National Indian Health Board Cites Failed U.S. Policies Toward American Indians for Severe COVID-19 Impacts in Testimony Before U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

WASHINGTON, DC—July 17, 2020— The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) Acting Chairman William Smith from the Valdez Native Tribe of Alaska testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights as part of a virtual public briefing, titled: COVID-19 in Indian Country: The Impact of Federal Broken Promises on Native Americans. In his oral remarks before the Commission, Acting Chairman Smith discussed the federal government’s failure to fulfill its treaty obligations to the Tribes for healthcare and public health, made evident by chronic underfunding of Indian Health Service (IHS), paternalistic oversight over Tribal programs and reluctance to expand self-determination and self-governance policies across federal agencies. The federal government’s failure to honor treaty obligations is directly tied to the disproportionate and extreme impacts of COVID-19 in Indian Country.

Read the full press release.

Tribes and Tribal organizations may submit comments to questions related to COVID-19 and the Commission’s report: Broken Promises: Continuing Federal Funding Shortfall for Native Americans.  Find the questions at: Submit comments no later than Friday, July 24, 2020 to: [email protected] or OCRE/Public Comments, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 1331 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 1150, Washington, DC 20425