• Jen Haefeli

Combating Covid-19 in Navajo Nation

If you’ve done your research, then you know that several of the women I chose for Leading Ladies are Indigenous, Native American women of honor. Leading Ladies are chosen for their moxie, stamina, courage, dedication to justice, spirit, desire for equality for all, and qualities I feel should define a true Leader. Leading Ladies like:

Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte

Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte, the first degree-holding Native American Doctor

Read more about why she was known as a "Warrior of the People", Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte defied several conventions of her time.

Angel De Cora Dietz

Angel de Cora Dietz, Native American & the most widely known Artist prior to WWI

The work and life of Angel De Cora Dietz can be found here.

Marie Louise Bottineau Baldwin

Marie Louise Bottineau Baldwin, The first Native American Attorney to graduate from Washington College of Law & a Native Rights Activist

Marie was a suffragette, defended treaties, and worked in the Office of Indian Affairs, as well as for the Society of American Indians in Washington, D.C.

Laura Cornelius Kellogg

Laura Cornelius Kellogg, Native American Princess & Political Essayist/Native Rights Activist

Read about Laura Cornelius Kellogg's view on Education


Zitkala-Ša, or "Red Bird",also known as Gertrude Bonnin, Broadway Playwright & Classically Trained Artist and Native Rights Activist

Read an in-depth description of Zitkala-Ša's Cultural Duet The Sun Dance Opera here.

These Leading Ladies tirelessly advocated for reform, some founded the National Council of American Indians, canvassed the country to advocate for justice for Native American equality, including the right to vote. They devoted their lives to fighting the injustices Native Americans experience. As cultural bridge builders, Leading Ladies exemplify that much work will happen if we stand together.

The willingness to help and provide kindness to others might just find its way back to you.

The example of the Irish Potato Famine and how Ireland’s people have come to the aid of The Navajo Nation during this time is a beautiful reminder that common ground can be struck on behalf of two cultures, half way around the world, and across the proverbial pond. It can transcend cultural boundaries, and a bond can stand the test of time. One might say that a good friendship is more than small potatoes.

The Navajo Nation have sustained an extraordinarily disproportionate loss due to Covid-19. In examination of the factors leading to this I’ve learned that there are several organizations working to mitigate the crisis. In the absence of physical addresses, running water, access to supplies, and with many families living in intergenerational dwellings among other challenges facing those on Navajo lands, the supports best received are from grass-roots organizations.

The Navajo Nation lands and casinos closed to tourism in an effort to suppress the spread of Covid-19 as it spread like a plague across this country. Sadly it has done more damage in the earliest weeks of the cold & flue season this fall than most medical facilities can manage. The people of the Navajo Nation waited for the U.S. Treasury to release funds dedicated to them through the CARES Act but faced delays in receiving the full funding and were not able to secure critical supplies needed to combat the virus in time for the arrival of the second wave.

If you’ve ever driven through rural areas of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico or Colorado you know these dusty and desolate, beautiful lands hold secrets of survival. Only those with instinctual nature could have lived off of the pure unfettered land. Despite their fortitude, this virus has reached every state in this Union and it is leaving those with few resources suffering the most. We cannot sit by and ignore the continued loss of people with a bloodline rooted in the very bedrock of this country.

Honor all that was done by the above Leading Ladies by teaching your children about their work. Teach them about life on Navajo Nation lands today. We can all honor the legacies of Leading Ladies like these by protecting the Leaders of tomorrow within the Navajo Nation now.

There are ways to help!

The Backcountry Santas:

The Protect Native Elders Team

Torreon Community Alliance, Organized by Mario Atencio & Lani Tsinnajinnie

Official Navajo Nation COVID-19 Relief Fund

*This need has been met (AWESOME)

Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund

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