Since the outbreak of COVID-19, there have been over six million confirmed cases in the United States, disrupting American work, families, and lives. However, one group is particularly vulnerable: Native Americans, specifically those living on reservations, are 5.3 times more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 than white people.
To understand these disparities, it is important to look at the history of the United States’ relationship with Native Americans. Despite treaties preventing them from doing so, the federal government stole Native American land and relocated thousands of individuals throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century. Today, reservations are owned by the federal government, meaning that Native Americans cannot utilize the resources on their land without the permission of the government. This is just one factor that contributes to the poverty on reservations: Native Americans are unable to make money off of the land that they own. Native Americans living on reservations are less likely to have access to running water, have a larger household size, and are more likely to rely on public transport, all of which contribute to a higher infection rate.
US News and World Report released their annual list of best colleges in September and the usual suspects held steady at the top of the list. Princeton retained its spot as the top national university, while Williams was named as the premier liberal arts college and UCLA took the title of highest ranked public university in the United States. While many of the overall top spots comprise of private schools on the coasts, the public university rankings begin to tell a different story: 20% of the top fifty public schools in this year’s list are in the Midwest.
The 2020 rankings paint a picture of what has been a long and storied tradition of excellence of public higher education institutions in the Midwestern United States. One-third of US public universities that are members of the Association of American Universities are in the Midwest, tied with the Western US for most of any region and double the number of AAU public university members in the South and the East. Many of these universities can lay claim to notable achievements of their own, as the University of Wisconsin-Madison has graduated the largest number of Fortune 500 CEOs, the University of Michigan recently produced the most Fulbright Scholars of any public institution, and Purdue University has the highest share of American astronauts as alumni outside the military academies.