Indigenous peoples

LENZY KREHBIEL-BURTON / FOR HARVEST PUBLIC MEDIA

Southeastern Oklahoma averages at least 40 inches of rain per year, so its agricultural industry focuses primarily on livestock and timber. But an extended drought in 2011 and 2012 cost Oklahoma’s farmers and ranchers more than $2 billion in losses statewide

The Navajo Nation reported its first two coronavirus cases on March 17. Just over a week later, there are now 69 cases. The reservation is under stay-at-home orders — but thousands of people must regularly leave their houses for necessities such as water.

The Shoalwater Bay Reservation in southwest Washington is right on the Pacific Ocean. It's small and isolated, with about 100 residents, one gas station, and a small casino.

Kim Thompson is the tribe's health director. As she gave a tour of the clinic recently, she said they're not ready for novel coronavirus cases yet — but they're trying to get there.

"This is where we have it set up so patients can come in through this back door," avoiding contact with other patients, she said.

One thousand years of Native American women's art is currently traveling around the country, being featured at major museums.

"The whole idea to wipe us off the face of the Earth didn't work," says Anita Fields, an Osage artist in the show. "So we're still very powerfully here."

Near the middle of the Yakama Reservation, Travis Hull lives with his kids and dog in a trailer. Two of his four kids have asthma.

Tyson, his middle son, has a particularly bad case.

"He'd go through coughing attacks that were just horrible," Hull said. "He had to be hospitalized a few times when he was a little person."

Hull said it was hard to see his son in an oxygen tent.

"And it's scaring him, so of course you're scared for him," Hull said. "And of course you're a parent. It hurts you to see them go through it."

Cross the treeless, frozen tundra of southwest Alaska, over ice-covered lakes and ponds near the Bering Sea, and you'll find the first community in the U.S. counted for the 2020 census.

Late last year, many listeners and readers rightly objected when NPR released statistics tracking the diversity of its on-air sources and didn't include a category for Native or Indigenous sources, because the numbers were so low.

The high school sports teams in Killingly, Conn., are the Redmen again.

That name – and "Redgals," the nickname for the school's girls' teams — was replaced last year at the urging of students and local Native Americans.

But now, at a time when many American schools are moving away from Native American mascots, Killingly is choosing a different direction.

Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

A group of fifth graders intently watch a color-shifting octopus dream at the top of its tank.

Today, inside an outbuilding at Tahlequah’s Cherokee Elementary School these children are tasked with critically thinking about what they’re seeing. It’s all part of RISE, the school’s gifted and talented program.

On a recent Saturday in Everett, Mass., Native American women have gathered to learn some self-defense techniques. Before the class starts, sage is burned and instructor Shanda Poitra smudges and asks any Native energies to be with her.

"I just prayed, in my mind, thanking [the] Creator for opportunities and being with me today and helping really get the point across today," Poitra says.

The point?

Native women have a basic right to protect themselves.

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