Posted by Claremore Indian Health Service on Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Indian Health Service takes down 'racist' poster but disavows link to coronavirus

A sign posted in an Indian Health Service facility in Oklahoma urged visitors to protect themselves from the “Kung Flu” -- a derogatory phrase President Donald Trump has used when talking about the COVID-19 pandemic.

A visitor to the Claremore Indian Hospital recently took a photo of the poster, which features the official IHS logo, and wanted to remain anonymous. But the person felt the need for it to be pointed out. The person also felt the sign was “racist."

According to the IHS, however, the sign has nothing to do with the novel coronavirus, which has affected Native Americans at disproportionate rates.

IHS POSTER: "He's out there. You cannot see him. You cannot touch him. But he will take you down." Courtesy photo

After being asked about the imagery, the IHS said the poster dates to a flu campaign from the Barack Obama era. American Indians and Alaskan Natives are at high risk for seasonal influenza, the agency said in a statement.

“A 2016 flu campaign at Claremore Indian Hospital had good intentions when communicating this important message but the materials that accompanied their initiative could be viewed as being offensive," the IHS said. "One poster from the 2016 flu season recently became visible when furniture in the facility was moved thereby displaying the image."

"The Indian Health Service regrets that this poster was displayed and offended individuals. Claremore Indian Hospital employees have checked the entirety of the hospital to ensure that no more campaign materials remained in the hospital," the statement read. "To our knowledge, the campaign materials have not been used since the 2016-2017 flu season."

"At the Indian Health Service our aim is to foster an environment that is free of discrimination and harassment," the agency added. "The IHS does not condone campaigns that demean any racial or ethnic group and we apologize to anyone we offended with this campaign.”

A marked up photo shows the location of the "Kung Flu" poster at the Claremore Indian Hospital, an Indian Health Service facility in Claremore, Oklahoma. Courtesy photo

Separately, the chief executive officer of the facility responded to an inquiry by saying: “Thank you for bringing this to my attention, the sign has been removed."

The labeling of COVID-19 as the “Kung Flu” has been linked to harassment of Asian Americans as the President of the United States has repeatedly used the term during political rallies and public speeches. He's also called it the "Chinese virus" in reference to the disease's origins in China.

The Claremore Indian Hospital lies within Cherokee Nation territory in the northeastern part of Oklahoma. It is run directly by the IHS, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The first person in Oklahoma who succumbed to COVID-19 was Merle Dry, a Cherokee citizen who passed away on March 18 and was the earliest confirmed coronavirus death in the state. On Sunday, the tribe mourned the loss of Edna “Dolly” Raper, a fluent speaker of ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ, Tsalagi Gawonihisdi.

"When we lose our language, we lose our identity, and COVID-19 has been the single most threat to our language in this generation, taking from us speakers such as Dolly," Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr. said in a statement. "Dolly’s life and her death are deeply meaningful to her family, community and our Nation."

"We can give her life and passing even more meaning by recommitting ourselves to language preservation and keeping each other safe by wearing masks, social distancing and listening to health experts so that we do not lose any more of our most precious resources," Hoskin said of Raper, who was 67 when she passed.

Cherokee Nation mourns the loss of one of its fluent Cherokee speakers and elders to COVID-19. Our thoughts and prayers...

Posted by Cherokee Nation on Sunday, July 5, 2020

As of July 4, the latest date for which data is available from the IHS, more than 21,000 tests across the nation have returned positive for COVID-19. The data reflects 100 percent of tests administered at federally-managed facilities, such as Claremore.

According to the data, more than 1,500 COVID-19 cases have been recorded in the Oklahoma City Area, which serves the states of Oklahoma and Kansas, along with portions of Texas. Overall, 2.7 percent of tests in the region have returned positive, which is one of the lowest rates within the IHS.

Indian Health Service Statement
American Indians and Alaska Natives are at high risk for flu complication. Every year, the Indian Health Service communicates to its communities the risks of the flu, especially to young people and the elderly, and encourages everyone six months of age or older to get their flu shot.

A 2016 flu campaign at Claremore Indian Hospital had good intentions when communicating this important message but the materials that accompanied their initiative could be viewed as being offensive. One poster from the 2016 flu season recently became visible when furniture in the facility was moved thereby displaying the image. The Indian Health Service regrets that this poster was displayed and offended individuals. Claremore Indian Hospital employees have checked the entirety of the hospital to ensure that no more campaign materials remained in the hospital. To our knowledge, the campaign materials have not been used since the 2016-2017 flu season.

At the Indian Health Service our aim is to foster an environment that is free of discrimination and harassment The IHS does not condone campaigns that demean any racial or ethnic group and we apologize to anyone we offended with this campaign.

Join the Conversation

Related Stories
Chuck Hoskin: New grants assist Cherokee community organizations in age of #COVID19 (July 6, 2020)
Republican lawmaker finds way to blame tribes for Trump's delay in #COVID19 relief (July 2, 2020)
Native Sun News Today: Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe sues Trump over #Coronavirus checkpoints (July 2, 2020)
'Left out and left behind': Trump administration faces questions about #COVID19 in Indian Country (July 1, 2020)
Harold Frazier: The 'American' faces carved onto our sacred land (June 30, 2020)
Montana Free Press: Blackfeet Nation closes popular park entrance due to #COVID19 (June 30, 2020)
Judge deals major blow to tribes in dispute over delayed COVID-19 relief (June 29, 2020)
Chuck Hoskin: Stay safe amid #COVID19 and vote in June 30 election (June 29, 2020)
Rusty Pickens and Geoffrey Roth: #Coronavirus shows why Oklahoma tribes need Medicaid now (June 29, 2020)
Native Sun News Today: #Coronavirus won't stop debut of film featuring Native leaders (June 29, 2020)
'Wear your mask, do your part': Tribal citizens in New Mexico bear brunt of coronavirus (June 26, 2020)
Native Sun News Today: Tribes obtain another court order for delayed #Coronavirus relief (June 26, 2020)
Native Sun News Today: Black Hills Powwow cancelled due to #Coronavirus (June 25, 2020
Indian Health Service cites strides in era of #COVID19 as challenges linger (June 22, 2020)
'I feel fine': Legendary activist Suzan Shown Harjo on living with COVID-19 (June 22, 2020)
Cronkite News: Native Americans address mental and behavioral health as #COVID19 wears on (June 22, 2020)
Native Sun News Today: Moldy #COVID19 equipment reportedly used at tribal health center (June 22, 2020)
Native Sun News Today: Census 2020 returns to Navajo Nation in era of #Coronavirus (June 19, 2020)
Gila River Indian Community mourns loss of casino employee to #COVID19 (June 19, 2020)
Cronkite News: #COVID19 cases shatter daily record set four days earlier (June 18, 2020)
'We got these monies late': Trump administration makes tribes wait for #COVID19 relief (June 17, 2020)
Rep. Tom Cole: America and the global #COVID19 pandemic response (June 16, 2020
New Mexico In Depth: Hospital separated newborns from Native mothers amid #Coronavirus (June 15, 2020)
Cronkite News: Native American communities hit harder by #Coronavirus than some states (June 15, 2020)
'Patently unfair': Judge won't let Trump administration delay COVID-19 relief again (June 12, 2020)
#COVID19 exposes inadequate funding levels at Indian Health Service (June 11, 2020)
Native Sun News Today: #Coronavirus quarantined without food at Pine Ridge (June 11, 2020)
Elizabeth Cook-Lynn: Abusing power through ignorance in the age of #COVID19 (June 11, 2020)
Treasury in spotlight as tribes await COVID-19 relief promised months ago (June 10, 2020)
Congress returns to Indian Country's agenda in age of COVID-19 (June 9, 2020)
Native Sun News Today: A consolation prize amid the #COVID19 pandemic (June 9, 2020)
Trump administration lands in trouble for threatening tribe's sovereignty (June 8, 2020)
Rep. Markwayne Mullin: Together, we will get through this (June 8, 2020)
Native Sun News Today: #COVID19 protocols portend census undercount on tribal lands (June 8, 2020)
Kaiser Health News: Tribal nations preserve #COVID19 restrictions to preserve their cultures (June 8, 2020)
Rep. Tom Cole: Communist China's #Coronavirus cover-up (June 8, 2020)
Cronkite News: Curfew curtailing casinos? Don't bet on it, tribes say (June 5, 2020)
'An utter disaster': Trump administration threatens to deny COVID-19 funds to tribes (June 4, 2020)
Underscore.news: Tribal communities torn apart by the #Coronavirus (June 4, 2020)
Native Sun News Today: Kristi Noem calls on Trump to end #Coronavirus checkpoints (June 4, 2020)
Cronkite News: Navajo Nation cancels July 4 celebrations due to #COVID19 pandemic (June 4, 2020)
Native women confront #MMIW task force over Trump's role in crisis (June 3, 2020)
Native Sun News Today: Lakota Nation Invitational on hold due to #Coronavirus (June 3, 2020)
Cronkite News: Tribal leaders question reopening at Grand Canyon amid #COVID19 pandemic (June 3, 2020)
'Incompetence': Trump administration warns of delayed #COVID19 relief for tribes (June 2, 2020)
Doug George-Kanentiio: On the American uprising of 2020 (June 1, 2020)
Chuck Hoskin: Why I support State Question 802 Medicaid expansion (June 1, 2020)
Cronkite News: Navajo Nation #COVID19 curve flattens as leaders fear post-holiday spike in cases (June 1, 2020)
Native Sun News Today: Navajo would use #CARESAct money to create water system (June 1, 2020)
Native Sun News Today Editorial: It is time to start preparing for the upcoming elections (June 1, 2020)
'Absolutely maddening': Trump administration falters on #COVID19 relief promised to tribes (May 29, 2020)
'Am I cutting out again?': Missing and murdered task force off to shaky start amid COVID-19 challenges (May 28, 2020)
COVID-19 hinders accurate Census count in Indian Country (May 27, 2020)
'We are thrilled': Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe hails victory for sovereignty (May 27, 2020)
'Bring Kozee home': Vigil held for Native woman murdered on Winnebago Reservation (May 26, 2020)
'We must remain diligent and prepared': Coronavirus continues to take heavy toll on tribes (May 26, 2020)
Native Sun News Today: A consolation prize amid the #COVID19 pandemic (May 26, 2020)
Cronkite News: Treasury formula for #COVID19 funding shortchanges some tribes (May 26, 2020)
'Callous and dangerous': Tribes see #COVID19 spitting incidents amid rise in cases (May 25, 2020)
Chuck Hoskin: Cherokee Nation makes strategic plan to reopen amid #COVID19 (May 25, 2020)
Native Sun News Today: Prairie Edge adapts during #COVID19 pandemic (May 25, 2020)
Clara Caufield: Going to the clouds to learn the Cheyenne language (May 25, 2020)
YES! Magazine: Gardening advice from Indigenous food growers (May 25, 2020)
Native Sun News Today: #COVID19 checkpoints on reservations to remain (May 22, 2020)
ProPublica: Former Trump aide provided faulty masks to Indian Health Service (May 22, 2020)
Elizabeth Cook-Lynn: Mass burials teach same lessons in era of #Coronavirua (May 22, 2020)
Republican governor takes #Coronavirus checkpoints to Trump (May 21, 2020)
On South Dakota's Sioux reservations, checkpoints save lives (May 21, 2020)
Native Sun News Today: Northern Cheyenne warriors challenge tribal government (May 21, 2020)
Cronkite News: Powwows move online to keep Indigenous communities together amid #Coronavirus (May 21, 2020)
Kaiser Health News: How a company misappropriated Native culture to sell health insurance (May 21, 2020)
Native Sun News Today Editorial: Looking ahead to the new normal amid #COVID19 (May 21, 2020)
'You're gonna have a lot of trouble': Judge trashes Trump over changes in tribal homelands policy (May 20, 2020)
'You're gonna have a lot of trouble': Judge trashes Trump over changes in tribal homelands policy (May 20, 2020)
Native Sun News Today: Tribal lawsuits prompt release of #COVID19 money (May 20, 2020)
'Frustrating': Indian Country forced to wait again for coronavirus relief (May 19, 2020)
Native Sun News Today: A consolation prize amid the #COVID19 pandemic (May 19, 2020)
Rep. Tom Cole: The People's House can show up during #COVID19 pandemic (May 19, 2020)
Elizabeth Cook-Lynn: State power runs amok during #Coronavirus crisis (May 19, 2020)
'Arbitrary and capricious': Study casts doubt on Trump administration's COVID-19 payments to tribes (May 18, 2020)
Native Sun News Today: #Coronavirus checkpoints on reservations point of discussion (May 18, 2020)
Chuck Hoskin: Essential #COVID19 relief dollars finally come to Indian Country (May 18, 2020)
Anunkasan Was'te: South Dakota flattened the #Coronavirus curve in spite of our governor (May 18, 2020)
Trump administration's coronavirus efforts in Indian Country plagued by lack of accurate data (May 14, 2020)
Alexander Mallory: Tribes have full legal authority to use checkpoints to safeguard health (May 13, 2020)
Ronson Chee: COVID-19 pandemic exposes long-standing issues on Navajo Nation (May 13, 2020)
Sean McCabe: How should Native Nations spend COVID-19 funds? (May 13, 2020)
'It’s really scary for us': Oglala Sioux Tribe orders lockdown after COVID-19 hits reservation (May 12, 2020)
'We waited for weeks': Tribal governments in line for additional coronavirus relief (May 12, 2020)
Clara Caufield: Montana to begin phased 're-opening' amid #COVID19 pandemic (May 12, 2020)
'I'm protecting my people': Tribal citizens defend coronavirus checkpoints amid threat from state (May 11, 2020)
Supreme Court takes up sovereignty case amid coronavirus crisis in Indian Country (May 11, 2020)
Marcella LeBeau: Vulnerable Native Americans need protection from COVID-19 (May 11, 2020)
Tim Giago: Overcoming the ignorance of South Dakota's governors (May 11, 2020)
Trump's transparency? Coronavirus relief formula subject of intense discussion in Indian Country (May 8, 2020)
Native American communities hit hard by COVID-19 (May 8, 2020)
Coronavirus relief funds finally going out to Indian Country after long wait (May 7, 2020)
Donovan White: Respect Native people, Native nations, and Indian sovereignty (May 7, 2020)
'A slap in the face for Indian Country': Tribes decry Trump administration's delay in $8 billion in coronavirus relief (May 6, 2020)
President of Oglala Sioux Tribe faces legal crisis amid coronavirus pandemic (May 6, 2020)
Cronkite News: Tribal pageant winner ships homemade masks across Indian Country (May 6, 2020)
Trump heads to Native American roundtable amid heat on $8 billion in #Coronavirus relief (May 5, 2020)
'We are a forgotten people': Native candidate struggles to be heard amid #COVID19 pandemic (May 4, 2020)
President of Oglala Sioux Tribe admits arrest during #Coronavirus crisis (May 4, 2020)
Chuck Hoskin: Even during social distancing, Cherokee culture connects us (May 4, 2020)
Native Sun News Today Editorial: 'Katy Bar the Door!' (May 4, 2020)
'We need to do more for our tribes': $8 billion in coronavirus relief missing in action (April 30, 2020)
'He got demoted': Trump administration moves Indian Country official out of White House (April 29, 2020)
Judge sides with tribal governments in first round of $8 billion coronavirus dispute (April 28, 2020)
Social Distance Powwow founders apologize for 'Smoke Signals' broadcast with unexpected guest (April 27, 2020)
Tim Giago: Will things ever be the same? (April 27, 2020)
Chuck Hoskin: Helping Cherokee small businesses survive (April 27, 2020)
Donovan White: Standing up for Native Americans and Native American jobs (April 27, 2020)
Robert Starbard: Fear and Hope - The view From Hoonah, Alaska (April 27, 2020)
Tribes sue Trump administration after being excluded from #Coronavirus relief program (April 27, 2020)
Cronkite News: Basketball star Michelle Tom helps her people fight #Coronavirus (April 27, 2020)
Montana Free Press: Court blocks Keystone XL Pipeline water crossings (April 27, 2020)
'Finally': Tribal gaming in line for coronavirus relief amid stiff competition for resources (April 24, 2020)
Indian Country set for historic showdown in fight for $8 billion in COVID-19 relief (April 23, 2020)
Oregon tribes' primary engines – casinos – stalled by COVID-19 (April 23, 2020)
Indian Country awaits decision on $8 billion in coronavirus relief money (April 21, 2020)
NABI cancellation means much more to Native American community than just loss of basketball (April 21, 2020)
'Broken promises': Tribes decry leak of private data from $8 billion coronavirus relief fund (April 20, 2020)
Alaska Native corporations outpace tribes in race for $8 billion in coronavirus relief (April 17, 2020)
'A robbery happening in broad daylight': Indian Country in revolt over $8 billion coronavirus fund (April 16, 2020)
Family holds onto hope while mother fights for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19 (April 16, 2020)
Coronavirus takes higher toll on Native Americans in hard hit region (April 15, 2020)
Alaska Native corporations in line for billions in coronavirus relief promised to tribes (April 14, 2020)
'We keep getting left out': Tribal gaming remains locked out of $349 billion coronavirus relief program (April 14, 2020)
Native Sun News Today Editorial: Publishing during a time of a pandemic (April 14, 2020)
Tribes rush to respond to new coronavirus emergency created by Trump administration (April 13, 2020)
Arne Vainio: Zoongide'iwin is the Ojibwe word for courage (April 13, 2020)
Rep. Tom Cole: Oklahomans will overcome the #Coronavirus (April 13, 2020)
Cronkite News: Businesses running out of time with #Coronavirus relief program (April 13, 2020)
VIDEO: Interview with Jonathan Nez of Navajo Nation and Chuck Hoskin Jr. of Cherokee Nation (April 9, 2020)
COVID-19 and American Racism: A Mohawk Perspective (April 9, 2020)
'At this rate, the entire tribe will be extinct': Zuni Pueblo sees COVID-19 cases double as first death is confirmed (April 8, 2020)
Rapid coronavirus tests finally coming to Indian Country as cases continue to rise (April 7, 2020)
Arne Vainio: 'A great sickness has been visited upon us as human beings' (April 7, 2020)
Montana Free Press: Governor OKs Keystone XL construction despite #Coronavirus threat (April 7, 2020)
Cronkite News: Tribal response to 2020 Census lags far behind rest of nation amid #COVID19 (April 6, 2020)
Cronkite News: 'Overwhelming' demand on first day of $349 billion #Coronavirus program (April 6, 2020)
'We need clarification now': Indian gaming industry being shut out of coronavirus relief program (April 3, 2020)
Cronkite News: Trump administration finally closes Grand Canyon after weeks of #COVID19 complaints (April 2, 2020)
'We need the money right now': Tribes await billions of dollars in coronavirus relief (April 1, 2020)
Chuck Hoskin: In times of need, the Cherokee Nation does not stand down (April 1, 2020)
Rep. Tom Cole: More #Coronavirus help is coming to Indian Country (April 1, 2020)
Rep. Markwayne Mullin: The CARES Act brings #Coronavirus relief for tribes (April 1, 2020)
Cronkite News: Lawmakers join Navajo Nation in seeking closure of Grand Canyon due to #Coronavirus (April 1, 2020)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention faulted for delay in Indian Country coronavirus funds (March 31, 2020)
Cronkite News: As COVID-19 cases rise, so do hospital worries about equipment (March 31, 2020)
'We're building faith': Social Distance Powwow brings Indian Country together despite coronavirus (March 30, 2020)
Supreme Court churns along with Indian Country case amid coronavirus crisis (March 30, 2020)
Tim Giago: World War II and coronavirus pandemic have similarities (March 30, 2020)
Cronkite News: $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill includes $10 billion for Indian Country (March 30, 2020)
Montana Free Press: Glacier National Park closes over coronavirus concerns (March 30, 2020)
Shane Morigeau: We should do more to protect Montanans (March 27, 2020)
'We were asking for a lot more': Lawmakers fought hard for Indian Country coronavirus relief funds (March 26, 2020)
Coronavirus relief coming to Indian Country with passage of bipartisan legislation (March 26, 2020)
Tribes face great need and don't have enough resources to respond to the coronavirus pandemic (March 26, 2020)
Rep. Tom Cole: Fighting an invisible enemy in the #Coronavirus (March 25, 2020)
Rep. Markwayne Mullin: Resources for those impacted by #COVID19 (March 25, 2020)
Indian Health Service works to distribute more coronavirus funding to tribes as cases continue to grow (March 24, 2020)
Kevin Abourezk: Indian Country can't be left behind in coronavirus crisis (March 24, 2020)
Cronkite News: Republicans and Democrats feud over #coronavirus stimulus (March 24, 2020)
Urban Indian couple helps community amid coronavirus crisis (March 23, 2020)
Trump administration moves slowly on coronavirus funding for Indian Country (March 23, 2020)
PHOTOS: Lakota man helps fight the coronavirus (March 22, 2020
Montana Free Press: Neighboring counties ask Yellowstone National Park to close (March 23, 2020)
Chuck Hoskin: Safety and health are priority for Cherokee Nation (March 20, 2020)
'Lives are at risk': Coronavirus cases continue to grow in Indian Country as tribes push for action in Washington (March 19, 2020)
COVID-19 in Indian Country: Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kansas) goes into self-quarantine (March 19, 2020)
COVID-19 in Indian Country: Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma) goes into self-quarantine (March 19, 2020)
Doug George-Kanentiio: How the Mohawks responded to historical plagues (March 19, 2020)
Rep. Tom Cole: Flatten the #Coronavirus curve (March 19, 2020)
Rep. Markwayne Mullin: Do your part to flatten the #COVID19 curve (March 19, 2020)
Cronkite News: COVID-19 relief bill clears Congress as lawmakers prepare new package (March 19, 2020)
David Korten: Why coronavirus is humanity's wakeup call (March 19, 2020)
Indian Country plunges into uncertainty as coronavirus reaches their communities (March 18, 2020)
'The fight is here and now': Sacred site debate returns to nation's capital amid familiar challenges (March 12, 2020)
'We are staying on top of it': Oglala Sioux Tribe declares coronavirus emergency (March 11, 2020)
Tribes test Trump administration's commitment with coronavirus crisis (March 9, 2020)
United South and Eastern Tribes cancel D.C. meeting over coronavirus concerns (March 9, 2020)
Indian Country Today: Some say go while others say no after COVID-19 disruption (March 6, 2020)
NIGA keeps close watch on coronavirus ahead of annual convention (March 6, 2020)
Indian Health Service nominee in limbo amid another high-profile crisis (March 5, 2020)
Umatilla Tribes reopen casino after addressing coronavirus (March 5, 2020)
Indian Country Today: Warnings for tribes as coronavirus spreads (March 3, 2020)
Umatilla Tribes shut down casino and takes precautions as coronavirus hits Indian Country (March 2, 2020)
Rep. Tom Cole: Ready to combat coronavirus (February 19, 2020)
Indian Country Today: Risk from virus called 'very low' by health officials (January 29, 2020)
Advertisement
Tags
Trending in News
More Headlines