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Navajo Nation Day Of Prayer Event Commemorates Lives Lost To Pandemic

Carolyn Kaster | Associated Press

Earlier today, The Navajo Nation hosted a virtual Day of Prayer to commemorate one year since the coronavirus pandemic hit the reservation.


Participants led prayers in both Diné and English for the hundreds of people tuning in online. Recently confirmed Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, a member of the Pueblo Laguna tribe, was among the speakers. 


"This virus has taken more than 539,000 Americans from us," Haaland said. "One out of every 438 of those people were citizens or residents of the Navajo Nation."


The Navajo Nation endured some of the highest per-capita infection rates in the entire country last year and has taken a vigorous approach to immunizing tribal members. As of Wednesday, 73,902 people had been immunized against COVID-19, according to the Navajo Department of Health.


March 19, 2021 was officially proclaimed a day of prayer; the Nez-Lizer administration ordered flags on the Nation to be flown at half-staff. President Joe Biden in a letter today commemorated the lives lost on the reservation, acknowledging elders and tribal leaders who died as "caretakers and guardians of culture." Executive Staff Assistant Yvonne Kee-Billison discussed mental health resources, including Arizona's Crisis Response Network, amid the continuing pandemic.


Chief Justice Joann Jayne of the Navajo Nation Supreme Court also addressed attendees. 


"We may be asking ourselves at this time, 'how are we going to live? How are we going to move forward?' And we have to take a look at ourselves that we have done great. We have done good. And we have respect," Jayne said.


"Everywhere we look, everywhere we go," she added later, "our Dinétah is so beautiful."

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