We’ve made it through some tough weeks. I hope that in the midst of it all, you've still experienced some joy.
Many of us receive at least some of that joy from our Native jewelry collection, so today let's explore how we can show up for at least one of the Native communities behind our cherished jewelry.
Right now, many Native people are facing some incredibly harsh realities. Hardest hit of all are the Navajo:
- As of Thursday, April 16, the Navajo Nation of about 175,000 people has 921 cases of COVID-19 and 38 deaths. In comparison, the entire state of New Mexico with a population of about 2.1 million has had 44 deaths out of 1597 cases.
- The Navajo Nation is quite large at 27,413 square miles. Much of it is rural and remote, so it’s much more difficult to get food - there’s no Instacart. Instead, there are only 13 grocery stores for an area that’s as large as West Virginia. Many Navajo people have to travel for miles just to get food and supplies and, of course, risk exposure to the virus with each trip.
- It's difficult to obtain healthcare. There are only 9 health clinics and 7 resource poor hospitals across the entire Navajo Nation. The Tuba City hospital is already full. The Navajo Nation only has 400 hospital beds and a paltry 46 ICU beds in total. Many Navajo live far from the hospitals, so there's no fast way to get to medical help. Think of how grim that is for a sick person in respiratory distress.
- Navajo people have some of the highest rates of water poverty in the U.S. As we turn on our warm tap water many times each day humming a 20 second tune while washing our hands to clean them from any coronavirus exposure, 1 in 3 Navajo people do not have running water or toilets. Instead, they rely on water that they haul in from watering stations miles away. Can you imagine dealing with this virus without running water when hand washing is one of our main methods of prevention? And just the act of procuring water at the water stations and buying bottled drinking water increases the risk of community exposure.
- This week, I called one of our favorite Navajo jewelers, Mckee Platero, to check on him. I told him that I was planning this email, and he asked me to emphasize just how communally oriented the Navajo people are and how great a challenge that presents during a time when social distancing is one of our greatest hopes. Large multi-generational families living together make social distancing more difficult and risk of exposure to tribal elders more likely. Just think, it only takes one member of a large family collecting water and food to become infected and then unknowingly bring the virus home to the extended family.
Besides checking in on our individual artist friends, we can donate to relief organizations. I've compiled a list for you to review. In fact, for the next 2 weeks, I'll donate 15% of any Turquoise & Tufa sales to the group of your choice from the list below.
- Navajo Water Project: brings hot & cold running water to Navajo homes
- ATADA Foundation COVID-19 Relief Fund: relief for Navajo, Hopi and Pueblo communities
- Governor Bill Richardson's COVID-19 Navajo Families Relief Fund: Former New Mexico governor's fund through the New Mexico Children's Foundation to assist in the purchase, delivery and distribution of critical medical supplies to the Navajo people
- The Northern Dine' COVID-19 Relief Effort GoFundMe: to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by delivering care packages to families in need.
Thank you so much for your caring heart. We'll get through this together.
P.S. For further reading on the Navajo COVID-19 situation, take a look at the Navajo Times and this blog by Marley Shebala, a Native reporter for the Gallup Independent and a friend of McKee Platero's.