The effects of COVID19 are undeniably apparent. Whether you believe in the virus or not, everyone has had some kind of livelihood change within the past few months. However, it was not until several months ago while listening to a podcast that I learned about the tragic consequences the virus is having on Native American communities.
In the podcast called, Ask Code Switch, the hosts interviewed a citizen of the Cherokee nation. The interviewer explained how the Cherokee people are deeply tied to their land as a remembrance of their history and mutuality with the natural life that surrounds them. The podcast speakers also discussed how disproportionate the impacts of COVID-19 are in reservations in comparison to the rest of the United States; in New Mexico, Native Americans make up slightly more than 10% of the total population, but over half of the coronavirus deaths. My eyes were opened by these statistics, giving me a reason to start my Instagram page.
The under-representation of Native Americans in the media is not a surprise to me. While I don't live on a reservation, my grandmother belonged to the Cherokee tribe in Oklahoma. In addition to making these injustices feel more personal, I have witnessed major issues within tribal communities go unnoticed even in surrounding areas.
As I have researched more about the effects on Native American communities, the more I notice how minimal the exposure of their struggle with COVID19 is. When creating my Instagram account, I decided to spend weeks analyzing articles. I found that there were less than ten websites reporting information about reservations and mostly contained the exact same statistics. All other demographics have been covered, some even have been researched enough to determine which are more likely to catch COVID19. I truly believe that if the case numbers were counted correctly in reservations, Native Americans would be one of the most high-risk demographics. From the limited access of running water and hygiene products, to the overcrowding in homes and long drives for essential supplies, Native American reservations should be considered as the perfect high-risk scenario.
Native Americans tribes are in need of support, whether it is just learning information about their struggles or donating to the reservations in need of food and personal protective equipment, anything would be helpful. Although it is easy to be solely concerned about your local town or city’s COVID19 cases, there are communities struggling to survive in worse conditions than many other areas of the United States. I implore you as a reader to educate yourself on the effects of COVID19 on minority communities and help them grow in support and gain a voice to advocate for their own struggles.