Native Americans Ignored Amid Coronavirus
Navajo Nation President: U.S. Government Ignoring Native Americans Amid Coronavirus
There are over 170 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the American Indian reservation. At least seven people have died.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said Tuesday that the U.S. government “once again has ignored” the country’s Indigenous people, accusing federal officials of failing to deliver enough much-needed resources to help fight the coronavirus.
During a town hall that aired live on Facebook, Nez urged residents of his nation, the largest American Indian territory in the U.S., to remain “strong” and take care of each other during the pandemic despite the lack of support.
“There’s frustration from leadership ― not just here on Navajo but all of Indian Country,” Nez said. “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.”
He said tribal nations haven’t yet seen any of the resources allocated in the three coronavirus relief bills signed into law by President Donald Trump last month.
“But you know what? We’re strong people, ladies and gentleman,” Nez told the Navajo Nation during his town hall. “We have overcome tough times and we’re utilizing our resources to help our people out there. Government can’t do everything.”
“I’m hearing about people hauling water for their grandparents, people helping get water and hay for their elders out there. That’s Navajo right there ― helping each other out to overcome this,” he continued. “And we will overcome this.”
The Navajo Nation spans roughly 25,000 square miles ― about the size of West Virginia ― across portions of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. About 350,000 members are enrolled in the nation, making it the second most populous Native American tribe, after the Cherokee Nation.
As of Wednesday, there have been at least 174 confirmed cases of the virus in the Navajo Nation and at least seven deaths. The numbers account for those living on the reservation ― both members of the tribe and nonmembers ― and do not include Navajo who reside outside of the territory.
During his town hall on Tuesday, Nez said the nation had received “some” supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile, but much more are needed.
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