Coming from Minnesota, I never gave a second thought to wearing traditional regalia and an eagle feather at my graduation ceremony. In fact, it was encouraged. It wasn’t until I moved to Arizona that I learned, until recently, students were barred from wearing both. This made me deeply sad and frustrated for the students who were so proud to graduate but were unable to express their pride by wearing their traditional regalia and eagle feathers.

Indian Country has been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, largely due to existing inequities exacerbated by the pandemic. Inadequate healthcare, a lack of housing, and underdeveloped infrastructure increased the severity of COVID-19 in Tribal communities. This resulted in an infection rate four times higher, and tragically, mortality rates twice that of other populations. The pandemic’s disproportionate impact emphasizes the importance of addressing underlying systemic inequality as the threat of COVID-19 slowly dissipates and we attempt a return to a ‘new normal’.  

Who can believe it’s already February 2021?  January was an extraordinarily busy policy month with changes that would give anyone whiplash. As our new crew gets up to speed, we look to onboard another this month as we continue to grow.  Watch for an announcement at the end of the month with introductions and a program launch.

In the fight against COVID-19, tribal nations face many of the same health, education, and economic public policy challenges as non-Native state and local governments. However, they are further hindered by an obstacle course of red tape and administrative misapplications from the federal government that prevents tribes from fully utilizing their sovereign authority and hamper their pandemic defense and recovery strategies. This is an area that some U.S. representatives feel deserves the full attention of Congress and the Administration. 

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