COVID-19 Pandemic and Indigenous Representation in Public Health Data

Kimberly R. Huyser, Aggie J. Yellow Horse, Alena A. Kuhlemeier, Michelle R. Huyser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Public Health 3.0 calls for the inclusion of new partners and novel data to bring systemic change to the US public health landscape. The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has illuminated significant data gaps influenced by ongoing colonial legacies of racism and erasure. American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations and communities have been disproportionately affected by incomplete public health data and by the COVID-19 pandemic itself. Our findings indicate that only 26 US states were able to calculate COVID-19-related death rates for AI/AN populations. Given that 37 states have Indian Health Service locations, we argue that public health researchers and practitioners should have a far larger data set of aggregated public health information on AI/AN populations. Despite enormous obstacles, local Tribal facilities have created effective community responses toCOVID-19 testing, tracking, and vaccineadministration. Their knowledge can lead the way to a healthier nation. Federal and state governments and health agencies must learn to responsibly support Tribal efforts, collect data from AI/AN persons in partnership with Indian Health Service and Tribal governments, and communicate effectively with Tribal authorities to ensure Indigenous data sovereignty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S208-S214
JournalAmerican journal of public health
StatePublished - Oct 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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