- Native Americans embrace vaccine, virus containment measures
CHEROKEE, N.C. (AP) — Native Americans are bucking a trend of minority populations who harbor doubts about the coronavirus vaccines. Tribes across the nation are embracing inoculations, and also have been among the first in the country to adopt coronavirus containment measures. There are two possible explanations: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Native Americans and Alaskan Natives are four times more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19. And community before self has long been a core principle in Native American culture. Tribal leaders and health care providers say it is about preserving a fragile heritage that has been under threat for centuries.
- Amid pandemic, New Mexico forges path to legal cannabis
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico legislators are sprinting amid the pandemic to come up with a framework for regulating and taxing recreational marijuana after voters ousted key opponents of pot legalization in 2020 elections. Four Democrat-backed proposals with a social justice bent are competing for traction at the Legislature, along with a Republican proposal aimed at stamping out the illicit pot market. The Legislature has until March 20 to send a cannabis bill to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, an enthusiastic backer of marijuana as a tool of economic development and fiscal security for the state. The state's Constitution doesn't allow for ballot initiatives, leaving cannabis legalization to the legislative process.
- Winter storm delivers snow, freezing temps across New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A storm has brought snow across New Mexico, leading to freezing temperatures and icy road conditions. Snowfall has led to more than 150 delays and closures Tuesday morning with residents being urged to stay home. In Albuquerque, the city's non-essential services and offices will open two hours later because of the weather. City officials say 30 sanding and plowing vehicles are working 12-hour shifts to clear snow-packed roadways. The city's buses are also operating on a limited capacity. The weather is delaying the opening of the Bandelier National Monument until noon so workers can clear snow and ice from trails and roads.
- Bill on civil rights lawsuits passed by New Mexico House
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Legislators in the New Mexico House of Representatives have endorsed reforms to rein in police immunity from prosecution, voting 39-29 in favor of a bill that allows civil rights lawsuits in state court against a variety of local government agencies. The vote Tuesday moves the bill from Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf and Rep. Georgene Louis to the state Senate for consideration. In response to financial concerns voiced by local governments, sponsors amended the bill to cap liability for damages at $2 million. Liability applies only to government agencies and not individual public employees.
- New Mexico city's disputed statue located at private home
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico city's statue of a Spanish colonialist that was removed following disputes over its representation has been quietly kept at a private home for months. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported the statue of Don Diego de Vargas was removed from a Santa Fe park in June on the orders of Mayor Alan Webber during tensions over local monuments. Former City Councilor Ron Trujillo says he saw the statue but declined to identify the property to prevent vandalism. City spokesman Dave Herndon says the statue has been in the same place since the mayor requested its removal.
- Navajo Nation reports 24 more COVID-19 cases, no new deaths
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation health officials reported 24 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, but no additional deaths. The latest numbers bring the total number of cases on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah to 29,308 since the pandemic began. There have been 1,112 deaths reported related to COVID-19. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a statement that even those who have been fully vaccinated need to continue taking precautions to avoid spreading the virus. He also commended health care workers for helping to get people vaccinated, especially when compared to the rate in areas surrounding the Navajo Nation.
- Gathering of Nations Powwow canceled for 2nd year in a row
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The world's largest powwow has been canceled for a second consecutive year because of the pandemic. The Albuquerque Journal reported Monday that the Gathering of Nations Powwow, typically held in Albuquerque, will be entirely online. Gathering of Nations founder Derek Mathews says they can't hold the live event until the state opens up for large gatherings. He was told that the powwow won't likely be possible until April of 2022. He also says it wouldn't be right to risk people's safety, especially considering how COVID-19 has devastated tribal communities. The virtual powwow will be held April 23-24 with dance performances and competitions livestreamed from various places.
- New Mexico Supreme Court backs governor's pandemic authority
SANTA FE. N.M. (AP) — The state Supreme Court has issued a written opinion that shows new resolve in its support of pandemic-related health restrictions placed on businesses by the governor of New Mexico. At the same time Monday, the Legislature took initial steps that could place new limits on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's authority to declare a health emergency. The Supreme Court opinion provides detailed and updated reasoning for a decision in August that rejected a lawsuit brought by several restaurants and their industry association. A bill from Republican Senate Minority Leader Greg Baca would limit the duration of public health orders to 45 days and require legislative approval to extend an order.