I loved my time on sacred Navajo Nation property while writing my newest book, “Discovering the Colorado Plateau.” It made me rethink much of what I was taught growing up in white, suburban Denver about Cowboys and Indians; good guys with white cowboy hats vs. half-naked “savages;” John Wayne against entire Comanche, Apache and/or Navajo Nations.
Turns out white Americans could, indeed defeat the “indians.” In fact, we literally wiped out 95% of indigenous American populations in our quest for “manifest destiny.”
We thought we were the good guys, yet along with slavery, America was built on the backs of our black and brown brothers and sisters.
I did learn a few good lessons growing up in southeast Denver in the 1950s and 60s…My dad was a lifer in the Air Force and Colorado National Guard. He served his country and community with grace and dignity. Mom was a homemaker and an “activist” – she encouraged others to register and vote. Gad. Both Mom and Dad always helped the downtrodden, volunteered at the downtown soup kitchens, supported the Dolores Project – helping women from abused situations regain their own dignity and grace.
During these difficult pandemic times, I’m reminded that maybe I should do the same. Covid-19 has hit minority populations especially hard, and the Navajo Nation has suffered tremendously. As of July 30, 2020, there had been 9,019 cases of Covid-19 on the Navajo Nation, with 454 confirmed deaths. That’s approximately 2,300 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people. By contrast, New York state has a rate of about 1,800 cases per 100,000.
Numerous groups here in Grand Junction and other western Colorado communities have collected clothing, food and water, and trucked it down to the four-corners region. There’s also a fund established – the Navajo Nation Covid-19 Relief Fund, where anyone can donate: https://www.nndoh.org/donate.html. This site actually takes you to a GoFundMe site, that has coordinated this fund drive for the Navajo Nation.
I’ve donated to the fund, and to the clothing and food drives, and there’s one more thing I’ve offered, and representatives of the Navajo Nation were receptive: I’ll donate a set of five note cards to anyone who makes a donation to the Navajo Nation Covid-19 Relief Fund. Email me a copy of your receipt, along with your mailing address, and I’ll get ’em right out.