Arizona Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva hosted a virtual roundtable Friday with several tribal leaders about the impacts of coronavirus on their communities.
Grijalva was joined by representatives from the Great Plains Tribes, the Santa Clara Pueblo, the Alaska Native Health Board, and Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez also attended and said he’s frustrated with the slow pace of federal relief dollars reaching Indian Country, and by the lack of communication, as he sees it, from the White House.
“It’s also upsetting to see how the voice of tribal governments has been ignored through this process. We are the first citizens of this country and to be ignored during this terrible time is insulting to all of us,” Nez said.
The Navajo Nation has been particularly hard hit by COVID-19. As of Thursday the tribe had reported 1,042 known cases and 41 deaths. According to Nez, 57% of all coronavirus cases in the federal Indian Health Service system are on the Navajo Nation.
The leaders also discussed tribal economies and other health and housing disparities they say make the effects of coronavirus especially acute in Native American communities.