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Indigenous farmworkers lacked access to resources, information in their language during the pandemic

Joe Moore
Valley Public Radio


A new report from researchers and community-based organizations released Monday shows Indigenous farmworkers across California lacked information and resources to protect themselves during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Dr. Sarait Martinez is the Executive Director of Centro Binacional para el Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño, a community organization that works with the Indigenous community in the Central Valley. During a press conference introducing the findings, she said the study found many Indigenous farmworkers -- or campesinos -- faced loss of work, lack of resources and limited health care during the height of the pandemic. 

“For those reasons, we call on our state and federal representatives to step up and work with us to systematically address the long-standing, emergent, and ongoing inequalities in our campesino communities,” she said.


Researchers surveyed 300 farmworkers and conducted 14 in-depth interviews with Indigenous farmworkers in the Central Valley and Central Coast regions amid the pandemic for theCOVID-19 Farmworker study. They found that language access, especially in medical settings, was a crucial issue among the farmworkers and their families. 

“We have heard really terrible stories about kids interpreting for their parents,” Martinez said. 

That’s why she says it’s important for local governments to provide critical information in Indigenous languages, as well as interpreters at clinics where these farmworkers are more likely to receive health care. 

Madi Bolanos covered immigration and underserved communities for KVPR from 2020-2022. Before joining the station, she interned for POLITCO in Washington D.C. where she reported on US trade and agriculture as well as indigenous women’s issues during the Canadian election. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in anthropology from San Francisco State University. Madi spent a semester studying at the Danish Media and Journalism School where she covered EU policies in Brussels and alleged police brutality at the Croatian-Serbian border.