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For Native Americans, the Covid-19 is a double punishment

Record infection and death rates, but also economic downturn linked to the closure of casinos which they manage much: from Arizona to Minnesota, the Amerindian nations are paying the heavy price of the pandemic.

Across the United States, “Native Americans face the worst crisis they have experienced in decades”, bring it back New york timesbecause they have to deal with the ravages of the disease and its immediate economic consequences at the same time.

The Amerindian nations, foremost among them the Navajo nation, are in fact particularly affected by the Covid-19 epidemic and have the highest infection rate and one of the highest mortality rates in the whole country. In New Mexico, for example, Native Americans make up only 11% of the population, but account for 57% of reported cases of coronavirus infection in that state.

Furthermore, “The measures to combat the pandemic have caused the casinos to close”, which constitute an essential economic engine for the Amerindian nations.

Massive unemployment

A certain number of Amerindian nations finance their basic services thanks to the windfall represented by casinos and “More than 40% of the 574 Amerindian tribes recognized at the federal level operate gaming establishments”, remind him New york times.

The sudden closure of these casinos has caused a massive increase in unemployment: in total, with the shutdown of these establishments, more than 700,000 employees found themselves on the floor.

Even if “70% of casino workers are not of Native American origin, notes the New York daily, this has badly affected the local economy in many rural states. ” In Michigan and Indiana, for example, “Almost 1,500 casino workers belonging to the Potawatomi Indians have been dismissed”. In Connecticut, “The Pequots and Mohegans announced last week that they will have to part with the majority of their 5,000 employees.”

In parallel, “The extremely high unemployment rate on the Amerindian reserves, which normally approaches 50%, has also increased catastrophically”, notes the newspaper.

Black episode

Professor of economics Joseph Kalt, specialist on the Amerindian question at Harvard University, does not hesitate to compare the current slump with other black episodes in Amerindian history, such as that of the extermination of bison at the end of XIXe century or attempts to assimilate Native Americans in the middle of the XXe century.

As he points out in the columns of the New york times, “You have to go back to the 1950s to find a disaster of this magnitude”.


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