'It Takes Your Breath Away,' the High Rate of Deaths of American Indians
January 19, 2021
STANDING ROCK RESERVATION, N.D. - The virus took Grandma Delores first, silencing an 86-year-old voice that rang with Lakota songs and stories. Then it came for Uncle Ralph, a stoic Vietnam veteran. And just after Christmas, two more elders of the Taken Alive family were buried on the frozen North Dakota prairie: Jesse and Cheryl, husband and wife, who died a month apart.
"It takes your breath away," said Ira Taken Alive, the couple's oldest son. "The amount of knowledge they held, and connection to our past."
One by one, those connections are being severed as the coronavirus tears through ranks of Native American elders, inflicting an incalculable toll on bonds of language and tradition that flow from older generations to the young.