We are NOT in this together: Laura Finley, ‘COVID-19, Colonialism, and Indigenous Peoples’, PJSA, 2020

22Sep20

Excerpt: Already marginalized, indigenous peoples face unique challenges from COVID-19. Access to healthcare is limited, and indigenous peoples suffer higher rates of other diseases that make them more vulnerable to the pandemic. Some very isolated groups that have little interaction with outsiders have poorly developed immunity to infectious diseases. Yet outsiders are increasingly entering these areas, such as in Brazil where illegal logging and mining threatens not just the land but dramatically increases the risk for indigenous peoples, with some experts saying “ethnocide” is likely. Poor sanitation, limited provisions of other necessary items like soap, disinfectant, and even clean water, inadequately staffed medical facilities, combined with existing poverty, large multigenerational families living together, unemployment and reduced chances to retain work at home exacerbate the problems for indigenous people around the globe. This is all on top of tremendous discrimination, all of which are legacies of colonialism. Testing for COVID-19 is not widespread in areas where indigenous peoples live, nor is educational material about infectious diseases or protective materials like masks and gloves. Food insecurity, an existing problem, is worsening for indigenous peoples, according to the United Nations. Indigenous women suffer higher rates of domestic and sexual violence, both of which increase during crises of this sort. Access to help services is already sparse and jurisdictional issues on native lands mean police responses are slow if not existent.



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