San Diego Native American tribes show resilience during pandemic

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In some components of the nation, the incidence of confirmed Coronavirus circumstances amongst American Indians is greater than thrice that of whites

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — While COVID-19 has devastated many Native American tribes throughout the nation, killing older American Indians at alarmingly excessive charges, native tribes in San Diego County have had their resilience put to the take a look at in different methods during the pandemic.

“Many lives are being lost, especially our cultural keepers and our elders,” mentioned Dr. Joely Proudfit, chair of the American Indian Studies Department at Cal State San Marcos. “The cultural knowledge that they bring to the community: that is irreplaceable.”

Those revered elders are invaluable, passing down their tribes’ tradition and language to the youthful generations.

Dr. Proudfit mentioned that these losses suffered by so many communities in different components of the nation, significantly in Navajo Nation, haven’t been seen to the identical extent in San Diego County.

“I think it’s a direct result of our tribal sovereignty here,” she added. 

Dr. Proudfit pointed to native tribes’ success in leveraging their financial resources, particularly by tribal gaming and investing in well being care for his or her members. The comparatively smaller populations of tribes county-wide, in addition to their tribal land measurement, additionally play a task.

“Our borders can be protected easier than some of the larger tribal communities,” Dr. Proudfit mentioned.

“We have been impacted, but not nearly to that level as the Navajo Nation,” mentioned Erica Pinto, chairwoman of the Jamul Indian Village, which has 71 members. The Jamul Indian Village is of 13 tribes of the Kumeyaay Nation that hint their roots again 12,000 years on this space.

 “We have had to adapt,” Pinto added.

When COVID-19 struck, Pinto mentioned the tribal nation declared a state of emergency, rapidly forming a Coronavirus job drive. The neighborhood later bought particular freezers to retailer the vaccine, which they’re now administering to their members.

“There has been some resistance from younger and older people, but there have been others welcoming of the vaccine,” Pinto defined. “We trust in science for the most part.”

A CDC examine finds that COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted Native American communities nationwide. In some components of the nation, the incidence of confirmed Coronavirus circumstances is three-and-a half occasions that of whites, with a COVID dying rate that’s nearly double. While fortunately that’s not the case in San Diego, the pandemic has uncovered different inequities.

“There is a digital divide,” Dr. Proudfit mentioned. 

This divide is particularly stark within the far reaches of East County, the place Internet service is just not as dependable.

Being in a position to join on-line during the pandemic has been important, in fact, at a time the place social gatherings are simply not potential.

For instance, some native tribal members have used the web during this time to show and study the Kumeyaay language, and final September ‘California Native American Day,’ organized by the California Tribal Chairperson Association, was celebrated virtually.

“During this time when we are not gathering, we’re not facing each other and not able to hug each other and eat with each other, it is a real challenge to mental health,” Pinto mentioned. 

During these difficult occasions, there was an increase in substance abuse and home violence. Pinto identified that the Southern Indian Health Council commonly dispatches a particular ‘ROAM’ (Roaming Outpatient Access Mobile) automobile, which drives out to tribal communities, offering counseling and psychological well being providers.

“I have a lot of catching up to do when this opens up,” mentioned Carlene Chamberlain, Pinto’s mom and Secretary of the Jamul Tribal council. She mentioned that not with the ability to correctly mourn those that have handed away, it doesn’t matter what the trigger, has been one of the vital difficult components of the pandemic.

“I think that devastated me the most,” mentioned Chamberlain. 

“Hopefully when this is all over, we will be able to do something for these people  who we’ve lost over this time, so we’ll come together for them,” added Jamul Indian Village Tribal Council Member James Cuero. 

Native American tribes in San Diego and all through the nation have constantly demonstrated energy In the face of adversity, nicely earlier than Coronavirus struck.

 “We are extremely resilient,” Pinto mentioned. “We have had to adapt for hundreds of years, and we survived.”

“We had hard times back then, so this is just a hiccup, albeit a two-year hiccup,” Chamberlain added. “It is a hiccup and we are going to get through this as well.”

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