August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Unanswered Questions: Johns Hopkins fails to respond to vital questions -- 40 years of vaccine experiments on Navajos and Apaches

Unanswered Questions: Johns Hopkins fails to respond to vital questions -- 40 years of vaccine experiments on Navajos and Apaches

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News Exclusive

Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health failed to respond to the most important questions concerning 40 years of vaccine experiments on Navajos and Apaches. Johns Hopkins is currently carrying out the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine experiments using Navajos.

Johns Hopkins failed to answer the following questions regarding its vaccine experiments. The vaccine experiments were carried out largely in secret and without public scrutiny over the past 40 years in IHS hospitals on the Navajo Nation and White Mountain Apache Nation.

(1) Have any Navajos or Apaches become sick or died as a result of Johns Hopkins' experimental medicines or treatments?

(2) Are blood and DNA of Navajo or Apache stored, how are they used and who has access to these?

Johns Hopkins' responses to Censored News questions are below, but there is no mention of the number, if any, who became sick or died. The pevious article: "Seven questions for Johns Hopkins" by Censored News is at:

Dangerous medical experiments on Native Americans 

There is a long history of vaccine and medical experiments on Native Americans by other researchers in Arizona and New Mexico that were dangerous, including the injection of radioactive fluid into O'odham at Phoenix Indian Hospital in the 1970s; pulmonary experiments on White Mountain Apache children without parental consent; and a vaccine experiment halted at Gallup Indian Center after patients became sick. 

Trachoma treatments were conducted at boarding schools at Stewart, Intermountain and at Tuba City on the Navajo Nation, without parental consent. The Indian Health Service claimed it was the guardian of Native students in boarding schools. Censored News has documented these.

Indian Health Service hospitals carried out the sterilization of thousands of Native women without informed consent, as documented in 1976. Even after a court order was issued to halt the sterilizations, IHS continued to sterilize Native women as young as 19.

The sterilization of Native American women was not a medical experiment. It was genocide.

Earlier, in 1951, the US Public Health Service began a massive human medical experiment on approximately 4,000 Navajo uranium miners, without their informed consent. Neither the miners nor their families were warned of the risks from nuclear radiation and contamination as USPHS continued their experiment.

Currently, it is unknown how blood and DNA samples of Navajos are being used and stored and who has access to these. Previously, the Havasupai Nation in Arizona had to go to court to halt the abuse of their blood samples by researchers at Arizona State University.

Johns Hopkins is currently using IHS hospitals on the Navajo Nation to carry out the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine trial and a convalescent plasma trial, which transfuses the blood plasma of a person who has coronavirus into a virus patient.

Johns Hopkins Response to Censored News

For the past 40 years, Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health has worked in partnership with the Navajo Nation, White Mountain Apache Tribe, Indian Health Service and Tribal Health Organizations on studies aimed at reducing disease and improving the health and well-being of Native people. Past studies include three successful Phase 3 clinical trials of vaccines that are now used as part of routine immunizations that Native American children, as well as children across the US and the world receive as part of routine care: the Hib vaccine (against a leading cause of meningitis), the Prevnar vaccine (against a leading cause of pneumonia) and the rotavirus vaccine (against a leading cause of infectious diarrhea that can have severe effects in infants). All studies have been done by Native American and allied research personnel who are trained in the conduct of clinical trials, with the guidance of the communities and oversight of the Tribal IRBs.

Currently, the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health is evaluating whether an investigational vaccine, created by Pfizer/BioNTech, is effective in preventing COVID-19 disease. There are no licensed vaccines against the virus that causes COVID-19 and finding safe and effective vaccines is critical to protecting families and ending the pandemic. The vaccine cannot give a person COVID-19 disease and there is no quarantine period required for those who enroll. Following consultation with health care providers, elders, and other community leaders, this study was submitted to the Navajo Nation Human Research Review Board (NNHRRB). The NNHRRB reviewed and approved this study, as did the Johns Hopkins Institutional Review Board. All individuals who seek to participate in the study receive extensive information on the trial through the informed consent process, and their participation is completely voluntary.

Additional details about study procedures and other details related to your questions are available on our website:

Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health for Censored News


Johns Hopkins on the Navajo Nation

The Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health website shows it is involved in COVID-19 surveillance and contact tracing. 

Johns Hopkins is also carrying out:

  • Convalescent plasma study: This is a medical remedy that has been used for centuries and that could provide a critical stop-gap option for COVID-19 while we’re waiting for effective vaccines. 
  • Seroprevalence study: Serological data can provided critical evidence to guide policy and preparedness 

Johns Hopkins said this study is being carried out using Navajos with funding from the Department of Defense:

Johns Hopkins researchers have received $35 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense (JPEO-CBRND), on behalf of the Defense Health Agency, for two nationwide clinical trials to test the effectiveness of a convalescent blood plasma outpatient treatment. The treatment is a transfusion of a blood product from COVID-19 survivors that contains antibodies that may help the patient’s immune system fight the virus.

 Photo: The US Calvary at Fort Defiance after the tragedy of the Longest Walk in 1968. It was the site of the first Navajo Indian Agency and Hospital.

The Navajo Nation Human Research Review Board

The Navajo Nation Human Research Review Board, for medical experiments on Navajos, was created in 1996 after a drug company attempted to profiteer from the deadly hantavirus on the Navajo Nation. Navajo Councilwoman Genevieve Jackson halted the attempt for the Navajo Nation Council to purchase and stockpile the drug Tamiflu.

Uranium Radiation Experiment

The U.S. Public Health Service carried out radiation experiments on Navajos in 1951 without telling Navajo uranium miners, or their families.

The U S. knew the radiation would kill them, but sent Navajo miners to their deaths without protective gear.

Laguna and Acoma Pueblo miners were sent to their deaths in the same way at the Jackpile mine in New Mexico.

Deaths from cancer and respiratory disease are the legacy of U.S. uranium mining in Navajo and Pueblo communities. The radioactive dust fell on the plants, and was ingested by families eating sheep, deer, vegetables and plants. 

Copyright Brenda Norrell, Censored News. No portion may be used without permission.

About the author

Brenda Norrell has been a reporter in Indian country for 38 years, beginning as a reporter for Navajo Times during the 18 years that she lived on the Navajo Nation. After serving as a longtime reporter for Indian Country Today newspaper covering the Southwest, she was censored and terminated. She created Censored News in 2006. She has a master's degree in international health, focused on water, nutrition and infectious diseases.

'Part Four: Memory of What Is to Come' by Sup Galeano (Marcos)

Part Four: Memory of What Is to Come

October 2020.

Translations: French, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, original in Spanish

Let’s go back, to 35 Octobers ago.

Old Man Antonio watched the bonfire resist the rain. Beneath his dripping straw hat he lights his hand-rolled cigarette with a burning ember. The fire stays alive, hiding occasionally beneath the logs; the wind helps it, its breath reviving the coals, red with rage.

The camp is called “Watapil”[i] and is located in the Sierra Cruz de Plata which rises between the wet arms of the Jataté and Perlas rivers. It’s 1985, and October receives the group with a storm, presaging their future. The tall almond tree (which will become the namesake of that mountain in the insurgent’s vernacular) looks down with compassion at the small, minuscule, insignificant group of men and women at its feet, with their gaunt faces, haggard bodies, bright eyes (perhaps from fever, stubbornness, fear, delirium, hunger or lack of sleep), ragged brown and black clothes, and boots distorted by the knotted vines that are intended to hold their soles in place.

Softly and slowly, his words barely audible over the howl of the storm, Old Man Antonio speaks as if he were talking to himself:

“The Ruler will return again to impose on the color of the earth his harsh word, his ego that kills all reason, his bribe disguised as a handout.

The day will come when death will wear its cruelest clothes, its steps accompanied by the screeching cogs of the machine that sicken each path it takes with the lie that it brings abundance, even as it sows destruction. Whosoever opposes that noise which terrifies plants and animals will be killed, both in life and in memory: the first with lead, the latter with lies. Night will thus be longer. Pain will be drawn out. Death will be more deadly.

The Aluxo’ob[ii] will alert the Mother Earth: “Death is coming, mother, it’s killing as it comes.”

Mother Earth, the first mother of all, will wake up—shaking awake the parrots, macaws, and toucans—reclaim the blood of her guardians (guardianes and guardianas) and speak to her people:

“Let some of you go to taunt the invader. Let others of you sound the call to our brethren. May the waters not frighten you; may neither cold nor heat discourage you. Cut paths where there are none, cross rivers and seas. Traverse mountains, fly through rain and fog. Whether night or day or the small hours of the morning, go and alert all creatures. My names and colors are many, but my heart is one, and my death will be the death of everything. Do not be ashamed of the skin color I have given you, nor of the language I have placed in your mouth, nor of your stature which keeps you close to me. I will give light to your gaze, warmth to your ears and strength to your feet and arms. Do not fear different colors and customs, nor different paths. One is the heart I have passed down to you—one understanding, and one gaze.”

Then, under siege by the Aluxo’ob, the machines of deadly deception will fall apart, their arrogance broken, their greed destroyed. The powerful will bring lackeys from other nations to rebuild the broken death machine. They will examine the innards of the death machine and discover why it is so damaged: “it is full of blood inside.” In an attempt to explain the reason for this terrible wonder, the bosses will announce, “We don’t know why, all we know is that the blood is directly descended from originary blood.”

Then, evil will rain down upon itself in the grand mansions where the Power gets drunk and commits abuses. Unreason will enter into its territory and blood, rather than water, will run through its waterways. Its gardens will wither and the hearts of its workers and servants will turn cold. Power will thus bring in other vassals to use: they will come from other lands, and hate will grow between equals, spurred on by money. They will fight amongst themselves, and death and destruction will emerge between people with shared history and pain.

Those who before worked and lived off of the land will become servants and slaves of the Powerful on the very lands and under the skies of their ancestors. They will see misfortune befall their houses. They will lose their sons and daughters, drowned in the rot of corruption and crime. The practice of the “right of the first night” will return, by which money kills innocence and love. Babies will be ripped from their mothers’ breast, their flesh taken by the great Lords to satisfy their evilness and cruelty. Disputes over money will cause children to raise hands against their parents, and their houses will be cast into mourning. Daughters will be lost in darkness and death, their life and being killed by the Lords and their money. Unknown illnesses will attack those who sold their dignity and that of their loved ones in exchange for a few coins; those who betrayed their people, their blood, and their history; and those who created and spread the lie.

The mother ceiba tree, sustainer of worlds, will scream so loudly that even the most distant deafness will hear her injured cry. Seven distant voices will approach her; seven distant arms will embrace her; and seven different fists will join together with her. The mother ceiba will then lift her skirts and with her thousand feet kick and dislodge the iron railways. The wheeled machines will run off their metal tracks. The waters will overflow the rivers and lakes and the sea itself will howl with fury, and the entrails of the earth and the skies will open in all worlds.

The mother Earth, the first mother of all, will rise up and reclaim her house and her place with fire. Upon the arrogant edifices of Power, trees, plants and animals will grow, and in their hearts Votán Zapata will live again. The jaguar will again walk its ancestral paths, reigning once again where money and its lackeys sought to reign.

The Powerful will die only after seeing their ignorant arrogance crumble without making a sound. With its last breath they will understand that the Ruler is no more, no more than a bad memory in a world that rebelled and resisted death that its orders commanded.

They say this story is told by the dead of always, those who will die once again but this time in order to live.

They say to carry this word to the valleys and the mountains, to the canyons and the wide plains. Let the tapacaminos bird[iii] repeat it as a warning on the path of the brotherly hearts; let the rain and the sun sow it in the gaze of those who inhabit these lands; let the wind carry it a long distance that it might nest in the thoughts of compañeros.

Terrible and awesome things are coming to these lands and these skies.

But the jaguar will once again walk its ancestral paths, reigning once again where money and its lackeys sought to reign.

Old Man Antonio falls silent, and with him, the rain. He sleeps not at all, and dreams everything.


From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.


Mexico, October 2020.

From the Notebook of the Cat-Dog: Part II: The Canoes

I should remind you that the divisions between countries are solely for the purpose of classifying contraband and justifying wars. There are clearly at least two things that stand above borders: one is the crime—disguised as modernity—of distributing poverty at a global level; the other is the hope that shame only arises when you mess up a dance step, not every time you look in the mirror. For the former to end and the latter to flourish, it is merely necessary to struggle and be better. Everything else carries on by itself and tends to end up in libraries and museums. There’s no need to conquer the world; it’s enough to make it anew  Cheers then, and keep in mind that for the purposes of love, a bed is just a pretext; for dance, a tune is just decor; and for struggle, nationality is merely circumstantial.

—Don Durito de La Lacandona, 1995

SubMoy was telling Maxo that maybe we should try making the raft out of balsa wood (“cork” as it’s called around here), but the naval engineer [Maxo] argued that, being lighter, it would be even more easily pulled by the current. “But you said there’s no current in the ocean,” SupMoy reminded him. “Well, what if there is!” Maxo retorted. SubMoy told the other CCRI [Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee] members to move on to the next experiment: dug-out canoes.

They began carving. Under their axes and machetes, the tree trunks that were originally destined to become firewood began to take on a maritime shape and function. SubMoy had left for a moment so they went to ask SupGaleano if seafaring vessels should have names. “Yeah, of course,” the Sup responded distractedly, as he watched el Monarca check out an old diesel engine.

The canoe-carvers began tracing and painting in names—measured and rational, of course—on the sides of the boats. One read “Chompiras the Swimmer and Puddle-Jumper.”[iv] Another: “The internationalist: One thing is one thing, another thing is no me jodas man.” Another: “On my way love, be right there.” And another: “Well why’d they invite us then, it’s on them[v].” The CCRI members from Jacinto Canek baptized theirs “Jean Robert,”[vi] their way of bringing him along on the journey.

Another canoe a little further away read, “Why cry when saltwater abounds?” Which was followed by: “This boat was built by the Maritime Commission of the Zapatista Autonomous Municipality in Rebellion [MAREZ] going under the name of ‘We get criticized for giving the MAREZ and Caracoles really long names but we don’t give a shit,’ headed by the Good Government Council named, ‘Neither do we.’ Perishable cargo. Expiration date: depends. Our boats don’t sink, they expire, which is different. Canoe manufacturing contracts and musicians available at the Centers of Autonomous Zapatista Rebellion and Resistance [CRAREZ] (marimba and sound system not included—because what if they sink and stop working—but we’ll sing with gusto… maybe). This canoe’s value is calculable only in terms of resistance. To be continued on the side of the next canoe…” (You had to walk all the way around the canoe and even peer in to read the inside walls to see the whole “name.” Yes, your assumption is correct, it would take so long for an enemy submarine to transmit the whole name that by the time it finished, the vessel it was going to sink would have reached European shores.

As they carved the logs into canoes, word got around of what was going on. Beloved Amado told Pablito who told Pedrito who informed Defensa Zapatista who discussed with Esperanza who whispered “don’t tell anybody” to Calamidad who then told her mom who announced it to the whole group of women.

When SupGaleano heard the women were coming, he shrugged his shoulders and handed the half-inch ratchet wrench to el Monarca as he spit out pieces from the mouthpiece of his pipe.

After a bit Jacobo arrived asking, “Hey Sup, is SubMoy going to be long?”

“No idea,” SupGaleano responded, looking, disconsolate, upon his broken pipe.

Jacobo continued, “Do you know how many people are going to make the journey?”

“Not yet,” the Sup answered, “Europe from below hasn’t told us yet how many people they can accommodate. Why?”

“Well… you better come see for yourself,” Jacobo replied.

SupGaleano broke another pipe when he saw the Zapatista “fleet.” Six canoes with eccentric and extravagant names lined the river bank, loaded down with plants and flowerpots.

“What’s all this?” the Sup asked, just as a formality.

A very resigned Rubén answered, “that’s the women’s luggage.”

“Their luggage?” The Sup inquired.

“Yeah, they came and loaded all those plants and just said, ‘you’re going to need these.’ Later a little girl came, I don’t know her name, but she was asking if the trip was going to take a long time, like if it would be long before we got to where we’re going. I asked her why, if her mom was going or what. She said it wasn’t that, but that she wanted to send along a little tree and if the trip was going to take awhile, well by the time we got there the tree would be big and we could take a break for pozol[vii] in its shade if the sun was strong.”

“But they’re all the same,” argued the Sup (referring to the plants of course).

“No, they’re not,” Alejandra, a CCRI member replied, “This one is a prairie sage, it’s for stomachaches; this one is thyme; that one is spearmint; over here we have chamomile, oregano, parsley, cilantro, laurel, epazote, aloe vera; this one is for diarrhea, this one for burns, that one for insomnia, that one for toothache, this one here is for cramps, this one is known as “cure-all,” that one over there is for nausea, and also here we have hoja santa, black nightshade, wild onion, rue, geranium, carnation, tulips, roses, mañanitas, and so on.”

Jacobo felt obligated to clarify, “As soon as we finished one canoe we turned around and they had it full of plants already. The second we finished the next one, same thing. We’ve finished six so far, which is why I’m asking if we should keep going, because they’re just going to fill them up.”

“But if they want to send all that along, where will the compañeros sit?” the Sup tried to reason with a compañera, one of the women’s coordinators who was carrying two potted plants in her arms and a baby on her back.

“Compañeros? There are men going?” she answered.

“Whatever, either way, women aren’t going to fit either,” argued the Sup, on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

“Oh,” she replied, “we’re not going in the boat. We’re going by plane so we won’t get nauseous. Well, maybe a little, but less.”

“Who said you all are going on a plane?” the Sup asked.

“We did,” she answered.

“These decisions you are telling me about, where are they coming from?”

“Well, Esperanza came to our women’s meeting and told us that all of us would die wretchedly if we travel with the damned men. So we discussed it as an assembly and determined that we weren’t scared and are quite decided that the men can die wretchedly without us.”

We did the math and calculated that we can rent the plane that Calderón bought for Peña Nieto and that the bad governments in power now don’t know what to do with. They say it costs 500 pesos per person. We’ve got 111 compañeras signed up already, though I don’t think that’s counting the milicianas’ soccer teams. But let’s say there were just 111 of us, that would be 55,500 pesos, but women and infants pay half price, making it 27,750. From that you’d have to take off taxes and speaker’s fees, so let’s say some 10,000 pesos for all of us. That’s if the dollar isn’t devalued in the meantime, if so, then even less. But we don’t want to be quibbling over the money, so we’re going to throw in my compadre’s ox, which acts like a you-know-what, but what can you do, that’s what all machos are like.

SupGaleano remained silent for once, trying to remember where the hell he left his emergency pipe. But when he saw the women begin to carry out chickens, roosters, chicks, pigs, ducks, and turkeys, he urged el Monarca: “Quick, call SubMoy and tell him to come now, it’s urgent.”

The procession of women, plants, and animals stretched past the pasture. They were followed by Defensa Zapatista’s gang: headed up by Pablito (now acting on the premise of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em) with his horse, followed by beloved Amado with his bicycle with the flat tire, followed by the cat-dog herding along some cattle. Defensa and Esperanza were measuring the canoes to see if soccer goals would fit. The one-eyed horse had a bag of plastic bottles hanging from its snout. Calamidad followed holding a piglet squealing in terror that she’d throw it in the river just so she could rescue it… and for good reason.

At the end of the procession was someone who looked extraordinarily like a beetle, with an eye-patch over his right eye, a piece of twisted wire on one leg in a version of a pirate’s hook and something mimicking a peg leg on the other, really just a splinter of wood from where the canoe-carving was going on. This strange being, wielding a little piece of tin as a face mask, recited with admirable oratory:

“The breeze fair aft, all sails on high,

Ten guns on each side mounted seen,
She does not cut the sea, but fly,
A swiftly sailing brigantine;
A pirate bark, the “Dreaded” named,
For her surpassing boldness famed,
On every sea well-known and shore,
From side to side their boundaries o’er.”[viii]

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés, head of the expedition in the making, returned to find SupGaleano smiling inexplicably. The Sup had just found another pipe, unbroken, in his pants pocket.

I give my word.


[i] “Watapil” was the name given to one of the early jungle encampments (circa 1985) of the small group of insurgents that would later become the EZLN. See

[ii] In Mayan folklore, the Alux are small, mythical beings primarily inhabiting the jungle and other natural areas, something like elves in English folklore. Aluxo’ob is the plural.

[iii] Pájaro tapacaminos is a nocturnal bird in Mexico with a loud, distinctive call that can be heard up to 1km away.

[iv] Chompiras is the name of a renowned three-ton truck in Zapatista territory, used for many solidarity efforts.

[v] “Pa’ qué me invitan” (Why’d you invite me then?) is a meme that originated with a viral cell-phone video of an extremely inebriated man being dragged out of a party who complains to the hosts that if they know he always gets hammered, well then what did they invite him for? See

[vi] Jean Robert was a philosopher and architect based in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico, who long supported the Zapatista movement. He recently passed on October 1, 2020.

[vii] Pozol is ground maize mixed with water, commonly consumed in the Chiapas countryside as a midday meal.

[viii] José de Espronceda’s “Song of the Pirate,” translation from James Kennedy, published in
Hispanic Anthology: Poems Translated from the Spanish by English and North American Poets, ed. Thomas Walsh. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 1920.




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