survival’s Director, Stephen Corry, said today, 'Another of many internal reports on WWF human rights abuses confirms what we’ve said for decades. It’s come just before Thanksgiving in a clear attempt to bury the news. Conservation is now reframing its narrative to include support for indigenous peoples’ rights, but we’ve heard all this before and little seems to change on the ground. Indigenous peoples’ lands must be properly recognised as their own. Their right to refuse outside intervention they don’t want must be upheld, including for so-called 'green' projects. They are better at conservation than the conservation NGOs which mistreat and threaten them. If we are genuine about protecting biodiversity, it’s time to let them get on with it.'”

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Regional and Country Developments

      Ian Austen, "An Indigenous Canadian Journalist Was Covering a Protest. Then He Got Arrested: He is one of four reporters arrested while covering Indigenous affairs in a country that has been trying to make amends for its colonial past," The New York Times, September 23, 2020,, reported that Karl Dockstader, an Indigenous radio reporter, was arrested for covering an ongoing First Nation demonstration aimed at blocking a housing project on land claimed by a First Nation in Caledonia, Ontario. Dockstader was enjoined from further reporting of the project.
      "Mr. Dockstader’s arrest is one of four recent arrests of reporters covering Indigenous protests in Canada
, and journalism and civil rights groups immediately leapt to his defense. Canada’s constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech includes freedom of the press as a 'fundamental freedom'.”
       Some see these arrests as an attempt to silence Indigenous voices in Canada.

In scenes reminiscent of the fishing wars in the United States, First Nation lobster fishers in Nova Scotia, catching lobsters legally under treaty out of season for everyone else have been attacked, had their catch stolen, and a processing plant destroyed by non-Indigenous fisherman angry at their "out of season" lobstering ( Dan Bilefsky, In ‘Lobster War,’ Indigenous Canadians Face Attacks by Fishermen: A battle over the lucrative lobster industry in Nova Scotia has become the latest flash point in a series of of abuses of Indigenous people in Canada," The New York Times, October 20, 2020,

"B.C. argues Nuchatlaht Nation ‘abandoned’ its territory. Lawyer reminds court ‘land was stolen:’
In the first-ever title case argued in B.C. since the province introduced UNDRIP legislation, Crown lawyers assert the nation lost territorial rights by not consistently occupying their lands. Experts say the argument is strange, possibly illegal and a step back for reconciliation," The Narwhal, November 25, 2020,, reported, " The land claim [by the Nuchatlaht First Nation to Nootka Island off the west coast of Vancouver Island ], which could set the stage for other First Nations in B.C., was launched in January 2017, but has not yet been tested in B.C. Supreme Court. Nuchatlaht leaders lay blame for the drawn-out process on provincial government lawyers who claim the nation abandoned their territory . The delays mean escalating costs for the small band, which has fewer than 170 members.
       The province has purposefully taken up a phoney defence designed to delay justice, said Jack Woodward, lawyer for the Nuchatlaht.
      B.C. argues Nuchatlaht Nation ‘abandoned’ its territory. Lawyer reminds court ‘land was stolen’
      In the first- ever title case argued in B.C. since the province introduced UNDRIP legislation, Crown lawyers assert the nation lost territorial rights by not consistently occupying their lands. Experts say the argument is strange, possibly illegal and a step back for reconciliation."

Rus Diabo, Draft Resolution #06-2020, AFN Annual General Assembly, Dec. 8-9, 2020, Title: Conditions to Supporting Bill C-15, Federal Legislation Regarding the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," First Nations Strategic Bulletin, June - December, 2020, reported, “The  [ Assembly of First Nations] AFN Co-Chairs used procedural tactics to stop this Draft Resolution from being debated and voted on during the AFN Virtual Assembly. It was the only Draft Resolution on Bill C-15. AFN National Chief Bellegarde is relying on past AFN Resolutions as his mandate to support Bill C-15” (For Diabo and other's critique ff Bill C-15, see Dialoguing, below).

Jorge Barrera, "Beyond the barricades: By setting up barriers around two housing developments and calling it 1492 Land Back Lane, Six Nations members have forced the town of Caledonia, Ont., to reckon — again — with who actually owns the land," CBC News, November 25, 2020,, reported, "On its 280-kilometre meander south to Lake Erie, the Grand River flows beneath a barricaded bridge along a bypass built to reroute highway traffic around Caledonia, Ont., a bedroom community in southwestern Ontario.
For the past month, its three main routes south have all been blocked by concrete barriers, gravel and trenches dug into the pavement by members of the Haudenosaunee nation re-seizing a portion of land that once ran from the headwaters to the mouth of this river

Dan Levey, star of the Emmy wining show Shits's Creek, has inspired thousands of Canadians to study the history of their country's colonial relationship with its First Nations. He announced publicly that he was returning to school and invited fans to do so. Within two weeks some 64,000 signed up for the online course Indigenous Canada, contributing to the national discussion of how the nation can redeem itself with its First People (Catherine Porter, "A Star Pupil Inspires Canadians to Study Up on Indigenous History," The New York Times, September 27, 2020).

Cesar Armando Bol Chocooj, "The State and Its Responsibility to Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala in the Face of the Coronavirus," Cultural Survival, June 24, 2020,, reported, "As many feared, the World Health Organization officially declared the COVID-19 Coronavirus as a pandemic. News media announced that it appeared for the first time in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province in the People’s Republic of China, a city with a population of approximately 11 million people. In Europe, there are hundreds of thousands of cases, and the most affected countries are Spain and Italy. The American continent is no exception: the United States tops the list of countries with the most cases, followed by Brazil and Peru.
      Meanwhile, in Guatemala, in numerous press conferences, the President of the Republic of Guatemala Alejandro Giammattei constantly reports the progression of positive cases of the COVID-19 virus in the country. The actions taken by the government to alleviate the crisis prioritize the economy of the business world, overlooking the health of the Guatemalan people. A loan of 450 million dollars from international organizations was urgently approved by the Congress. Very little of this money was directed to health. Beyond this, there are no specific emergency response plans that benefit the most vulnerable, including the Indigenous Peoples.
      Recently, the president of the Guatemala vetoed the proposed law 15-2020 passed by Congress, which took measures to defer payment of utility bills, including water, electricity, phone, and internet. He argued that various articles of the decree were unconstitutional. According to the president, an improved counterproposal drafted with the advice of ministers would approve the decree, but now the basic content is the same, with one difference: it redirects forty-five million quetzals to EMPAGUA, the municipal water company of the City of Guatemala.
      A few weeks ago, the president offered a 1000-quetzal voucher and bags of food to those most in need, but as of this point Indigenous communities have not yet seen this assistance. To date since the start of the quarantine (March 17th) there has been no food in many houses. Various families took to the streets with white flags signaling a call for help because they need food, medicine and support to supply other basic needs. To top it off, the president denied the legitimacy of this plea for help, calling those waving the white flags 'acarreados,' suggesting that they had been brought in to participate in staged protests.
       The business sector is a completely different story, at it seems to be one of the privileged classes during this crisis.For three months liability and worker’s compensation payments—including those to the Guatemalan Institute of Social Security (IGSS), Worker’s Recreation Institute (IRTRA), and the Technical Institute for Training and Productivity (INTECAP)—were suspended. Government actions in response to the pandemic were the following: a state of emergency was declared throughout Guatemala, a curfew was imposed from 4pm to 4am (now 6pm to 4am), in addition to the reduction of hours in markets and public transportation was also suspended.
       Indigenous Peoples are being greatly affected by these measures. The majority of the population is stuck in their communities due to the lack of transportation and they are not always able to sell what they are able to bring to market due to the limited operating hours. In some cases, municipal authorities improvised, relocating marketplaces to far-away places, where there are very few buyers. And now the worst is coming, because those who have taken out loans for capital have mortgaged their houses or land, and now run the risk of falling behind on their bank payments.
      Under the state of emergency, the industrial business sector continues to operate with special permission granted by the Ministry of the Economy. The application for this permission is designed for this sector, and has nothing to do with small business owners, who have been greatly impacted by the virus response measures. Likewise, the Congress, in addition to approving the expansion of the state of emergency, the curfew and the loans, included a safe-conduct for the movement of business people, who will not face travel restrictions with the argument that they are auditing and inspecting their business.
      These actions have been applauded and praised by a minority (some of whom belong to the sector which enjoys protected State salaries, others who are close friends of the government, and others, of course, who belong to the Guatemalan oligarchy). Meanwhile, the vast majority of the population that survives on informal economic activity has been dealt a blow. They have to work somehow each and every day in order to put food on the table for their families, pay rent, and utilities such as electricity, water, phone, and other expenses. Many cannot easily move their dwellings to their places of work. A large number of business people have mandated that their workers do not miss work, other workers were fired for being unable to get to work, and others were told that they could no longer be paid.
      The Labor Ministry has been inefficient, encouraging people to make claims, but calls to their published phone numbers go unanswered. In Indigenous communities, due to the lack of opportunities, many people have migrated to the city, mainly the capital. Since they don’t have a proper education, a vast majority is unable to access the formal labor market, so they have no options besides working in a tortilla factory or shop, shining shoes, selling food or trinkets, doing housework, selling lottery tickets, or in the worst cases, working in cantinas or getting involved in prostitution.
       The government has opened spaces for participation only for the sector with the most economic resources. They praise the donations of those who own big businesses, and (though all support should be valued), history has been witness to the fact that to these people there is no gift given that doesn’t expect something in return. Invisible and excluded, Indigenous Peoples have been rejected despite being a vast majority of the population in Guatemala. They will not be able to contribute economically, but they have great wisdom and know the reality of their communities. Their ancestral knowledge (such as traditional medicine, experience with older people, knowledge of midwives, agricultural techniques based on the lunar cycle, and their own methods of organization), can play a decisive role in the prevention of COVID-19 in their territories. By communicating in their own languages and with their own values, they would have been able to contribute to the prevention of the pandemic, but this is not the priority of the government. The effort to develop viable proposals could have started from there, the rural areas.
       Loans destined to help the crisis are not destined to help the Indigenous communities. One of the only actions take in support of the Mayan People was to order the Academy of Mayan Languages to translate some informational materials about the coronavirus into the country’s Indigenous languages, and distribute them through the media, above all in social media. The materials are limited, despite the fact that there are communities which wholly speak Mayan languages. Many of these communities do not have internet and television, and they barely have electricity, if at all. People need to walk long distances for many hours before making it to the centers of their communities, and the only way many stay informed is through community radio stations on radios that sometimes only work on batteries. Ironically, as these are the only means of communication, these radios have been targeted and criminalized by various governments over many years.
      The breach of communication is not the only problem. Many Indigenous communities have been dispossessed of their ancestral lands, which have historically belonged to them, and because of this they don’t have anywhere to plant their own seeds for cultivation. Thus, they don’t have sufficient food and have to go out and sell their labor as dayworkers in monoculture plantations. Others migrate, as previously said to the city, or abroad, generally to the United States. Despite this, the United States keeps sending planes of deportees to Guatemala, a high percentage of whom belong to rural communities. Unfortunately, many have come back infected with the virus. They have been placed in shelters and the government assures that it is taking care of transporting them back to their communities. Indigenous Peoples run the risk of having an uncontrollable pandemic in their communities when deportees come back, because health services are so basic or even nonexistent.
      It is evident that the actions of the government are not comprehensive and respond only to its own interests and the interests of those who traditionally finance political campaigns. We can only hope this loan is used as intended. It would be devastating to hear later that the Government committed acts of corruption with these funds, and in the end, that the people would have to pay for the irresponsibility of these officials, not just in taxes but with their health, or even their own lives.
      --Cesar Armando Bol Chocooj is a Q’eqchi’ Mayan from Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. He studies Education Administration and Pedagogy. His grandparents and parents were from a generation of conscripts for German landowners. He is a leader and organizer for the defense of mineral rights and has been a part of the National Council of CONIC and a delegate for VÍA CAMPESINA."

A decision of the Guatemalan Constitutional Court, in July 2020, returned 1148 caballerias (515 square kilometers) of land in Nebaj to the Maya Ixil ("Guatemala: Land returned to Maya Ixil," Cultural survival Quarterly, September 2020).

"Community Radio Snuq’ Jolom Konob’, AMEDIPK Association of Eulalense Women for the Integral Development of Pixan Konob, "Radio Snuq’ Jolom Konob’ Reinvests Itself to Reach a Wider Audience," Cultural Survival, October 02, 2020,, reported, " Broadcasting from the municipality of Santa Eulalia, Huehuetenango, Guatemala, Radio Snuq’ Jolom Konob’ is a community radio station run by a group of Q’anjob’al men and women communicators defending their land and territory and promoting transparency in issues that are of priority to the community. In January 2015, the previous municipality mayor, along with his supporters closed the station because of the stations’ informative broadcasting about hydroelectric companies operating in the region.
      These actions were reported on a national and international level for violating the freedom of expression of the community. Lorenzo Mateo, director of the radio, expressed that: 'After being closed for more than one year, on December 2, 2016, it began broadcasting again
. Opening up the microphone for the people is a journey towards exercising the right of communities to access information.'
      Through social media, Maria Pedro de Pedro, administrative manager of Asociación de Mujeres Eulalenses para el Desarrollo Integral Pixán Konob (AMEDIPK), found out about Cultural Survival’s Community Media Grants Program aimed at strengthening programming, capacity building, and increasing the participation of women in community radio. This was an opportunity for the station to apply to train community journalists and human rights organizations in community media for social change.
      Pedro took the initiative of gathering her efforts with radio leaders to write a proposal, their objectives were similar and they discussed the need for a radio station. What activities should we promote? What are the costs? These questions got answered as the proposal came together. According to the women’s leadership: 'The duties themselves have taught us that in order for our communication work to reach the political spheres of our country and the human rights entities, it is necessary that we study about communication and above all we should know a lot about the historical memory and the struggles of different Peoples.'
      When Pedro got news from Cultural Survival that their proposal had been approved, they organized into different roles and began executing them. They planned: a forum with the candidates running for mayor, the purchasing of computer and audio equipment, the maintenance of the transmitter and antenna, plus four workshops on radio production. For this last one they agreed on choosing 20 persons depending on their experience and community responsibilities taking into account gender equity.
      Maya Quiche journalist, Rolando Garcia, who has ample experience in community media was in charge of the training process. The training lasted four months and covered the following topics: the importance of community journalism; techniques for effective communication; techniques for interviews and news spots; analysis of the national and international legislation in favor of community radio.
      When the 20 participants were done with their training they shared their appreciation with the organizers, for their support in strengthening their knowledge of community media. One of the results of the training was the production of 40 radio scripts written during the project in which they covered the following topics: citizen participation; rights of Maya women; responsibilities of regional councils of urban and rural development; Maya science and technology, amongst others important to the community.
       Several changes have happened in the municipality of Santa Eulalia due to preventive measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. The president of Guatemala on March 13, 2020 announced a state of emergency in the whole country. Municipality authorities implemented preventive measures in the markets, streets, and educational centers, with the aim of reducing the spread of the virus.
       Radio Snuq’ Jolom Konob’ has made it easy to access information on COVID-19 prevention in Mayan languages and covers topics that are of interest to the community, Mateo explains: 'With several of our fellow communicator peers attending the journalism training, we have covered different activities related to communication, such as: live broadcasting municipal press conferences; the creation of newspaper summary programs; live programs and with the accompaniment of the municipal transit police and the national civil police; trainings that have allowed for the monitoring of the preventive and sanitary measures; as well as interviewing neighbors and community authorities about what is happening in the community.'
      Radio programs have exposed information on the State of Emergency, curfews, COVID-19 symptoms, who the most vulnerable to this disease are. The station has also covered interviews with lawyers about the legislative decree 15-2020, which contemplates benefiting the Guatemalan families with payments for basic services (electricity, water, phone and internet), approved by the Legislative Branch but vetoed by president Alejandro Giammattei stating they were unconstitutional. This work has made other communication outlets in our municipality request to network with us to retransmit press conferences through our website. We aim to promote relevant information during this quarantine and this pandemic.
      'The grant obtained from Cultural Survival allowed Radio Snuq’ Jolom Konob’ to reach a greater audience,' states Maria Pedro. The station also benefited from an equipment donation and the training enabled it to gain back its listenership and local support.
      'We present our gratitude to Cultural Survival, for their important input and support during the implementation of our project: ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND STRENGTHENING HUMAN RESOURCES AND COMPUTER EQUIPMENT FOR COMMUNITY RADIO SNUQ’ JOLOM KONOB’. We appreciate the help that has been given to us, where several forces came together, as likewise entities. It is a task that reinforces the importance of access to information and to Free, Prior and Informed Consent as an inherent right of Indigenous Peoples,' stated a letter written and signed at the at the end of the project by Radio Snuq’ Jolom Konob’’s Board of Directors and Association of Eulalense Women for the Integral Development of Pixan Konob (AMEDIPK)."

Orfy Arévalo, "Radio Sensunat: Broadcasting to Revitalize the Nahuat Language in El Salvador," Cultural Survival, November 23, 2020,, reported, " The municipality of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, in Sonsonate, western El Salvador, is characterized by having a majority Nahuat-speaking population. This municipality has been able to keep their language alive, as it was not hit with the repression suffered by the other municipalities of Sonsonate, where whole communities were exterminated in 1932. Today, Santo Domingo operates a community radio station, Radio Sensunat, promoting Indigenous Nahuatl Pipil culture and language. Radio Sensunat is part of the Participative Radiodifusión Association of El Salvador (ARPAS) and is a tool for alternative communication to promote Indigenous Peoples’ rights and cultures.
      Nahuatl cribs are places that have been created by Nahuat-speaking teachers as an initiative where the language is taught to boys and girls in the municipality. However, the leaders and Nahuat speakers constantly fight to ensure intergenerational transmission of knowledge.
      Mateo Rafael Latín Cuahuit, mayor of the ancestral authorities represents the Indigenous governing body of Izalco made up of mayordomos and mayordomas, has expressed satisfaction in being able to have a communication tool, like Radio Sensunat, where locals can express their thoughts and feelings, and where the issues most relevant to their communities are covered. Izalco is recognized for its El Llanito heritage and sacred site, a place where the remains of many ancestors rest. This municipality is unique as it is the only one in the country that has an ancestral Indigenous government. “For us, this fight against discrimination and stereotypes has not been easy, but we hold firm to the legacy that our ancestors left us. We thank the creator and shaper of the universe, because we have a means of communication that allows us to express ourselves and it supports us in the fight to defend our rights,” says Mateo Rafael Latín Cuahuit.
       Another of the municipalities that continues its fight to claim their rights is Nahuizalco. Community members are implementing projects to promote the Nahuat language through Nahuatl schools, in which young children and older adults participate. 'We, Indigenous leaders, are working to revitalize our identity, and it is good that these projects support us to learn about our origins. We are grateful to Radio Sensunat because it has raised awareness of our culture and promotes issues relevant to us,' says Nicolás Sánchez, leader of the Movement for Indigenous Unification of Nahuizalco (MUINA).
      Since its inception, the Radio Sensunat has had a strategic alliance with Indigenous communities and has worked to make issues of concern to the community visible. One demand of locals is that they are not seen as folklore but recognized as a group with rights who deserve respect for their ancestral culture. Radio Sensunat has supported this demand.
      This year, Radio Sensunat strengthened its relationship with the Indigenous communities of the area through the execution of a program, “Let's Talk About Ours,” which was developed with the support of Cultural Survival’s Community Media Grants Program. The station has supported Nahuat Pipil Peoples in the defense, revitalization, and maintenance of their culture and language. Through radio, the Nahuat language is transmitted and ancestral knowledge is transferred to younger generations so they can be empowered by their roots despite the discrimination and exclusion they face. "

Erica Belfi and Danielle DeLuca, "Afro-Indigenous Garifuna Youth Leader Abducted in Honduras along with 3 others," Cultural Survival, July 29, 2020,, reported, " Members of the Garífuna community are still awaiting answers concerning the four Garífuna men abducted from their homes on Sunday July 19, 2020. Among the missing include Alberth Snider Centeno Thomas (27 years old), a youth community leader who is president of the board of the town of Triunfo de la Cruz, on the north coast of Honduras, along with Milton Joel Martínez Álvarez (39), Suami Aparicio Mejía (29), and Junior Rafael Juarez Mejia (33). Witnesses report that their community members were abducted by armed men wearing police uniforms and balaclavas that concealed their faces. The armed men forced the abducted men from their respective homes at gunpoint and ushered them into an unmarked vehicle before speeding away.
      Over a week has passed since the incident, there is still no sign of the Garífuna community members, with little to no substantial response from authorities. While prosecutors say that the motive for the attack is unclear, Garífuna leaders contend that the abductions are indicative of ongoing state persecution. The region has undergone long-standing conflict as Indigenous community members defend their lands against tourism developers, extractive palm oil industries, and drug trafficking.
       Alberth Snider Centeno Thomas is the first youth leader elected to the position he holds as president of the ‘patronato’ or community governance board for close to two years. Just prior to his kidnapping, he had successfully spearheaded an initiative to re-establish the Garifuna community radio station Faluma Bimetu . 'Thanks to god, our ancestors, to OFRANEH, and the collaborations that continue to arrive... from different members of the community, soon our radio station will be broadcasting, my people. In these moments, more than ever, we need this radio station to more frequently inform our community about what happens here,' posted Centeno on Facebook on May 19th. During his leadership as president he also began the first phase of establishing a security post to protect the community. Centeno had also previously supported efforts to hold the Honduran government accountable for its compliance with the 2015 Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) ruling that mandated Garífuna people receive compensation for their stolen land. (ón-con-vida-ya-lideres-garifunas-secuestrados-en-honduras?signed=true) The ruling also issued the Garífuna people titles to their land in an effort to stave off future evictions. The government’s lack of compliance with the ruling has aggravated the conflict between community members and public officials. Centeno Thomas’ work may have made him a target of the violence.
      The Garífuna are an Afro-Indigenous Peoples who are the descendants of the African survivors of slave ships that were wrecked off the island of St. Vincent around 1675 and were welcomed by the Indigenous Kalingo People native to the island. In the late 18th century, the British exiled the Garífuna from the island and forcefully moved them to the Honduran coast and Belize. Over the years, the group has struggled to defend themselves against violent land grabs and hundreds of land defenders have been killed, threatened, or silenced. In 2019, Garifuna leader Mirna Suazo, president of the Masca Board of Trustees in Honduras, was murdered inside her restaurant, when two hitmen disembarked their motorcycles and repeatedly shot her on September 8, 2019. Suazo had adamantly rejected the installations of two hydroelectric plants on the Masca River.
      The Garífuna leaders say that the most recent abductions are the latest of many violent attempts made against them by Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández’s government: Miriam Miranda, a Garífuna leader and member of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras, is insisting that both the kidnappers and the people responsible for organizing the crimes behind the scenes be held accountable. “ What happened eight days ago today is the reflection of a systemic persecution and systemic repression, but also a well-crafted plan on behalf of the Honduran state to exterminate the Garífuna community.” She affirmed, “ Justice means prosecuting those who ordered this crime.” She noted that the crime was particularly hard hitting for Garifuna youth, because of the hope they felt when Centeno was elected as president of the community board, the first time a young person had held that role. “It was important that a youth took on the role of building their future,” she commented in Nodal Radio. OFRANEH reports that 92% of criminal cases remain in impunity in Honduras. Community members continue to protest the targeted violence, demanding that their lives, land, and culture be respected.
      Sign the Petition:
       Garifuna Leaders Kidnapped in Honduras: Return them Alive Now! (ón-con-vida-ya-lideres-garifunas-secuestrados-en-honduras?signed=true)"

John McPhaul and Cultural Survival, "Indigenous Communities and UN Urge Costa Rica to Re-Open Sergio Rojas’ Murder Case," Cultural Survival, November 11, 2020,, reported, " The Bribri community of Costa Rica, backed by the UN, strongly opposed the Costa Rican government’s decision to dismiss the criminal investigation of the March 2019 murder of Indigenous leader Sergio Rojas Ortíz. Costa Rican Public Ministry ordered the dismissal and the filing of the criminal case that is being followed on this crime, which occurred in the Indigenous Territory of Salitre in Buenos Aires, Puntarenas.
      Unknown assailants shot and killed Sergio Rojas (Bribri), 59, on March 18, 2019, while he was in his home in the Salitre Indigenous Reserve in southwest Costa Rica . Rojas led a Bribri movement to reclaim land occupied by non-Indigenous settlers within the Telire Indigenous Territory. To date perpetrators of his murder have not been found and justice has not been served.
      Costa Rica's Attorney General's Office, the Office of the Prosecutor Against Organized Crime and the Assistant Attorney's Office for Indigenous Affairs, in addition to the prosecutor's office in charge of investigating the homicide, met with the family of Rojas in Pérez Zeledón to communicate the decision made by the country's prosecutors office to shelve the Rojas case in which they pointed out that "the environment, the way of life in the area and the impossibility of locating the witnesses were factors that played against the investigation.'
       The Ditsö Iríria Ajkönuk Wakpa Council, the self-government of the Bribri de Salitre Territory since 1979, have rejected the decision of judiciary to dismiss investigations into Rojas’s murder. 'One more time, the State has endorsed impunity: on September 24th, the Judicial Branch announced they are dismissing the murder case of our Bribri community member of the Uniwak clan, Sergio Rojas Ortiz. [This] decision is supposedly based on the lack of proof and impossibility to carry out judicial investigations. As the Ditsö Iríria Ajkönuk Wakpa Council we reject the decision of the Judicial branch.' The Council argues that beyond the difficulties in investigating the case, the dismissal is political and is rooted in the systemic racism of the Costa Rican government. 'Political will and complicity with landowners and usurpers drive the State to this decision. The lives of Indigenous Peoples are not considered important and that is what drives them to promote impunity as the standard in our Territories,' said Ditsö in a press release.
       The United Nations Human Rights Council also issued a statement on the investigation’s dismissal, urging Costa Rica to prevent this crime from going unpunished. In its statement, the UN recalled earlier statements by Michel Forst, at the time the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, in which they urged the Costa Rican authorities to “identify the perpetrators materials and intellectuals of this serious crime and bring them to justice, in accordance with the law.”
       The UN also indicated that it had followed up on precautionary measure 321-12 of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which is a court order obligating Costa Rica to protect Indigenous land defenders in the territories of Térraba and Salitre, an order that due to Costa Rica failed to implement in a way that prevented the death of Sergio Rojas.
       The UN is also monitoring a land conflict in China Kiche, another Indigenous territory in southern Costa Rica, where the local Indigenous community is struggling with the presence of settlers on their lands.
       In an effort to prevent violence in more territories, the United Nations urged the Costa Rican State to ensure that, in the eviction announced for the next few days in the Indigenous territory of China Kichá, it needs to take into account recommendations by human rights experts on the rights of Indigenous Peoples and international standards on the rights to housing and forced evictions, in accordance with the international commitments and treaties.
      The UN ended by calling on its member States to promote the actions necessary to eradicate all forms of violence and discrimination against Indigenous Peoples, guaranteeing the rights to their traditional lands.
      The Ditsö Iríria Ajkönuk Wakpa Council made a series of demands that including:
      That the Judiciary continue it’s investigations to clarify the murder of our Uniwak brother Sergio Rojas Ortiz, as a means to comply in the most basic level with the Precuationary Measures MC-321 ordered by the InterAmerican Commission for Human Rights;
      Fulfill the true intent of the Precautionary Measures to protect the men and women Bribri leaders of Salitre and all those rightfully recovering their lands and territories.
      A real commitment from the President of Costa Rica to foment peace in the Bribri territory of Salitre through the immediate removal of non-Indigenous settlers from Indigenous territories and that recuperated lands be returned for management to the traditional self-governance organizations of Indigenous Peoples

Milagro Ventura, "KOEF Grant Partner Spotlight: OMIUBP Responds to COVID-19 in Guna and Ipeti Embera Communities," cultural Survival, December 09, 2020,," reported, " COVID-19 hit Indigenous Peoples too fast to anticipate. Yet, many have come together to ensure that Indigenous communities around the world are well-informed and have access to the resources needed to protect themselves from the pandemic. This response is especially necessary because Indigenous communities who are among the most vulnerable have become the last priority in the COVID-19 response by national governments.
      With most Indigenous areas being underfunded in medical resources, many communities had no other option but to invoke their autonomy and close access to their communities to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Closing off communities also means entering into a further state of isolation as ways to access medical care and resources become more restrictive. This is especially true for the Indigenous Panamanian communities of the Guna and of Ipeti Embera. Forty percent of these populations migrate for employment either permanently or temporarily, and those who get infected with the virus have found themselves without jobs and sometimes housing if they are not able to travel back to their communities.
       With so many obstacles to mobility and economic prosperities, intra-community work is not only important but also essential. In a time when organizing is not only important but also risky, Organización de Mujeres Indígenas Unidas por la Biodiversidad de Panamá (OMIUBP) rose to meet the needs and challenges in their communities. OMIUBP are experts in the revival and development of Indigenous knowledge in Panama and represent all 7 Indigenous Peoples nationwide. They work to fortify, develop, and retain Indigenous knowledge with a primary focus on Indigenous women’s role in defending human and biodiversity rights of their communities. 'As a result of this health crisis, we realized that it was necessary to join forces to continue supporting the communities,' says Deidamia López, president of OMIUBP.
      As COVID-19 became rampant, OMIUBP started a communication campaign to help mitigate the spread of the virus. With the help of a grant from Cultural Survival’s Keepers of the Earth Fund,OMIUBP created multimedia outreach programs for the Guna, Embera, and Wounaan. Using flyers, radio, and tv programming, social media posts, informative forums with community leaders, webinars, in both Guna and Emberá languages, and the creation of a COVID-19 committee, OMIUBP built solidarity and shared prevention information. Their local media campaigns were created through a combination of health recommendations from Panama’s Health Ministry and traditional medicine.
      'Thanks to this project I learned about COVID-19 in a scientific and cultural way,' stated one OMUBP member. Another member said, 'We have to follow sanitary norms, but also cultural norms.'
1According to OMIUBP, 80 percent of their target population stated that they received COVID-19 prevention information from flyers and audio and video programming that OMIUBP created. Their COVID-19 committee is made up of international and national Indigenous and non-Indigenous professionals, academics, and organizations, NGOs, and institutions that wanted to work together to find strategies to help ensure the resilience and health of Indigenous communities around the world in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The local part of this committee started a monitoring initiative where committee members follow up with those showing symptoms of COVID-19 for contact tracing purposes, for need-based inquiries, and for communal support. OMIUBP’s capacity-building activities were able to effectively communicate hygiene, sanitation, and mask usage guidelines to a population that would have otherwise not have had effective access to this information in their native languages."

In Colombia, the peace agreement has failed to stop the violence that also impacts Indigenous communities, and their leaders are amongst those who have been killedJulie Turkewitz, "Violent Protests Erupt in Colombia After a Man Dies in Police Custody: A video showed officers pinning down Javier Ordóñez and shocking him with a stun gun as he begged them to stop," The New York Times, September 10, 2020,, reported, "The video circulating on social media showed a man pinned to the ground by Colombian police officers, who shocked him repeatedly with a stun gun for more than two minutes. ' Please, no more' he begged.
      The man, Javier Ordóñez, a father of two, died shortly afterward in police custody. Within 24 hours, thousands of Colombians had taken to the streets of the capital, Bogotá, in protests against police violence that began late Wednesday and continued into Thursday, laying bare months of pent-up tension."
       At least 9 people died, with almost 400 injured, 66 reported to be from bullets, as dozens of police stations were set afire or vandalized.

Julie Turkewitz, "Colombia Sees Surge in Mass Killings Despite Historic Peace Deal: 'It is not easy to protect the whole population,' the country’s high commissioner for peace said in an interview," The New York Times, September 13, 2020,, reported, " Four years after ending the longest-running war in the Americas with a historic peace deal that was celebrated around the world, Colombia is experiencing a distressing surge in mass violence.
      The United Nations has documented at least 33 massacres this year, up from 11 in all of 2017, the year after the accord was signed, with at least a dozen more since the U.N. announced its last official count, in mid-August
       The continuing mass murders in Colombia especially of Indigenous people, brought major Indigenous protests in the capitol toward the end of October. Julie Turkewitz and Sofía Villamil, "Indigenous Colombians, Facing New Wave of Brutality, Demand Government Action: 'If we don’t stand before the world and say, ‘This is happening,’ we will be exterminated,' a protest leader said. After a long civil war, a new type of violence is sweeping Indigenous communities," The New York Times, October 24, 2020,, reported, "Protesters descended by the thousands on Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, this week, horrified by a brutal wave of violence sweeping the country, one so intense that mass killings have taken place every other day on average.
      Most traveled hundreds of miles, from the rural Indigenous communities that have been particularly ravaged by the violence, which they trace to government failures to protect them under the country’s halting peace process."
       As of October 23, in 2020 233 community leaders had been killed, and more than 1000 had been murdered since the peace accord was signed. Mass killings, of three or more people, in the same period have numbered 68, with an increase in the rate of attacks from July through September.

Nafeeza Yahya-Sakur and Anatoly Kurmanaev, "Killings Reignite Racial Tensions in Guyana: The South American country, already deeply split by a presidential election and an oil windfall, is tested again as three teenagers are slain," The New York Times, September 11, 2020,, reported, "The gruesome murders of two teenagers and the apparent reprisal killing of a third have plunged Guyana into its worst racial unrest in years, coming just weeks after the nation emerged from a disputed election that had deeply divided its two dominant groups over the country’s newfound oil wealth.
      The unrest is raising fears of a return to the violence between Guyanese of Indian and African descent that split the small South American nation in the 1960s
, and has unsettled it periodically since."

In Colombia, the peace agreement has not ended the violence, which has also impacted Indigenous communities, leading the deaths of some of their leaders. Julie Turkewitz,"Colombia Sees Surge in Mass Killings Despite Historic Peace Deal: 'It is not easy to protect the whole population,' the country’s high commissioner for peace said in an interview," The New York Times, September 13, 2020,, reported, "Four years after ending the longest-running war in the Americas with a historic peace deal that was celebrated around the world, Colombia is experiencing a distressing surge in mass violence.
       The United Nations has documented at least 33 massacres this year, up from 11 in all of 2017, the year after the accord was signed, with at least a dozen more since the U.N. announced its last official count, in mid-August."

ICG, "Leaders under Fire: Defending Colombia’s Front Line of Peace," Report 82 / Latin America & Caribbean 6 October 2020, Report 82 / Latin America & Caribbean 6 October 2020, commented, " Murders of Colombian grassroots activists are increasing at an alarming rate. The killers seek to sabotage the country’s 2016 peace agreement and the rural economic reform it promised. Bogotá should step up prosecution of these crimes while pushing to improve social conditions in the countryside.
       What’s new?  Colombia’s grassroots leaders face a rising tide of attacks as they campaign for conflict-stricken communities’ rights. Violence targeting these activists has climbed despite the 2016 peace accord’s pledges to safeguard civil society. COVID-19 has exacerbated insecurity for these leaders as armed groups have exploited movement restrictions to consolidate control.
       Why does it matter?  Social leaders are among the most fervent advocates for the peace deal and the staunchest defenders of conflict victims. Attacks upon them weaken the 2016 accord and its base of popular support, exposing the state’s grave difficulties in protecting communities from vested interests with violent designs.
       What should be done?  The government should ensure that perpetrators of attacks face judicial punishment and prioritise community safety, particularly when conducting military operations. It should broaden demobilisation programs for armed groups and, over the long term, carry out rural reforms to loosen the grip of illicit economies.
      Executive Summary

       The 2016 peace accord between the guerrilla Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian state promised a new era, but people at the front line of conflict have yet to see it. Local activists, commonly referred to as social leaders, are the accord’s most ardent backers, defending human rights, access to land and economic development in their communities. Yet, while the deal provides for their protection, many of these leaders now live in fear. At least 415 have been killed and hundreds more harassed or forcibly displaced since 2016. For many more, the price of security is silence. Government efforts to restrict movement to contain the COVID-19 pandemic go unheeded by non-state armed groups, which have moved to expand their control, pushing the tide of violence even higher. Without urgent steps to relieve economic desperation in rural areas, strengthen prosecution of culprits and modify the government’s combative and often counterproductive approach to internal security, the endeavour to create lasting peace in Colombia could be stripped of its most important base of support.
      Assassinations of social leaders are a tragedy in and of themselves, but they also underline the fragility of the peace accord and the range of saboteurs who oppose it. The vast majority of killings occur in areas long affected by conflict, such as Antioquia, Cauca and Chocó. Figures kept by prosecutors suggest that 59 per cent of murders can be attributed to identifiable armed groups, 39 per cent to unknown individuals or bands, and 2 per cent to military officers. Emboldened to campaign and denounce abuses following the 2016 accord, community figures have since found targets painted on their backs. Assassinations and threats also convey messages to the collective: to stay quiet, move home, stop advocating for certain rights, or stay within the invisible borders demarcated by armed groups
       Dissidents from the demobilised FARC, fighters from the guerrilla National Liberation Army (ELN) and various criminal groups, some of them outgrowths of disbanded paramilitary forces, are prominent among the suspects in these crimes. In many cases, these competing groups regard social leaders as obstacles to illicit business – notably, coca production and cocaine trafficking – or their plans to coerce communities’ allegiance. Other murders point to the role of shadowy interests in the state, local business or the armed forces. Certain social leaders who file reports after receiving death threats fear that officials who should be protecting them are in league with criminals. Others worry that enhanced security details make them more obvious targets. Almost all express their frustration at navigating the government’s impenetrable maze of bureaucracy to seek help.
      Two successive governments – first led by President Juan Manuel Santos and now by President Iván Duque – have struggled to arrest the rise in violence, an issue so politically important it featured high on the list of grievances of a mass protest movement that paralysed many Colombian cities in late 2019. The core of President Duque’s response has been to provide physical protection such as armoured cars and bodyguards to at-risk individuals, while using military force to combat the armed groups that reportedly carry out most of these kill­­ings. Nearly 5,000 social leaders benefit from these protection schemes, which have undoubtedly saved lives. Yet state security agents often require the leaders under their protection to move to urban areas and leave their communities, effectively ending their local leadership roles.
      More importantly, the government has yet to properly diagnose the socio-economic ills that underpin these attacks. Duque’s government is convinced that destroying illicit business and militarily weakening armed groups will allow social leaders to live and work in peace. But numerous activists observe that enhanced forced eradication of coca and intensified military operations against armed groups actually worsen conditions for social leaders and endanger post-conflict communities. No armed group in Colombia is now powerful enough to battle the state militarily; when their interests are threatened, these outfits retaliate against local civilians – and particularly leaders who vocally oppose their sway.
       The COVID-19 pandemic increases the situation’s urgency. For close to six months, Colombia restricted internal travel to limit the virus’s spread, leaving many far-flung communities isolated. Armed groups have taken advantage of the government’s distraction to tighten their grip on territory, imposing strict social controls, such as curfews, under the guise of quarantines, commandeering the distribution of food supplies and threatening anyone thought to be contagious.
       Even amid these troubles, the government could find a better prevention and mitigation approach. Rural reforms mandated in the 2016 peace accord lay out the best long-term path toward ending violence by encouraging legal economic alternatives for farmers. In the short term, Bogotá should undertake a review of how it might protect more communities and groups in addition to individuals. It should also broaden the number of state institutions that can receive reports of threats to leaders. It should bolster judicial prosecution of these crimes, including of the support and complicity networks in which perpetrators operate – some of which may reach into parts of the state. The Colombian military should consider potential blowback against local civilians before launching operations against armed groups. Finally, although the government has made progress in providing additional routes to demobilisation, it needs to do much more to present armed groups with incentives to hand over their weapons.
      Targeted violence meted out in Colombia’s rural or urban peripheries is not a novelty. But in the wake of a landmark peace accord, daily threats and attacks faced by social activists are eroding the belief that the country can turn the page on conflict. Protecting these leaders, deterring their enemies and ensuring their communities’ safety is at the heart of security policy and should be the first line of defence

"Military Attack in Colombia Kills Indigenous Leader and Communicatorm" Cultural Survival, September 22, 2020,, reported, "The leadership of the Paéz Indigenous Reservation of Corintio, Cauca Colombia, denounced the repression and excessive violence of the Colombian army that resulted in the unfortunate loss of José Abelardo Liz, Nasa Indigenous communicator on August 13, 2020. Liz was a member of Radio Payumat , in Colombia, which forms part of the communications collective We'jxia Kaa´senxi 'The Voice of the Wind' from the Corinth Indigenous Reservation. Confrontations against the Indigenous communities have been taking place for several weeks, corresponding with grassroots gatherings called 'Liberation of Mother Earth'. Organized by Indigenous communities in Cauca via the Regional Indigenous Council of Colombia (CRIC), the process is characterized by a commitment to create a world outside of a capitalist system that champions human rights over profits. Founded in memory of other Nasa Indigenous People who have been killed in Colombia, the communities are seeking the recovery of dignity and justice while simultaneously paving a path towards a world that values all forms of life and celebrates all forms of existing. However in doing so, they have been met with violence. In addition to the loss of Liz, the former governor of the municipality Julio Tumbo was reported injured.
      Dora Muñoz, Coordinator of the We'jxia Kaa'senxi communications collective, who spoke to the press, mentions that at the time of his death, Liz was making audio and video recordings ( of a military operation to evict Nasa Indigenous People from lands that they claim as ancestral territory, but which the Army argues are private property, according to press reports. The Nasa People had occupied that land and cultivated it for the past six years. The land belongs by law to a private sugar company, Muñoz said. With the implementation of an extractive economy that is based on the monoculture of sugar, the Nasa community has been increasingly relegated to a smaller portions of the Cauca valley. According to the community, over 1,000 agreements over the land have been signed by the government however they remain unfulfilled. State violence against the Nasa People is not new, their history of resistance includes the rejection of the installation of hydroelectric dams on sacred lands. This encounter would turnly deadly as state aggressors employed dispersal tactics such as the use of tear gas and eventually live munitions that would claim the life of Alberlardo.
      José Abelardo, 34, hosted a daily news and culture program called El Sabor de la Tarde (flavor of the afternoon) on Corinto community radio, according to Muñoz.
      As explained by the Association of Indigenous Cabildos del Norte del Cauca (ACIN), 'the events occurred around 11 in the morning in the El Guanábano sector, where, after destroying crops and huts, the soldiers proceeded to shoot at the community. ' The authorities of the Indigenous council mention in a statement that 'In Colombia these murders are added to the multiple massacres, displacements, attacks, evictions and rights violations that have become a daily plan to frighten, displace and unravel the social struggles and popular.'
       The continued violence against Indigenous Peoples has also been well documented by organizations such as the Regional Indigenous Council of Colombia. CRIC has called for an end to this violence which they have labeled as genocide. Since January 2016, Colombia’s human rights ombudsman’s have reported a total of 486 murders of human rights defenders, the majority of these victims of this violence have been Indigenous. Cultural Survival advocated for a end to this scourge of violence in a November of 2019 report submitted to the United Nation’s 100th Session on the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in coalition with organizations Semilla Warunkwa and Consejo Regional Indigena del Tolima.
      Cultural Survival condemns these actions and calls upon International organizations and Indigenous communities to denounce this murder and demand justice, while also respecting and guaranteeing the physical, cultural, and moral integrity of Indigenous Peoples in Colombia. We renounce these acts of state violence that are committed against a community who only have their voices to shout and denounce the arbitrariness that they are subjected to. We demand that there be a serious investigation and opportunity for the Nasa Peoples to obtain justice.
      We affirm the importance of the role of communication collectives and Indigenous communicators who strengthen the struggle against state and multinational violence and their organizational efforts in order to defend culture, preserve life and mother earth. The assassination of a communicator is an act of violence that infringes upon the right to expression of the Nasa community.
      WARNING: The following video contains images of graphic violence:"      

International Crisis Group (ICG), "Disorder on the Border: Keeping the Peace between Colombia and Venezuela,", commented, " The Colombian-Venezuelan frontier, long plagued by guerrilla warfare and organised crime, is now also the site of an inter-state standoff. The two countries should urgently reopen communication channels to lower tensions and lessen the suffering of migrants who cross the border, whether legally or otherwise.
       What’s new? Crime and violence have simmered along the lengthy Colombian-Venezuelan frontier for decades. But the regional spillover of Venezuela’s political conflict and economic collapse has caused ties between the two states to fray as well, amid border closures, a migrant exodus and rival military exercises.
       Why does it matter?  Numerous armed groups clash with one another and harm citizens along a border marked by abundant coca crops and informal crossings. High bilateral tensions could spur escalating border hostilities while perpetuating the mistreatment of migrants and refugees whose movements have been restricted by COVID-19.
       What should be done?  Colombian and Venezuelan authorities should urgently establish communication channels to resolve violent incidents along the border, possibly with international backing. They should reopen formal border crossings as planned, but also increase humanitarian aid to help ensure that migrants and refugees are healthy and can move safely.
      Executive Summary

       The border between Colombia and Venezuela is the site of Latin America’s most prominent inter-state standoff and its worst humanitarian emergency. More than 2,000km long, the line dividing these countries is a magnet for guerrilla groups and organised crime, particularly on the Colombian side. Poverty, corruption and booming black markets – including trade in the world’s largest concentration of coca crops – drive the creation of new armed factions and instil ferocious competition among them. But the frontier is now caught up in turbulent regional politics as well . Venezuela’s political conflict has led to a feud between the governments in Caracas and Bogotá, putting both militaries on high alert; its economic woes have forced millions of Venezuelans to flee across a Colombian border now closed due to COVID-19. Rebuilding trust between the neighbours, restoring cooperation on health and security, restarting talks between the Colombian state and the country’s last guerrillas, and ensuring that migrants receive humanitarian aid will be vital to preserving peace on the frontier.
      Low-intensity conflict has tormented the borderlands for decades, reflecting their neglect by the state as well as the illicit riches there for the taking. Since the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) demobilised after the 2016 peace accord, a panoply of armed actors has vied for a share of the border spoils, whether production and trafficking of coca and cocaine, contraband, extortion rackets or illegal mines. The largest remaining Colombian guerrilla force, the National Liberation Army (ELN), has seized the opportunity to expand on both sides of the frontier. Colombian paramilitary remnants and upstart gangs prowling indigenous territories, FARC rebel dissidents, Venezuelan para-police and Mexican drug cartels complete the shifting patchwork of armed outfits. Clashes among these groups and killings of civilians in contested zones have continued throughout the pandemic.
      This tide of violence is now inseparable from international tensions, above all the breakdown of relations between the two neighbours
. Venezuela’s internal political conflict has diffused across the region, bringing President Nicolás Maduro’s increasingly authoritarian government into heated dispute with centre-right Colombian President Iván Duque, who insists that Maduro be removed ahead of a fresh presidential election in Venezuela. Severed diplomatic ties, mutual accusations of support for 'terrorists' and military exercises along the frontier mark a dangerous nadir in bilateral relations. In the absence of communication channels and trust between the sides, the risk persists that a violent incident on the border could escalate into a full-blown inter-state crisis.
      For most people along the border, this bilateral estrangement has meant a painful rupture in cross-border family, kin and business ties. But for some, it has brought profit. Repeated closures of official border points since 2015 enriched larger armed groups and local entrepreneurs smuggling fuel, goods and people over illegal crossings. Coca crops have continued to grow in Norte de Santander state, which according to the UN boasted in 2019 the largest area under cultivation in the whole of Colombia – itself the largest coca supplier in the world. Some Venezuelans living on the frontier even express gratitude that the ELN, now backed or at least tolerated by the Venezuelan state and security forces, has become the new dominant armed group in their area and helped stamp out petty crime.
      But there is no doubt as to who has suffered the most from this border debacle. Over five million migrants and refugees have fled Venezuela, the majority in search of economic opportunity; close to two million, including some of the poorest migrants, have settled in Colombia. Corrupt officials, predatory armed groups and calculating locals have fleeced many of their savings. Others face the menace of sexual exploitation. Now the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed them to further hardships. Those returning to Venezuela face a dismal quarantine in state facilities, with authorities labelling them “biological weapons”. Those leaving for Colombia have no option for the time being but to brook the extortion of armed groups manning the illegal crossings.
      Poverty and ailing state institutions along the border will require sustained attention over years, ideally through fulfilment of rural development provisions in the Colombian peace accord and broad economic reconstruction in Venezuela
. In the meantime, the two neighbours should take urgent steps to curb the risk of worsening violence and instability. The pandemic fleetingly promised a thaw in relations as both governments set up a channel to exchange health information. They must now do far more to prevent misunderstandings along the border and their potentially lethal consequences. Colombia and Venezuela should agree on a joint method for monitoring the border, perhaps through the creation of a mechanism for resolving incidents under international auspices. Both countries should support efforts to return to negotiations between Bogotá and the ELN, shelved early in 2019 after a deadly bomb attack. Meanwhile, increased humanitarian aid will be crucial to preventing the border’s formal reopening from generating huge movements of poor and unprotected people in both directions
      Despite their determination to resist aggression from the other side, authorities in Colombia and Venezuela know that armed hostilities along the border would prove catastrophic for both nations. Reestablishing channels of communication while attending to the victims of crime and violence at the frontier will be vital to preventing a disaster neither side wants

Julie Turkewitz, "Evo Morales Is Out. His Socialist Project Lives On: Exit polls in Bolivia’s presidential election show a clear victory for Luis Arce, Evo Morales’s chosen successor, who vowed to carry on his vision. Official results are not in yet," The New York Times, October 19, 2020,, reported, " In a presidential election that was widely viewed as a referendum on the legacy of Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first Indigenous president, voters appear to have spoken clearly: They want his socialist project to go on.
On Monday, exit polls in Bolivia showed Mr. Morales’s handpicked candidate, Luis Arce, with such a wide lead that his main opponent, Carlos Mesa, conceded the election, and Mr. Arce’s supporters began celebrating in the streets — despite the fact that official results may not be available for days."

ICG, Renata Segura, Deputy Program Director, Latin America and Caribbean, "Bolivia’s Landslide Lays to Rest the Fears of Fraud," Commentary / Latin America & Caribbean 21 October 2020,, commented, " In a stunning reversal of fortune, Bolivian voters returned the party of former President Evo Morales to power one year after his ouster. The new government should use its remarkable mandate to heal wounds at home and build cross-ideological bridges in its South American neighbourhood.

      One year after a disputed election plunged Bolivia into political and social tumult, a landslide win for Luis Arce has restored the ousted Movement to Socialism (MAS) to power and ensured the return of a government buoyed by unquestionable majority backing. Determined not to repeat the suspected foul play of the 2019 polls, electoral authorities proceeded at a snail’s pace from 18 October through the official vote count. But the scale of Arce’s victory became clear within hours of the closure of polling stations via exit polls and informal updates from the count. Congratulatory messages from across a profoundly divided political spectrum, including from interim President Jeanine Áñez and Carlos Mesa, the centrist runner-up to Arce, seemingly confirmed that a peaceful transition of power to a new government would end a traumatic period marked by violence, political venom and the onset of COVID-19.
       The election’s integrity was a credit to its organisers. But the result was an indictment of the past year of rule by Áñez’s interim government, accused by its opponents of carrying out a vindictive takeover of the state by far-right white-skinned politicians, persecuting its critics and spurning indigenous people’s interests. It was also a sign that MAS has a firm base of support independent of Evo Morales, its leader and Bolivia’s president between 2006 and 2019. Arce’s preliminary thumping 54 per cent of the vote, as well as the extraordinary 87 per cent turnout for the 18 October polls, entitle the new government to claim indisputable democratic legitimacy, even if the country’s fundamental political fault lines and conflict triggers remain in place. The president-elect inherits a country divided by income, region and ethnicity; an economy teetering toward an expected contraction of 6.2 per cent in 2020; and a mass political movement that, after running Bolivia for fourteen years before the Áñez interlude, faces internal strains and factional rivalries.
       Against All Odds, A Peaceful Election
      The election of 20 October 2019 was declared null after the UN, European Union and Catholic Church intervened to mediate an end to post-electoral violence that left over 30 dead. The repercussions of that debacle, and the relentless political tensions since, weighed heavily upon the electoral rerun. Bolivians are deeply divided, and defend radically different interpretations of what happened in 2019: either there was a coup against Morales concocted by opposition forces that magnified simple electoral anomalies with the support of an interventionist Organization of American States; or there was an attempt by MAS to perpetrate massive fraud so as to secure Morales’ permanent hold on power. That polarisation only grew as the Áñez interim government led what has been described as a ' wave of political persecution' of MAS members and leaders of popular movements long affiliated with the leftist party. Meanwhile, the interim government stood by as thinly veiled racist attacks by its allies became common.
      In the weeks before the 2020 election, politicians from across the spectrum – including the interim government’s interior minister – raised the spectre of fraud and threatened to mobilise supporters if they scented a whiff of foul play. Salvador Romero, head of the electoral tribunal appointed by Áñez in November 2019, sought to reassure all sides that, with the support of international partners including an EU election mission, many of the troubles afflicting the previous polls had been resolved. Romero was so worried about the perception of lack of transparency that on the evening of 17 October, a few hours before voting began, he announced the last-minute decision to eliminate the quick count system and rely exclusively on the plodding official count. It nevertheless proved unrealistic to expect that Bolivians would patiently wait for days until the final tally was in. As the tone of outrage rose late on 18 October on social media, suggesting fraud was imminent, exit polls were released and the MAS candidate was declared the victor.
       A “New” MAS
      Bolivians will never know with certainty how many people truly voted for Evo Morales in 2019 as there are lingering disputes over the tally, while voting boxes and electoral offices were burned in the post-electoral mayhem. But it seems certain that far more turned out to support Arce. Many long-time MAS supporters decided to withdraw their support from the party in 2019 after Morales, having lost a 2016 referendum to abolish limits on re-election, stacked the electoral tribunal with supporters who allowed him to run for a fourth term. Many of these disaffected voters, however, were taken aback by what they saw as a minority elite of European descent attempting to undo strides toward political and economic equality for indigenous and poor people during Morales’ tenure in what is still one of Latin America’s more impoverished countries. On 18 October, these voters seemingly returned to the left-leaning movement: initial results show that Arce’s support was between six and ten points higher than Morales’ in 2019.
      This victory is the result of an effective campaign able to mobilise Bolivia’s “hidden vote”, a weak and fragmented opposition, and the strength and organisational power of the social movements that have historically been the engine of MAS. While the opposition focused on mobilising anti-MAS sentiment, Arce placed the economy at the centre of his campaign, an issue that resonated as Bolivia tipped into a deep downturn, in part due to restrictions aiming to limit the spread of COVID-19. Arce, who oversaw a prolonged expansion as Morales’ economy minister, promised a return to better times.
      Arce’s campaign was also able to capture a large part of the undecided vote, making up around 20 per cent of the electorate according to polls, while the persecution and harassment of MAS supporters might have led thousands of Bolivians to “ hide” their voting intentions. These factors help explain why no pre-election opinion poll reflected the eventual twenty-point margin of victory. Mesa, a former journalist, a moderate and an ex-president, was unable to sway sufficient voters, while enduring support for the right-wing radical Luis Fernando Camacho – who refused to step down to unify the anti-MAS vote – divided the forces seeking to keep Arce from power. Meanwhile, indigenous, peasant and labour organisations quickly reorganised after the 2019 electoral fiasco, and flexed their muscle on the streets on several occasions.
       Hard Times Ahead
      While MAS will take power early in November with a clear popular mandate, it will do so at a time of national hardship. The health and economic crisis triggered by the pandemic has already undone some of the
gains against poverty achieved under Morales. The country remains polarised over issues such as the role of the state and religion in public life, economic policies and the autonomy of regions with non-indigenous majorities – the latter having brought the country to the brink of conflict in 2008. Judicial investigations into the crackdowns led by the interim government in the wake of the 2019 elections, including two massacres of protesters, could further antagonise opposition leaders.
      Mesa has announced that he will lead the opposition, and Arce can expect his rivals to be better prepared and more effective than the minorities that Morales faced in parliament. Electoral results for seats in the House and the Senate, also decided on 18 October, are not yet final, but exit polls suggest that while the MAS will maintain a majority, it will not keep the two thirds of seats enabling it to bypass parliamentary filters or appoint judges to its liking. It will have to negotiate with the opposition instead. Mesa showed willingness to work with the MAS “ if the government recognises the voice of the opposition ”; Camacho, however, has not yet conceded and has criticised the electoral authorities. An enhanced role for opposition forces will be essential for preventing the sort of public anger that engulfed the country after the 2019 poll.
       Arce appears to appreciate the need for a more conciliatory approach, and used appeasing rhetoric in his first post-electoral press conference, saying that the MAS had learnt from its mistakes. Born to a middle-class family in La Paz, Arce is a career economist with a master’s degree from Warwick University. As economy minister, he implemented the nationalisation of the hydrocarbon, telecommunications and mining industries in Bolivia, but he also observed fairly strict macro-economic orthodoxy, to the private sector’s satisfaction.
      His party, meanwhile, continues to seek new life and purpose without Morales, who is in exile in Argentina. Internal differences became clear in the choice of the MAS ticket: Morales personally selected Arce as candidate over David Choquehuanca, who was the rank and file’s first choice and ended up as Arce’s running mate. But if Morales was powerful enough to impose his candidate early in 2020, it remains to be seen what role he will serve in the Arce administration. Questions linger as well about his return to Bolivia, given that he has several cases pending against him in the courts. Some MAS leaders suggested in the hours after Arce’s victory that the ex-president need not come back to the country for now. During Morales’ absence, young grassroots activists, such as Andrónico Rodríguez, have emerged as potential new leaders.
      Bolivia’s newly elected government confirms the magnetic pull of a mass progressive movement in a country that has suffered some of Latin America’s most extreme social stratification. The result also underlines the ideological and political diversity of a region that now sports governments of every shade, from far left to hard right. Arce’s win confirms this political heterogeneity and should oblige struggling regional organisations to strive to build coalitions that span the political spectrum. Alongside the prospective healing of wounds at home, the new Bolivian government might even contribute to a group of democratically elected left-leaning governments – alongside Mexico and Argentina – that are able and willing to negotiate with all sides to defuse the region’s most alarming political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela."

      María Silvia Trigo and Anatoly Kurmanaev, "Bolivia Under Blockade as Protesters Choke Access to Cities: Six million people have been marooned by 70 roadblocks set up to protest the government’s response to the coronavirus and the postponement of the country’s general election," The New York Times, August 7, 2020,, reported, " Antigovernment protesters (many of whom are Indigenous) in Bolivia blockaded some of the country’s main roads this past week to challenge the delay of general elections and rebuke the government’s poor response to the coronavirus pandemic.
      The protesters — who support Bolivia’s former president, Evo Morales — say they have set up 70 roadblocks, marooning about six million residents of three highland regions, including Bolivia’s most important metropolis, La Paz. Already, the blockade has raised fears of food and gasoline shortages, pushing throngs of La Paz residents into the streets to line up outside food markets and gasoline stations.
      Bolivia’s unrest could be a harbinger of what’s to come elsewhere in Latin America, where
citizens are losing faith in their countries’ ability to contain the pandemic , and to mitigate the economic crisis brought on by measures to combat the virus."
       With the political turmoil, including over the President delaying the election, Bolivia's weak health system, lacking needed supplies, has been overwhelmed by COVID-19, with an estimated 20,000 people dead - 5 times the official total - and twice the per capita death rate of the United States (Maria Silva Trigo, Anatoly Kumanaev and Allison McCann, "Toll in Bolivia Soared to Devastating Heights As Leaders Squabbled," The New Yok Times, August 23, 2020).

María Silvia Trigo and Anatoly Kurmanaev, "Evo Morales Returns to Bolivia to Cheers — and Worries: Supporters rushed to welcome the divisive former president back from exile, and his party is back in power. But the country’s new leaders have kept their distance," The New York Times, November 9, 2020,, reported, " Bolivia’s maverick former president, Evo Morales, made a triumphant return to his homeland Monday, a year after his failed attempt to keep power tore the nation apart and sent him into exile."
      "But beyond the jubilant reception, Mr. Morales finds a wary nation anxious to move beyond the political turmoil unleashed by his divisive bid for a fourth presidential term and focused on overcoming a crippling pandemic and economic crisis."

Manuela Andreoni, Ernesto Londoño and Letícia Casado, " Brazil Health Workers May Have Spread Coronavirus to Indigenous People: Many people assigned to care for the Indigenous have been infected, exposing remote communities to the virus. Health workers say they have been plagued by insufficient testing and protective gear," The New York Times, July 20, 2020,, reported that beginning in May, about a week after government medical personnel undertook a routine medical visit to the Kanamari Indigenous community in a remote area of the Brazilian Amazon, elders in the tribe came down with serious raspatory symptoms associated with COVID-19.  
      "For months, as the coronavirus tore through Brazil, the Kanamari had sought to shield themselves from the pandemic by strictly limiting access to their riverside villages in the secluded Javari Valley, one of Brazil’s largest Indigenous territories."
      However, the pandemic swept the community. "And the vectors of the disease, according to interviews and federal data obtained by The New York Times, may have been the health workers charged by the federal government with protecting the country’s Indigenous populations." As of the beginning of July, more than 1000 federal Indigenous health service workers had teste positive. It seems highly possible that the staff of the health agency Sesai may have brought the virus to the community, as they were not provided with anywhere near enough protective gear or COVID-19 tests.

In Brazil, which over all has been terribly hard hit by COVID-19, the pandemic has been particularly devastating throughout the Amazon region, in cities and towns - which have large Native populations - and in Indigenous communities ( Julie Turkewitz and Manuela Andreoni, "Brazil has been battered by the pandemic, with the second-highest death toll in the world. The Amazon has been hit particularly hard. Even in remote towns, people have been as likely to get sick as in New York City," The New York Times, July 25, 2020,

Jessica Corbett, "Arara People of Brazilian Amazon 'Very Worried' as Vulnerable Tribe Faces Highest Known Covid-19 Infection Rate in Region: 'President Bolsonaro is now overseeing the destruction both of a once-thriving people, and the rainforests they managed and looked after for millennia. Brazilian and international solidarity to resist this genocide is desperately needed.'" Common Dreams, June 19, 2020,, reported, " As criticism of far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's response to the coronavirus pandemic continues to stack up , global Indigenous rights advocates and the Arara people are raising new concerns that the crisis could devastate the recently-contacted tribe in the Xingu basin of the Amazon rainforest.
      'We're very worried,' an Arara man told Survival International, a movement for tribal people's rights, in a report published Friday.
      According to Survival, the Arara people of the Cachoeira Seca (Dry Waterfall) territory have the highest known Covid-19 infection rate in the Brazilian Amazon. The group cited official statistics showing that 46% of the 121 Arara people in the reserve have the virus, but said experts believe that everyone in the territory could be infected.
       'At the health post [near the village] there is no medicine, no ventilator,' the Arara man told Survival. 'We wanted a ventilator for that post so we wouldn't have to go into town. The village is three days away from the city, where the hospital is located. We're asking for protection with these coronavirus cases. The number of invaders has increased a lot, they're cutting down a lot of timber. The government isn't stopping them. There are too many invaders in the area.'
      While the Arara tribe was contacted in 1987, Survival noted Friday that 'some of the reserves in the area are known to be inhabited by uncontacted tribes , the most vulnerable peoples on the planet.'
      Backed by Survival and other allies pressuring the Brazilian government to take action, the Arara people are demanding the immediate eviction of the hundreds of colonists, land grabbers, loggers, and ranchers who illegally operate on their territory as well as an urgent healthcare response from the government to save lives.
      'In the last 40 years the Arara's forests have been decimated and many of them have died from introduced diseases,' Survival International research and advocacy director Fiona Watson, who has visited the Arara tribe, said Friday. 'President Bolsonaro is now overseeing the destruction both of a once-thriving people, and the rainforests they managed and looked after for millennia. Brazilian and international solidarity to resist this genocide is desperately needed.'
      Bolsonaro has faced harsh condemnation within and beyond Brazil's borders for both his " pitiful" handling of the ongoing pandemic and his broader agenda targeting environmental protections and Indigenous people that critics have tied to alarming destruction in the Amazon, the world's largest rainforest and a global hotspot for biodiversity.
       Brazil on Friday had more than 978,100 confirmed Covid-19 cases and over 47,700 deaths—second in both to only the United States , which is home to over 100 million more people than the South American country. As the Washington Post reported last week, Indigenous people in multiple Brazilian states have begun complaining that the government has "abandoned" them during the public health crisis.
      In a recent statement translated by Survival, the Coordinating Body for Indigenous Organizations in the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB) said that 'since the beginning, we've been denouncing the advance of coronavirus towards Indigenous lands and the risks of contamination in our territories . Covid-19 has now entered and is spreading rapidly. We're on the brink of disaster.'
       'We are in a daily battle to survive, not only Covid-19, but the dismantling of laws; the halting of the demarcation and protection of our territories; the targeting of our lands and our lives; the assassinations of our leaders; the anti-Indigenous legislative measures of the federal government,' COIAB added.
      In an op-ed for Al Jazeera on Monday, Alnoor Ladha and Felipe Viveros wrote that 'environmental activists, Indigenous rights defenders, and conservationists are also concerned about what post-Covid-19 economic recovery may mean for the Amazon.'
      Atossa Soltani, founder of Amazon Watch and co-creator of the Amazon Emergency Fund, told Ladha and Viveros that 'this pandemic is taking a toll on vulnerable populations in the Amazon while illegal looting of the rainforest for timber, gold, oil, and other commodities is increasing deforestation. We are concerned that in the name of post-Covid-19 recovery, Amazon countries are planning to double down on their neoliberal economic policies and extractive industries.'
       'By 2100 we may see up to a billion of our fellow humans die from climate chaos and ecosystem collapse,' Soltani said. 'Covid-19 is offering us an opportunity to shift away from life-blind capitalism which seeks infinite economic growth at the expense of the planet's life support systems. Our choice is clear: we must change the way we live and relate to our living planet. Otherwise, the future of our species is not guaranteed.'
      Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License."

"A recently-contacted tribe is the 'most infected' in Brazil," Survival International, June 19, 2020,, reported, " The Arara people of the Cachoeira Seca (Dry Waterfall) territory have been revealed as the tribe with the highest known rate of Covid-19 infection in the Brazilian Amazon .
According to official statistics 46% of the 121 Arara people living in the reserve have the virus, but experts believe it’s highly likely that all the Arara in the territory are now infected.
      The news is potentially devastating for the tribe, who were only contacted in 1987 and are particularly vulnerable to outside diseases.
      Experts believe it’s no coincidence that the reserve is one of the most invaded in the entire Amazon, with hundreds of loggers, land grabbers, ranchers and colonists operating illegally within its borders.
      The Arara’s reserve lies within the Xingu basin, where Covid-19 is now sweeping through dozens of indigenous communities. Some of the reserves in the area are known to be inhabited by uncontacted tribes, the most vulnerable peoples on the planet.
      An Arara man told Survival: “We’re very worried. At the health post [near the village] there is no medicine, no ventilator. We wanted a ventilator for that post so we wouldn’t have to go into town. The village is 3 days away from the city, where the hospital is located. We’re asking for protection with these coronavirus cases. The number of invaders has increased a lot, they’re cutting down a lot of timber. The government isn’t stopping them. There are too many invaders in the area.”
      The Arara are demanding the immediate eviction of all invaders from their territory, and a full health-care response to prevent deaths. Their allies, including Survival, are lobbying the Brazilian government for urgent action.
       COIAB, the Coordinating Body for Indigenous Organizations in the Brazilian Amazon, said recently in a statement: 'Since the beginning, we’ve been denouncing the advance of coronavirus towards indigenous lands and the risks of contamination in our territories. Covid-19 has now entered and is spreading rapidly. We’re on the brink of disaster. We are in a daily battle to survive, not only Covid-19, but the dismantling of laws; the halting of the demarcation and protection of our territories; the targeting of our lands and our lives; the assassinations of our leaders; the anti-indigenous legislative measures of the Federal Government.'
      Fiona Watson, Research and Advocacy Director of Survival International, who has visited the Arara tribe, said today: 'In the last 40 years the Arara’s forests have been decimated and many of them have died from introduced diseases. President Bolsonaro is now overseeing the destruction both of a once-thriving people, and the rainforests they managed and looked after for millennia. Brazilian and international solidarity to resist this genocide is desperately needed.'”

"Brazil: Indigenous leader warns Covid-19 could reach uncontacted tribe," Survival International, September 8, 2020,, reported, "An Amazonian indigenous leader in Brazil has issued an urgent warning that coronavirus could infect an uncontacted tribe known as the “Flecheiros” or Arrow People, with lethal consequences.
      Kura, from the Kanamari tribe, says that coronavirus has spread throughout the Javari Valley, the second largest indigenous territory in Brazil and home to the greatest concentration of uncontacted tribes in the world.
       At least one indigenous person has died from Covid-19 in Hobana community, which is deep within the Javari Valley, and only about 10 miles from an uncontacted Flecheiro community.
      In a video message to Survival, Kura says: 'We are very worried about our uncontacted relatives' and that the virus has spread because 'the Brazilian state is irresponsible' and 'lacks transparency.'
      He calls for the authorities to mount health check points in the Javari Valley to control who enters and leaves, stop the spread of coronavirus, and monitor the territory to prevent
illegal invasions by loggers, miners and poachers .
       A case of Covid-19 has been confirmed in a Marubo community on the Ituí river in the heart of the Javari Valley which is close to another uncontacted community raising fears that this group is also at high risk of catching coronavirus.
      Uncontacted tribes are extremely vulnerable to diseases transmitted by outsiders, like flu, TB and measles because they have not developed immunity to them. In the past, many have suffered catastrophic losses of population and some have become extinct due to lethal epidemics introduced by outsiders.
       A Supreme Court judge ruled on August 5 that the government must come up with a detailed and comprehensive plan within 30 days to tackle the pandemic and prevent it from spreading to indigenous territories. Judge Barroso acknowledged the great vulnerability of uncontacted and recently contacted tribes and ordered the government to establish health check points in the territories where they live.
      He also ruled that the authorities must remove all illegal invaders from indigenous territories, but did not set a time frame for this.
       The court case was brought by APIB – the coordinating body of indigenous organizations in Brazil – and several opposition parties.
       Ricardo Lopes Dias, the controversial evangelical co-ordinator of the uncontacted Indians unit in FUNAI , the government’s indigenous affairs department, remains in post. In May a judge ruled he should be dismissed stating that his evangelical background was 'a clear conflict of interest' and a 'great risk to the policy of no forced contact with [uncontacted indigenous] peoples… and the principle of self-determination.'
       However, FUNAI contested the ruling and in June a tribunal ruled there was no conflict of interest . Public prosecutors have appealed, and the case is due to be heard by a higher tribunal.
      Meanwhile, Ricardo Lopes Dias has dismissed experienced field staff working on the protection of uncontacted tribes and their territories, and announced an anthropology course for new staff.
       This will be taught by anthropologists and other academics, some of whom are linked to religious organizations, including the evangelical organization Atini – of which Damares Alves is a founder member. Ms Alves is the controversial evangelical preacher who Bolsonaro made minister for Women, Family and Human Rights. She has spoken of her wish to contact uncontacted tribes in contravention on FUNAI’s policy not to make contact.
       The government cuts to the budgets of FUNAI and SESAI (indigenous health secretariat), coupled with its chaotic and negligent response in dealing with the pandemic among indigenous peoples, has forced many communities to take measures into their own hands to protect themselves from coronavirus and raise funds for medicines and equipment.
FUNAI plans to spend US$ 43,000 on the new course, enough to fund an entire protection post for uncontacted tribes. If the course expenditure is approved, Ricardo Lopes Dias stands to benefit personally by US$14,000 (R$77,700).
      Take action to help Brazil’s uncontacted tribes:" 

Edson Krenak Naknanuk, "Indigenous Peoples vs. Brazil: Supreme Court Unanimously Rules Bolsonaro is Violating Indigenous Rights to Health During Pandemic, Cultural Survival, August 17, 2020,, reported, "On August 8, 2020, Indigenous Peoples in Brazil won a great legal battle but the good news goes beyond the victory, for two reasons.
       For the first time in history, Indigenous people in Brazil filed a lawsuit against the Brazilian State at the Federal Court on their own. Legal action like this is not easy nor is it possible to file in the Federal Court, unless it is done by a legal and recognized organization, 'class entity', such as a political party or trade union. But Indigenous organizations came together to form Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (APIB), an association of Indigenous Peoples, which without prior legal recognition went to the federal court as the protagonist and author of the lawsuit. APIB`s Indigenous advocates raised their voices without a mediator. They made their own claims and their own strong step towards justice accusing Bolsonaro’s government of omission and irresponsibility. They did that to prevent genocide during the COVID-19 pandemic.
      What is also historic is the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ status which was never before considered. Before Indigenous Peoples were considered legally protected by the State and in need of someone or another institution to represent them. The decision of the federal judge, therefore, recognizes the legitimacy of Indigenous Peoples to present legal action, generating jurisprudence even for other minorities and groups of women, young children, refugees, etc.
      As pointed out, the 1988 Constitution establishes that only recognized class entities can file an elective action in the Federal Supreme Court (Supremo Tribunal Federal -STF). However, in the recent decision, Supreme Court Justice Luis Roberto Barroso, who was responsible for reporting the case to the Justice House, affirmed that the APIB "has active legitimacy to propose direct action before the STF', that is, it recognizes that APIB is a social and cultural entity as well as a class entity, other than economic or political.
       This new interpretation of the article 232 of the Constitution expands the understanding and constitutional rights of Indigenous Peoples in Brazil, allowing Indigenous Peoples and their communities and organizations standing under the law to sue to defend their rights and interests. The lawsuit comes amid several failures of the government in protecting Indigenous people, whose vulnerability and rights violations have multiplied during the COVID-19 crises, as has been detailed and denouncedby Cultural Survival since the start of the Pandemic.
       The Claim
      In the action, APIB states that fundamental precepts of the Constitution are being disrespected with the 'failures and omissions' of the government in protecting Indigenous Peoples against COVID-19. These populations have a death rate for the virus of 9.6% - while in the general population the rate is 4%, according to the State health agencies.
       The government, despite being warned of the urgency and danger that Indigenous communities were in, decided not to do anything for months, denying the seriousness of the pandemic and the threat of the virus. Meanwhile, the government encouraged invasions on Indigenous lands, weakened the agencies responsible for monitoring and protection of forests, dismissed important federal police officers and public agents responsible for the conservation of the Amazon as well as protection of Indigenous areas. The president publicly supported his environment minister's projects to relax deforestation laws in the Amazon. Moreover, FUNAI, the state agency for the protection of Indigenous Peoples in Brazil, has been gradually dismantled, even their website's English pages have disappeared. When the government, pressured by national and international opinion, decided to do something, Indigenous people in urban areas were deliberately abandoned and excluded from health and protection programs.
       APIB affirms that the performance of government officials in the face of the epidemic among Indigenous Peoples constitutes a 'true attempt of genocide, which may result in the extermination of entire ethnic groups' and called for specific measures, such as the creation of a sanitary barrier and the removal of invaders from Indigenous lands. They also state that 'the lack of transparency of the State, the underreporting of cases and the absence of a coordinated and integral policy of the agencies of health policy makers' worsened the situation.
      The Indigenous lawyer Eloy Terena, the 'Voice of Indigenous Peoples in the Supreme Court' ( indigenas-no-stf/) who spoke to Grupo Gente Nova, a media firm in Brazil, affirmed days before the action: 'The federal government's inaction in the pandemic is exacerbated by President Jair Bolsonaro's clear anti-Indigenous agenda, colluding with the accelerated growth of deforestation and invasions of Indigenous lands...We have entire communities with the presence of the virus and even so, there are no concrete measures by the federal government. This worries us a lot and, therefore, we go to the Federal Supreme Court to seek these measures.'
      APIB argues in their lawsuit that the contingency plan of the Brazillian Health Ministry –SESAI–entitled the 'National Contingency for Human Infection with the new Coronavirus in Indigenous Peoples' was a document formulated without any participation of Indigenous Peoples, in spite of the provisions of ILO Convention 169, and “is absolutely vague, without concrete measures, and has not been operationalized in a minimally adequate way.'       A recent analysis of the plan by Cultural Survival came to similar conclusions, communicated in an open letter to the Bolsannaro administration (
      Eloy Terena stated in an article in Folha de Sao Paulo, a widely circulated newspaper in the country, that 'Indigenous people are obliged to force the government not to let us die.'
      As denounced by Cultural Survival, the Brazilian government has failed to protect Indigenous Peoples; therefore legal action was necessary in the face of the immense neglect of the government executive in Indigenous health. Due to the seriousness of the situation, APIB asked allies, political parties and organizations who understand the situation to sit down with them in court and offer support.
       The Nature of The Law
      The action was highly technical and only the Federal Supreme Court can rule in this kind of case. The federal or constitutional court names this type of action as a claim of non-compliance with fundamental precept, ADPF by it’s Portguese acronym. This law expressly established the possibility of examining the compatibility of the pre-constitutional law with norms of the current Constitution of the Republic. ADPF is admissible every time when there is a relevant controversy on the legitimacy of federal, state or municipal law prior to the Constitution based on a fundamental precept of the Constitution. It is important as well because there were several laws, such as 1973 State Indian Law, for example, that still prevail in the society's legal memory. The ADPF, thus, is the only mechanism of constitutional control over laws that pre-date the current Constitution drafted in 1988.
       The Court's Decision
      After a long 10-part argument demonstrating with technical and official data the epidemiological, demographic, political and geographic vulnerability of Indigenous Peoples and the criminal actions of the Bolsonaro government, the Federal Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of Indigenous Peoples.
       The decision accepted the main points of the action, and granted immediate effect. Among these measures are: planning with the participation of communities; actions to contain invaders in reserves; the creation of sanitary barriers in the case of Indigenous People in isolation or those recently contacted; access by all Indigenous people to the Indigenous Health Subsystem; and the elaboration of a plan to confront and monitor COVID-19.
      The reporting judge, minister Barroso, opted for a more consensual approach, despite giving a clear and historic victory to Indigenous Peoples. Barroso informed that he tried to act, in this case, as a 'facilitator of decisions and measures that ideally should involve dialogues with the public authorities and with Indigenous Peoples, without neglecting, however, the principles of precaution and prevention
      In the trial, the judges referred to not only Indigenous rights in the Federal Constitution of 1988, but also international treaties and laws, of which the country is a signatory, such as Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO), which recognizes among other things, the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) with Indigenous Peoples in the case of measures that impact their territories.
       The Supreme Court Ruled the Following:
: That the federal government install the Situation Room to manage actions to combat the pandemic regarding Indigenous Peoples in isolation or in recent contact, with the participation of communities, through APIB, the Attorney General's Office and of the Federal Public Defender's Office. Members must be appointed within 72 hours of the decision being informed, and the first virtual meeting must be convened within 72 hours after the appointment of representatives;
       2. SANITARY BARRIERS: That in 10 days, from the announcement of the decision, the federal government will listen to the Situation Room and present a plan for the creation of sanitary barriers in Indigenous lands;
       3. COVID-19 Tackling PLAN: That the federal government elaborates in 30 days, from the knowledge of the decision, with the participation of the communities and the National Human Rights Council, a COVID-19 Coping Plan for Peoples Brazilian Indians. Community representatives must be defined within 72 hours of the decision being made aware of;
       4. CONTAINMENT OF INVADERS: That the federal government include in the COVID-19 Plan for Confronting and Monitoring Indigenous Peoples a measure to contain and isolate invaders in relation to Indigenous lands. He also stressed that it is the duty of the federal government to draw up a withdrawal of invaders plan and that if nothing is done, it will return to the topic.
       5. Indigenous HEALTH SUBSYSTEM: That all Indigenous people in villages have access to the Indigenous Health Subsystem, regardless of the homologation of lands or reserves; and that non-villagers also access the subsystem in the absence of general SUS availability.
       Fundamentals of the Decision
       In the decision, it was pointed out that the Indigenous Peoples, for historical, cultural and social reasons, are more vulnerable to infectious diseases, with a mortality rate higher than the national average. In addition, there are signs of an accelerated expansion of the contagion of COVID-19 among Indigenous communities and the State took insufficient action to contain the virus. The court also clarified that Indigenous people in situations of isolation or recent contact are more at risk and should be urgently protected, with confinement and isolation of the areas.
      Barroso also recalled that the creation of the Situation Room for Indigenous Peoples is foreseen in an ordinance of the Ministry of Health and FUNAI, thus not representing interference by the judiciary power in the Executive. 'There is no need to talk about interference by the Judiciary over public policies, but rather about the mere judicial implementation of a federal rule that is not being observed by the executive branch.'
      In addition, the participation of Indigenous People in the process was highlighted as an 'indispensable' element so that each community can bring up information and requests to the responsible government and authorities.
       On the land invasion, Barroso added that the situation is not directly related to the pandemic, but that the authors of the action speak of 20,000 invaders in only one of the areas. The removal would involve the risk of armed conflict, in addition to the need for police and military forces to enter the different areas, increasing the risk of contagion. For Barroso, 'the government must organize itself to face the problem, otherwise it will grow and worsen.' It is not a measure that can be taken 'by simple act of will, with pen and ink,' he said.
       The justice pointed out that the lack of health provision through the Indigenous Health Subsystem for people living in unapproved lands is 'unacceptable.' 'The identity of a group as an Indigenous People is, first of all, an issue subject to self-recognition by members of the group itself. It does not depend on the homologation of the right to land.'
      Finally, Barroso also heeded APIB`s argument that the previous National Contingency Plan for Human Infection with the New Coronavirus in Indigenous Peoples is 'vague' and 'a plan that expresses mere general guidelines and does not provide for concrete measures, schedule or definition of responsibilities'. Besides that, the plan did not count on the participation of Indigenous communities violating their very right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent.
      Government’s Reaction: Silenced Voice at OAS
      During the trial and, repeated at the decision, the judges affirmed not only the Indigenous rights provided by the Federal Constitution of 1988, but also international laws and conventions such as ILO 169, which recognizes the right to territory and which ensures, among other things, the Indigenous Peoples’ right to prior consultation in the case of measures that impact their territories.
      Despite these measures, on the next day, the government of Brazil reacted by barring Indigenous guest and leader Nara Bare from addressing the Organization of American States (OAS) Permanent Council at the Annual Inter-American Week for Indigenous Peoples . The OAS is the oldest regional body in the world, founded in 1948, and originated in the International Union of American Republics (1889-1990), with the objective of promoting peaceful relations in the Americas.
      The Ambassador of Brazil to the Organization of American States, Fernando Simas Magalhães, canceled the appointment of the leadership Nara Baré, executive coordinator the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB), to speak during the meeting of its Permanent Council. In response, COIAB stated they strongly 'repudiated the cancelling of the participation of our leader in this important space for international debate and issues on human rights. COIAB believes that this is yet another act of discrimination and censorship on Indigenous Peoples by the Brazilian Government. It is unacceptable and shameful that the Brazilian Government, with the support of the OAS, silences Indigenous voices in an attempt to hide their actions and policies for dismantling Indigenous rights and their inefficiency in facing the COVID-19 pandemic.'
       Next Steps
      This fight is not only for Indigenous People, but for everyone who loves our mother earth and our planet. The battlefields are in many places, in the court, in the city and in the villages. The next steps to protect and guarantee Indigenous rights are not easy. We need to observe, inspect and charge the government to comply with its own laws and to obey its Constitution. We need allies to help us do this because we know that many times the government refuses to comply with the law and approaches us to poison and destroy us. But we know we have allies.
      Eloy Terena quoted Yanomami leader Davi Kopenawa in his closing remarks from his book The Fall from the Sky: 'I would have liked to say to the whites, already at the time of the road:‘ Do not go back to our forest! Your Xawara epidemics have devoured enough of our parents and grandparents here! We don't want to feel such sadness again! Make way for your trucks away from our land!’”

"Government complicity and neglect fuels lethal coronavirus among Yanomami and Ye’kwana,: Survival International, November 19, 2020,, repowted, " An explosive new report released this week exposes a humanitarian crisis rapidly unfolding in Brazil’s largest indigenous territory, home to the Yanomami and Ye’kwana tribes.
      ' Xawara– tracing the deadly path of Covid-19 and government negligence in the Yanomami territory' was compiled by Yanomami and Ye’kwana organizations and a group of researchers from the Pro-Yanomami and Ye’kwana Network
       The report says that 'The Yanomami and Ye’kwana people, facing a dangerous combination of mining, malaria and COVID -19, are on their own.'
      It reveals that government neglect and complicity in the ongoing invasion and destruction of significant parts of Yanomami land by illegal goldminers means coronavirus is spreading rapidly in the territory. This is having devastating consequences for the 27,000 Yanomami and Ye’kwana indigenous people who live there.
A detailed timeline catalogues many incidents of neglect and abuse; significant under-reporting of cases of Covid-19 (and in some areas no reporting at all); few tests carried out; and a lack of vital medicines and medical staff.
The report found that:
      • over 10,000 people, a third of the total indigenous population in the Yanomami Territory, may have already been exposed to Covid-19,
      • from August to October alone, confirmed cases jumped from 335 to 1,202,
      • less than 4.7% of the total population in the territory has been tested,
      • in the three regions with the greatest concentrations of illegal mines, coronavirus is rife and was brought in by the miners,
      • several uncontacted Yanomami groups are at extreme risk should there be any encounter with outsiders,
      • from January to September 2020, there was an increase of 20% in environmental degradation caused by mining.
      The report highlights that before the pandemic took root, many Yanomami were already weakened by diseases like malaria, the incidence of which has quadrupled in the last five years. This makes them more susceptible and less equipped to combat coronavirus
      Graphic testimonies from Yanomami are a strong indictment of government negligence. A Yanomami woman from Kanayau, one of the areas most affected by mining, said: 'We are all sick. Our forest got sick. That’s the miners’ airstrip, because many planes land there. When a plane arrives, many people get off it, and as many planes are coming, today this disease has arrived! It’s a strong disease!'
      Francisco Yanomami, from the Marauiá region, warned about the lack of testing:
      We weren’t supposed to be dying of this, because of a strong disease, you know. […] Now it’s happening, COVID-19 symptoms are increasing, it’s increasing. What can we do? How do we know if it’s really COVID-19? How can we find out if it’s from COVID-19 that we’re dying? We have to know which disease is killing us.'
      Xawara is the Yanomami word for epidemics and is associated with the fumes emanating from machinery used by outsiders, particularly the goldminers’ dredging equipment, airplane and boat engines, and the mercury vapor produced when gold is processed.
      Yanomami leader and shaman Davi Kopenawa explains: 'What we call xawara are measles, flu, malaria, tuberculosis, and all those other white people diseases that kill us to devour our flesh. The only thing that ordinary people know of them are the fumes that propagate them. “But we shamans, we also see in them the image of the epidemic beings, the xawarari'
      One shocking event was the 'disappearance' of three young Yanomami children who died from suspected Covid-19. After public protests, it was revealed that their bodies had been buried in a cemetery in the city of Boa Vista without the knowledge or consent of their parents.
      Anthropologist Bruce Albert’s article in the report explains the torment and pain felt by Yanomami families who were kept in the dark by the authorities over the death of their loved ones, and denied the opportunity to organize the proper funerary rites of cremation. He draws a parallel between the desecration of dead Yanomami from Covid-19 today with the disappearances of political protestors during Brazil’s military dictatorship: “In fact, taking possession of the dead of others to erase them from collective memory and denying the grieving of their family members has always been the mark of a supreme stage of barbarism based on the contempt and denial of the Other, ethnic and/or political.”
       The Yanomami are among those worst hit by President Bolsonaro’s attacks on indigenous peoples. Nationwide, their lands are being stolen for mining, agribusiness and logging and they are fighting back to stop Brazil’s genocide .
       Faced with the government’s criminal negligence, Yanomami and Ye’kwana organizations are calling for all illegal invaders to be removed now, the implementation of an emergency Covid-19 action plan, and a program to eradicate malaria. They have launched an online petition ( calling on the authorities to act before it’s too late.
      Read the report:"

Laura R. Graham, Edson Krenak, and Linda Rabben, "Brazil’s COVID-19 Response: A Death Knell for Indigenous Peoples," Cultural Survival, November 12, 2020,, reported, "In October 2020, months after A’uwẽ-Xavante leader Hiparidi Top’tiro received hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as a treatment for COVID-19 in Mato Grosso, Brazil, the Washington Post ( revealed that White House officials had circumvented FDA regulations to distribute millions of doses of the drug in both the United States and Brazil.
      Top’tiro recovered but only learned he had received the drug after it was administered. The A’uwẽ-Xavante leader, who has spoken at the United Nations in New York and Geneva about Brazil's failure to respect Indigenous rights, reported he would have refused HCQ had he known it was neither safe nor effective. 'My heart was racing and I was afraid,' he said . The World Health Organization (WHO) discourages the use of HCQ in the treatment of COVID-19, either alone or in combination with other drugs. But the Brazilian government has administered it to thousands of Indigenous people in the country.
      Hiparidi is one of hundreds of Indigenous people in Brazil who have contracted COVID-19 . To date, some 821 A’uwẽ-Xavante have contracted the virus, which has claimed 44 A’uwẽ-Xavante lives, more than six in one community within a single 24-hour period. A’uwẽ-Xavante are just one of Brazil’s 305 Indigenous nations. Although they rank 13th among Indigenous Peoples for the number of confirmed cases, according to Brazil’s Special Indigenous Health Service (SESAI), A’uwẽ-Xavante have the second highest COVID-19 fatality rate of any ethnic group in Brazil. The A’uwẽ-Xavante morbidity rate is 11.7 percent, 160 percent higher than the national average. The number of Indigenous infections is five times higher than the Brazilian national average.
       Across Brazil, as of November 3, SESAI- reported the number of Indigenous COVID-19 cases at 32,746. This number excludes Indigenous people who live in cities and towns, because SESAI does not count or treat urban Indians. The number of Indigenous deaths has reached 478. Data collected by Brazil’s Articulation of Indigenous Peoples (APIB) indicates higher totals, with 38,646 confirmed cases and 870 Indigenous fatalities as of November 4. Reported Brazilian cases totaled over 5,675,032, with 162,628 deaths."

"Gold miners kill two Yanomami men, fears of further bloodshed," Survival International, June 30, 2020,, reported, " Two Yanomami men have reportedly been killed by gold miners in northern Brazil, as a massive gold rush brings death, disease and pollution to South America’s largest relatively isolated tribe.
       The men were from the community of Xaruna near the Venezuelan border. The community lies on a tributary of the Uraricoera River, which is at the epicentre of the gold rush.
      A similar clash in 1993 prompted a cycle of violence that ended in the Haximu massacre, in which 16 Yanomami were killed. Brazilian courts later declared the massacre an act of genocide.
       Besides violence, the miners are introducing Covid-19 into the Yanomami territory. Several Yanomami have died, and dozens are now infected. Fears of the devastation the disease would mean for their people prompted s everal Yanomami organizations, including Hutukara, to launch the MinersOutCovidOut campaign ( earlier this month.
      In a statement Hutukara ( said: 'The murder of two more Yanomami by miners should be rigorously investigated, and reinforces the need for the Brazilian State to act urgently to immediately remove all the miners who are illegally exploiting the Yanomami Territory and harassing and assaulting the indigenous communities who live there.
      'We call on the authorities to take all necessary measures to stop the mining which continues taking Yanomami lives.'
      Survival International Research and Advocacy Director Fiona Watson, who has worked alongside the Yanomami for 30 years and visited their territory many times, said today: “What we’re seeing now is a horrific re-run of the conditions that led to the Haximu massacre 27 years ago: a poisonous cocktail of an uncontrolled gold-rush, disease, forest destruction, pollution of rivers, and miners intent on killing any Yanomami who get in their way.
      'Public pressure is now critical to force the government to act and get the miners out. The Yanomami’s future depends on this happening. Please sign their petition.'”

"Top missionary official in Brazil forced out for second time," Survvial International, November 27, 2020,, reported, " Ricardo Lopes Dias, an evangelical missionary, has been forced from his job as head of the Uncontacted Tribes Unit of Brazil’s Indigenous Affairs Agency FUNAI for the second time.
      Indigenous leaders of UNIVAJA, the indigenous peoples’ organization of the Javari Valley who have fought Mr Lopes Dias’ appointment since it was first announced, celebrated his departure.
       Mr Lopes Dias’ appointment to the post earlier this year was hugely controversial, and was described at the time by Survival’s Sarah Shenker as ' like putting the fox in charge of the hen house .' Mr Lopes Dias is a former member of the notorious New Tribes Mission, re-branded as Ethnos360 in the US.
      Sources have told Survival that there was widespread anger in
FUNAI at a fundamentalist missionary being appointed to such a post, and repeated accusations of incompetence and arrogance.
      Evangelical missionaries have re-doubled their efforts to contact uncontacted tribes under President Bolsonaro, who wants to open up their lands to commercial exploitation, and has strong evangelical support
      A FUNAI whistleblower revealed in September that Mr Lopes Dias had made a clandestine visit to the Javari Valley, home to more uncontacted tribes than anywhere else on Earth.
       Following legal action by public prosecutors and UNIVAJA, a judge ruled in May that Lopes Dias’s appointment was unlawful, and that he was to be removed from office with immediate effect . The ruling was later overturned.
      In May, the first time Mr Lopes Dias was removed from office, Beto Marubo of UNIVAJA commented: 'The indigenous peoples of the Javari Valley believe it was outrageous that a missionary be appointed to this position, and hope that this is a definitive decision. Brazilian justice has to recognize the two things are completely incompatible.'
      Leonardo Lenin, Executive Secretary of OPI (the Observatory for the Human Rights of Uncontacted and Recently Contacted Tribes) said today: 'A fundamentalist missionary at the head of FUNAI’s Uncontacted Tribes Unit was above all an affront to the self-determination of these peoples. Mr. Ricardo Lopes’ incompetence regarding public policy towards isolated Indians was evident on several occasions. One example of this was the chaotic way in which he coordinated the work to prevent Covid-19 reaching uncontacted and recently-contacted tribes. It’s now more obvious than ever that someone with real knowledge of this subject, and who respects the laws and rules that protect the rights of these peoples, is needed in this post.'
       Sarah Shenker, Survival’s Uncontacted Tribes campaign coordinator, said today: “It’s a massive victory for the campaign to get Lopes Dias removed and to protect uncontacted tribes’ land. Indigenous organizations and their allies have led the charge and the public prosecutor’s office has taken key action.
      'Survival and its supporters have campaigned and lobbied the authorities from the day Ricardo Lopes Dias was appointed at the start of the year. We’ll be watching closely to see what’s next, and we’ll continue to fight for uncontacted tribes’ lands to be protected and their right to live as they choose to be respected, always. Hopefully Bolsonaro will get the message that if he carries on with his genocidal agenda, he can expect resistance at every step.'
      In many parts of Brazil, uncontacted tribes’ territories are the last significant areas of rainforest left. Now they are being targeted by land grabbers, loggers and ranchers who are destroying the forest at an alarming rate and threatening the survival of uncontacted tribes."

"Grand Theft Chaco: The Luxury Cars Made with Leather from the Stolen Lands of an Uncontacted Tribe," Earthsight, September 2020, reported,
Twitter Facebook
       Key Findings
       A new Earthsight investigation has linked the illegal clearance of South American forest inhabited by one of the world’s last uncontacted tribes with some of Europe’s biggest car manufacturers. The clearances occurred in the Gran Chaco, a precious bioregion home to jaguars and giant anteaters whose forests are being destroyed faster than any others on earth. This destruction is being driven by cattle ranching firms to meet international demand for beef and leather.
       Earthsight identified cattle ranches that have illegally cleared forest inhabited by the Ayoreo Totobiegosode - the only indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation anywhere in the Americas outside the Amazon rainforest. Earthsight investigators discovered the slaughterhouses buying cattle from these ranches in Paraguay and traced the supply chain carrying cattle hides onward to some of Europe’s largest tanneries in Italy, the main destination for Paraguayan leather.
      During undercover visits, the Paraguayan tanneries concerned bragged of supplying a number of famous cars, including BMW models and the Range Rover Evoque. BMW is using hides sourced from two slaughterhouses processing cows from ranches responsible for illegal clearances in the Ayoreo Totobiegosode’s forests. Jaguar Land Rover didn’t dispute sourcing from a Paraguayan tannery that processes hides from another slaughterhouse doing the same. Several other auto giants source leather from the Italian tanneries we linked to the scandal.
      The illegal clearances identified of Totobiegosode land are only the most egregious example of widespread environmental abuses in Paraguay. The majority of the country’s beef and leather exports are from recently deforested land, up to a fifth of which was cleared illegally. Studies indicate these exports are responsible for more deforestation per unit of weight than any other commodity on earth. Interviewing government whistle-blowers and going undercover with land dealers, Earthsight’s investigation revealed the corruption and influence-peddling enabling this destruction.
      The report details how the leather industry lags way behind steps being taken by other sectors handling commodities driving deforestation, such as palm oil and cocoa. The leather used in cars each year could blanket Manhattan three times over, and the auto industry is among the largest consumers of hides from Brazil as well, where cattle are the largest deforestation driver. Yet Earthsight’s survey found not a single car firm was able to trace all of its leather back to ranch, which is essential if links to human rights and environmental abuses are to be avoided.
      Our investigation highlights the urgent need for EU and UK legislation mandating car companies and other industries to conduct proper due diligence to ensure that their purchases of forest risk commodities do not contribute to deforestation and other abuses. However, the report reveals that trade groups linked to the automotive industry have lobbied the EU and German governments to water down or halt altogether proposed new laws that would require companies to clean up their supply chains.
      Read the PDF here:"

Indian Law Resource Center (, "Brazil Silencing Indigenous Voices During the Annual Inter-American Week For Indigenous Peoples," Cultural Survival, August 07, 2020,, reported, " Brazil has blocked an Indigenous woman from addressing the Organization of American States Permanent Council during the O.A.S. Inter-American Week for Indigenous Peoples (August 5-12, 2020). We condemn this deplorable, dangerous act.
      In preparation for the Week, the O.A.S. asked Indigenous Peoples and organizations to select an Indigenous leader to address the Permanent Council on August 7, 2020. We believed that it would be very important to nominate Francinara Soares Martins, the Coordinator General of the Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB), the largest regional Indigenous organization in Brazil, to speak to the Permanent Council about the impacts of COVID-19 on Indigenous Peoples. However, upon learning of her nomination, Brazil blocked it. Brazil’s panicked attempt to silence Francinara Soares is yet another unmistakable mark of the racism, lawlessness, and oppression that characterize the government of Brazil.
      Brazil has much to hide -- overt actions and policies to deny the rights of Indigenous Peoples, withholding medical services to these most vulnerable people, using the pandemic as a cover up to pass laws to dismantle environmental protections, encouraging illegal invasions of Indigenous lands and promoting deforestation on these lands, and much more. This government even refuses to obey the decision of its own Supreme Court to protect Indigenous Peoples, especially those in isolation or recent contact, from the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
      Brazil is silencing an Indigenous leader who would speak out against these and other human rights violations. To do this is wholly against the purposes and principles of the O.A.S. and a disgrace to the organization. It is shameful that the O.A.S. is allowing Brazil to silence an Indigenous leader. For the O.A.S. to celebrate the 'Inter-American Week for Indigenous Peoples' without the representation and participation of elected leaders of Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous organizations from the Americas is a travesty.
      To silence an Indigenous advocate for Indigenous rights is an offense against the values and goals that form and support all human rights. The very purpose of human rights is to be a shield against the worst harms and injustices of governments. We condemn this blatant discrimination. We demand that the O.A.S. publicly explain this action.
      For more information, please contact: Armstrong Wiggins,"

Jess Cherofsky, " Abandoned by Government, Peru’s Indigenous Peoples Lead Powerful COVID-19 Response," Cultural Survival, September 3, 2020,, reported, "
      Cultural Survival is grateful to Miryam Yataco, Roger Mondaluisa Sinuiri, Ronin Suarez, and Wendy Pineda Ortiz for the interviews.
      “ Our medicinal plants save lives
      Yarinacocha, Peru: one hour from Lima by plane, over sixteen hours by car. The district is powerfully hot, situated in the Amazon jungle region of Ucayali. It is known for cacao, agriculture, and livestock production, including yucca, plantain, papaya, and tobacco. And there, on the banks of the Ucayali River, are Indigenous communities hard hit by the Coronavirus. These communities are now being treated by a new group of medical practitioners, Comando Matico , doing what neither the government nor mainstream medical services have done for Peru’s Indigenous Peoples. They are saving people’s lives.
      It started with a trip to Cantagallo, a shantytown in Peru’s capital, Lima. Cantagallo was settled two decades ago by Shipibo Konibo Indigenous Peoples displaced from their lands in the Amazon rainforest by illegal logging and mining projects. Roger Mondaluisa Sinuiri (Shipibo), one of the founding members of Comando Matico, tells how some professor and activist friends had gathered to brainstorm how they could support their people in Cantagallo from where they live in Yarinacocha in the Amazon. Between seventy and eighty percent of Cantagallo’s population had been infected with COVID-19. The day after test results showed this infection rate, the community awoke to newly erected fences guarded by police and military to prevent entering or leaving. While the whole country had already been under a quarantine order, this imprisonment of Cantagallo specifically suddenly meant restricted access to potable water, food, and medical care. An initial group of five Comando Matico members brought a delivery of the medicinal plant matico (spiked pepper shrub) to Cantagallo. The community was grateful for this traditional medicine, and the Comando Matico project grew from there. 'We saw the need of Indigenous Peoples here in the Peruvian Amazon, that they were dying daily,' Roger says. 'And we said, enough with the deaths of our Indigenous brothers and sisters.'
      Roger sounds energized when he tells Cultural Survival about the founding and accomplishments of Comando Matico, which currently comprises nine members who provide medical treatment. After a period of exclusively home visit care, Comando Matico was provided access to a church to set up a facility, and then when they were no longer permitted there, they relocated. ;From the beginning, we’ve self-financed,; Roger says. 'When we didn’t have supplies, we lent each other the money...This is how we’ve been doing it, as a group, as a team. Because at the beginning, when they gave us the space [for a facility], it was empty. They gave us three cots and an oxygen tank. Nothing else.' Roger brought the gas tank that he uses for his Ayahuasca medicine, pots, and a stove. Other members brought other materials. 'We’re volunteers, and we set our own hours so we don’t get too tired, and everyone also needs to find a job since we’re not paid for this.'
      Each Comando member has their own caseload, patients with whom they check in daily. So far, they have only lost one patient, someone who had arrived in critical condition and whom the Comando tended through their final hours. Before Comando Matico’s founding, there was nothing like it. Another team had been established to gather those who had died of COVID-19. Comando Matico, Roger says, 'posed an alternative, saying, enough. Enough collecting the dead. They can collect the dead, and we will dedicate ourselves to saving lives.'
       The group’s namesake treatment involves creating a steam with the matico plant and other native plants of the Amazon rainforest, along with eucalyptus, onion, lemon, and chamomile* which together alleviate blockages in the lungs. They also use teas and syrups. 'We don’t have anyone to support us, but we’re going to get them to support us. We’re going to demonstrate that our medicinal plants are of huge importance and need during this time of the pandemic. And that’s what we did, showed everyone that our medicinal plants do work, do save lives, even though others say they don’t. Because we are the people who really work and live with these plants during these pandemic times. And we’re very happy to see the results that our medicinal plants offer.'
      'The government has been totally indifferent'
       This powerful grassroots project, which has successfully treated over 500 patients with both Indigenous medicine and commercial medicine in multiple communities, is a vital response to a devastating nationwide truth: the Peruvian government has systematically excluded Indigenous Peoples from COVID-19 response services, resulting in staggering illness rates and deaths. Moreover, the Peruvian government is not tracking COVID-19 data in Indigenous communities, an exclusion which invisibilizes impacts on Indigenous Peoples and further distances them from adequate interventions. Peru is the country with the 43rd largest population in the world, yet it has the fifth highest number of COVID-19 cases as of August 2020, approximately 622,000. Forty-five percent of the population is Indigenous.
      Ronald Suarez Maynas is based in Pucallpa, capital city of the Ucayali department. He is the apu (president) of the Shipibo Konibo Xetebo Council, representing over 35,000 people in over 166 communities. He himself has suffered from COVID-19, fortunately recovering thanks to matico medicine. Yet his mother, Marcelina Mayna Collantes, a beloved textile artist, linguist, land defender, and elder, died from the virus; Apu Ronald could not visit her due to his own illness. “It was possibly the most terrible news I could have received in my life,” he says. When Apu Ronald’s family requested oxygen from regional and federal governments, responses were slow. When the family finally got their hands on an oxygen tank, the cost was impossibly high. A day’s worth of oxygen costs what a family would spend on food over two or three months. 'The government has been totally indifferent,' says sociolinguist and international language rights scholar and activist Miryam Yataco (Quechua-Muchik). 'They have done absolutely nothing at all.'
      Apu Ronald describes to Cultural Survival a federal response whose exclusion of Indigenous Peoples is deadly. The 'hospitals are collapsing quickly,' and the government has failed to provide medicine or oxygen. Almost every community in the Peruvian Amazon has been hit by the virus. While he counts over 130 dead in the Shipibo Konibo community and estimates 10,000 infected, he points out that the state has reported just two dead and five infected. His May 2020 letter to the incoming United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples describes a testing process that, when it does arrive in communities, accounts for a tiny percentage of the population and excludes the most vulnerable, such as elders who cannot physically get to testing locations. 'We’re invisible,' he says. Unable to count on the government to track COVID-19’s impact in their communities, the communities gather their own statistics.
      Apu Ronald lauds Comando Matico’s work. 'All these people aren’t traditional medical practitioners, nor western doctors. They have simply received training from their ancestors, from their parents...They’ve saved more than 500 lives, that’s the number I have...and this achieves more than the hospital. There are many people who don’t go to the hospital, even if they have symptoms, because there is a lot of distrust...that people who go to the hospitals don’t return, that they’re definitely going to die. There is scarcity of oxygen, mistreatment, lack of medicine, lots of things.' He says, with plants like matico, 'We have saved ourselves. Without this, it would have been a massive death of our people.' Both Wendy Pineda Ortiz of the Rainforest Foundation and Miryam Yataco, with whom Cultural Survival also spoke, reiterate the importance of Comando Matico’s work. While the Comando’s impact is extraordinary in the communities they are reaching, resources and support are needed if locally based practitioners are to operate at the scale that is desperately needed given the scale of COVID-19 infections in Indigenous communities nationwide.
      The government’s failed response represents a lethal missed opportunity to capitalize on the organizational strengths of Indigenous communities. 'The Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon responded pretty quickly when information on COVID-19 arrived,' Wendy Pineda Ortiz tells Cultural Survival. 'They strengthened their land governance measures, and they self-isolated in their communities. Many took their elders away to hide them in less populated places, or places that were harder to access. They closed their borders...This organizational capacity of the Indigenous Peoples could have been a great opportunity for the Peruvian government. [T