How Is COVID-19 Impacting Indian Country?

Thursday, April 23, 2020


COVID-19 is exposing deep health inequities for Indigenous communities across the US. The Aspen Global Innovators Group partnered with the Center for Native American Youth for a live conversation with community leaders driving on-the-ground work to lessen the impact of COVID-19 in Indian Country. The experts explored the power of community, mental health, and clean water to drive community-led response. The conversation was moderated by Nikki Pitre, Acting Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s Center for Native American Youth.

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Dr. Erik Brodt

Ojibwe, Oregon Health and Science University

Dr. Erik Brodt is a family physician. In addition to caring for patients, he works to improve Native American health outcomes and develop Native American Health professional training programs.

Emma Robbins

Navajo Nation, Navajo Water Project

Emma Robbins is a Diné artist and social justice fighter, working with her community on the Navajo Nation to secure access to safe drinking water. After losing a grandmother to cancer caused by uranium contamination in the water and growing up in one of the areas with the highest concentration of water poverty, Emma went on to lead the Navajo Water Project, collaborating with communities to help the 30% of those on the reservation without running water. Emma weaves her art into her work to raise awareness about the need for clean water on Native Nations. Emma’s favorite part of her work is working with fellow Indigenous women to combat the water crisis.

Shavaughna Underwood

Quinalt Indian Nation

Shavaughna Underwood comes from the Quinault People. She is a Human Services Professional who works with the Behavioral Health Team at her tribe as an Administrative Assistant. Shavaughna has a degree in Human Services from Grays Harbor College and is currently a full time student at Evergreen State College majoring in Indigenous Studies focusing on Healing from Trauma. Shavaughna is also the Vice President of the Quinault Indian Nation Culture Committee while she is also the secretary of the Quinault Canoe Society. Shavaughna is trained in Question Persuade Refer (QPR) for suicide prevention and believes in implementing traditional coping mechanisms for Intergenerational Trauma.