Broken Promises is the apt title of a 2018 report by the US Commission on Civil Rights evaluating the federal government’s performance to satisfy its promise to adequately support the well-being of Native Americans. This “promise,” which, as the study documents, the US has failed to fulfill, is not an abstract concept, but a formal “trust” relationship codified through 375 treaties in exchange for removing one-fifth of Native people from their original lands and seizing much of what land remained.
How will our government support American Indians in this COVID-19 crisis? Its track record is dismal, one characterized by chronic underfunding, disrespect of Native sovereignty, and contempt for tribal traditions:
Health disparities. With many of the risk factors that put them at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, American Indians (AI) and Alaska Natives (AN) are twice as likely as whites to have diabetes. They die from diabetes at a rate 189 percent higher than that for other Americans. And with a life expectancy that is 5.5 years less than that for the overall US population, they suffer disproportionately from asthma, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.
Native Americans have a long and difficult history with infectious disease. The 1918 flu struck indigenous people four times harder than the overall population. In the 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak, Native Americans died at four times the rate of all other racial and ethnic groups combined.Read Debby’s Full Article at Nonprofit Quarterly
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