Native nations are fighting COVID-19 on many levels

A town hall event hall hosted by ASU’s Construction in Indian Country program brought together tribal and business leaders to discuss the economic outlook and address the current situation in Indian Country as they continue fight COVID-19.

The event was hosted by Arizona State University’s Marcus Denetdale, program manager for Construction in Indian Country. Panelists included sustainability scholars Jacob Moore, associate vice president for tribal relations at ASU, and Traci Morris, director of ASU’s American Indian Policy Institute; Jonathan Nez, president of the Navajo Nation; Brian Howard, research and policy analyst, American Indian Policy Institute; James Murphy, chief executive officer, Willmeng Construction; Larry Wright Jr., tribal chairman of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska; and Martin Harvier, president of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

Moore said ASU’s response to tribal communities in need includes a variety of needs, such as providing COVID-19 test kits, testing research, medical and public health support, PPE supplies, chain supply management and monitoring wastewater.

While ASU’s and others’ efforts to help tribal communities have been exhaustive, the response simply isn’t enough. That’s because the needed infrastructure, especially when it comes to broadband and interconnectivity, is sorely lacking, according to Morris.

Morris said the role of ASU is not only to support tribal communities, but to be partners in creating the pipeline of youth going into a range of professions.

“We strive to be part of the solution,” Morris said.