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Posts Tagged ‘tribes’

Photos: James Austin V.
Alaska is delivering vaccines by sled, boat, plane, and snowmobile. Flashback to the Iditarod origins — when diphtheria antitoxin was rushed to Nome by dog sled.

It’s so interesting to me which states are doing well with vaccine distribution and why! West Virginia was ahead of the pack because it used local pharmacies but also had a central sign-up site. Now Alaska seems to have taken the lead, and its techniques are completely different.

Cathy Free writes at the Washington Post, “Alaska, the state with the largest land mass in the nation, is leading the country in a critical coronavirus measure: per capita vaccinations.

“About 13 percent of the people who live in Alaska have already gotten a shot. … But the challenge for Alaska has been how to get vaccines to people across difficult, frigid terrain — often in remote slivers of the state.

“ ‘Boats, ferries, planes, snowmobiles — Alaskans will find a way to get it there,’ said the state’s chief medical officer, Anne Zink, 43.

“Alaskans are being vaccinated on fishing boats, inside 10-seater planes and on frozen landing strips. Doctors and nurses are taking white-knuckle trips to towns and villages across the state to ensure residents are protected from the coronavirus.

“Contributing to Alaska’s quick speed in getting the vaccine to its residents is a federal partnership that allows the state, which has more than 200 indigenous tribes, to receive additional vaccines to distribute through the Indian Health Service.

“Other reasons include the state’s small population of 732,000, as well as a high number of veterans, Zink said. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure that high-risk veterans receive priority for the vaccine.

“But one big reason is the state is practiced in delivering precious cargo by transport not often used in the Lower 48. Sometimes that even means adventures by sled. One all-female medical crew of four in December used a sled pulled by a snowmobile to deliver vaccine to the village of Shungnak in the state’s remote Northwest Arctic Borough.

‘It’s just an easier way to get around when you don’t have a lot of roads,’ said Kelli Shroyer, public communications director for the Maniilaq Health Center in Kotzebue, Alaska, where the crew started their journey. …

“Zink was so impressed by the sled crew’s delivery in December that she posted about it on her Facebook page. ‘I love the pictures of vaccination distribution in Alaska,’ she wrote. ‘Recipients expressed how grateful they were that even though they are so remote, they are getting this vaccine. They are not forgotten. …

‘One chief told me how his grandmother took his mother out to the wilderness for a year so that she would be safe. When they returned, they learned that most of their village had died.’ …

“Thousands of Alaskans are playing a role in getting people vaccinated, Zink said.

“Curt Jackson used to employ his water taxi, the Orca, to shuttle tourists from the small city of Homer to villages across Kachemak Bay that aren’t accessible by roads. In late December, Jackson received a request to take three nurses across the bay to Seldovia, a town with about 450 residents, including members of the Seldovia Village Tribe. Planes couldn’t fly that morning because of weather, and the water was rough.

“When the women climbed aboard his 32-foot aluminum landing craft and took seats in the windy darkness, Jackson said, he noticed that the woman in the middle, Candace Kreger, was clutching a bright blue cooler. That was when he realized that the women were traveling with the precious doses. …

“For Ellen Hodges, a doctor from Bethel, Alaska, the coronavirus vaccination effort is the most rewarding project in which she has been involved, she said. Hodges, 46, has flown to several villages in a six-seater plane to vaccinate medical workers and elders, who meet her on the runway.

“ ‘We land in the isolated tundra, and they’ll be lined up waiting,’ she said. ‘Some places have up to 30 people, and some have only one.’ “

More at the Washington Post, here.

An all-female medical crew from Alaska’s Maniilaq Health Center took a sled to deliver vaccine to the isolated village of Shungnak in December.

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tribesonthebrink

Photo: The Explorers Club

You remember the great marine explorer Jacques Cousteau? Well, his granddaughter has grown up to be an explorer of vanishing cultures, and recently she made a movie about endangered tribes in the Amazon.

The film by Céline S. Cousteau is called Tribes on the Edge, and according to its website, it’s “more than a narrative of tribal reality in the Amazon [as it] suggests the universal story of our human tribe and how our future is interwoven with each other and with nature. This is a story that invokes the critical importance of respect and care – for land, culture, and humanity. …

“[The film] explores the timely topics of land threats, health crises, and human rights issues of indigenous peoples, expanding the view to how this is relevant to our world. More than a film, it has grown into a movement driven by a passionate effort to enact tangible impact in the Javari [Valley of Brazil] through education, advocacy, and activism. …

“Spanning more than 85,000 km2 (an area the size of Portugal), the Vale do Javari is the second largest indigenous territory in Brazil and is home to 5000 indigenous peoples from 6 tribes as well as the largest population of people living without any contact with the outside world in the entire Amazon and some say the world.

“Though the Javari has been designated for the tribes living there, there is looming pressure to increase harmful resource extraction which in other parts of the Amazon has led to environmental degradation. … It is estimated that the Amazon produces 20% the world’s oxygen and releases 55 gallons of water into the Atlantic ocean every second.”

Read more at the website, here, about what the International Union for Conservation of Nature calls “one of the irreplaceable areas of our planet.” And at the website for New York’s Explorers Club, which screened the film this past April, you can also can read about speaker Beto Marubo. A Marubo Indian, he has served with the national Indian foundation of Brazil, FUNAI, an initiative threatened by the likely election of someone Wikipedia calls “a polarizing and controversial politician” to the country’s presidency.

The movie is more timely than ever.

beto_250

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05lenape2-superjumbo

Photo: Dolly Faibyshev for The New York Times
In a ceremony at the Abrons Arts Center in New York, Emily Johnson acknowledges the Lenape tribe, which inhabited Manhattan before Europeans arrived. The bonfire event is part of an initiative by artists called “land acknowledgment.”

It’s interesting to me that at the same time that nationalism and harsh attitudes about migration are sweeping the Western world, some very different movements are gaining traction. One is the increased acknowledgment in some English-speaking countries that Europeans were once interlopers, too.

Siobhan Burke writes at the New York Times about arts groups starting to pay attention to first residents.

“On an evening in early June, before the sun had gone down, a bonfire blazed outside Abrons Arts Center on the Lower East Side. Handmade quilts lined the steps of the outdoor amphitheater. Anyone walking down Grand Street could come in and take a seat. As a group of singers arranged themselves around a large cylindrical drum, the choreographer Emily Johnson stood up to speak a few careful, welcoming words.

“ ‘I’d like to acknowledge and pay my deep respect to Lenape people and elders and ancestors — past, present and future,’ she said. She gestured toward the ground and in the direction of the East River. ‘I acknowledge and offer deep gratitude to this Lenape land and water that supports us, as we’re gathered here right now together, and I invite you to join me in that acknowledgment, that respect and that gratitude.’

“In recognizing Manhattan’s original inhabitants — the Lenape (pronounced len-AH-pay) — and their ancestral homeland, Lenapehoking, Ms. Johnson was taking part in a ritual that, with her guidance, has become increasingly common at New York performing arts spaces in the past year.

“Routine at public gatherings in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, the custom of Indigenous land acknowledgment, or acknowledgment of country, has only recently started to gain traction in the United States outside of tribal nations. In New York City the practice is sporadic but growing, occasionally heard at high-profile cultural and educational institutions like the Whitney Museum of American Art and New York University. …

“Ms. Johnson, 42, a Native Alaskan artist of Yupik descent, has been the catalyst for much of that progress in the city’s dance scene. … Wherever she tours, she publicly honors — and engages with — the Indigenous people of that place.

“And behind the scenes she has been working to strengthen relationships between predominantly white institutions and Indigenous communities, to ensure that more Indigenous voices are heard at all organizational levels, from the artists onstage to the board of directors. That process, she said, begins with institutions recognizing where they are: on land taken from Indigenous peoples. …

“For the inexperienced, speaking an acknowledgment can be awkward at first. Hadrien Coumans, a co-founder of the Lenape Center, said false starts were to be expected. …

“While land acknowledgment might be a mere formality in some contexts, Mr. Coumans emphasized that he sees it as something much greater, an invitation to consider and appreciate where, really, you are standing.

“ ‘We’re part of a living being,’ he said. ‘Earth is a living entity, so in acknowledging land, what we’re really doing is acknowledging life. Not nationalism, not patriotism. Life.’ ”

More at the New York Times, here.

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