United States (MNN) — Native Americans have often been misclassified in official COVID-19 case counts in the United States.
Ron Hutchcraft of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries says to learn why, we simply need to follow the money and the trail of historic racism. “If Native Americans are underreported, and under-represented . . . then guess how the decisions are made about where money is allocated.”
Hutchcraft says many reservations face very dangerous health conditions. “We are not keeping our treaty obligations that we made with the First Americans a long time ago: to provide proper health care for them. And we don’t know who’s there. And we don’t know what the situation is.”
This story began over 400 years ago, Hutchcraft says. “Native Americans have been forgotten over and over again.”
COVID-19: a new chapter in the story
Hutchcraft says the COVID-19 pandemic shines a spotlight on the deep flaws in the healthcare system for Native Americans, particularly the understaffing and lack of resources. One reservation in South Dakota, for instance, has 45 beds for an area twice the size of Rhode Island.
“Then you have the Navajo reservation,” Hutchcraft says, “where the statistics right now are horrible. In fact, the Navajo Nation, if they were a state, would be number three per capita in deaths from COVID-19. In other words, you have New York, New Jersey, Navajo. Of course, nobody knows that. Because once again, they are the Forgotten People.”
In addition, Hutchcraft says 40% of the reservation has no running water. Native Americans often live in crowded homes and suffer from more underlying health conditions than any other ethnic group in the United States.
This story started with plague, too. When the Europeans first began colonizing the North American continent, diseases the First People had no immunity to, especially smallpox, decimated their population. “This is another layer of grieving for an already grieving people,” Hutchcraft says.
Jesus enters the story
Christians, Hutchcraft says, must not overlook Native Americans like so many have for centuries. “There is a moral debt to do something about this and become a voice for the Forgotten people so they’re not forgotten in our church, in our Bible study, and in our small group.”
Ron Hutchcraft Ministries is committed to raising up young leaders among the First People to reach them with the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection. They could use your support.
Reservation at Laguna, New Mexico. (Header photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)