Reflections of 2021: “Our communities are still in mourning”
Through Levi Rickert
Opinion. The end of the year is an opportunity for reflection.
Reflecting on this past year, I realize that it has been filled with frustrations and challenges as the COVID-19 pandemic continued with the deadly virus affecting family and friends in our tribal communities, as well as everything else. the world in the world.
Beyond the COVID-19 pandemic in the Indian country, Native News Online has covered stories just as difficult to cover, such as the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous peoples and the residential school tragedies.
While these topics are difficult to cover, Native News Online understands the importance of amplifying stories that have been historically ignored and overlooked by the mainstream (colonizing) media.
Even amid the heavy news surrounding Indian Country, many stories of progress have stood out regarding our tribal communities. To be sure, the $ 61 billion allocated through the federal government by the Biden administration and Congress has been unprecedented, historic and significant.
As the Editor-in-Chief of Native News Online, I would like to highlight three important stories about the Indian country that stood out to me in 2021:
High vaccination rates
After suffering some of the worst COVID-19 results among any racial / ethnic group in the United States, great strides have been made after vaccinations have made their way into tribal communities.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that Native Americans and Alaska Natives were 3.3 times more likely to be hospitalized and 2.2 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than their white counterparts.
According to the Indian Health Service (IHS), more than 1.7 million COVID-19 vaccines were administered to tribal citizens, tribal health workers and essential workers in the Indian country. On the Navajo Nation, the country’s largest Indian reservation, 70 percent of the population was fully vaccinated in September, against 58 percent of the country’s general population. This is a testament to the deep sense of community among Native Americans and tribal nations.
Dr Jill Biden
The contributions of the first lady are often overlooked in presidential administrations. Dr. Jill Biden, our current First Lady, is accomplished in her own right as an educator with a PhD in Education. His visit to three tribal nations this year should not be overlooked. In my research, I did not find another First Lady who visited so many tribal nations in history.
In April, First Lady Biden visited the Navajo Nation Window Rock in Arizona. In October, she visited the Saginaw Chippewa Indian tribe in Michigan. And, in December, she and U.S. Home Secretary Deb Haaland visited the Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
I covered her visit to the Isabella Indian Reservation in Michigan in October. She left Biden Delaware’s home in the early hours of a Sunday morning to visit the tribe for an afternoon to learn how the tribe, especially students and their families, handled the pandemic. I realized that she could have stayed home and spent time with her family that Sunday. But she chose to come spend it with us.
Secretary Deb Haaland
In March, Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) was sworn in as the 54th secretary of the US Department of the Interior. When she was sworn in, she became the first Native American to hold a post in the presidential cabinet in American history.
Another bright moment for me came in mid-June when Secretary Haaland addressed the National Congress of American Indian at its mid-year convention. This came three weeks after reports that the remains of 215 children were discovered in a mass grave at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, Canada.
As she announced the creation of the Federal Indian Residential Schools Initiative, Haaland said:
“I cried with the aboriginal members of our team here at Interior. Our communities are still in mourning.
Here is the First Native American Presidential Secretary telling the nation what we in Indian country already knew: “Our communities are still in mourning. I remember tears coming to my eyes as I watched her speak.
The determination and speed with which the boarding school initiative has been put in place have been impressive. There is no doubt in my mind that if she had not been the head of the Home Office at this point in history, there would have been no initiative to investigate the matter today. hui.
I believe, along with many others in Indigenous communities, that this is the start of a long-awaited calculation by the federal government and that it will serve as a step towards healing for American Indians, Indigenous people. of Alaska and First Nations peoples.
As 2021 draws to a close, starting early this week, Native News Online will highlight our most read articles and some of our favorites, as well as a memorial to some of those we have lost in the Indian country. Last year. Thank you, our readers, for following and sharing our news and also for telling your stories. You are an important part of our work. Without our readers, we wouldn’t exist.
As we take advantage of the last week of 2021 and plan for the year ahead, I ask you to join us and make a year-end donation at Native News Online.
I hope I can count on your support as we approach next year and continue to tell the stories of the Indian country that are worth telling.
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