Illustrator Michaela Goade became the first Native American to win the prestigious Randolph Caldecott Medal for best children’s picture story, cited for “We Are Water Protectors,” a celebration of nature and condemnation of the “black snake” Dakota Access Pipeline.
“It is very encouraging to read the directive from President Biden in reference to E.O. 13175,” said Joseph McNeil, Jr., Standing Rock Sioux Tribal member and former Tribal Council member. “It reignites the effort started more than 20 years ago and we hope to see some real changes when consulting with tribes.”
On January 24, 2021, The New York Times published an opinion piece by Jodi Archambault, Hunkpapa and Oglala Lakota, about the harrowing effect that Coronavirus has taken on Native communities.
The opinion piece focuses on the threat that the pandemic – and its death toll – poses to the progress that Standing Rock has made toward the revitalization of Lakota and Dakota languages.
Ms. Archambault writes that “as Covid-19 takes a fearsome toll on our people, it also threatens the progress we have made to save our languages. The average age of our speakers — our treasured elders who have the greatest knowledge and depth of the language — is 70. They are also those who are at most risk of dying from Covid-19.”
On January 20, 2021, The New York Times reported on President Biden’s cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline permit: a decision that is both long-awaited and significant for Native Americans.
Faith Spotted Eagle, an elder in the Yankton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, is quoted saying “I’m gratified that our treaty rights have been honored. This is a vindication.”
President Biden’s decision was met with criticism from Canadian officials who claim that cancellation of Keystone XL will severely affect Canada’s economy. The pipeline would have carried crude oil from Canada to Nebraska to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.
For many Indigenous lawmakers, January brought the opportunity to be sworn into office. Across various Capitol buildings (and of course in some living rooms through video conferencing), Indigenous officials took an oath of office, promising to do their job to the best of their ability – and many chose to do so while wearing traditional clothing.