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Open Access Publications from the University of California


In print since 1971, the American Indian Culture and Research Journal (AICRJ) is an internationally renowned multidisciplinary journal designed for scholars and researchers. The premier journal in Native American and Indigenous studies, it publishes original scholarly papers and book reviews on a wide range of issues in fields ranging from history to anthropology to cultural studies to education and more. It is published three times per year by the UCLA American Indian Studies Center.

Volume 44, Issue 2, 2020

Issue cover
Randall Akee


Introduction: Impact of and Response to the Pandemic

In a two-volume, special edition, AICRJ volume 44, issues 2 and 3, we examine COVID-19’s unique implications for Indigenous Peoples, nations, and communities. Within the United States, African Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians have experienced substantially higher levels of COVID-19 infection and death. The impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous Peoples residing in other countries differs according to the overall national strategy for dealing with the pandemic. The structural racism of colonialism is the driver of myriad negative outcomes for Indigenous Peoples, and the effects of COVID-19 are no exception. The articles in this first special issue take a granular and intersectional look at the impact of the pandemic, the resilience of Indigenous communities, and the relevance of self-determination in public responses. These articles document specific programs and methods to combat and cope with COVID-19 effects in Indigenous communities and nations.

Urban American Indian Caregiving during COVID-19

This study examined the experience of caregiving during a pandemic by asking five questions about how COVID-19 was impacting twenty American Indian caregivers providing care to a family member who was disabled, elderly, or had a chronic health condition. Interviews were conducted via Zoom. Themes identified were concern about the care recipient contracting COVID-19, increased caregiving intensity, increased Medical care issues, changes to caregiver health and health behaviors, and support received and increased need for support during the pandemic (material and emotional). Responses indicate that tribes and American Indian health organizations should initiate services that can support caregivers during the pandemic or make changes to their caregiver programs.

Risk and Resilience Factors in Urban American Indian and Alaska Native Youth during the Coronavirus Pandemic

American Indians and Alaska Natives suffer disproportionately from poverty and other inequities and are vulnerable to adverse health and socioeconomic effects of COVID-19. Using surveys and interviews (May–July 2020), we examined urban American Indian/Alaska Native adolescents’ (N=50) health and behaviors, family dynamics, community cohesion, and traditional practice participation during COVID-19. About 20% of teens reported clinically significant anxiety and depression, 25% reported food insecurity, and 40% reported poor sleep. Teens also reported high family and community cohesion, and many engaged in traditional practices during this time. Although many teens reported problems, they also emphasized resilience strategies.

Stress and Coping among American Indian and Alaska Natives in the Age of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic compounds stressors of daily life among American Indian/Alaska Natives. This study investigated the impact of COVID-19 among American Indian/Alaska Natives and non-Hispanic whites by examining depressive symptoms, overall stress, resilience, and coping, utilizing the Transactional Model of Stress and Coping. Of the 207 individuals participating in this study, 109 identified as American Indian/Alaska Native and 98 as non-Hispanic white. Despite demographic similarities, American Indian/Alaska Natives exhibited more stressors related to COVID-19 as well as higher depressive symptom scores compared to non-Hispanic whites. Furthermore, COVID-19 stressors were more positively correlated with depressive symptoms for American Indian/Alaska Natives than non-Hispanic whites. For American Indian/Alaska Natives, the predominant coping processes identified were planful problem solving, escape-avoidance, and self-controlling. This study provides data to support programs and policies centered on improving the psychosocial health for American Indians/Alaska Natives and decreasing COVID-19-related health disparities.

COVID-19, Intersectionality, and Health Equity for Indigenous Peoples with Lived Experience of Disability

As Māori and tāngata whaikaha (Māori with lived experience of disability) of the nation-state known as New Zealand, we are deeply concerned about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this commentary, we invoke intersectionality as an analytical tool for understanding critical issues tāngata whaikaha face in the context of the universal approach encompassing New Zealand’s pandemic response. We propose a “call to action” framework comprising four elements: (1) guaranteeing self-determination for tāngata whaikaha; (2) addressing all forms of racism, ableism, and other structural forms of oppression; (3) rectifying historical injustices; and (4) allocating resources for the pandemic and beyond in alignment with need.

First Nations’ Survivance and Sovereignty in Canada during a Time of COVID-19

First Nations people in Canada have demonstrated and continue to demonstrate persistent and resilient cultural, linguistic, and traditional endurance: survivance. The devastation resulting from centuries of health pandemics such as smallpox, influenza, cholera, tuberculosis, measles, and scarlet fever reinforce the ongoing resilience of First Nations people, cultures, and traditions in Canada. Despite the history of pandemic-related trauma and a myriad of social, political, environmental, and health challenges, as well as the added burden that COVID-19 is placing on the healthcare system in Canada, First Nations’ organizations and leadership are enacting their inherent rights to sovereignty and governance. While First Nations are bracing for the expected negative impacts of COVID-19, they are doing so in ways that respect and honor their histories, cultures, languages, and traditions. First Nations are acting to protect some of the most vulnerable people in their communities including elders, knowledge keepers, and storytellers who carry with them irreplaceable traditional and cultural knowledges.