On January 24, 2021, The New York Times published an opinion piece by Jodi Archambault, Hunkpapa and Oglala Lakota, about the harrowing effect that Coronavirus has taken on Native communities.
The opinion piece focuses on the threat that the pandemic – and its death toll – poses to the progress that Standing Rock has made toward the revitalization of Lakota and Dakota languages.
Ms. Archambault writes that “as Covid-19 takes a fearsome toll on our people, it also threatens the progress we have made to save our languages. The average age of our speakers — our treasured elders who have the greatest knowledge and depth of the language — is 70. They are also those who are at most risk of dying from Covid-19.”
On January 20, 2021, The New York Times reported on President Biden’s cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline permit: a decision that is both long-awaited and significant for Native Americans.
Faith Spotted Eagle, an elder in the Yankton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, is quoted saying “I’m gratified that our treaty rights have been honored. This is a vindication.”
President Biden’s decision was met with criticism from Canadian officials who claim that cancellation of Keystone XL will severely affect Canada’s economy. The pipeline would have carried crude oil from Canada to Nebraska to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.
On January 12, 2021, Jack Healy at The New York Times reported on the devastating toll that the Coronavirus has taken on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other Indigenous nations in the U.S.
The catastrophic loss of elders at Standing Rock will have a profound impact on our youth, as the pandemic continues to sever the younger generations’ relationship to their own culture – the language, wisdom, and Lakota/Dakota traditions that are typically passed down from the elders.