Category Archives: Health

COVID19 Resources for Indigenous Peoples

Art by Isaac Murdoch

Hello relatives! During this difficult time, we wanted to put together some links for Indigenous folks north of the medicine line, specifically. We hope that you’re all staying safe; we will get through this like we always have. If you have any other COVID-19 resources that would be good for Indigenous folks to have access to, please send them to lindsey@indigenousclimateaction.com

This page will also be updated with resources as they come out

Every Sickness has a herb to cure it.-BlackCloud

In case you missed it, Indigenous Climate Action and Idle No More hosted a webinar on Covid19 and Indigenous communities. You can watch it here.

Photo- John Locher:AP Photo

Elderly hour started at 6am Bashas in Arizona. Elders really needed this time for their own shopping. Kenny Corona Sanchez

 

HEALTH PROTOCOLS

Symptoms

Cold or Allergies:

Itchy eyes

Stuffy nose

Sneezing

Flu or coronavirus:

Fever

Fatigue

Body Aches

Cough

Worsening symptoms

Coronavirus:

Shortness of breath

History of travel

Exposure to a confirmed person

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, center, meets with other Navajo Nation officials to discuss the coronavirus crisis.Navajo Nation

Symptom Self Assessment Tool

Defining Coronavirus Symptoms – mild, moderate & severe

Common Questions about COVID-19

How to apply for EI sickness benefits and the new emergency worker fund

Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response plan – supports for individuals & business

Please call TeleHealth before visiting a doctor or the emergency room:

Tollfree throughout Alberta: 1-866-408-LINK (4565);

Edmonton: 780-408-LINK (4565); Calgary: 403-943-LINK (4565)

Tollfree throughout Manitoba: 1-888-315-9257

Winnipeg: 788-8200

New Brunswick, Quebec, BC, Nova Scotia: 811

Ontario: 1-866-797-0000

Saskatchewan: 1-877-800-0002

Use the SKODEN Protocol (from 4Rs Youth Movement):

If you are displaying symptoms of coronavirus, check-in on the SKODEN protocol: S – Severe symptoms, go to the doctor; K – know the precautions; O – Obey social distancing; D – Don’t touch your face; E – Every time wash your hands for 20+ seconds; N – Nose and mouth should be covered if coughing.

SOCIAL DISTANCING

Social Distancing: This is Not a Snow Day [Asaf Bitton, Medium]

The Dos and Don’ts of ‘Social Distancing’

How to “flatten the curve”

Slowing The Spread Of Coronavirus Is Easier Than You Think: Just Stay Home [Buzzfeed]

Cancel Everything – social distancing is the only way to stop the coronavirus

When Social Distancing is a Matter of Life and Death

ENTERTAINMENT FOR CHILDREN

Virtual field trips list

Free educational websites

Anaana’s Tent: website with songs, videos and games in English and Inuktut

PBS Space Time

Scholastic offering free online courses for Kids

Giant List of Ideas for Being at Home with Kids

APTN Kids: shows for Indigenous children

EMERGENCY FUNDS

Resources for artists, writers and media workers during shutdowns

A summary of COVID-19 emegency funds

Coronavirus Risk Higher in Native Rural Areas

“When you start out with health conditions that are worse than a majority … you’re already vulnerable and at risk’. As the coronavirus spread outward from cosmopolitan hot spots it reached the rural Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indian Reservation on Monday. In due course, it’ll reach more isolated rural areas.” J. Estus, ICT

 

Edward Enoch, Yup’ik, unloads chunks of ice chipped out of a river and hauled home by snow-machine to melt for drinking, washing, and other uses in western Alaska. (Credit- Charles Enoch,)

Excerpt: Coronavirus Risk Compounded in Rural Areas By Joaqlin Estus, ICT

“Unfortunately, indications are rural areas harbor conditions that contribute to higher rates of infection and people getting more sick than in urban areas.

According to the First Nations Development Institute’s report Twice Invisible: Understanding Rural Native America, 54 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native people live in rural and small-town areas on or near reservations.

The Notah Begay III Foundation report Native Strong lists factors in Indian Country that contribute to diabetes and obesity. The same factors affect overall health. They include poverty, low educational attainment, and historical trauma. Housing shortages and overcrowding facilitate the spread of disease. A lack of self determination and cultural activities affect Native health too.

Dalee Sambo Dorough, PhD, Inupiaq, is the chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council. She said the health of Indigenous people living in rural Arctic Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Chukotka (in Russia) is compromised by a range of conditions ranging from food insecurity to air pollution.

‘The overall general condition of individual health and wellbeing is contributing to a lower life expectancy,’ Sambo Dorough said. ‘We’ve had a whole history of epidemics that have devastated our communities in the past and tuberculosis being on the rise now, all of these things are compounded with other adverse impacts like climate change that make it really difficult for our communities to even respond to something like the coronavirus.

So when you start out with health conditions that are worse than a majority of the people in the rest of, for example, the United States, you’re already vulnerable and at risk,’ Dorough said…’We have had really decades of lack of public health measures to prevent the spread of disease. And then you add all these other layers including the limited space and capacity to treat patients with severe illness in rural areas,’ said Sambo Dorough.

‘These are matters that are nothing new. And that’s why the Inuit Circumpolar Council calls upon governments to take action to close those gaps.’

No one wants to get that sick, so prevention is key. Covering coughs, staying home when sick, and the CDC recommends, ‘Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds,’ to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Twice as many homes in Indian Country lack running water compared to other Americans. (Credit- Joaqlin Estus)

However, Indian Country has about twice as many homes without running water and flush toilets as other Americans. In its annual report on sanitation deficiencies, the Indian Health Service said of 68,000 American Indian and Alaska Native homes, ‘approximately 7,600 (or 1.9 percent) lack access to a safe water supply and/or waste disposal facilities, compared to less than 1 percent of homes for the US general population.’

Overcrowding is a major factor in the transmission of diseases. Housing shortages can force families to live in small, older homes similar to this one in Kwethluk, Alaska. (Credit- Joaqlin Estus)

Alaskans without piped water can buy water, which even if only ten cents a gallon is too costly for most villagers. Many collect rainwater and chip ice out of rivers and lakes to melt for daily use…When COVID-19 does arrive in Indian Country, some of the places it lands will be areas without long-standing systems of reliable access to primary and specialty care. In some places, it will land amid people living in conditions that contribute to higher rates of infection. Properly handled, however, risk can be minimized.

Cherokee Seeds of Life Saved for Future Generations in Arctic vault

“Varieties of corn, beans and squash seen as central to Cherokee identity will be deposited in Norway’s Svalbard seed bank.” N. Lakhani, The Guardian

Cherokee seeds.

Excerpt:Cherokee Nation to preserve culturally important seeds in Arctic vault, N. Lakhani, The Guardian

“The Cherokee Nation will bank corn, bean and squash seeds in the Arctic “doomsday vault”, becoming the first US-based tribe to safeguard culturally emblematic crops for future generations.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault outside Longyearbyen on Svalbard, Norway. Photo- Heiko Junge:EPA

The Svalbard seed vault, the world’s most sheltered storage facility, currently holds 992,039 crop seeds from across the world.

It was created on a Norwegian archipelago about 800 miles from the North Pole in order to safeguard as much of the planet’s unique genetic material as possible. Losing a crop variety is as irreversible as the extinction of an animal or bird. On 25 February, nine Cherokee seeds will be deposited into the vault, deep inside a mountain on permanently frozen ground called permafrost.

Packets of Cherokee corn and other seeds.

The seeds chosen are Cherokee white eagle corn – the tribe’s most sacred corn, used for cultural ceremonies – Cherokee long greasy beans, Cherokee Trail of Tears beans, Cherokee turkey gizzard black and brown beans, Cherokee candy roaster squash and three other varieties of corn. The crops predate European settlement and are a core part of Cherokee identity.  The Cherokee seeds will be only the second deposit from an indigenous community to be stored in the Svalbard vault, following the deposit of 750 South American Andean potato seeds in 2015…There are more than 1,700 food gene banks across the world but many are considered vulnerable to natural catastrophes, war, funding deficits, erratic electricity or poor management.

The Svalbard vault, which has the capacity to hold 4.5m crop varieties, was created in conditions resilient to natural and manmade disasters, in order to safeguard duplicates of samples kept elsewhere. It is well above sea level and the permafrost and thick rock ensure seeds remain frozen even without power. The vault is only accessible via a 120-metre tunnel.

Svalbard includes unique varieties of African and Asian staples such as maize, rice, wheat and sorghum, as well as European and South American varieties of aubergine, lettuce, barley and potato. About 500 seeds of each variety are stored at -18C in sealed foil packages.

The climate crisis is still a threat: the vault has required multimillion-dollar upgrades to prevent flooding caused by extreme rainfall and melting of the permafrost.

‘Svalbard is the ultimate failsafe for biodiversity of crops,” said Stefan Schmitz, executive director of the Crop Trust, which manages the vault with the Norwegian government and the Nordic Genetic Resource Centre. ‘It’s important for the Cherokee nation to have this vital back-up.’

It has been a long road. In 1838, 15,000 Cherokee were expelled by US military and militia from their homelands in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee, then forced west to Indian territory, present-day Oklahoma. The Cherokee lost about a quarter of their people and their traditional plants and crops.

Inspired by the Svalbard vault, tribal scientists led by Gwin spent several years tracking down “lost” crops in former territories and museums. They started two tribal gardens in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, dedicating one to cultivating 24 of the most significant Cherokee crops. Medicinal and inedible plants such as river cane, a type of bamboo traditionally used for construction, are also grown. Thousands of seed packets are sent each year to Cherokees across the world.”


The Coronavirus: What We Need to Know

“U.S. health officials offered a reality check Tuesday about the scary new virus from China: They’re expanding screenings of international travelers and taking other precautions but for now, they insist the risk to Americans is very low.” Q. Yazzie, ICT

IHS Emergency Management Coordinator Gerald Johnson, Navajo, is being fit tested for an N95 respirator. Credit- R Benally Phoenix IMC 2

Excerpt: Indian Health Service prepares for the Novel Coronavirus By Quindrea Yazzie, ICT

“In the U.S. so far, there are five confirmed patients, all of whom had traveled to the hardest-hit part of China — and no sign that they have spread the illness to anyone around them. The most recent case hit Maricopa County, Arizona, where an adult from the Arizona State University community tested positive for the virus. According to county health departments the patient lives in Tempe, Arizona, but does not live in university student housing. It is not known whether the individual is a student, faculty member or on staff at the university.

Arizona State University is working closely with Maricopa County Department of Public Health to investigate any potential contacts that this individual may have exposed.  A university statement said any direct contacts will be notified. “The university remains open and classes are not cancelled,” said Executive Vice President and University Provost Mark Searle.

Where did the virus Start?

“Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by Coronavirus in Wuhan, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread,” the CDC reported. “However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread is occurring.”

Travelers at a train station in Yichang, China, about 200 miles from Wuhan. Credit- CHINATOPIX, via Associated Press

What is the virus?

Coronavirus is a large family of viruses that sicken mostly animals, but six of these cases, like SARS and MERS, are known to infect people. This new type of the coronavirus adds to the list, marking it number seven of now eight cneoronavirus types.

Coronaviruses are named for the spikes that protrude from their membranes, which resemble the sun’s corona. image- NativeAntigen

What are the Symptoms?

The symptoms begin after an incubation period of 2-14 days according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those infected have symptoms of a fever, a cough and shortness of breath. Severity of the symptoms could lead to hospitalization and even death.

Source- Center for Disease Control and Prevention-USA Today

What is being done?

Airports in Wuhan, China, are restricting outbound traffic and health screenings are now being conducted at U.S. airports. The CDC announced that at least 20 U.S. airports have also initiated health screens to seek preventative measures against the spread of the virus.

Chartered planes carrying evacuees home to Japan and the United States left Wuhan early Wednesday as other countries planned similar evacuations from areas China has shut down to try to contain the virus. The lockdown of 17 cities has trapped more than 50 million people in the most far-reaching disease control measures ever imposed.

IHS prepares for the virus

The Indian Health Service’s Phoenix Indian Medical Center has been taking the initiative to prepare for the respiratory illness.

The Indian Health Service will continue to follow normal policies and procedures for evaluation and treatment of respiratory illnesses, said Constance James, director of community relations and tribal affairs.

When asked if Indian Country should be concerned about the virus, Dr. Jennefer Kieran, director of Inpatient & Specialty Services at Phoenix Indian Medical Center, said there is a protocol set in place by the IHS leadership team along with infection control and special rooms are in place for critical respiratory illnesses.

How to Prevent Catching the virus?

The important thing to do right now is to take precautions, continuing to wash your hands and covering your cough.

“While any direct impacts of this outbreak to Indian Country are not yet known, we must be vigilant in our efforts to prevent the introduction and spread of infections among our patients and within the communities we serve,” James said.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez released a statement on the virus stating, “as we continue to closely monitor the coronavirus, we caution our Navajo people and encourage them to be aware of the growing spread of the virus. This is a serious public health concern that must be shared with all people.

“We ask that you share information with your children, elders and others who may not have access to information via internet, television and other means.”~Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez~

For Natives: When The Food Source Ends..The Opioid Addiction Begins

“For thousands of years, the Klamath River has been a source of nourishment for the Northern California tribes that live on its banks. Its fish fed dozens of Indian villages along its winding path, and its waters cleansed their spirits, as promised in their creation stories. But now a crisis of opioid addiction is gripping this remote region. At the same time, the Klamath’s once-abundant salmon runs have declined to historic lows…many members of the Yurok, Karuk and Hoopa tribes see a connection between the river’s struggle and their own.” J. Del Rea, The New York Times

From left- Yurok Chief Justice Abby Abinanti; Codie Donahue, and Yurok tribal attorney Amy Cordalis. Credit A. Hootnick for the New York Times

Excerpt: Sick River: Can These California Tribes Beat Heroin and History? By Jose A. Del Rea

“It’s no coincidence to me that this opioid problem and the river crisis are happening at the same time; when that resource is gone, it leads to a sense of despair,” said Amy Cordalis, the Yurok tribe’s general counsel. Nationally, Native Americans are the hardest-hit demographic in an overdose death epidemic that has affected every corner of the country. Between 1999 and 2015, there was a 519 percent increase in the number of overdose deaths among rural Native Americans, according to a 2017 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, compared to an increase of 325 percent in rural areas overall. Abuse of painkillers and heroin have played significantly into those trends.

Dead Chinook salmon on the banks of the Klamath River during a 2002 fish kill. An estimated 34,000 salmon perished.CreditYurok Tribe Fisheries Department

In Yurok country, tribal leaders have pursued an aggressive agenda of cultural revival since the early 1990s in an effort to keep traditions alive. The process has not always been smooth. A decade ago, there was friction when tribal leaders were deciding how to manage $92 million in back payments from the federal government for logging on Yurok land. Ultimately, 90 percent of the money was disbursed to members in a lump sum. Some questioned the wisdom of that decision by the tribal leadership, suggesting the money would be quickly spent, rather than saved.

Since then, the river’s intensifying troubles have caused spiritual pain, in addition to exacerbating economic anguish.

Upper Klamath River Flow Management Harms the Lower Klamath River

‘In part, there’s a tremendous feeling of guilt, I think. The economics of it matter, yes, but it’s so much more than that for us,’ said Yurok Chief Justice Abby Abinanti. ‘Our worldview is that we’re here in partnership with these other beings, the river and the fish. We have obligations to them.’ ‘Now it feels like the river is as sick as it has ever been. I think last year was the first time in history that the Yurok people did not fish on the Klamath,’ Ms. Cordalis said. ‘When you start separating those ties, it really affects people.’

The mural that greets visitors outside of the Yurok tribal building

The effects of heroin — and meth before it — have seeped into every aspect of life. Outside the Yurok tribe’s bureau, a mural created by the Yurok children shows the river flowing through lush forests and curving past villagers performing traditional prayer-dances. In one panel, a Native American woman wanders the forest collecting wood and acorns, while kayakers splash in the river’s waters.

But unwinding across the painting are darker scenes too: broken bottles, needles, depictions of suicides, and dead fish…Four out-of-date dams upstream, built in the early- to mid-20th century, have sparked residual ecological strain downstream. Now the solution that tribal members hoped for — their removal — awaits approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Before the dams went up, the river was the third-largest producer of salmon in the United States. Last year, the Yurok tribe had to cancel commercial and subsistence fishing altogether because of the lack of fish. During some parts of the year, the waters become so toxic that people are advised not to swim or make contact with the river…As they wait anxiously for the dam removal to be approved, tribal leaders are also looking for inclusive ways to bring drug treatment to the region, where abuse is often stigmatized.

One solution proposed by Ms. Abinanti and others are Yurok ‘wellness villages,’ planned living sites along the river where the tribe can help reintegrate people who have struggled with addiction.

Ms. Cordalis, the general counsel to the Yurok tribe, has been using the law to protect the Yurok way of life for its roughly 6,000 members. In March, the Yurok joined other communities nationally and filed a lawsuit against several opioid companies with the Northern California Federal District Court. The suit claims that opioid addiction has increased crime, led to economic losses and increased hospital and administrative costs…For many, the idea of culturally relevant addiction treatment brings hope. Codie Donahue, 38, lost his children and wound up homeless after he and his girlfriend became addicted to methamphetamine and heroin. Mr. Donahue, who has Yurok and Karuk lineage, recently checked into a drug rehab program in Eureka, a few hours from his hometown, Orleans, Calif.

He recalled the holy ceremony he once performed as a high priest for the Karuk Indians. In the ritual, he and others would pray in hopes that the river would wash away the sins of his tribe.”

Category: Healing, Health

Some Tribes Use Tradition To Stop Tobacco Use

“States and cities have come to understand that if they jack up the taxes on cigarettes — teenagers especially have a harder time buying them. This year, the National Cancer Institute and World Health Organization concluded that a big price increase is one of the most effective tools for decreasing tobacco use. But there are certain communities where relatively cheap cigarettes are still easy to get. In western New York, where I grew up, there is at least one place to avoid paying high prices: on the reservations of the Seneca tribe.” J. Kourkounis, Newsworks

A man passes benches advertising Native brand cigarettes outside a gas station on the Seneca Nation’s Cattauragus reservation. Photo- J. Kourkounis

Excerpt: Tribes hope tradition will fight unhealthy tobacco use, By J. Kourkounis

“There are more than 500 tribes across the country. Each is a sovereign nation and they set their own rules. For example, the New York state cigarette tax is $4.35 per pack, but smoke shops on Seneca reservations don’t add on that extra tax, which keeps prices lower…I was hoping to ask Seneca Nation officials about the low tobacco prices and the health costs of smoking among tribe members but they declined my request for an interview.

As a group, American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest cigarette smoking rates compared to all other racial and ethnic groups in the United States. That’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health research shows that across decades, cigarette companies have targeted American Indians by funding cultural events such as powwows and rodeos and by using Native American images in advertising and packaging.

Roadside ad of Big Indian Kool. Photo- Roadside America

Kristine Rhodes, an enrolled member of Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa tribe, leads the American Indian Cancer Foundation.

‘Smoking rates among American Indians and Alaskan Natives vary tremendously by region and by tribe,’ she says.

For example, in the Southwest United States, American Indians have the lowest smoking rates, even lower than mainstream America. This is really great news that we celebrate and we see a corresponding lower cancer rate there for smoking-related cancers,’ Rhodes said. The Cancer Foundation is working on control policies around the nation. But tobacco sales are big money for some tribes and and Rhodes says a readiness to change is different from community to community.

Ad on rez. Photo- Blueridge tobacco

No health research yet, but there is a movement that Kristine Rhodes and others think might decrease rates of smoking among native people. The plan is to help people give up unhealthy habits while holding on to native traditions. And that includes using and reclaiming sacred traditional tobacco.

Seneca Nation ad. photo-From Garden Warriors to Good Seeds

‘Some tribal communities also use tobacco for weddings,’says Coco Villaluz, a community educator for the nonprofit organization ClearWay Minnesota. She says traditional tobacco is offered as a sign of respect. It’s often used without burning the plant, other times it is smoked in a pipe to carry prayers to the Creator.

For decades, a federal law cut American Indians off from many religious practices and prevented many people from using sacred tobacco.

Today, Villaluz urges people to reject commercial tobacco and stop using it for ceremonies and prayers. Her organization offers people help to quit smoking. And the group also advocates for smoke-free areas on Indian lands.

We all want the same mission as everybody else who’s working on tobacco, whether it’s in tribal communities or non-tribal communities. We want our people to be healthy, we don’t want to see any more of our loved ones suffering from commercial tobacco related illnesses.”

Category: Health