Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

September 18, 2020

Navajo President blocks Dine' College professor from questioning COVID-19 vaccine risks

Navajo President blocks Dine' College professor from questioning COVID-19 vaccine risks

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

Navajo President Jonathan Nez blocked a Dine' College professor online from questioning the biological and cultural risks of coronavirus vaccine experiments on Navajos. 

Dine' College Assoc. Professor Christine M. Ami said, "I have been officially blocked from commenting on the Office of President and Vice President's site. This is an example of the censorship that our Navajo Nation government is perusing. I’m not being belligerent -- I am asking basic questions."

Ami raises the important ethical question of the medical researchers and drug companies offering money as an incentive in a population that is economically disadvantaged, especially when the vaccine risks are unknown.

After being blocked, Ami posted her questions online:

"1) how was community consent obtained?
2) what are the possible, dangerous consequences of this research -- both biologically and culturally?
3) how do you consider paying participants from a socioeconomically disadvantaged population as 'volunteering'?"

"Once again it is not that I don’t agree with clinical testing, but I don’t agree with the coercive measure being utilized by our Navajo Nation government to solicit participation. I just want our People to be fully informed," Ami said.

Ami holds a doctoral degree in Native American Studies, with an emphasis in Dine' Studies, Animal Studies and Decolional Studies.

Ami was silenced on Tuesday during an online presentation by Navajo President Nez.

Ami said, "So we were told today by our Navajo Nation Office of the President/Office of the Vice President to not ask honest questions about the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 Clinical Trial because it is being negative. And that kind of negativity is not what their administration is about. They quickly transitioned into their declarations of appointments by God to be the leaders and our need to look for positive opportunities in this clinical trial."

"And just like that, with their admonishment of my community concerns, their put-downs of tribally centered critical thinking, their chastising of our Navajo youth (yeah I still consider myself a youth,) and their ignorance of my credentials in Indigenous research -- it looks like I have another article stemming from my response to my students who were watching today’s Navajo Nation Town Meeting."

"It also doesn’t help that what is going on right now dialogues directly with 3 of my classes so I can’t ignore it -- but I probably wouldn’t have anyways."

Ami's comments are published here with permission.

In response, Earl Tulley, Dine', told Censored News that Ami's rights were violated and these rights are guaranteed under the Indian Civil Rights Act. 

"With the law of the Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA) also called the Indian Bill of Rights, the Indigenous People were guaranteed many civil rights they had been fighting for. The ICRA supports the following: Right to free speech, press, and assembly."

Rushed vaccine pushed by Trump administration for political reasons

The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine experiment targeting Navajos is one of the vaccine experiments being pushed by the Trump administration. Trump is pushing for a rushed vaccine as part of his re-election campaign.

Navajo Vice President Myron Lizer has publically joined Trump's campaign. Now, Navajo President Jonathan Nez and Lizer are pushing the vaccine experiments on Navajos.

Meanwhile, another coronavirus vaccine trial was halted after a spinal cord infection. AstraZeneca halted its coronavirus vaccine experiments after a rare neurological condition developed in a participant.

The Navajo leaders are pushing a separate vaccine, the Pfizer vaccine, to be carried out by Johns Hopkins University researchers using Navajos in IHS hospitals in Chinle, Arizona, and Shiprock and Gallup in New Mexico. The risks of the vaccines are not yet known.

Pfizer and BioNTech, a German biotech company, stand to profit from the vaccine experiments on Navajos.

Navajos point out that Johns Hopkins University has been collecting blood and DNA samples from Navajos in IHS hospitals in vaccine research since the 1980s. It is unknown how the genetic samples are being used. Havasupai had to go to court to halt ASU from misusing their genetic samples.

Further, Johns Hopkins University is currently the subject of a lawsuit in the United States. Johns Hopkins infected Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala with syphilis during its medical experiments in Guatemala in the 1940s. It took decades for the truth to be exposed.

About Christine M. Ami

Yá’át’ééh. Dóone’é nishlínígíí éí Táchii’nii nishlí, Bilagáana báshíshchíín, T’ó’aheedl’ííníí dashicheii, Bilagáana dashinálí.

My name is Christine Ami and, as a faculty member of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona, I teach Anthropology, History, and Indigenous Research Methodologies and Methods. I hold a B.A. in Spanish and Foreign Language Education (Rowan University) and a M.A. in Latin American Literature – emphasis in Colonial Studies (University of Maryland, College Park). I received my doctoral degree in Native American Studies with an emphasis in Diné Studies, Animal Studies and Decolonial Studies at the University of California, Davis. My research investigates the nuances of traditional butchering of sheep throughout the Navajo Nation. These variations also correspond with the various approaches to inherent Diné decolonizing practices, which I analyze throughout my dissertation, “Díí jí nída’iil’ah : A Study of Traditional Navajo Butchering.”

Additionally, as the Navajo Cultural Arts Program (NCAP) Grant Manager at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona, I am responsible programming associated with the Navajo Cultural Arts Certificate Program, the Navajo Cultural Arts Apprenticeship Program as well as various cultural arts lectures and workshops offered throughout the year. 

Read Censored News series on the vaccine experiments on the Navajo Nation:

Navajos to be used in vaccine experiments

Navajo Department of Health responds to Censored News questions: Coronavirus plasma infusions already underway, vaccines are next:

Comments copyright Christine M. Ami, may not be reproduced without her permission.

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