Native Americans need protection from COVID

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Native Americans need protection from COVID

Native Americans have centuries of experience with pandemics. Before Columbus, native peoples were remarkably healthy. Native Americans shared food with all in the village and cared for each other.

Diseases were minimal in part because Native Americans lacked domestic animals that were vectors for smallpox, measles, bubonic plague, and influenza. Before Columbus, there were an estimated 18 million people in what is now the United States. With the arrival of Europeans, diseases were carried forward along trade routes (which later became the interstate highways) that wiped out 30 to 70 percent of the Native population even before settlers arrived. By 1890, the time of the Wounded Knee Massacre, our Native population had been devastated, falling to 250,000 people due to disease and warfare.

The United States sought to displace the French, British, Spanish, and Russians from their traditional trade routes. Recognizing the “inherent” right of Indian nations to self-government and sovereignty, the United States entered treaties promising peace, friendship, commerce, and protection. Indian nations reserved our original rights to sovereignty and self-determination.




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