Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes documentary shows impacts of COVID-19 on tribal community

Courtesy: Calling Our Warriors 

PABLO, Mont. - The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes released a documentary about the coronavirus' impact on their community. The mission behind 'Calling our Warriors' is to serve as a wake up call. 

Two recent reports from Montana's Department of Public Health and Human Services show American Indians in Montana have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and the virus was the leading cause of death within the demographic in 2020. 

Montana DPHHS reports mortality rates among American Indians in Montana are four times higher than the white community based on population, and 108% higher than American Indians across the United States. 

The film features different people and experiences from the CSKT community, from contracting COVID-19 themselves or taking care of ill family members, to working in the medical field. 

The individual stories aim to paint the big picture of how the virus is affecting the community with the nearly 2,000 positive cases and 35 deaths reported in the documentary. 

"This isn't about me or you, it's about protecting our people," Shadow Devereaux, an artist and producer of the film, said. "Like it says in the documentary, why wouldn't you want to protect your people?"

The creative team said the project started out of frustration. One of the producers, Michelle Mitchell, caught the virus, was severely ill for six weeks and continues to use oxygen. 

She said her own efforts weren't enough and she hopes by sharing these stories, others will start to do their part. 

"By hearing other people's stories, that human connection will make a difference and people can start doing what they need to do so we can be in a better place," Mitchell said. "We can do better, I know we can."

Calling Our Warriors is free to watch and can be accessed here. 

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