First vaccine, easy; second is a challenge

Indian Country Today

Dean Seneca is on today's show, a Seneca citizen, tells why it's important to take the COVID19 vaccine. And national correspondent Mary Annette Pember tells us more about why one state recognized tribe's quest for federal recognition may just be missing one key ingredient.

In 2014, Seneca citizen Dean Seneca went to the West African country of Sierra Leone to help in the fight against the Ebola pandemic. Today He's the CEO of Seneca Scientific Solutions. He shares his perspective about the vaccines coming to your local health facility.

Plus national correspondent Mary Annette Pember is on the newscast today. She'll be telling us about the state recognized Lumbee tribe of North Carolina and why their run at federal recognition might be highly problematic.

Some quotes from today's show.

Dean Seneca:

"When I was in Sierra Leone I was surprised to believe how many people did not think that Ebola was real. That this was something that was brought on. It was witchcraft. It was a bunch of lies. It's so amazing to see that same attitude and many people within the United States. I mean I feel like saying we're the United States we're the leaders in all of this." 

"This should not be us that has some of the same beliefs and mentalities as folks in third-world countries. We are the example but unfortunately we're seeing a lot of this and that kind of neglect, that attitude, and that behavior which reflects in how we behave is assisting in the transmission of the virus. So there are some similarities in that matter."

"Science that dictates that if you wear a mask you are reducing your risk significantly of coming into contact with this virus. So please wear a mask. I don't see what the problem is but a major problem is I go to a local store. I'm still finding people not wearing a mask. I literally want to say are you crazy cause you're contributing to the spread of this virus and contributing to the pandemic. This needs to stop universally throughout all of the country and all of Indian Country and with our most vulnerable and at risk populations. So please wear a mask."

"We could never get anybody to come back for that second dose because they were in the bush and they were traveling long distances. And I could see the challenge in many of our tribal regions North and South Dakota, Alaska for example and throughout all of Indian Country because Indian Country is very rural in nature and character anyway. So getting the first vaccine I think that that is going to be easy getting the return for people to take the second shot. I think it is going to be the challenge."

Mary Annette Pember:

"Yeah a really long process. They were apparently first recognized by the state in 1885. And they've been seeking federal recognition since 1889. So yeah I would call that a super long process. Well unfortunately there's no short answer to that question. They had an instance in the fifties when they were actually recognized by the federal government but that was during the Termination Era and it was decided strangely they were recognized and terminated in one fell swoop."

"So they were recognized by name but then they were denied services. Of course that was the era of Termination. So that was sort of the milieu in which that happened. But I think the feeling was that it would be too expensive to recognize them for the federal government because they're quite a large group of people. So subsequently They did try to gain recognition through the department of the Interior which is really kind of the traditional way that most tribes achieve recognition is quite a lengthy process."

"You have to provide a great deal of documentation and answer anthropological proof, historical proof, and internal documents. They began that process but the department of Interior decided well that since you folks were first recognized briefly and terminated by an act of Congress, you're going to have to pursue recognition once again by going through the Congress. So that's what they have been doing here most recently."

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Patty Talahongva, Hopi, is executive producer of Indian Country Today. She is also the anchor of the weekday newscast. Follow her on Twitter: @WiteSpider. 

Mary Annette Pember, citizen of the Red Cliff Ojibwe tribe, is national correspondent for Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @mapember. Based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Pember loves film, books and jingle dress dancing.

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