Indigenous Americans call for reform of federally-guaranteed health care

American Indians and Alaska Natives are entitled to federally-funded health care under treaties negotiated between tribal nations and the U.S. government. But the independent and bipartisan Commission on Civil Rights wrote in a 2018 report that the U.S. government has not adequately funded these programs.
Sat, Jul 3 20218:00 AM EDT

Sarah Stronghorse Anderson, enrolled member of the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County
What Covid did in my family was try to separate us, even in the household that we live in.

Charlotte Morabito, associate producer
The coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately impacted American Indians and Alaskan Natives.

Craig Helmstetter, Managing Partner at APM Research Labs
One in 390 indigenous persons in this country has died from COVID-19. And that's just an incredible number. A 747 airplane seats about 400 people. So it's kind of like every time you load that plane, one person dies out of that crowd.

Charlotte Morabito
One of the reasons indigenous Americans were hit so hard by the pandemic is because their communities lacked basic resources to take preventative measures.

Abigail Echo-Hawk, Executive Vice President of Seattle Indian Health Board
We have communities that don't even have running water. When the CDC put up the recommendations that said you needed to wash your hands for 20 seconds in warm water, my question to them was, where are we supposed to get this warm water from in places where there has been no infrastructure built to bring water to our communities?

Sarah Stronghorse Anderson
My youngest was breastfeeding at the time, and my fear was touching her, touching my mask, reaching out wondering what was going on. Why was I so sick? Why couldn't I play with her? Why couldn't I get up and take care of her? It was very difficult.

Charlotte Morabito
Tribal nations and the U.S. government negotiated treaties as a result of the atrocities the government inflicted on Native people. Part of the treaty rights included federally funded health care for American Indians and Alaska Natives. According to experts and indigenous leaders, the government has never fully funded the programs leading to a lack of resources and inadequate care. Here's how federally funded health care for American Indians and Alaska Natives works in the U.S. and what reforms tribal communities want to see.