Category Archives: Health

Climate Change Hits Native Americans Harder than other Americans

“Many Native people were forced into the most undesirable areas of America, first by white settlers, then by the government. Now, parts of that marginal land are becoming uninhabitable.” C. Flavelle, The New York Times, June 27, 2021

Chefornak’s preschool sits on stilts in thawing permafrost. At high tide, water reaches the building, which needs to be moved to safer land.Credit…Ash Adams for The New York Times

Excerpt:Dispossessed, Again: Climate Change Hits Native Americans Especially Hard, By Christopher Flavelle, The New York Times, June 27, 2021

“In Chefornak, a Yu’pik village near the western coast of Alaska, the water is getting closer. The thick ground, once frozen solid, is thawing. The village preschool, its blue paint peeling, sits precariously on wooden stilts in spongy marsh between a river and a creek. Storms are growing stronger. At high tide these days, water rises under the building, sometimes keeping out the children, ages 3 to 5. The shifting ground has warped the floor, making it hard to close the doors. Mold grows.

‘I love our building,’ said Eliza Tunuchuk, one of the teachers. ‘At the same time, I want to move.’ The village, where the median income is about $11,000 a year, sought help from the federal government to build a new school on dry land — one of dozens of buildings in Chefornak that must be relocated. But agency after agency offered variations on the same response: no.

From Alaska to Florida, Native Americans are facing severe climate challenges, the newest threat in a history marked by centuries of distress and dislocation. While other communities struggle on a warming planet, Native tribes are experiencing an environmental peril exacerbated by policies — first imposed by white settlers and later the United States government — that forced them onto the country’s least desirable lands.

A home that collapsed into the eroding coast. Credit- Ash Adams NYT

And now, climate change is quickly making that marginal land uninhabitable. And now, climate change is quickly making that marginal land uninhabitable. The first Americans face the loss of home once again.

A totem pole in Taholah, Wash., that was carved to commemorate the 2013 Tribal Canoe Journey, an annual event for Pacific Northwest tribes.Credit…Josué Rivas for The New York Times

In the Pacific Northwest, coastal erosion and storms are eating away at tribal land, forcing native communities to try to move inland. In the Southwest, severe drought means Navajo Nation is running out of drinking water… Many tribes have been working to meet the challenges posed by the changing climate. And they have expressed hope that their concerns would be addressed by President Biden, who has committed to repairing the relationship with tribal nations…FEMA said it is committed to improving tribal access to its programs.

Taholah is exposed to storms and flooding but the tribe has struggled to get enough federal help to relocate.Credit…Josué Rivas for The New York Times

Chefornak’s efforts to relocate its preschool illustrate the current difficulties of dealing with the federal government.

While FEMA offers grants to cope with climate hazards, replacing the school wasn’t an eligible expense, according to Max Neale, a senior program manager at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, who helped Chefornak search for federal aid.

Damian Cabman, a member of the Navajo tribe, filled buckets of water to take home at the Bataan water loading station in Gallup, N.M. Kalen Goodluck:NYT

Twice a week, Vivienne Beyal climbs into her GMC Sierra in Window Rock, a northern Arizona town that is the capital of Navajo Nation, and drives 45 minutes across the border into New Mexico. When she reaches the outskirts of Gallup, she joins something most Americans have never seen: a line for water… The facility, which is run by the city of Gallup, works like an air pump at a gas station: Each quarter fed into the coin slot buys 17 gallons of water. Most of the people in line with Ms. Beyal are also Navajo residents, crossing into New Mexico for drinking water…But unlike nearby communities like Gallup and Flagstaff, Navajo Nation lacks an adequate municipal water supply. About one-third of the tribe lives without running water…The drought is also changing the landscape. Reptiles and other animals are disappearing with the water, migrating to higher ground. And as vegetation dies, cattle and sheep have less to eat. Sand dunes once anchored by the plants become unmoored — cutting off roads, smothering junipers and even threatening to bury houses…As a presidential candidate last year, Mr. Biden highlighted the connection between global warming and Native Americans, saying that climate change poses a particular threat to Indigenous people…[President Biden] appointed Deb Haaland, the first Indigenous cabinet secretary, to run the Interior Department…Ms. Haaland’s role as interior secretary gives her vast authority over tribal nations. But the department declined to talk about plans to protect tribal nations from climate change…Instead, her agency provided a list of programs that already exist, including grants that started during the Obama administration… In Northern California, wildfires threaten burial sites and other sacred places. In Alaska, rising temperatures make it harder to engage in traditions like subsistence hunting and fishing.”

 

Fighting for Justice for the Two Spirit Indigenous Community in Pine Ridge

“When Monique Mousseau was in the fourth grade she got expelled from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic school on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota. Her classmates didn’t like the beaded moccasins her grandmother made for her and the two braids she sported, which were held together by hand-beaded hair ties.” S. R. Clahchischiligi, The Guardian, April 14, 2021

Monique ‘Muffie’ Mousseau and her wife Felipa De Leon in their kitchen. Photo- M. Wosinska The Guardian

Excerpt: By Sunnie R Clahchischiligi, The Guardian, April 14, 2021

‘I fought back,’ she says. Little did she know that would be the start of a long journey of fighting for justice for the Two Spirit Indigenous community, a term used to identify the LGBTQ community throughout Indian Country.

Mousseau, 52, and her wife, Felipa De Leon, 51, also from the Pine Ridge Indian reservation, have dedicated their lives to fighting for equal rights for Two Spirit Indigenous peoples locally and nationally…Candi Brings Plenty is another vocal advocate of the Two-Spirit community. She spent February pushing for South Dakota’s hate crime protection bill to include Native American Two Spirit people, with the Native American nation recognizing them as a culturally and spiritually distinct gender. The bill was passed with those protections made.

Two friends rest their heads against one another on a cold October evening at a basketball course. Photo- M. Wosinska

Although Two Spirit people once existed harmoniously on the Pine Ridge reservation, colonizers divided them, she says. ‘Our sacred circles were broke, and the infrastructure in our families,’says Brings Plenty.

Nicole Big Crow, left, stands with her girlfriend, Ashley Colhoff, on a field on the reservation. Photo- M. Wosinska

’The Two-Spirit people have always held their roles. Two-Spirit people, just like our Indigenous land, belong to our ancestors,’ she says.

The entrance to a part of the cemetery of Wounded Knee. Photo- M. Wosinska

Most of what the community knows about Two Spirit people is from oral stories. Mosseau feels fortunate to have grown upin a traditional home that valued ceremony, including ceremonies honoring transsexual people who often prepared the food for ceremonies and dressed in women’s attire.”

COVID-19 Vaccine and Financial Aid Sources

Indian Health Services (IHS) : COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution List

https://www.ihs.gov/coronavirus/

IHS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) https://www.ihs.gov/coronavirus/vaccine/

Apply for NCAI (National Congress of American Indians) Relief Funding https://www.ncai.org/Covid-19/Get-Involved/apply-for-ncai-funding

CDC (Center for Disease and Control): COVID Data Tracker https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccinations

Navajo Nation Reopens 2 casinos–with Safety Measures in Place

Two casinos on the Navajo Nation will reopen this week as the tribe eases its restrictions on businesses amid a downturn in coronavirus cases and high rates of vaccination. All employees must test negative for COVID-19 before they return to work and be retested at least every two weeks.” F. Fonseca, ICT, March 17, 2021

Navajo Fire Rock Casino in Gallup, NM

 

Excerpt: By Felicia Fonseca, ICT, March 17, 2021

“The Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise has four casinos but will open only two Friday and limit patrons to those who live on the vast reservation that stretches into New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.

Robert Peterson from Thoreau said Friday he’s happy Fire Rock Casino has reopened. Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero

The enterprise will keep Fire Rock east of Gallup, New Mexico, and Northern Edge in Farmington, New Mexico, open for two weeks before determining whether to reopen two other casinos — one in northwestern New Mexico and the other east of Flagstaff.

‘What it’s intended to do is demonstrate that all our safety protocols, which we know are very, very comprehensive, are in place, the program is going to work and keep everyone safe, and then we can open it to a broader audience later,’ Brian Parrish, the enterprise’s interim chief executive, said Wednesday.

Northern Edge Navajo Casino, Framingham NM (Times photo- Cindy Yurth)

The casinos will operate at 25 percent capacity with no food or drink services and only within the time allowed by the tribe’s nightly curfew.

Service lights on the slot machines will let customers request that the machines be sanitized.

Smoking will be allowed only in designated outdoor areas. Social distancing will be enforced throughout the properties.

The casinos also are setting aside a couple of hours on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings for elderly patrons.

Customers must wear masks, get their temperatures checked and provide contact information if they needed to be reached later.

Handheld devices will be used to swipe driver’s licenses to ensure customers live on the reservation, Parrish said…The tribe is planning a virtual day of prayer Friday to remember those who have died and been infected by the virus.”

 

COVID-19 RESOURCES FOR NATIVE AMERICANS

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act

https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/public_indian_housing/ih/Covid_Recovery

Apply for NCAI Relief Funding 

https://www.ncai.org/Covid-19/Get-Involved/apply-for-ncai-funding

Center for Disease and Control (CDC): COVID Data Tracker: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccinations

Indian Health Services (IHS): COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution List https://www.ihs.gov/coronavirus/vaccine/distribution/

Indian Health Services (IHS): Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding the COVID-19 Vaccine: https://www.ihs.gov/coronavirus/vaccine/

NCAI’s COVID-19 Response Fund (Donate) With the generous support of our donors, NCAI is providing financial relief support to tribal nations affected by COVID-19 through NCAI’s COVID-19 Response Fund for Indian Country.

 

Category: Culture, Health, Navajo | Tags:

President Joe Biden Signs Disaster Relief for Navajos

“Navajo Nation health officials on Wednesday reported 70 new COVID-19 cases and six more deaths.The latest numbers raised the totals to 28,544 cases and 1,038 known deaths since the pandemic began…The move will provide the tribe more federal resources to address the pandemicAP-ICT Feb 3, 2021

President Biden signing executive orders. 2021-Credit- Jim Lo Scalzojpeg

Excerpt: Joe Biden signs Navajo disaster declaration as cases rise —AP-ICT Feb 3, 2021

On Tuesday, tribal officials said they received word that President Joe Biden had signed a long-awaited major disaster declaration for the Navajo Nation.

It will provide more federal resources and prompts the release of federal funds for the reimbursement of emergency funds expended to address the COVID-19 pandemic on the Navajo Nation which covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The tribe has tribe extended its stay-at-home order with a revised nightly curfew to limit the spread of COVID-19. The Navajo Department of Health has identified 56 communities with uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus, down from 75 communities in recent weeks.”

For More Information Contact:

Navajo Department of Health

Indian Health Services  (The Federal Health Program for [All] American Indians and Alaska Natives)

Financial Aid for Native Students

 

 

JUST FOR FUN: WATCH GIANT PANDAS SLIDE IN THE SNOW!

#NatZooZen: Giant Pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian in the Snow Feb 1, 2021

Chickasaw Nation President Jefferson Keel Endorses Joe Biden!

‘Vice President Biden is a proven leader with exceptional grace and diplomacy’Jefferson Keel, Chickasaw Nation, ICT

Jefferson Keel, Chickasaw Nation, is the former president of the National Congress of American Indians. (File photo)

Excerpt: Electing Joe Biden stops Trump’s termination policies, By Jefferson Keel, Chickasaw Nation, ICT

“Indian Country is at a crossroads as deep divisions take shape within our country. Native people have borne the brunt of racism for hundreds of years and have seen Presidents attempt to eliminate tribal rights and our communities.

Additionally, the pandemic is impacting Natives at alarmingly high rates, highlighting disparities that have long existed in healthcare and other services.

I witnessed huge strides to foster tribal self-determination during the eight years of the Obama-Biden Administration, elevating tribal voices to unprecedented levels and prioritizing Native issues to heights we had never experienced (or even dreamed of) before… But the sad truth now is that many of the achievements and progress we made during the Obama-Biden Administration have been erased in the last four years… Tribes have been alienated and ignored…[Joe Biden] has shown through his decades of public service a respect and commitment to tribal sovereignty. He is a spiritual man who truly understands and respects the service of Native veterans, and will never disparage them in any way.”

5 key takeaways from Joe Biden’s town hall with ABC News, By Meg Cunningham and Quinn Scanlan, October 16, 2020 NYT   

Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden and moderator George Stephanopoulos participate in an ABC News town hall event at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

Biden’s persistent message of concern for others, which he follows up with action, is a stark contrast to the actions of the current president.

“I’m less concerned about me than the people, the guys with the cameras, the people working in the, you know, the Secret Service guys you drive up with, all those people.”~Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden

“With less than three weeks until Nov. 3,…Already, more than 18 million voters have cast their ballots, and while that’s an unprecedented turnout this far out from Election Day, many more Americans have yet to officially make their voices heard.”

Tribal Community Sub-Grants

“The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is committed to American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) exercising their right to vote in all tribal, local, state, and federal elections through nonpartisan activities and education. To meet this commitment, we rely on our tribal nations, partner organizations, and tribal citizens to become actively engaged in the campaign. Community Mini Grants – NCAI is offering Community Mini Grants for projects in support of its Native Vote campaign for the 2020 election cycle. Please note: NCAI will consider funding projects/events in whole or part up to a maximum of $2,000 per tribal organization. For More information Visit:  Native Vote 2020 Community Grants Application

*A state-by-state guide to voting in the age of COVID-19  By Nathaniel Rakich and Julia Wolfe   NOTE:  “This page will be updated on a regular basis with the latest developments.” October 15, 2020

STAY HEALTHY During Flu Season!

The Navajo Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises Navajo citizens to get a flu vaccine this fall to protect yourself, your family, and your community and help reduce the strain on healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The flu vaccine can prevent influenza (flu) and is not a COVID-19 vaccine. Flu is a contagious disease that spreads around the country every year, usually between October …See More

Also Visit: Navajo Department of Health for COVID-19 Updates

Native Vote Declines Due to Covid-19!

“After the COVID-19 pandemic ripped through Indian Country in New Mexico this spring, voter turnout among Native Americans declined… according to a new report from Common Cause New Mexico.” M. Gerstein, Santa Fe New Mexico Press

Excerpt: Native American vote suppressed by pandemic, By Michael Gerstein, Santa Fe New Mexico Press

“The report shows while the rest of the state experienced a voter turnout increase of 8 percent as county clerks grappled with a record flood of absentee ballots, turnout among Native Americans declined by 1 percent compared to the 2016 primary.

The tribal communities with the lowest turnout lined up with some of the areas of the state hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Turnout among Zia Pueblo members decreased 29 percent from the 2016 primary, while a number of precincts in the New Mexico portion of the Navajo Nation saw turnout drop 17 percent or more from the 2016 primary, according to the report.

‘COVID-19 hit Native American communities disproportionately, and people faced new obstacles to voting,’ said Amber Carrillo, Native American voting rights organizer for Common Cause New Mexico, in a statement…Many Native voters who tried to cast their ballot during the June 2 primary election did not know where to go in person, and although voting was considered an essential activity and exempt from lockdown requirements on the Navajo Nation, many had to travel longer distances to vote, the report said.

Carrillo said one of the biggest hurdles for Native American voters was a lack of information about where to cast a ballot.‘There just needs to be a lot more information on radio and TV,’ Carrillo said. ‘Those are probably the primary places where tribal folks in rural [communities] are going to be engaged with.’

Voters also faced mail delays, long distances to drop off absentee ballots at post offices or post office boxes and in some cases had absentee ballots rejected due to signatures not matching or missing information…‘With less than 100 days until the 2020 general election, this is an urgent call for action,’the report said.

‘New Mexico’s leadership has taken several commendable steps to promote safe and accessible elections, but Native American voting rights will not be upheld unless best practices … are implemented and maintained.’

For the 2020 general election, the report urged every tribal administration building have a drop box where people can deposit absentee ballots.

It also calls for legislation to allow the U.S. Postal Service to deliver mail at non-conforming addresses, audio recordings that translate and explain ballot items in tribal languages, prepaid postage on absentee ballots, counting ballots postmarked on or before Election Day and keeping in-person polling locations open on tribal lands, among other changes. The new emergency election law that passed during the special session this year, Senate Bill 4, allows tribes to keep polling locations open even if they’re closed to the general public…NM Native Vote has encouraged county clerks to create ballot drop boxes to ease ongoing worries over how turmoil within the U.S. Postal Service might affect absentee voting.”

“The right to vote is the most sacred American right there is — exercise it. Make your voice heard this November.”

~Democratic Presidential Leader Joe Biden~

~Democratic Vice-Presidential Leader Kamala Harris~

YOUR VOTE IS NEEDED

Indian Country’s Updated COVID-19 Syllabus

Coronavirus Q&A: What is it? The symptoms. And how it spreads
An explainer of every frequently asked question in relation to COVID-19.

Are you a Native student whose college or university has been closed or switched to online classes? Visit this spreadsheet for resources involving technology in Native communities. It is updated by San Juan College’s Native American Center.

• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Basic information.

Indian Health Service

National Congress of American Indians

National Indian Health Board

COVID-19: Native advisories and event updates

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