HomeCategory COVID-19

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On the Warm Springs Reservation, residents have been without clean drinking water for three summers in a row. Where is the fix? By Christen McCurdy Carina Miller knew it was coming. In May of last year, a water-main pipe burst on the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation. For the following three months, residents were advised not to drink water from their taps without boiling it first. The issue subsided after a patchwork repair, but...

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 By David G. Lewis, Ph.D. As Oregon tribes know only too well, the Native American experience with COVID-19 is only the latest chapter in a centuries-long tragedy. The first recorded wave of new diseases visited the tribes of Oregon in the 1770s. Smallpox, hitchhiking in the bodies of white traders, came up the Columbia River and killed about 30 percent of the Native Americans in the Willamette Valley and Columbia River basin. Around 1805, explorers...

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Beset by pandemic, tribes brace for fire season By Brian Bull When Colby Drake hears mention of COVID-19, he doesn’t just think of face masks or physical distancing at the supermarket. He sees forests burning. As Fire Prevention Manager for the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Drake has the daunting task of preparing for fire season in the middle of an economic and public health catastrophe. In response to the pandemic and guidelines from the...

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Pandemic has forced the cancellation of events everywhere. But in Indian Country, not congregating comes with added cost—and risk. By Kevin Abourezk Every spring, inside the Celilo Longhouse at Celilo Village on the edge of the Columbia River, traditional elders, food gatherers, and members of the public prepare to feast on the first Chinook salmon of the season. Ahead of the annual celebration, the sound of traditional songs and drums fills the air, as celebrants...

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Casino closings affect thousands of Oregon jobs. By Dawn Stover Underscore.news When Oregon health officials identified the state’s third known victim of COVID-19 early last month as an adult who worked at the Wildhorse Resort & Casino near Pendleton, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation jumped into action. Tribal leaders immediately announced the case as a public health emergency and set up an incident command center to manage their response to the pandemic....

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Native American dancing celebrates life at a distance by Kevin Abourezk, Underscore.news Zak Hoops, 6, couldn’t understand why the powwows he typically attends and where he performs the grass dance were canceled. His mother, Toma Campbell, tried to explain coronavirus and why it was important to cancel those events. But she told him about another opportunity for him to share his talents. She had recently discovered a Facebook group called the Social Distance Powwow, where people...

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Coronavirus numbers for Native Americans begin to climb. By Kevin Abourezk, Underscore.news As the coronavirus increasingly makes its presence known in tribal communities across the country, a leading Senate Democrat took the Trump administration to task Friday for skimping on help for tribes. Sen. Tom Udall, New Mexico—senior Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies—said the landmark legislation approved by Congress would infuse $10 billion into the coffers of...