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Native American tribes are being hit hard by the virus in many ways. It is infecting their members, and they are also needing to rely on Washington for financial aid during these hard times.
There are billions of dollars that are marked for the tribes, but the tribes are being met with red tape and also delays on the funds they are being provided with. This delay leaves tribes uncertain of how they are going to live off of the little money they have and also support their family as well as other families.
USA Today wrote an article about the stress that is on the tribes currently. They stated in the article that the tribes have access to a small business loan program that is called “The Paycheck Protection Project.”
But those tribes or individuals that rely on income from casinos weren’t allowed access to apply for those small loans due to “an error in legislation.” Due to the virus and quarantine rules, many of those casinos have had to close their doors which causes many families and people to lose their main source of income. Over 500 casinos owned by native people have had to close due to the virus and risks which has caused a lot of stress and hardships for those families and people.
The Navajo Nation is being hit hardest by the virus. The Navajo Nation stretches across parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah has reached a very grim and sad milestone of this virus. Around two months ago the nation had their first confirmed case of COVID-19, but as of May 2020 the nation had 3,245 confirmed cases of the virus and among those 103 members have died.
Across the Indian Country which ranges from Arizona to Minnesota, 5,200 cases have been confirmed on reservations. This virus is exposing the underlying fractures of the nation and how neglected those Native American tribes are from the US Government. NBC News stated in their article that those tribes have been underfunded for years and are running low on basic needs such as water, food, and healthcare. 30% of homes in which home roughly 175,000 Navajo members of the reservation do not have access to clean reliable drinking water, and they have to haul it miles from local utilities NBC stated. Also, the medical resources on the reservations are very scarce because they are understaffed, don’t always get medicine quick enough, and rural medicine is hard enough.
Native Americans are more vulnerable to this virus because many members suffer from asthma, heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. Those conditions listed are some of the conditions that make people more vulnerable to the virus and lower survival rates.
Also, the reservations they live on are very crowded and many houses have a large number of people in small houses and spaces which is a prime example of how the virus can be spread. Also, Native Americans aren’t being counted in for the demographic data for COVID-19, and they are being labeled as other rather than being in the other categories. This upset many of the tribes because they count for a large number of COVID-19 cases and the fact that they are just being forgotten about and not even getting a proper label is very demeaning and not okay. New Mexico is one of the only states that are properly labeling and counting the Native American people towards there numbers of COVID-19 and the deaths related to the virus. In New Mexico, they represent only 10% of the population but over 1/3 of their total cases. In Arizona, they make up 16% of the state’s COVID-19 cases.
It is very hard for the tribes to be able to follow the CDC’s guidelines for washing hands when they don’t always have ready access to water and also they don’t have access to many sanitizing products as well. In an article from the NY Times, it was said that in the Dakotas and Montana where it is very hard to find good and affordable housing, those who couldn’t afford to have a house of their own are having to find shelter with others on the reservation which is hitting those tribes very hard.
The Irish people and the Native American people have always been civil and worked together. It all started back in 1847 when the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma sent $170 to Ireland during the Great Famine since they saw they were struggling.
173 years after that amazing act of kindness, Ireland donated and raised over $2 million for the Navajo and Hopi nations who are struggling financially during this pandemic and have been hit the hardest. In the article that NBC wrote about this donating, many people were interviewed and a lot of the Irish people that the reporter talked to said that they thought it was the right thing to do especially to honor their ancestors who had created a strong bond with the tribes years and years ago. Many of the donations had small messages that had the common theme of how the people of Ireland wanted to give back to those who helped their nation survive and stay strong when they were going through a similar issue. The donations received are going to purchasing critical supplies, including food and available water, and also PPE since those living on the reservations have close to no PPE.
Ireland honored the Choctaw Nation and their act of generosity by creating a sculpture of 9 stainless steel feathers that stand 23 feet high. The Prime Minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkr visited the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma and gave his thanks and praises in person rather than over the phone or social media platforms.
Other people have also been donating to help the Native American people out during this terrible time and have been sending their prayers. They are going through such a hard time but having the support from so many people and the people Ireland has helped them out tremendously and hopefully, soon the lives of those in the tribes and on the reservations go back to normal and they will return to their normal daily lives.