Category Archives: Science

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.”

 

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

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~

Hear The Beautiful Song From Mother Earth!

Listen to Mother Earth’s Siren Song, Recorded by NASA, By ICTMN

O’siyo. There are many beautiful paintings, drawings, and various depictions of ‘Mother Earth’ by Native People, but never have there been recordings of her voice. A  NASA spacecraft  has recorded what scientists call “chorus,” an “electromagnetic phenomenon caused by plasma waves in Earth’s radiation belts,” . American Indians know better, they call this echo-siren sound ‘Mother Earth’s’ song to the universe.

Excerpt:

“The delicate sounds echo like a mixture of birdsong and deep-sea creatures. But they are neither. The ghostly notes come from our own Mother Earth.

A NASA spacecraft has sent back the first-ever recordings of Mother Earth singing to the universe, and the sound is awe-inspiring. It’s called “chorus,” an “electromagnetic phenomenon caused by plasma waves in Earth’s radiation belts,” as NASA described it in a release.

Although the music is known to ham-radio operators, who have listened to it from far away, this is the first time they’ve been recorded at the source, NASA said.

The signals were picked up by NASA’s twin Radiation Belt Storm Probes as they studied the radiation belts, which are regions of energized particles, mostly protons and electrons, that are trapped in Earth’s magnetosphere, about 4,000 miles from the planet’s surface, according to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center…Indeed, the agency intends to prevent Mother Earth from being a one-hit wonder and record more of her music—in stereo next time.”

 

   >  Click here to listen to an audio version of our Mother’s sweet siren song.

Click on the video from NASA to learn more about this wonderful phenomenon.

 

“We’re sitting on our blessed Mother Earth from which we get our strength and determination, love and humility – all the beautiful attributes that we’ve been given. So turn to one another; love one another; respect one another; respect Mother Earth; respect the waters – because that’s life itself!”

~Philip Nathan Lane, Sr., (Brown Bear)~ Standing Rock Sioux

 

Category: Science