Stories of Resilience from Indian Country, Volume #5

Indian Country’s resilience was on display again last week. Despite uniquely adverse times, state and tribal governments and partners alike continue to find ways to donate money and resources to those in need. Many of these stories are highlighted below, along with opportunities to contribute, if you are able. 

The Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund continues to raise money rapidly, as the fund has now surpassed $1.1 million. Last week, Jason Momoa, a Native Hawaiian famous for his roles in Game of Thrones and Aquaman, sent a massive truck carrying 28 pallets with more than 1,500 cases of water to Tuba City. The water was donated through his company, Mananalu Pure Water. Momoa heard about the relief fund and their efforts through an article. The next day, 30,000 liters of water were delivered to Window Rock as a donation from Swire Coca-Cola. In giving thanks, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez noted, “it's through great partnerships such as this that we will overcome COVID-19. We are stronger and more resilient when we unite and work together.” 

The Cherokee Nation donated more than 2,500 KN95 protective masks to fire departments, police departments and emergency management teams across 14 counties in Oklahoma. The Tribe is also sending an additional 5,000 KN95 masks to the Navajo Nation. Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. stated, “we...want to help our brothers and sisters in the Navajo Nation...we do this because as Cherokees, we know the importance of lending a helping hand in times of uncertainty. We will get through this as long as we remember that we are all in this together.” 

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) joined the giving spirit, approving up to $100,000 from the Tribe’s general fund ‘for the purpose of immediate medical and community needs for the Navajo Nation.’ The resolution appropriating the funds passed unanimously through EBCI’s council. “The Navajo Nation needs our help, and it is our duty to provide it,” added EBCI Principal Chief Richard Sneed.  

The State of New Mexico provided more than 80,000 pounds of rice, beans, potatoes, watermelons, apples and onions, as well as 9,720 boxes of food, to the Navajo Nation as part of COVID-19 relief efforts to tribes and pueblos in the state. The New Mexico Indian Affairs Department coordinated the multi-agency effort last Wednesday. Although the Navajo Nation is being hit hard by COVID-19, they are still finding ways to give back. Last Friday, the Nation delivered food, diapers, and other supplies to the Manuelito Navajo Children's Home in Gallup, New Mexico. The home, which serves mostly Navajo kids, is a long term care facility for children who end up in the system. 

Kahtoola, a Flagstaff based outdoor gear company, will be re-directing funding that typically aids Indigenous peoples in the Himalayas, to helping the Havasupai Tribe for the next three months. Further, the company recently announced a virtual run on May 1-10, with all proceeds going to the Havasupai Tribe COVID-19 Relief Fund. The virtual run will feature a 5K and an 8-mile run and can be completed at each participant's own pace. The 8-mile run is the same distance from Hilltop above Supai Village down into the Canyon. Kahtoola has already raised more than $5,500 towards their $10,000 goal. Register for the virtual run or donate here

In Wisconsin, several Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa teamed up with their respective fisheries to donate 1,000 pounds of fish to community members a few weeks ago. In Washington, The Snoqualmie Tribe donated 4,000 frozen meals to community members in need through Snoqualmie Valley nonprofits. Last Wednesday, Running Strong for American Indian Youth delivered more than 30,000 pounds of frozen food to the Eagle Butte Food Pantry on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Each of the 1,700 food boxes delivered by Running Strong will provide a family of four with two meals a day for 14 days. An Alaska Native Corporation, Koniag Inc., committed to donating $50,000 to nonprofits in Kodiak to help communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. 

As threats posed by the pandemic continue to develop and evolve, stories like these and many others highlight Indian Country’s resilience, unity, and strength. We will bring you another Volume of curated stories and donation opportunities at the end of the week. Please be well and remember to stay home, stay healthy, and stay connected.