The Coharie tribe, too, hosted a vaccination clinic. Tribal administrator Greg Jacobs said the Coharie council has spent much of this year registering elders for vaccines and transporting them to appointments.
“I feel getting vaccinated is my civil duty to protect my community and society in general,” he said. “It shows loyalty and respect to our country. Getting vaccinated is citizens’ call to arms to protect Americans.”
Designating vaccines specifically for the tribes has been crucial. COVID-19 has had a particularly devastating effect on American Indian communities, killing Native Americans at almost twice the rate of White Americans. Financial hardship, loss of jobs, and a lack of strong internet in rural communities have made existing disparities worse.
In addition to losing members of the tribes to COVID-19, American Indian tribes have had to forgo community gatherings and annual traditions during the pandemic. But with vaccines available, hope is on the horizon.
When it comes to deciding to get the vaccine, Vice Chair of the Lumbee Tribe, Corbin Eddings encourages others to seek conversation with those around them.
“Talk to folks you respect,” he said. “Talk to folks who make informed decisions, that you look up to and have gone to for advice in the past. Think about your family, and don’t rush the decision. You should feel comfortable with your decision. But remember, it’s not just about you.”
Tribes have begun to talk of recovery, of resuming cultural traditions in-person next year. Although the road ahead is long, it shows promise.
“There will be an aftermath to this for a long time,” said Chairman Godwin, “but we have hope.”