Film Club: ‘Covid-19 Devastated Many Communities. But Not Cherokee Nation.’

Film Club: ‘Covid-19 Devastated Many Communities. But Not Cherokee Nation.’

Students in U.S. high schools can get free digital access to The New York Times until Sept. 1, 2021.

Covid-19 Devastated Many Communities. But Not Cherokee Nation.” is a five-minute film that touches on themes of community, history, leadership and justice. The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma has kept its Covid-19 death rate lower than most American communities have — even though Native Americans are almost twice as likely to die from Covid-19 as white people are. In the video, The Times explores reasons for the Cherokees’ success — including strong leadership, a long history of being self-reliant when the federal government fails to provide support, and a commitment to putting community first.

One year ago this week, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic. What lessons can we learn from how Cherokee Nation handled Covid-19?


1. Watch the short film above. While you watch, you might take notes using our Film Club Double-Entry Journal (PDF) to help you remember specific moments.

2. After watching, think about these questions:

  • What questions do you still have?

  • What connections can you make between this film and your own life or experience? Why? Does this film remind you of anything else you’ve read or seen? If so, how and why?

3. An additional challenge | Respond to the essential question at the top of this post: What can we learn from how Cherokee Nation has handled the coronavirus pandemic?

4. Next, join the conversation by clicking on the comment button and posting in the box that opens on the right. (Students 13 and older are invited to comment, although teachers of younger students are welcome to post what their students have to say.)

5. After you have posted, try reading back to see what others have said, then respond to someone else by posting another comment. Use the “Reply” button or the @ symbol to address that student directly.

Want More Film Club?

See all the films in this series.

Read our list of practical teaching ideas, along with responses from students and teachers, for how you can use these documentaries in the classroom.