COVID-19 Blog Posts

During this year's Native American Heritage Month, Tribal leaders and high-level White House Officials constructed discourse with respect to issues important in Indian Country.  The 2021 Tribal Nations Summit (the Summit), hosted by the White House, was held on November 15th and 16th. This is the first time the Summit has taken place since 2016. The Summit presented a unique opportunity for nation-to-nation dialogue on support to Tribal communities to create opportunities, advance equity, and address new and long-standing challenges. Topics addressed included Infrastructure, Native languages, climate change and COVID-19. Several members of the American Indian Policy Institute (AIPI) attended the Summit.

The Summit commenced by releasing the “White House Tribal...

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’.  

Despite the pandemic’s severity, Indian Country has risen to meet every challenge head-on. Over the past year, Tribal Nations worked tirelessly to efficiently utilize available resources and find innovative ways to...

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. 

The House Natural Resources Committee Democrats hosted a virtual roundtable discussion this morning in which members of The House of Representatives listened to leading experts from Indian Country about how federal relief...

A new bill announced today by the co-chairs of the Congressional Native American Caucus would give tribes emergency authority of broadband spectrum over their lands, in an effort to greatly increase internet access for tribal nations grappling with COVID-19 pandemic response. 

“Broadband has been an issue…in Indian Country, for a very long time,” Haaland said in an interview with The NM Political Report. “The pandemic has pulled back the blanket and the sun is illuminating these disparities.” She added that internet access should be viewed as a basic necessity, like home electricity. 

“Tribal Nations have been hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the lack of robust broadband networks has only...

As the school year comes to a close and we all begin another month in some stage of quarantine, it is hard to believe how much our world has changed. And yet, some things haven’t changed; rather long-standing disparities are only just now coming to the forefront of public attention. The unfortunately vast gulf in internet access between indigenous people and the rest of the United States has been opened up for all to see as Native nations are hit harder than other populations by the virus and the economics of the situation. One of the topics that we at AIPI have been researching for years (and myself for...

Image Credit: Pueblo of Pojoaque website

As the world grapples with the realities of living in a new normal, tribal governments are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with agile governance and innovative management practices in ways that often pay homage to centuries of wisdom and cultural teachings. 

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) hosted a panel discussion April 30, titled “NCAI Forum: Tribal Governments in Action,” to ask leaders what their tribe is doing to provide government services in response to COVID-19. 

“The strategic approach we took was based on [our] cultural values,” said Yurok Tribe Chairman Joe James. He said the tribe viewed their proactive approach to crisis management “from a village...

Indian Country’s resilience was on display again last week. Despite uniquely adverse times, state and tribal governments and partners alike continue to find ways to donate money and resources to those in need. Many of these stories are highlighted below, along with opportunities to contribute, if you are able. 

The Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund continues to raise money rapidly, as the fund has now surpassed $1.1 million. Last week, Jason Momoa, a Native Hawaiian famous for his roles in Game of Thrones and Aquaman, sent a massive truck carrying 28 pallets with more than 1,500 cases of water to Tuba City. The water was donated...

Tribal governments throughout Indian Country continue to generously donate supplies and resources to aid their communities through the challenges presented by COVID-19. Today, we are happy to bring you many examples of this generosity in the face of adversity. If you would like to join donation efforts, more opportunities to contribute are included below. 

Since schools in North Dakota were closed on March 16, the Standing Rock district has been distributing sack lunches to students and families at the schools or delivering them through the neighborhoods in school buses. Last Friday, The Muscogee (Creek) Nation partnered with Walmart to offer emergency food assistance to any citizens in...

 Arizona tribes to get $37 million for COVID-19 affordable housing (April 9, 2020) 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is issuing $37 million to Arizona’s tribes to fund housing needs during the pandemic. In total, the Indian Housing Block Grant, an addition to the CARES Act stimulus package, will provide $200 million to tribes in 35 states. The grants can be used for housing development, operation, and maintenance, modernization of existing housing and housing services to eligible individuals and families. The Navajo Nation will receive the bulk of money in Arizona, with $22.3 million allocated to Window Rock. Other tribes in Arizona that were allocated a larger portion...

The CARES Act authorized direct payments—called Economic Impact Payments—to American citizens to aid economic recovery in response to COVID-19, but many are wondering if they qualify for a stimulus payment, how much they will receive, and how they will receive the payment. For additional questions, click here

Who is eligible for an Economic Impact Payment? 

Individuals with a social security number who have filed income taxes for 2018 or 2019 are eligible, as well as some individuals who are not normally required to file income taxes, such as many social security recipients. The Department of Treasury is working with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to determine individuals’ eligibility for Economic Income...

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