American Indian and Alaska Natives make up only 2.4% of the United States population, however, tribal nations and communities have been the most affected by COVID-19. With higher rates than any other communities, Indian Country was devastated by COVID-19 and still suffers from the repercussions. Navajo Nation alone has been faced with a total of over 30,662 cases of COVID-19 and over 1,285 confirmed deaths. At the end of 2020, Indigenous peoples in American were 3-5 times more likely to test positive for COVID compared to white non-Hispanic individuals. Tribal nations across the country have been faced with many health disparities rooted in racial inequity and historical traumas.
Tribal communities were more at risk to exposure due to many factors. Across the country, many of these communities do not have access to running water, electricity and even need to travel hours to get tot he nearest grocery store or hospital. The Northern Cheyenne Tribe in Montana lost 1% of their reservation population to COVID due to these challenges and exposure. These challenges are compounded by the fact that health facilities and supplies are scarce across many reservations. The most impacted areas are not obtaining resources like protective equipment and test kits proportionate to their need and were not ready for the needed response to this global pandemic.
The community is working to the best of their ability but long-standing inequities present these difficult challenges. It is clear that there will be lasting effects on not only the physical health of Indigenous peoples across the country but also mental and behavioral impacts as well. Contribute to help address medical and community needs today. In solidarity, when disaster strikes, we can hold up the value of ALL of our neighbors.
(Disclaimer: United Natives is NOT representing the Navajo Nation, but is working with Navajo community members to donate needed supplies to Navajo communities.)
"This was a humbling moment I had to share. This is a picture of three minority female physicians who are working on the front lines of COVID-19 pandemic on Navajo Nation. A generous gentleman from San Francisco donated PPE to my medical relief efforts. A fellow Navajo doctor (middle) contacted me for assistance as her facility was near depletion of PPE gowns. We not only were able to provide caps, surgical masks and face shields directly with no extra time or steps to delay protection to her and co-workers. This is only one example of what we, my medical relief team and United Natives have been able to do." -Dr. Tom