Skip to main content

The ancestral tradition of caring

Abigail Echo-Hawk joins Tuesday's show to talk more about how Covid vaccines and using Indigenous culture to understand new national data. Plus,'s Kevin Abourezk is on the newscast to talk more about mounting racial tensions in South Dakota.
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

The first ever national data regarding Native people’s view towards COVID-19 vaccines are out. And the results are surprising. 75 percent of study participants say they would be willing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine -- higher than the national average. The October survey says 64 percent of the U.S. general population was willing to receive a vaccine. American Indians and Alaska Natives from 46 states were surveyed—representing 318 different tribal affiliations--and to assess hurdles they face in accessing healthcare and resources. Today we are joined by Abigail Echo-Hawk, Pawnee. She serves as the director of the Urban Indian Health Institute and the chief research officer at the Seattle Indian Health Board.

Kevin Abourezk is also joins today's show. Kevin serves as managing editor for, a Native American news website. He has spent 21 years as a professional journalist, including 18 years as a reporter and editor for the Lincoln Journal Star. He is a citizen of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and a married father of five children. He lives and works in Lincoln, Nebraska. is owned and operated by Ho-Chunk Inc., the economic development corporation for the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.

A slice of our Indigenous world

  • Today several youth from the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux Nations are running a 93-mile relay race to the Cannonball River, all to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline.
  • More than 200 researchers are signing a letter requesting more Indigenous input in a national Arctic initiative. 
  • North Dakota lawmakers are hearing a bill that requires a four-week course to be taught on Native American history, culture, and treaty rights.
  • The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians in southern California is hiring.

Find more details on all of these stories at the top of today's newscast

Some quotes from today's show

Abigail Echo-Hawk:

"This study was one that we saw as imperative to do in Indian Country right now that we know that all of the materials, all of the information coming out about the vaccine that's coming into Indian Country, hasn't been informed by our voices. So this study was important for us to do, to ensure that the views of Native people were properly heard. That our voices were part of ensuring that we get the information we need on the vaccine."

"The thing that I think surprised a lot of folks that I was not surprised by is that 74 percent of all of our participants said that they were making this decision on behalf of their community, their tribe, their family. Whereas when you look at the rest of the population and they've done and asked that same question in African-American communities and Latinx Hispanic communities, and also in White communities."

Scroll to Continue

Read More

"And we found that to be much lower. And in fact, in the African-American community, when asked that same question, are they doing it because the individual choice, or are they doing it for their community, that Latinx people only 53 percent of them said they were doing it for the community. And only 36 percent of African-Americans said they did it for their community. And as a Native person, that's why we make our choices. That's our ancestral tradition is to take care of each other."

Kevin Abourezk:

"So obviously the past four years have been pretty interesting nationally and certainly that's been the case in Indian Country. In South Dakota over the past a year or so, especially since the pandemic began, there's been a lot of tension between the tribes there, especially two tribes the Oglala Sioux tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe and the state government there primarily the governor of South Dakota, Kristi Noem."

"Both those tribes attempted to set up, I guess you would call them either checkpoints, I guess it depends on who you're asking. Some people might call them roadblocks, but I would certainly call them checkpoints and those are places on the periphery of the tribe on major highways, leading onto the tribe where the tribe would stop people as they're entering the reservations in order to find out who it was that was trying to enter the reservation."

"Just to see if they were bringing COVID-19 with them if they were sick. And oftentimes, even if they weren't sick and they were coming from a place that was where a lot of the disease was being spread, they would ask them to go around the reservation. The state of South Dakota, Kristi Noem didn't like that, and attempted to get the tribes to take down their checkpoints even petitioned the federal government and Donald Trump to force the tribes to take down those checkpoints."

Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @TrahantReports Trahant is based in Phoenix.

Indian Country Today is a nonprofit news organization. Will you support our work? All of our content is free. There are no subscriptions or costs. And we have hired more Native journalists in the past year than any news organization ─ and with your help we will continue to grow and create career paths for our people. Support Indian Country Today for as little as $10.