“…ceremonial gatherings have been scarce over the past year as Native American communities isolate to protect their elders during the Covid-19 pandemic. Reservations have been hit especially hard… These deaths are doubly devastating to Native communities because elders are seen as the keepers of tribal history and culture.” S. Reardon, Kaiser, CNN, February 8, 2021
Excerpt: Social media helps Native Americans preserve cultural traditions during pandemic, By Sara Reardon, Kaiser, CNN, February 8, 2021
“Lawrence Wetsit misses the days when his people would gather by the hundreds and sing the songs that all Assiniboine children are expected to learn by age 15.
‘We can’t have ceremony without memorizing all of the songs, songs galore,’ he said. ‘We’re not supposed to record them: We have to be there. And when that doesn’t happen in my grandchildren’s life, they may never catch up.’ Wetsit, a tribal elder and former chair of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, said that his tribe lost one person a day on average to the disease [covid-19] during October and November…Wetsit worries that the combination of deaths and lockdowns will permanently harm the tribe’s ability to share traditional knowledge and oral history…With that in mind, many Native people have found innovative ways throughout the pandemic to continue sharing their culture despite physical distancing restrictions. Social media groups have provided some remedies, in ways that may continue after the pandemic wanes…One Facebook group, known as Social Distance Powwow, has helped its Native members connect through sharing videos of drumming, dancing and other traditions. Since its founding in March, the group has accumulated more than 227,000 members and taken on a life of its own, with people sharing prayer requests, birthday celebrations and death announcements…Social media groups have provided some remedies, in ways that may continue after the pandemic wanes.”
Indian Health Services (The Federal Health Program for [All] American Indians and Alaska Natives)