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Indigenous Peoples Day is celebrated as the US continues to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic and Covid-19 has disproportionately affected Native Americans.

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Pine Ridge, South Dakota

Steve Yankton, 47, and Nathaniel Badmilk are speaking to drivers when the president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe issued a mandatory lockdown in April 2020 that banned non-residents with non-essential businesses from the Pine Ridge reservation to prevent the spread. Photo: Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

The Guardian, using new data earlier this year, revealed that Covid was killing Indians faster than any other community in the United States.

American Indians and Alaskan Native Americans are nearly twice as likely to die as white Americans, according to an analysis by the APM Research Lab shared exclusively with the Guardian, our Nina Lakhani reported.

Nationwide, one in 475 Native Americans has died of Covid since the pandemic began, compared with one in 825 white Americans and one in 645 black Americans.

The actual death toll is undoubtedly significantly higher as several states and cities provide patchy or no data on Native Americans lost to Covid. Of those who do, communities in Mississippi, New Mexico, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas are hardest hit.

The results were part of the Lab’s Color of Coronavirus project and provide the clearest evidence yet that the Indian country suffered terribly and disproportionately in the first year of the deadly coronavirus pandemic. Native Americans have suffered 211 deaths per 100,000 population, compared with 121 white Americans per 100,000.

From the outset, Indigenous leaders took the coronavirus more seriously than many communities and certainly more seriously than the White House took the virus. By the end of spring 2020, the infection rate is below Navajo Nation Communities was worse than New York, which was the center of the pandemic in the United States at the time.

Even then, it emerged that Native Americans were not included in demographics on the impact of the coronavirus in the United States, raising fears of hidden health emergencies in one of the country’s most vulnerable populations.

A Guardian analysis found that around 80% of state health officials have released some racial demographic data that has already revealed sharp differences in the effects of Covid-19 in black and Latinx communities. But of those states, nearly half did not explicitly include Native Americans in their breakdowns and instead categorized them under the label “other”.

“By putting ourselves in the other category, we are effectively eliminated from the data,” Abigail Echo-Hawk (Pawnee), director of the Indian municipal health committee and chief research officer of the Seattle Indian Health Board, told the Guardian at the time.


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