This is the story of two tribes who want to seclude themselves to prevent coronavirus. Irrespective of whether the strategy works, State cannot impose its will on the people. It is interesting to know that the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe had rejected an ultimatum by South Dakota’s governor to remove checkpoints on state highways within tribal reservations or risk legal action. According the head of the Tribe, the checkpoints are built to save life, not faces.
‘Individual Identity to Protect’
This becomes important for two reasons –
1) The Tribes have a right to their reservations. In an informal sense, they are a country on their own and the will of the state cannot be imposed unilaterally upon the tribal reservations.
2) Proponents of Herd Immunity insists that isolation will deprive the development of resistance to the virus. Isolation, Social Distancing and ‘Shelter-in-Place’, are social mechanism contrary to herd immunity. It is worth noting that absence of herd immunity makes the population vulnerable to further waves of COVID. Whereas, the detractors persists saying that the innate immune arm serves as the logical arm to counter new infections.
I agree, one of the strategies for countering bugs is to make them commensals and coexisting with them. However, this cannot be enforced. When the state decides to impose its will on the minority, it infringes not just on their rights but their existence.
Excerpts from National Geography
Native Americans are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 due to underlying health issues such as diabetes and heart disease, as well as crowded multigenerational homes. On reservations, where roughly half of Native Americans live, not everyone has indoor plumbing or electricity, making it difficult to follow the guidelines to wash hands regularly in hot water. As a result, Navajo Nation, the largest reservation in the United States, has an infection rate nearly as high as that of New York and New Jersey. As of May 11 there have been 102 confirmed deaths.
The indigenous Native Americans from several states have truly bloody memory from the past panemics. Smalpox is an example, during which their tribes lost significant number of natives. Some elderly haven’t yet come to terms with those deaths yet.
When you have social structure that is so intricate, interrelated and interwoven, it is necessary to create checkpoints to isolate.
Contagion and Contact
History has ample examples of secluded cultures, ethnicities, and congregations being wiped out after interaction with those having an advantage of a wider swath of commensals. If we understand history, we understand the reason for this tribal instinct. If we lose the context of history, an unilaterally impose our will of integration, we will lose them again.
The entire civilization in the Americas was lost to guns and bugs. The Incas, the Mayas, Aztec, and the other smaller tribes. We know how the Spanish conquistador bought plague and other diseases from the then most filthy continent on the face of the earth. Another example is the now reigning tribes in the Amazon. And the most notable are the tribes from the Andaman, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean.
Is it our tribal instinct to expose the entire population to SARS CoV2 better or is there tribal instinct better in safeguarding their cluster and ethnicity?
South Dakota governor tells Sioux tribes they have 48 hours to remove Covid-19 checkpoints
New Hypothesis for Cause of Epidemic among Native Americans, New England, 1616–1619 ; Emerg Infect Dis. 2010 Feb; 16(2): 281–286; John S. Marrcorand John T. Cathey; doi: 10.3201/eid1602.090276; PMCID: PMC2957993; PMID: 20113559