Indigenous Peoples & Pandemics Conference

Welcome to the Indigenous Peoples & Pandemics Conference and Pre-meeting Workshop held at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters in Oslo, Norway.

The sponsoring project, Social Science Meets Biology: Indigenous People and Severe Influenza Outcomes, was conceived of and chosen to be part of this year’s CAS programs before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived on the scene and, largely due to that pandemic, it quickly expanded from a focus on influenza to more general examinations of the impacts of any infectious disease pandemics on indigenous peoples. Not surprisingly, COVID-19 has become a secondary focus. Fellows and short-term visitors associated with the project have come from Norway, the United States, New Zealand, Mexico, Australia, Canada, and Sweden.

This conference is the highlight of our 10½-month program and we think you will find much of interest. In addition to the countries represented by our Fellows and short-term visitors, we have speakers and participants from Portugal, Peru, South Africa, Denmark, Nigeria, Nepal, and India, almost half of whom are members of indigenous groups. Our keynote talk will be given by Dr. Malcolm King, Professor of Community Health and Epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada and member of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation in Canada.

The talks you will hear have been divided into seven basic themes: infectious diseases in historical indigenous peoples, issues faced by indigenous students during the COVID-19 pandemic, communicating about health, the consequences of and responses to pandemics in indigenous communities, drivers of health inequalities affecting indigenous groups, healthcare implications for indigenous communities, and strategies to reduce inequitable services.

We are also holding a pre-meeting workshop intended to allow indigenous peoples from all over the world to discuss issues they have faced in their home cultures and to share ideas with others about modifying the negative impacts of present and past pandemics in their communities. This workshop will be followed up with a panel discussion at the end of the meeting at which all participants can contribute their thoughts and suggestions.

We wish you all an enjoyable and stimulating time here in Oslo!


Download full programme with abstracts as PDF here >



Past segments

Indigenous Peoples & Pandemics Pre-Meeting Workshop


We have designed the pre-meeting workshop for the purpose of fostering communication and building networks among indigenous participants in the conference, who have been drawn from countries and ethnic groups all over the world.

The workshop will be held from 9:30 AM to 3 PM on Saturday, 13 May. The morning session is intended to provide an informal (no slides) opportunity for all participants to provide an introduction to who they are and health-related issues that they think are especially important in their home culture. Following a buffet lunch, the afternoon session will focus on discussion of potential strategies and policies that might help to address the issues brought up in the morning session. Insights from this workshop will be discussed further among all meeting participants in the panel discussion, “Moving from pandemic science to policy”, to be held at the end of the meeting.

Indigenous Peoples & Pandemics Conference Day 1



9:00-9:30  Registration. 1st Floor, Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters

9:30-9:45  Welcome – Svenn-Erik Mamelund. Kavli Hall

9:45-10:45  Keynote lecture (Dr. Malcolm King), “Indigenous peoples and pandemics: Historical and current perspectives from Turtle Island”. Kavli Hall

10:45-11:00  Break

11:00-11:45 Contributed Session I – Infectious disease epidemics in historical indigenous groups I, Kavli Hall

  • 11:00-11:15 ‘An apocalyptic angel’: Shifting patterns of endless disease and death in the Sault Ste. Marie borderlands, 1783-1883 – Karl S Hele
  • 11:15-11:30 Influenza in Greenland, 1914-1921: untold stories and diverging patterns -- Mathias Mølbak Ingholt, Lone Simonsen, and Maarten van Wijhe
  • 11:30-11:45 Age-specific mortality as a result of isolation in the 1918-20 influenza pandemic: The ‘Spanish’ flu in Kautokeino and Karasjok, Norway – Ingrid Hellem Nygard, Hilde Leikny Sommerseth, Gerardo Chowell, Sushma Dahal, and Svenn-Erik Mamelund)

11:45-13:15 Lunch. Dining room, 1st floor, Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters

13:15-14:00 Contributed Session II – Infectious disease epidemics in historical indigenous groups II, Kavli Hall

  • 13:15-13:30 Social distancing in the age of assimilation: The influenza of 1918-1920 in Indian Country – Mikaëla M Adams
  • 13:30-13:45 The 1918 influenza pandemic among indigenous groups in Alaska: Preliminary results – Amanda Wissler and Lisa Sattenspiel
  • 13:45-14:00 A demographic comparison of deaths by indigenous status during the 1918 influenza pandemic in Alaska – Emma Tinker-Fortel and Lisa Sattenspiel

14:00-14:15  Break

14:15-15:00 Contributed Session III – Student characteristics during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kavli Hall

  • 14:15-14:30 Investigating attitudes and behaviors of university students towards the COVID-19 pandemic in a predominantly Indigenous population in Mexico: A survey study – Elienai Joaquin Damas, Sushma Dahal, Ana Gloria Rivera Aguilar, Juana Garcia Morales, Lisa Sattenspiel, Svenn-Erik Mamelund, and Gerardo Chowell
  • 14:30-14:45 Intercultural universities in Mexico and COVID-19: Learning at a distance and from below –Guillermo López Verela and Maria Manzano-Munguía
  • 14:45-15:00 Returning to school during Dikos Ntsaaigii (COVID-19): Effects of the pandemic on Diné (Navajo) student learning and mental health – Joshuaa Allison-Burbank

15:00-15:15  Break

15:15-16:00 Contributed Session IV – Communication about health interventions and education, Kavli Hall

  • 15:15-15:30 Global perspectives of Indigenous wellness, and Wabanaki narratives of community-teachings during COVID-19 pandemic – Juan C Rodriguez
  • 15:30-15:45 Indigenous knowledge to curb COVID-19 in India: Collective participation and cultural transmission through social media – Nandini Tank
  • 15:45-16:00 Theatre-for-Development as additional information panacea on rural dwellers in Nigeria during a pandemic: Lessons from COVID-19 – Charles Okwuowulu, Ameh Dennis Akoh, Osakue Stevenson Omoera, Casmir Onyemuchara, Charles Emokpae, Christopher Akpa, and Michael Chinda

16:00-17:00  Concert, Karl Seglem Band, 1st floor Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters

17:00 –   Conference Dinner, Dining Room, 1st floor Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters


Download full programme with abstracts as PDF here >


Indigenous Peoples & Pandemics Conference Day 2



9:00-9:15  Arrive

9:15-10:00 Contributed Session V – Consequences of and responses to pandemics in indigenous communities, Kavli Hall

  • 9:15-9:30 Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on livestock smallholders among indigenous farmers in Northern Kwa-Zulu Natal Province of South Africa – Olusegun O Ikusika, Conference T Mpendulo, Sabelo C Gajana, and Fabian N Fon
  • 9:30-9:45 COVID-19 and climate change resilience among Shawi and Ashaninka Indigenous communities in Peru – Victoria Chicmana-Zapata, Carol Zavaleta-Cortijo, Ceci Anza-Ramirez, Ingrid Arotoma-Rojas
  • 9:45-10:00 COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Indigenous peoples: a case study from Peru – Ingrid Arotoma-Rojas, Carol Zavaleta-Cortijo, Victoria Chicmana, Cecilia Anza-Ramirez, and The Covid Observatories Team

10:00-10:15  Break

10:15-11:00 Contributed Session VI – Drivers of health inequities, Kavli Hall

  • 10:15-10:30 BMI as a risk factor for severe outcomes during the 1918 influenza pandemic – Lauren E Steele, Conor J Bloxham, Katina D Hulme, Eliesandra C Noye, Kyle Macauslane, Georgina McCallum, Melanie Wu, Agnes Carolin, Margarida Pereira, and Kirsty R Short
  • 10:30-10:45 Ethnic health inequities have persisted across a century of pandemics in Aotearoa New Zealand – Michael Baker
  • 10:45-11:00 Characterizing the COVID-19 diagnosis and deaths by indigenous status among hospitalized cases in Chile, 2020 – Sushma Dahal, Iris Delgado, Lisa Sattenspiel, Svenn-Erik Mamelund, and Gerardo Chowell

11:00-11:15  Break

11:15-12:00 Contributed Session VII – Healthcare implications for indigenous communities, Kavli Hall

  • 11:15-11:30 How we work with Indigenous communities: Lessons from the Qanuinngitsiarutiksait and the Fisher River Traditional Gathering studies – Josée G Lavoie and Halle Cochrane
  • 11:30-11:45 Responses to COVID-19 in Indigenous Canada: Learning from the experiences – Alexandra King and Malcolm King
  • 11:45-12:00 Justice implications of government responses on health and food security for Indigenous peoples during the COVID-19 outbreak in Peru – Victoria Chicmana-Zapata and Ingrid Arotoma-Rojas

12:00-13:30 Lunch. Dining room, 1st floor, Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters

13:30-14:15 Contributed Session VIII – lessening inequitable services, Kavli Hall

  • 13:30-13:45 Vulnerable Whanau in rural communities: Living through COVID-19 – Keri Ropiha
  • 13:45-14:00 The political determinants of health: Indigenous peoples, Canada, and the pandemic – Jeremy Patzer and Kiera Ladner
  • 14:00-14:15 Cross-jurisdictional pandemic management: Providers speaking on the experience of Nunavut Inuit accessing services in Manitoba during the COVID-19 pandemic – Josée G Lavoie, Wayne Clark, Leah McDonnell, Judy Clark, Grace Clark, Tagaak Evaluardjuk-Palmer, Arvardluk Kusugak, Nuqallaq Brown, and Marti Ford

14:15-14:30  Break

14:30-16:00 Panel discussion “Moving from pandemic science to policy” (leaders to be decided), Kavli Hall

After the panel – Wrap-up


Download full programme with abstracts as PDF here >