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Tohono O’odham Nation commits $1M each to ASU, UArizona for COVID-19 research

Funding from shared gaming revenue grant program will assist efforts to combat pandemic in Arizona.

Funding from shared gaming revenue grant program will assist efforts to combat pandemic in Arizona

The Tohono O’odham Nation announced on Monday that it is contributing $1 million each to Arizona State University and the University of Arizona to support their world-renowned medical researchers’ efforts to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus. The funding will come from the nation’s 12% gaming revenue grants required under its compact to be shared with local community programs.

Both universities will use the funds to mitigate the impact and disruptive consequences of COVID-19, including new testing methods and tools to enable the effective and equitable deployment of emerging technologies.

(From left) Legislative Chairman Timothy Joaquin Gu Achi, Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris Jr., University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins and Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow at Monday’s announcement of the tribe’s $1 million gift to both ASU and UArizona to support COVID-19 research. Photo by Arizona Board of Regents.

 

Under the tribal-state gaming compact, the nation and other tribes are required to share a percentage of gaming revenues with local governments and qualified nonprofits. The nation has awarded more than 500 of these grants since the enactment of the compact in 2003 and, with large awards such as these, the program allows for funding to come from multiple fiscal years.

Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris Jr. said, “This virus is showing no signs of letting up, and until we have better testing, treatment, and a vaccine, our communities remain at risk and our economy will continue to falter. That is why the nation made the decision to contribute these funds — which we were already committed to share — to support the world-class research taking place here in Arizona that is working to overcome the pandemic.”

“Our success at Arizona State University is closely tied to our partnerships in the community, and we are grateful for the support of the Tohono O’odham Nation, whose gift today will enable us to intensify our efforts to manage the complexities of this pandemic and prepare for future public health emergencies by investing in scientific preparedness,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “This generous investment will be put to use to help serve communities across the state.”

Press Release PDF

“The University of Arizona is proud to partner with the Tohono O’odham Nation, particularly as our main campus is located on their ancestral homelands,” said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. “As Arizona’s land-grant university, our mission is to serve the entire state, and the nation’s support will allow this work to continue and expand, and help Arizona emerge stronger from this pandemic.”

The Tohono O’odham Nation is a federally recognized tribe with more than 35,000 enrolled citizens. The nation has the second-largest tribal land base in the United States, with more than 2.8 million acres of reservation land in central and southern Arizona. The Tohono O’odham Nation operates casinos at three locations in southern Arizona (Tucson, Sahuarita and Why) and one in the West Valley near Glendale.

Originally published on ASU.edu

 


 

Tohono O’odham Nation to give $2 million to ASU, UA for COVID-19 research

Legislative Chairman Timothy Joaquin Gu Achi
Legislative Chairman Timothy Joaquin Gu Achi speaks during a news conference regarding the Tohono O’odham Nation’s $2 million contribution to support COVID-19 research efforts at the University of Arizona and Arizona State University.

Citing an urgent situation, particularly for communities of color, the Tohono O’odham Nation announced Monday it will donate $2 million to advance COVID-19 research in the state.

Leaders of the Tohono O’odham Nation of southern Arizona were in Phoenix to make the announcement that they would be giving $1 million each to the University of Arizona and Arizona State University to advance ongoing COVID-19 research, including the development of rapid tests.

The money comes from gaming revenue earned by the tribe’s four casinos. Part of the tribe’s gaming compact with the state of Arizona requires the donation of 12% of revenue toward local community programs. The tribe operates Desert Diamond casinos near Tucson, Sahuarita, Why, and in the West Valley near Glendale that reopened in June.

Native American communities across the U.S. have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. In Arizona, Native Americans make up just 5% of the state’s population, yet 11% of its known deaths, tribal chairman Ned Norris Jr. said.

“This pandemic has affected all of us. People have lost loved ones, have lost jobs and have been isolated from friends and family for months,” he said.

“The crisis has also intensified the existing disparities in health care and economic opportunity for Native Americans, and other communities of color who have been among the hardest hit.”

Chairman Ned Norris Jr.
Chairman Ned Norris Jr. speaks during a press conference regarding the Tohono O’odham Nation’s $2 million contribution to support COVID-19 research efforts at the University of Arizona and Arizona State University on Oct. 19, 2020, at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix.

 

Norris announced the grants after a prayer led by Tohono O’odham legislative council chairman Timothy Joaquin at the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix on Monday afternoon.

UA President Robert Robbins and ASU President Michael Crow were both in attendance to accept the donation, along with officials from the Arizona Board of Regents.

Robbins and Crow said their universities are working on developing easy, rapid tests that can give results in minutes that they hope to have ready by spring.

Robbins said he’d like UA students to eventually get tested every day.

“The University of Arizona is proud to partner with the Tohono O’odham Nation, particularly as our main campus is on their ancestral homelands,” Robbins said. “The nation’s support will allow this work to continue and expand, and help Arizona emerge stronger from this pandemic.”

As of Oct. 14, the nation had reported 555 cases and 28 deaths, with an incidence rate that’s lower than the Arizona average. The percent of positive tests that week was 5%.

Arizona State University President Michael Crow
Arizona State University President Michael Crow speaks during a press conference regarding the Tohono O’odham Nation’s $2 million contribution to support COVID-19 research efforts at the University of Arizona and Arizona State University on Oct. 19, 2020, at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix.

 

The Tohono O’odham Nation has about 35,000 members and approximately half of them live on its 2.8 million-acre reservation southwest of Tucson.

Norris said the tribe has had shelter-in-place orders and has worked closely with health and law enforcement officials on the reservation to minimize the spread, and has so far prevented a major outbreak, but they want to continue to be vigilant, he said.

“This virus is showing no signs of letting up, and until we have better testing, treatment, and a vaccine, our communities remain at risk and our economy will continue to falter,” Norris said.

“That is why the nation made the decision to contribute these funds, which we were already committed to share, to support the world-class research taking place here in Arizona that is working to overcome the pandemic.”

Originally published on AZcentral.com

 


 

Tohono O’odham Nation donates $1M each to UA, ASU for COVID-19 research

Donation for COVID-19 Research
The University of Arizona is receiving $1 million for COVID-19 research from the Tohono O’odham Nation.

The Tohono O’odham Nation is contributing $1 million each to the University of Arizona and Arizona State University to support their world-renowned medical researchers’ efforts to combat COVID-19.

“This virus is showing no signs of letting up, and until we have better testing, treatment and a vaccine, our communities remain at risk and our economy will continue to falter,” said Ned Norris, Jr., chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation during a news conference at the UA College of Medicine in Phoenix Monday.

“That is why the nation made the decision to contribute these funds — which we were already committed to share — to support the world-class research taking place right here in Arizona that is working to overcome the pandemic,” Norris said.

The funding will come from the nation’s 12% gaming revenue grants that are required under its tribal-state gaming compact to share with local community programs, according to a news release. The O’odham, which operate four casinos, have awarded more than 500 of these grants since enactment of the compact in 2003 and with large awards, the program allows for funding to come from multiple fiscal years, officials said.

Both UA and ASU researchers will use the funds to mitigate the impact and disruptive consequences of the coronavirus, said officials, including new testing methods and tools to enable the effective and equitable deployment of emerging technologies.
UA researchers have been involved in understanding the coronavirus and testing people across the state since the pandemic’s arrival in the United States in the spring. An antibody test developed by immunologists in the College of Medicine-Tucson has been deployed throughout Arizona in partnership with Gov. Doug Ducey, according to the UA.
The UA also developed a program to quickly test its students, faculty, and staff, and has shared testing kits with communities across the state, said UA officials. UA President Robert C. Robbins said the nation’s gift will enable researchers to create new, more efficient, effective, and affordable COVID-19 tests.

“The University of Arizona is proud to partner with the Tohono O’odham Nation, particularly as our main campus is located on their ancestral homelands,” said Robbins. “As Arizona’s land-grant university, our mission is to serve the entire state, and the nation’s support will allow this work to continue and expand, and help Arizona emerge stronger from this pandemic,” Robbins said.

ASU President Michael M. Crow said the university is grateful for the nation’s support, and the gift “will enable us to intensify our efforts to manage the complexities of this pandemic and prepare for future public-health emergencies by investing in scientific preparedness.”

Crow said more than 2,000 researchers at ASU were working to better understand the coronavirus and come up with science-based solutions to fight it.

Originally published on Tucson.com

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