Sign the petition to Congress: COVID-19; Demand that Congress Expedite Substantial Funds and Resources to Tribal Nations

Congress


Sign the petition: Timing is critical; Demand that Congress Expedite Substantial COVID-19 Funds and Resources to Tribal Nations

As of May 22, 2020, Johns Hopkins University reported that more than 333,489 people have died worldwide from COVID-19. In the United States, there are now more than 1,577,758 cases and over 94,729 deaths. Given COVID-19’s sharp increase, Tribal officials and national health experts predict that Indian Country will face significant morbidity rates due to factors that increase complications such as disproportionately high levels of chronic illnesses, poverty, overcrowded homes, and aging populations. Amplifying these disparities, the U.S. government has a long history of purposely ignoring and/or exacerbating crises faced by Indigenous Peoples due to the strained relationship created out of violent colonization and racist notions.

According to the CDC, “Based on preliminary U.S. data, persons with underlying health conditions such as diabetes mellitus, chronic lung disease, and cardiovascular disease, appear to be at higher risk for severe COVID-19–associated disease than persons without these conditions.” American Indians and Alaskan Natives have an aging population with the highest rates of diabetes in the world and one of the highest rates in the country for kidney, lower respiratory and coronary heart diseases. Additionally, Indian Health Services (IHS) already faces a host of problems and is ill-equipped to monitor and investigate coronavirus cases and is relying on voluntary reporting from tribes and organizations, which is slowing its ability to respond to COVID-19. Politico reports that this is “further complicated by minimal testing capabilities, outdated health technology and provider shortages that Native groups warn could vastly understate the crisis across tribal lands.”

The Federal government has historically responded insufficiently or not at all to crises faced by Indian Country, and nothing has changed. US Tribal Nations were entirely left out of the first two federal government stimulus packages and are still waiting for critically needed disbursements from the third stimulus package signed into law last month. While they wait, behind closed doors, federal officials are making disturbing remarks about the demise of Native American and Alaskan Native Peoples that will result from insufficient funding and resources they will receive during the COVID-19 pandemic. These statements are not surprising: history has proven that federal officials have long failed to deliver much-needed resources to Tribal Nations in times of crisis like natural disasters, disease epidemics, and community emergencies. Indigenous elders who have seen this racist pattern for decades hold a very special place in Indian Country as bearers of endangered cultural practices and languages - their well-being cannot be threatened by a slow response from Congress.

It is critical that Congress prioritize Tribal Nations for COVID-19 funding and resources above other populations in the US that have lower rates of chronic disease, poverty, and unemployment and that have greater access to proper shelter and health facilities, running water, emergency funds and protective equipment. The US government must also fulfill their treaty obligations and provide competent physician-led health care to all Tribal Nations (both federally and non-federally recognized).

The Navajo Nation, which has been hit hardest by the virus (up to 144 deaths as of May 22, 2020) is feeling the pressure as they are not receiving sufficient aid in time. The reservation has more confirmed cases per capita than every other state except for New York and New Jersey. President Jonathan Nez has stated that “There’s frustration from leadership ― not just here on Navajo but all of Indian Country...We feel that the United States government once again has ignored or even left out the first residents, the first people, the first citizens of this country: Indigenous people.”

While this global pandemic numbers surges, we can not let history repeat itself. It is time that the federal government recognize the conditions it has created that Indigenous Peoples have long suffered from and act fast to stop another potential genocidal situation. Hospitals all over the country lack adequate medical supplies and funding to flatten the curve of COVID-19, which means that we must stand behind tribal nations more than ever and demand that Congress recognize Tribal Nations as a high priority population for expedited aid.

Seeding Sovereignty's SHIFT campaign has created this petition. If your organization or tribal nation would like to help us amplify and share our demands, please email sa@seedingsovereignty.org

Participating Organizations:

- Seeding Sovereignty

- Southland Resistance

- Daily Kos

Petitioning

Congress


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Our Message to Congress:

Timing is critical; Demand that Congress Expedite Substantial COVID-19 Funds and Resources to Tribal Nations



To: Congress
From: [Your Name]

It is absolutely critical that Congress prioritize Tribal Nations for COVID-19 funding and resources before other populations in the US that already have access to running water, proper shelter, and lower rates of disease, poverty, and unemployment.

The US government must also fulfill treaty obligations and provide competent physician-led health care to all Tribal Nations (both federally and non-federally recognized).