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Indigenous Peoples and allies unite: This is the virtual town hall you need to attend

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Want to learn how to support Indigenous communities during the coronavirus pandemic?

The Lakota People’s Law Project and the Indigenous Peoples Movement are hosting a virtual town hall this Friday, May 8. Called “From Smallpox to COVID-19: Let’s Heal One Another,” the event will see journalist and activist Shaun King, rapper Immortal Technique, and numerous other leaders coming together to discuss ways to uplift Indigenous communities worldwide amid the current crisis.

According to the event description,

For hundreds of years Indigenous people have fallen victim to racial disparities, underlying conditions, and poverty. All of these affect how the virus spreads throughout the world. The purpose of the Town Hall is to come up with solutions on how our global Indigenous community can support one another despite the lack of support governments are providing to communities. We have to pull together and not just speak about ideas but create solutions.

Interested in attending? There are two sessions, at 6:30 and 8:00 PM EST. Indigenous people and their allies are all welcome to attend.

A disproportionate impact

It’s hard to quantify just how hard Indigenous Americans are being impacted by the coronavirus. As Cherokee journalist Rebecca Nagle reported, of the states that have released racial breakdowns of coronavirus cases, almost half did not include Indigenous people as their own category.

But in the states that did count them, they are disproportionately represented. In Arizona, Indigenous people accounted for 16% of coronavirus deaths. They make up 6% of the state’s population. The disparity was even starker in New Mexico, where Indigenous people are less than 10% of the population but account for over 33% of coronavirus cases.

Meanwhile, the Navajo Nation has more confirmed cases than all states except for New York and New Jersey.

Help has been slow to come

Congress allotted $8 million to support tribal governments throughout the pandemic. Over a month later, that money is just starting to get distributed.

The Seattle Indian Health Board requested coronavirus tests, but received bodybags instead. The shipment was a mistake, but still highlights how the federal government’s coronavirus response has been particularly lackluster in Indian Country.

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