Journey to Wellness: "Protecting living libraries-they are the keepers of our language and our ways"

Dec 14, 2020

Traditional dancer, United Tribes Technical College International Powwow, 2015
Credit ©Lisa Johnson

Jodi Archambault admits the numbers could be wrong, because they're changing so quickly in North and South Dakota.

But the CDC still estimates Native Americans and Alaska Natives are over twice as likely to get COVID-19, over five times as likely to be hospitalized as a result, and die at 1 1/2 times the rate of their white counterparts.

Those numbers are the legacy of decades of racism, underfunding of the Indian Health Service, ignored treaties and inaction on the part of the federal government.

But in some states, like South Dakota, the government is actively working to undermine tribal efforts to protect their people, and Native nations stand to lose more than just beloved family and friends.

Jodi Archambault was a Special Assistant to the President for Native American Affairs during the Obama administration.  And she says of the 170,000 Lakota/Dakota people in this country, only 2,000 are fluent speakers of the language. And twenty years ago, there were 6,000.

Jodi mentioned some policy proposals that allies can help advocate for.  You can find the list on this page of the National Indian Health Board's website.