As the pandemic ravaged the country, deaths from drug overdoses surged by nearly 30%, climbing to a record high. The drug crisis has also diversified from an overwhelmingly white affliction to killing people of color with staggering speed.

The medicine man told her she should soon give her son back to the earth.

Rachel Taylor kissed her fingertips and pressed them to the crow sewn onto a leather bag nestled on the couch in the living room. “Oh, my baby,” she whispered, and hugged the buckskin satchel filled with his ashes, the Associated Press reports.

Nearly a year ago, she had opened his bedroom door and screamed so loud she woke the neighbor. Kyle Domrese was face down on his bed, one of more than 100,000 Americans lost in a year to overdoses as the COVID-19 pandemic fueled America’s addiction disaster.

When he was 4, the medicine man had given him his Ojibwe name: Aandegoons — “little crow.” She traced the outline of the black bird on the sack.

“Love you,” Taylor said to the bag, as she does each time she leaves for work in this city surrounded by three Ojibwe reservations in remote northern Minnesota.

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