Posts tagged with "Indian reservations"

Kaelen Felix Illustrates a COVID-19 Article for 360 MAGAZINE

Native Peoples’ Perspectives Toward COVID-19 Vaccine

Urban Indian Health Institute (UIHI) released a study with the first-ever national data regarding American Indian and Alaska Native peoples’ knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about a COVID-19 vaccine.

The study surveyed American Indians and Alaska Natives across 46 states—representing 318 different tribal affiliations—to gather information ranging from individuals’ willingness to receive a COVID-19 vaccine to the hurdles they face in accessing healthcare and resources.

“This data will be important to all organizations conducting COVID-19 vaccine education efforts,” said Abigail Echo-Hawk, director of UIHI. “Native communities have unique challenges and needs that usually are not considered in public health campaigns.”

American Indian and Alaska Native people continue to be disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 incidence and mortality rates are 3.5 and 1.8 times that of non-Hispanic Whites, respectively.

While there has been worry about vaccine participation in Native communities, 75% of study participants claimed they would be willing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, higher than the national average according to an Ipsos survey from October 2020, which indicates that 64% of the U.S. general population was willing to receive a vaccine.

“Willingness to receive a vaccine and hesitancy are not mutually exclusive,” said Echo-Hawk. “Fear and distrust of government and medical systems still exist in our community, which are hurdles that we have to overcome.”

Echo-Hawk hopes the report can start to create a better understanding of the unique perspectives of Native people.

“The data indicates that most Native people willing to be vaccinated feel it is their responsibility for the health of their community,” Echo-Hawk said. “This shows what motivates our community when it comes to decision-making.”

Report key findings:

  • 75% of participants were willing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • 74% of participants claimed that getting vaccinated is their responsibility to their community.
  • 89% of participants wanted evidence that the vaccine is safe right now and in the long term.
  • 39% of all participants reported difficulty traveling to their clinic for an appointment.
  • Two-thirds of participants willing to get vaccinated were confident that COVID-19 vaccines were adequately tested for safety and effectiveness among Native people.
  • 75% of participants willing to get vaccinated had concerns about potential side effects.
  • 25% of participants were unwilling to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • 90% of participants unwilling to get vaccinated recognized COVID-19 as a serious disease.
  • 89% of participants unwilling to get vaccinated had concerns about potential side effects.
Melvin Sampson illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

Remembering Melvin Sampson

By Hannah DiPilato

Melvin Sampson was a leader throughout his life and was dedicated to fighting for the rights of indigenous people. Before his passing, he was a tribal councilman that pushed for Native American’s rights. 

Some of his most monumental efforts include helping to establish the Indian National Finals Rodeo, assisting in the improvement of health care for Native Americans across the nation, advocating for the construction of the Yakama Nation Indian Health Services clinic west of Toppenish and pushing to improve fish restoration in the Yakima and Columbia basins.

Sampson passed in his home on December 11 at 82-years-old and left behind his wife, Betty Jean and his four daughters. He will be remembered by his big family of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

Sampson’s full obituary can be found on Heggies Colonial Funeral Home’s website and anyone is able to leave thoughts, prayers and condolences for Sampson’s loved ones. People can also send flowers or a virtual gift and share photos and videos, a beautiful way to share remembrance amidst the pandemic. 

“He’s bigger than the Yakama Nation,” said Yakama General Council Chairman Roger Fiander, who grew up beside Sampson. “Besides that, he was my roping partner.”

Sampson’s legacy of helping to gain rights for Native Americans will live on for generations. Hopefully, many more people will follow in his footsteps to preserve tribal culture. 

Sampson was an advocate of better healthcare for Native Americans for 17 years while he served on the National Indian Health Board. He also helped form the Portland Area Indian Health Board, which monitors the federal administration of Indian health services in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. 

In Washington D.C., Sampson was at the head of an effort to gain funding for a new Indian Health Clinic. Eventually, his efforts led to an expansion of the clinic which expanded it into a facility of over 80,000 square feet. 

Sampson also wanted to improve fish rearing practices in the Yakama and Columbia basins in order to help the fish that lived there. With Sampson in charge, the Yakama Nation gained control of the Klickitat Hatchery which is found on the Klickitat river outside of Glendale. This hatchery was designed to rebuild the population of salmon by mimicking the natural habitat system that fish thrive in. 

Everyone that knew Sampson believed he was a born leader. He had a diverse understanding of tribal culture and government which allowed him to make many changes in his lifetime. George Waters, a lobbyist for the tribe in Washington, D.C., said that Sampson was just a person able to operate in different worlds. 

He was able to create many amazing things such as doing leatherwork and beginning a shop in his basement. Sampson can also be remembered for his forward-thinking ways that were ahead of his time. 

Irving Pinkham, another childhood friend of Sampson, said that Sampson cared for everyone and always wanted to help indigenous people. “In our way, nobody is better than anyone else and that’s what he believed too,” Pinkham said. “He never was a person who said ‘I, I did this, I did that.’ He was always a person who said ‘We, we did this, we did that.’ “

Sampson’s perseverance and ability to understand people helped him become a success in many aspects of his life. He was able to improve healthcare and the way of life for those around him and his legacy will be seen in all of the work he accomplished over his lifetime.