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The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted Tribal communities, in part, due to the historical inequities that Tribes have faced for centuries. As sovereign nations, Tribes have the authority to self-govern their people and land. However, the federal government has a special trust responsibility and treaty obligations to Tribes that it often has failed to fulfill. As a result, many Tribal communities live in inferior living conditions as compared to their non-Native counterparts. This Chapter builds on the prior report to explore the historical inequities Tribes experience and how they have been compounded by the pandemic. More specifically, it identifies persistent challenges with infrastructure in Indian Country. It also provides a legislative update on laws directly related to the pandemic as well as laws that have the potential to address some of the issues underlying the pandemic. It concludes by identifying additional recommendations to right these historic wrongs and build on the resiliency shown by Tribes during the pandemic. This paper was prepared as part of the COVID-19 Policy Playbook: Legal Recommendations for a Safer, More Equitable Future, a comprehensive report published by Public Health Law Watch in partnership with the de Beaumont Foundation and the American Public Health Association.
Burris, S., de Guia, S., Gable, L., Levin, D.E., Parmet, W.E., Terry, N.P. (Eds.) (2021). COVID-19 Policy Playbook: Legal Recommendations for a Safer, More Equitable Future. Boston: Public Health Law Watch.