Stories of Resilience from Indian Country Volume 3

Last week, we highlighted the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund, which has now raised more than $460,000. Earlier this week, we shared this list of funds collated by Native Americans in Philanthropy who hope to connect those willing and able to donate with tribal communities in need. Today, we are happy to bring you more examples of tribal communities and organizations coming together to battle the coronavirus. 

This Urban American Indian Wishlist is sponsored by a collective of Native-based organizations in Southern Arizona who have come together to provide urban Indians and Indigenous peoples in need with groceries and other essential supplies. Due to limited supplies, this service is offered exclusively to people living in Tucson, AZ at this time. Still, the program, organized by Indigenous Volunteers, UA NARTC Student Action Advisory Board, Alianza-Indigenous Alliance Without Borders, HONOR Collective and Chukson/Tucson Water Protectors, will have tremendous reach. 

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians announced on Monday that they are making a $1 million donation to the Atmore Community Hospital which serves portions of Escambia County, Alabama, where the Tribe’s trust lands are located. The donation provides urgently needed funding that the hospital will use to replace vital equipment and meet added expenses and staffing needs related to testing and caring for COVID-19 patients. 

Individuals and groups in Northern Arizona are stepping up to help out their local communities. National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ reports on a local market-owner delivering “grandma baskets” to elders living on the reservation and a resident green-thumb who is teaching people gardening techniques. “The more we’re able to grow for ourselves and keep things local the less we have to depend on the outside world,” he said.

Last week, we shared a story about Cherokee Choices, a diabetes prevention and education program started by members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI). Cherokee Choices continues to post online yoga sessions, host an online women’s strength training class, and run a Facebook group to help keep children healthy and active. This week, several of the Tribe’s agriculture officials are encouraging members to try their hand at gardening as a way to help combat the cabin fever often associated with quarantine. Families will be able to obtain a Garden Kit from the Tribe to get started. The first Garden Kit Giveaway will feature a drive-thru service next Tuesday, April 14 at the EBCI Cooperative Extension Office. Officials note that families will need only a few handheld gardening tools, water, and a small garden bed to have a productive season after obtaining the kits. “During these uncertain times, individuals and families are looking for security...and a sense of purpose. Gardening is one of the best means we have to spend quality time outdoors doing something productive for our families and giving us a stable and dependable source for food,” added EBCI Principal Chief Richard Sneed. 

Sealaska, an Alaska Native Corporation owned by more than 22,000 Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian shareholders, pledged a $1 million COVID-19 relief and recovery package to help Alaska Native communities respond to the health and economic impacts of the novel coronavirus earlier this week. Approximately half of the package will be disbursed immediately to communities in need, where special federal and local relief initiatives are late to arrive. 

These stories demonstrate the strong Indigenous traditions of caring, sharing, and maintaining our kinship bonds. Despite the growing threat of COVID-19, our collective resiliency continues to shine through. Stay home, stay healthy, and stay connected.