Around the same time, the Indian Health Service’s Great Plains area, consisting of the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Iowa, posted its highest-yet increase in Covid-19 cases. Unsurprisingly, while officials like Noem effectively cheered on the death toll, tribal governments and community leaders have taken matters into their own hands, enforcing checkpoints and lockdowns of their own. This isn’t a power grab by tribes: It’s an act of survival. “The nearest health facility is a three-hour drive in Rapid City, for critical care. And our health facility is basically just—we only have eight beds,” Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier told NPR in May. “There’s only one respiratory therapist. You know, there’s probably about over 10,000 residents here that live on the reservation. So if we were to have a massive outbreak, where are they going to go?”
But as the tribes have moved to shield themselves against the irresponsibility of state and local governance, they have been met with outright hostility from leaders like Noem. Hear that again—elected officials in South Dakota, operating out of a desire to make tribal communities effectively submissive to local and state governance, are working against their Native counterparts, who are actively trying to save lives in the middle of a pandemic. There does not exist a descriptor that adequately captures the levels of cruelty and malice required to pursue such policies while South Dakotans die. But, if pressed for one, “fucking insane” seems to do the trick. […]
THREE OTHER ARTICLES WORTH READING
In Louisiana’s ‘Cancer Alley,’ a Black community battles an industry that threatens its health—and history, by Megan I. Gannon. A proposed petrochemical complex from plastics giant Formosa could disrupt long-forgotten plantation graves.
Did Democrats really ‘underperform’ down-ballot? by Joshua Holland. At present, pretty much everyone across the political spectrum shares the belief that Democrats under-performed in House and state legislative races, taking some of the shine off of their victory over Donald Trump at the top of the ticket, but is that really true?
Greenpeace Releases Far-Reaching ‘Just Recovery Agenda’ to Tackle Interlocking Crises of Inequality, Racial Injustice, Covid-19, and Climate Chaos, by Andrea Germanos. We must “shift from an economy that is extractive and exploitative to one that regenerates and repairs,” the new report says.
TOP COMMENTS • RESCUED DIARIES
“Most world religions denounced war as a barbaric waste of human life. We treasured the teachingsof these religions so dearly that we frequently had to wage war in order to impose them on other people.” ~~Jon Stewart
BLAST FROM THE PAST
At Daily Kos on this date in 2013—No, food stamps don’t cause obesity:
A recent story in The Washington Post provided a look at the cheap food options affordable on a food stamp budget, and the health problems and obesity that diet causes. All well and good, but reporter Eli Saslow’s big question was “Has the massive growth of a government feeding program solved a problem, or created one?” The chain of thought that got him to that question:
Hidalgo County has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation … which has led almost 40 percent of residents to enroll in the food-stamp program . . . which means a widespread reliance on cheap, processed foods … which results in rates of diabetes and obesity that double the national average … which fuels the country’s highest per-capita spending on health care.
This is some messed-up logic. Seriously messed up. Let’s do a thought experiment and take food stamps away from poor people who are currently using them to buy cheap, processed foods. Is there a scenario in which those people buy more expensive, healthier food, having lost the benefits that are currently providing much of their food budgets?
The reason people are relying on cheap, processed foods is not that people’s food budgets are coming from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—heaven knows it’s not like it’s a program requirement that benefits be spent on junk food—it’s that they are poor. Maybe they live in food deserts. Maybe they don’t have the kitchen facilities to keep or cook fresh foods—one woman portrayed in the story doesn’t have a fridge. But whatever you can say about the diets of food stamp recipients, poverty, not food stamps, is the starting point.