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The Influenza Epidemic of 1918–1920 among the Navajos: Marginality, Mortality, and the Implications of Some Neglected Eyewitness Accounts

The Influenza Epidemic of 1918–1920 among the Navajos: Marginality, Mortality, and the... The Influenza Epidemic of 1918­1920 among the Navajos Marginality, Mortality, and the Implications of Some Neglected Eyewitness Accounts Benjamin R. Brady and Howard M. Bahr The influenza pandemic of 1918­19 was "the most widespread disease event in human history." It "killed more people in a year than the Black Death of the Middle Ages killed in a century."1 "Nothing else--no infection, no war, no famine--has ever killed so many in as short a period." Perhaps one-fourth of the earth's 1.8 billion people were infected, and over 50 million (2.8 percent) died from the disease and its complications.2 Some populations suffered higher mortality than others. Across the globe, indigenous peoples were much at risk; remote indigenous populations were especially vulnerable. Many Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Africans--tribal peoples having more or less "naive" immune systems--"were not just decimated but sometimes annihilated" by the influenza. Native Americans "suffered hideously," with mortality rates four times higher than in the wider population.3 Studies on mortality differentials in the 1918 pandemic have identified several "associated factors" or "risk factors."4 Taken together, these characteristics comprise a framework within which the experience of particular populations may be interpreted. In this article, the experience of the http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The American Indian Quarterly University of Nebraska Press

The Influenza Epidemic of 1918–1920 among the Navajos: Marginality, Mortality, and the Implications of Some Neglected Eyewitness Accounts

The American Indian Quarterly , Volume 38 (4) – Dec 21, 2014

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Publisher
University of Nebraska Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 The University of Nebraska Press.
ISSN
1534-1828
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Abstract

The Influenza Epidemic of 1918­1920 among the Navajos Marginality, Mortality, and the Implications of Some Neglected Eyewitness Accounts Benjamin R. Brady and Howard M. Bahr The influenza pandemic of 1918­19 was "the most widespread disease event in human history." It "killed more people in a year than the Black Death of the Middle Ages killed in a century."1 "Nothing else--no infection, no war, no famine--has ever killed so many in as short a period." Perhaps one-fourth of the earth's 1.8 billion people were infected, and over 50 million (2.8 percent) died from the disease and its complications.2 Some populations suffered higher mortality than others. Across the globe, indigenous peoples were much at risk; remote indigenous populations were especially vulnerable. Many Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Africans--tribal peoples having more or less "naive" immune systems--"were not just decimated but sometimes annihilated" by the influenza. Native Americans "suffered hideously," with mortality rates four times higher than in the wider population.3 Studies on mortality differentials in the 1918 pandemic have identified several "associated factors" or "risk factors."4 Taken together, these characteristics comprise a framework within which the experience of particular populations may be interpreted. In this article, the experience of the

Journal

The American Indian QuarterlyUniversity of Nebraska Press

Published: Dec 21, 2014

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