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Navajo Nation Sends Masks To COVID-Stricken India

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India now leads the world in coronavirus cases, with hundreds of thousands of people falling ill every day and a devestating death toll from the disease. The Navajo Nation is doing what it can to assist. President Jonathan Nez spoke with KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny about how Navajo citizens understand India’s suffering from their own experiences during the pandemic.  

What aid has the Navajo Nation been able to send to India?

Last week the Navajo Nation sent some cloth masks, over twelve hundred cloths masks to India. This week there is additional interest from constituents and organizations here on the Navajo Nation to send more to India, so we are facilitating that shipment this week as well. We know how it is to get hid hard by COVID, but not as hard as India’s getting hit right now. But I know every little bit of resources does help, especially when you have limited funding and maybe even limited amount of support from your one government.

Can you tell me more about that? What inspired the Navajo Nation to decide to help?

The Navajo Nation we appreciative of the support we received during our height of the pandemic, we want to also help others during times of need as well. That is why the Navajo Nation and Navajo people have really stepped up to assist the nation that is going through some very difficult times right now.

Can you tell me a bit about how things are going on the Nation right now with vaccination efforts and with the pandemic?

We are about 71% of our Navajo residents, people living on the Navajo Nation, that have been fully vaccinated. We’re almost reaching that 100,000 people threshold…. We are I think at the cusp of herd immunity.  

There have been a number of stories in the news about Indigenous communities helping people across borders during the pandemic. Can you talk about why it’s so important to have that kind of cooperation across borders?

Well, it’s just not in Indian County. All across the country, all across the world, you have seen people coming out to help each other out. During this pandemic you saw food drives happening, people making cloth masks, sending them to communities. I think this pandemic, even though it’s been difficult for all of us, especially in Indian Country, but it brought out the best in us as five-fingered beings. As we move and see some light at the end of the tunnel here, it’s because of the work the citizens throughout the country have done to help each other out… More so than ever before, we’re all in this together, we’re so interconnected, what happens off the Nation does affect the Navajo Nation and vice versa.

President Nez, thank you so much for speaking with me, I appreciate it.

Thank you.


Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.
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