Updated: Jul 28, 2020
Photo credit: middle and right photos::
Don J. Usner/Searchlight New Mexico
By: Joan Lasselle
It Takes A Village (ITAV) has donated over 32,000 face masks to Bay Area hospitals and clinics but recently extended beyond the Bay Area to help meet the extraordinary challenge Covid-19 has brought to native people. Over the past month ITAV has donated 600 fabric face masks directly to the Navajo Nation in New Mexico and Arizona and an additional 250 masks to tribal leaders in South Dakota.
The Navajo Nation is the largest Indian reservation in the country— larger than New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Delaware combined. It is home to over 175,000 tribal members.
The U.S. is obligated by treaty to protect the Navajo Nation’s health and welfare, but that responsibility has been ignored for more than a century. The result is that in the best of times, the Navajo Nation struggles with unusual hardship
• 38% of Navajo homes lack running water. Regular hand washing is impossible.
• 32% of Navajo homes lack electricity. Refrigeration of foods and medicines is impossible.
• 60% of Navajo homes lack telephone service. Access to the internet is severely limited.
Now the Navajo Nation has been disproportionately devastated by the coronavirus pandemic and has the most coronavirus cases per capita of any state in the US, and Officials in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services describe the situation on the Navajo Nation as “dire” and “threatening the survival of the Navajo tribe.”
"dire...threatening the survival of the Navajo tribe"
ITAV donations have been sent to the President of the Shiprock Chapter, the community governing structure. Shiprock is a community of 8,300 located near Farmington, NM and is the reservation’s largest chapter. It is home to the Northern Navajo Medical Center, an Indian Health Service hospital with an emergency room and a handful of ICU beds. Even with access to a hospital the need is great. As the Chapter President said upon receiving the masks, “We put them to good use.”