CARES Act funds, Indian Hospital Services help Native American tribes adjust to pandemic

Local News

LAWTON (KFDX/KJTL) — Many across Texoma are still struggling while battling the COVID-19 pandemic, including those in Native American tribes.

Members of the Kiowa Tribe and the Comanche Nation have been residing in Texoma for many years. Throughout history, both tribes have persevered through many obstacles to still have thousands of members to date; but COVID-19 has presented a challenge that some tribal members are fearful of.

“Everybody is well aware of social distancing,” Kiowa Tribe COVID-19 director Freida Satepeahtaw said. “We’ve had 125 deaths since March 1. Probably at least half or more are probably COVID related.”

Comanche Nation member and Quanah Parker’s great-grandson Ron Parker said he and his family are doing the best they can during the pandemic.

“Personally, I have got my sisters who’ve come down with it,” Parker said. “Within my immediate family, my daughter’s been tested positive but she’s ok now. Everybody in my household are doing well.”

According to Indian Health Services, the Oklahoma City region leads all of Indian Country in positive cases. But both members said IHS and COVID CARES ACT funds have helped the community tremendously.

“The tribal has really done a good job with CARES ACT funds. The hospital does a good job with providing services for people that come in. So I’m happy with both of them and what they do,” Parker said.

“We got almost $23 million. We’ve spent over $12 million directly almost $13 million directly to the tribal members. It might be in the way of sanitation, it might be just in the way of helping them with bills,” Satepeahtaw said.

As vaccines begin to circulate to members of both tribes, they see it as a positive sign for a bright future ahead.

“We’re really hoping this vaccine will kind of take things and put things into levels so that we can deal with this a lot easier,” Satepeahtaw said.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Parker said. “I appreciate the hospital. They’re starting to do this. We’ve already had some vaccinations and they’ll be starting to do more and more.”

Moving forward, Native American tribes look to keep protecting their own during the pandemic.

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