As COVID Surges in L.A., Hard-Hit Indigenous Communities Fight to Preserve Life, Culture & Language

As Los Angeles County reports record COVID-19 infections, overflowing hospitals and record death tolls, we look at how Indigenous communities there are among the hardest hit in working-class neighborhoods, where many are essential workers. “Indigenous people, we don’t have the privilege to stay home and not go to work,” says Odilia Romero, co-founder and executive director of Indigenous Communities in Leadership, or CIELO, an Indigenous women-led nonprofit organization in Los Angeles. Romero also laments “the loss of knowledge” that comes with the devastation of COVID-19. “Some of the elders have passed away, and there goes a whole worldview,” she says. CIELO recently published a book documenting the stories of undocumented Indigenous women from Mexico and Guatemala living in Los Angeles in the midst of the pandemic.

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