The COVID-19 crisis hit all of us hard, but the marginalized communities were hit particularly hard. In June of 2020, Mountain Yoga teamed up with our community to provide support and relief to the Navajo Nation. It is true that the Navajo Nation has been receiving a lot of aide from many organizations, however, we discovered that a lot of that aide was not making it to the smaller chapters like Monument Valley. Coincidentally we realized we had a connection into the community through one of our teachers, Meg Bronson. Meg’s parents are living and serving on the reservation. They were able to help us make a list of supplies that were in need. We were able to collect a significant amount of supplies, including cleaning products, hand sanitizer, diapers/wipes, water containers, food, cash for Walmart gift cards, propane and so much more that will make a lasting impact for the Monument Valley community.
The Navajo were facing death rates from COVID higher than any other single US state. As Utah moved to the “yellow” phase, members of the hard-hit Navajo Nation remain under strict lockdown. These rural communities already face a lack of electricity and water — not to mention an already existing shortage of healthcare services. As of May 18, the tribe’s infection rate has surpassed that of New York, previously known as the U.S. “epicenter” of the pandemic. The most basic measures to fight the virus’ spread — hand-washing and isolation — can be difficult. In most cases, homes across the reservation don’t have running water, forcing families to haul it in. In addition, the Navajo households are multi-generational and very crowded, making self-quarantine is impossible. In a lot of cases, family members would quarantine in their cars.
All aspects of living on the reservation are extremely challenging when life is normal. Most people live very remotely and it is hard to get supplies. Monument Valley continues to be in lockdown with an 8 pm curfew. All stores, gas stations, and restaurants are closed. Furthermore, Monument Valley’s economy has taken a major blow as it is heavily dependent on the tourism industry, which has all been closed and shut down since March.
In addition to being able to fly the supplies down in a private plane, we were able to couple with Meg’s parents and a Navajo woman, Edith, that works in the Senior Center on the reservation. Edith had arranged for us to deliver supplies to a dozen of the elderly that live too remotely to come in to get these essential supplies. Meg is a professional photographer and offered her services to take photos of the elderly people. This will be extremely valuable for the younger generations to have photos of their elders.
We are so grateful for all of the community that donated to this project. In addition, our greatest appreciations go out to Meg Bronson for her assistance in organizing this project, Jim and Trace Mayer for donating their time, their planes, and fuel to fly these supplies to the reservation, Pictureline for donating camera rental costs, and Meg’s parents who helped us coordinate supply lists and get them to the community members that were in need.