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Triple-I Blog | Tribal Communities Disproportionately Sour by COVID-19



The COVID-1

9 pandemic has disproportionately affected minority communities throughout the United States. A less reported but no less significant part of that history has been the impact of the disease on tribal populations.

According to the Center for American Progress, the Navajo Nation has one of the highest rates of infection in the country – and they are not alone in their suffering.

"Indigenous peoples make up only about one-tenth of New Mexico's population but more than 55 percent of their cases of coronavirus," the center wrote back in June, saying the Navajo infection rate was "greater than that of the worst-affected state." , New York; it's even larger than Wuhan at the height of the outbreak in China. ”

In Wyoming, the Indian / Alaskan Native (AI / AN) Indians make up less than 3 percent of the population but make up more than one-third of the state. cases, the center said.

Inequality exacerbated

Limited health care, inadequate infrastructure and above average immune system diseases precede all COVID-19 and contribute to the vulnerability of these populations. the economic downturn in the pandemic when their gaming and hospitality companies shift in life, and casino closures in early March led to an estimated loss of more than $ 4.4 billion in finance economic activity and $ 997 million in lost wages, affecting 246 tribes with over 500 gambling establishments in 29 states.

The Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma is among the entities that have sued insurers in connection with business interruption claims. As hundreds of COVID-19 business-related lawsuits cover U.S. courts, judge after judge has ruled in favor of insurers' defendants.

Meanwhile, Native American leaders are keeping a close eye on the United States' highest court battle over whether to repeal all or part of the Affordable Care Act – a move that many say could ruin health care for AI / AN communities.

"In the context of what we are all facing," said Stacy Bohlen, Executive Director of the National Indian Health Board, "it is not time to add this extra burden and further crisis to the Indian health care system and the Indian people.

The Affordable Care Act, signed by President Obama in 2010, contains provisions that are specifically relevant to Native Americans, including the permanent approval of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which provides ongoing funding for native health programs. It also expanded the tribes' authority to run their own health care programs, including behavioral health and juvenile delinquency programs. Health Law Program, which specializes in litigation to help underprivileged communities access good health care. "But if you repeal it, all codified statutes will disappear.

A political force

The number of people in the United States who identify as American Indians has risen in recent years, with California, Arizona and Oklahoma accounting for the largest concentration of the country's AI / AN populations, according to a USAFacts analysis of Census Bureau data.

“The United States had 2.8 million people identifying themselves as Indians in 2018 alone, with a further 2.9 million identifying themselves as multiple races, including Indians, according to US News & World Report. "The country's population that only identifies Indians expanded by 13% between 2000 and 2018, while the number of individuals who identify themselves as at least partially Indians ballooned 77%."

In this year's election, Native American voters played an important role in some important battlefield states, according to High Country News. In Arizona, the indigenous population accounts for almost 6% of the population – 424,955 people as of 2018 – and those eligible to vote in the Navajo Nation alone are about 67,000. Built-in support for Joe Biden – who has released a robust political plan for tribal nations – may have helped him to win the highly questioned state.


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