Marshallese community

Courtesy / ACOM

Nineteen Pacific Islander organizations in the U.S., including two in Arkansas — which successfully lobbied Congress to restore Medicaid benefits to their people late last year — held the first of two virtual press conferences last week to frame their struggle for civil rights and social justice under long-standing U.S. treaties.

Courtesy / Arkansas Story Vault

In the spring of 2020, five student interns at the David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History began working on a series of short documentaries about the Marshallese community in Northwest Arkansas. Because of the pandemic, they had to alter their plans and produced a podcast instead. All six episodes of the Arkansas Atoll Podcast are available now. 

Courtesy / University of Hawaii

Neal Palafox M.D. is a professor in the John Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center who has worked for over a quarter of a century to improve health outcomes for Pacific Islanders, including Marshallese. Palafox discusses his ongoing National Cancer Institute grant-funded research, the cancer incidence in the Marshall Islands — a ground zero U.S. Cold War nuclear bomb test site — and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Courtesy / Faith Laukon

Faith Laukon's father, Adelbert, died on July 20, 2020 due to complications from COVID-19. He was one of the more than 50 Marshallese community members who passed away during the height of the coronavirus outbreak in Northwest Arkansas this spring and summer. Laukon says the pandemic has left behind a devastating legacy in the tight-knit community.

Courtesy / Albious Latior

Marshallese community activists have been busy registering dozens of Marshallese Americans so they can vote in the upcoming election. Albious Latior spent several days personally going to people's homes to deliver and collect registration forms ahead of the Oct. 5 voter registration deadline. He says the Marshallese community needs to have a say in electing local, state and national leaders.

J. Froelich / KUAF

A new food pantry specifically for Marshallese families in Northwest Arkansas has opened. The pantry, which stocks foods that Pacific Islanders prefer and need, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was established a few weeks ago by Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese, headquartered in Springdale, and is coordinated by Faith Laukon.

The governor, lawmakers and community leaders are urging the Arkansas Legislative Council to meet and approve nearly $7 million in funding for a COVID-19 response plan specifically targeting the state's Latinx and Marshallese communities, which have been disproportionately affected by the outbreak. The plan includes testing, contact tracing and enhanced case management.

J. Froelich / KUAF

 

In part two of our report, we learn more about the CDC team's investigation into why a disproportionate number of Marshallese migrants in Arkansas have been sickened or died from COVID-19. Marshallese physician, Dr. Sheldon Riklon, who helped guide the study, and Republic of the Marshall Islands Secretary of Health and Human Services Jack Neidenthal provide cultural context and reaction to the findings. For the full report from the CDC, click here.

 

Venceremos, a local social justice organization focused on the rights of poultry workers, will be delivering a letter to Governor Asa Hutchinson Wednesday in Little Rock.

J. Froelich / KUAF

The Marshallese Educational Initiative, in cooperation with the Republic of the Marshall Islands Consulate in Springdale, are joining forces today to deliver critically needed food and supplies to Marshallese families under quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a new report issued by a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team, which recently deployed an investigation in Northwest Arkansas, Pacific Islanders are disproportionately affected by the virus. 

 

Pages