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CRP PhD Student Discusses the Cherokee Nation’s Experience with COVID-19

video conference call still of two people smiling
Dylan Stevenson (Ph.D. ’21) on a video interview with Nicole Nomura (M.R.P./M.L.A. ’22). image / Nicole Nomura

By Nicole Nomura M.R.P./M.L.A. ’22

We connected with Dylan Stevenson (Ph.D. ’21) from San Jose, CA to get his take on COVID-19:

“My research focuses on the intersection of environmental, tribal, & rural planning. My work looks at industrial poultry farming in Northeastern Oklahoma where formal planning practices (i.e., planning conducted by government) aren’t common in this region.

I’m interested in what the Cherokee considerations are: Where is the Cherokee voice in this kind of ‘planning process’ that’s done inter-governmentally? And what are the worldviews that are missing from the discussions regarding regulations and how to protect the water quality and quantity in the watershed there?

During this pandemic, three things are apparent to me. In these rural towns, there are few public health policies in place. It’s really localized efforts trying to flatten the curve.

The second is the rurality of it. A lot of these populations have very limited access to healthcare, especially to quality healthcare. People might have to drive up to two hours to go to a facility. Then, the ability to use other technology to utilize the healthcare system – that’s also limited, which is dependent upon people’s access to the internet, where not everybody has access.

The third would be the native healthcare system here. Since I live in what was previously Indian Territory, there’s a substantial native population here. The Indian Health Service facilities have really ramped up their policies to protect people, but the social aspect of the virus is opposite of cultural norms because people really take care of one another at the community level.

Make sure that you’re taking care of yourself, make sure that you’re taking care of other people in a way that won’t hurt you or them. Just take everything a day at a time.”

Published in New Blog Posts Student Blogs

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