Bio-terrorism is absolutely nothing new in Indian country
From the chairmans' desk:
Chairman Gregg J. Bourland, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
Small pox! The very word strikes terror in the minds and hearts of Native Americans worldwide. This deadly disease inflicted uncounted casualties on Native populations since the day Columbus set his dirty feet on our sacred soil.
For years our people were killed by this invisible monster. The federal government did little to protect our people. As a matter of historical fact, many people believe yet today that the government did a lot to spread the disease among our people on the Great Plains by sending us smallpox-infected blankets and food. Was this the first bio-terrorist attack in America?
But, eventually, when the government decided that we weren't all going to die or be killed, they put us on these reservations and did inoculate us through the Indian Health Service. But, these inoculations ended about 15 years ago.
Now, small pox is in the news again. The national media has indicated there may be a real possibility that small pox, like anthrax, may be used as a biological agent of terror. This is because people have not been immunized in this country for years.
CNN also reported there is a very limited supply of small pox vaccine in the United States and that more than 300 million doses are needed. These are not available worldwide at the present time.
The purpose of this letter is to not only to inform you of this threat, but to call out to you to help me bring to the attention of our national leaders and the federal government the need for Native Americans to be inoculated as soon as possible.
While Europeans lived with small pox for hundreds if not thousands of years and did build up some immunity to it, Native Americans have absolutely no immunity to it. This puts us in the highest risk category. I believe our children should be inoculated immediately and that all vaccines be given to Native Americans first.
But, as we all know, the rich, white Americans will be the first in line for any vaccines, while the first people of this land will again be last. If we were at most risk, this would again be a form of genocide against our people.
I am calling on the People of the Great Sioux Nation and all Native nations to call your senators and congressmen and insist that Native Americans be the first to be protected from small pox. We must also pressure the Indian Health Service to get moving on this issue and immunize our people.
In these very troubling times it is up to all of us to act together on this. I am writing a letter to Senator Daschle today on this issue, calling for action to protect all Native American people. I suggest you do the same.
May God bless and protect us all.