Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

May 8, 2020

Navajo relief efforts expand as coronavirus cases increase. Former Page mayor counters bordertown racism.

Photos: Navajo relief efforts underway in western Navajo chapters, by Navajo President's Office.

Relief efforts expand as coronavirus cases and deaths increase. Former Mayor of Page joins relief efforts after recent racist incidents in Page.

Article by Brenda Norrell

NAVAJO NATION -- The Navajo Nation expanded its emergency relief efforts on Thursday, as 103 new cases of coronavirus and three more deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 2,757 and 88 deaths. The former mayor of the bordertown of Page joined relief efforts, countering two recent racial incidents in Page involving the current mayor and a man charged with terrorism against Navajos.

Navajo relief efforts arrived in Bodaway-Gap, Coppermine, LeChee, Kaibeto, Ts’ah Bii Kin, and Shonto Chapter on Thursday.

Joining the relief effort was former Page Mayor Bill Diak. Diak's effort brought gratitude from Navajos following two recent incidents involving racism in the bordertown.

The current Mayor of Page Levi Tappan, insulted the Navajo President on Facebook this week.

During an exchange of comments on Facebook about opening up tourist attractions, one user commented, "He's busy fighting hard for our people," and shared a photo of President Jonathan Nez.

Page Mayor Levi Tappan then replied to that comment saying, "I wish he would battle alcoholism as hard as COVID19." Tappan included a photo of what appears to be a group of Native Americans standing beside a street.

Navajo President Jonathan Nez responded, "We, as elected leaders, should be working together to unite our people especially when we are losing so many relatives to COVID-19, not tearing each other down and singling out Native Americans in regards to alcohol issues."

"Yes, we recognize that there is a problem and we stand ready to work with Mayor Tappen to address the issues rather than writing insensitive comments to our constituents on social media," President Nez said on May 3, urging the Mayor to work together in a spirit of love for all people for the sake of the children.

In another racist incident, a Page man was arrested for attempting to incite an act of terrorism after a Facebook post on April 6.

Daniel Franzen, 34 of Page, was arrested on suspicion of attempting to incite an act of terrorism. Police received reports of a Facebook post that urged people to use “lethal force” against the Navajo community. Franzen made racist statements about Navajos and coronavirus infection.

Franzen was booked into the Coconino County jail. In a statement, Page police said any unlawful hate speech will be “aggressively investigated.”

President Nez said over 30 percent of the residents in Page are Navajo. In addition, members of the Navajo Nation contribute millions of dollars in revenue each year to businesses and the city that help to provide public safety, EMS personnel, and other essential services for all people.

Meanwhile, relief efforts continued to reach Navajos in the 110 chapters in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. On Thursday, 1,194 families were reached with supplies in the communities of Bodaway-Gap, Coppermine, LeChee, Kaibeto, Ts’ah Bii Kin, and Shonto. 

“It’s a great feeling to see the smiles on the faces of the grandmas and grandpas as they received food and supplies to help them stay home and stay safe. We pray for the families of those who have lost loved ones and those who have the virus. On the upside, we have communities coming together, working together, to help those who need a hand up. We’re happy to be out on the ground, in the communities helping people firsthand,” said President Nez.

Since relief efforts began two weeks ago, nearly 3,800 families have received food, water, firewood, protective masks, sanitizer and cleaning products, pet food, and other essential items.

Western Navajo Relief 

(Photos above) On Thursday, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Executive Branch employees, chapter officials, and Community Health Representatives distributed food, water, and much-needed supplies to 1,194 families in the communities of Bodaway-Gap, Coppermine, LeChee, Kaibeto, Ts’ah Bii Kin, and Shonto. Council Delegates Paul Begay, Jr., Herman Daniels, Jr., Coconino County Supervisor Lena Fowler, and former city of Page Mayor Bill Diak were among several officials who also contributed their time to help distribute items. By providing families with essential items, they are able to remain home rather than having to go into public to purchase items.

Winslow and Phoenix donations and volunteers aid relief

(Photo above and below) Navajo President Jonathan Nez extended "a big thank you" to Terry Murphy, retired businessman, and Shawn Lee, Chief Operating Officer of Winslow Guidance Associates, Inc., who established the Helping Hands for the Navajo Nation to gather donations from the Phoenix area to the Navajo citizens on the Navajo Nation.

The group collected donations, in conjunction with help from the 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization Winslow Guidance Associates, Inc. to deliver needed food, ppe, livestock feed and child/infant supplies that were delivered to the communities of Tolani Lake, Birdsprings and Indian Wells. The supplies are 100 percent donated. The HHFTNN began their journey to the NN from Tempe at 7:30am, they met in Winona at 11:30am to review plans and roles each volunteer had been assigned to.

Organizations involved include the Winslow Guidance Associates, Sprouts Grocers, Cal Pools, National First Response, Midwest Foods, US Foods, Restaurant Depot, Home Depot, Philly's Bar and  Grill, Verum Digital Design, Hauling AZ, Penske Trucking, OSHO Brewery, Vastco Construction, Cardinal Clean, Schneider Trucking, American Shot Crete, UHaul, Think Graphics, Renewed Homes, Passport Coffee and Tea, Don Ingram, Robert Smith, Local Soap Makers, Also 3TV, TV5, ABC 15 and many others citizens through the Valley of the Sun.

Homemade Mask Donations from Fort McDowell

President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer thank all of the members of the Navajo Nation, families, and people from across the country who have donated homemade protective masks for our Navajo people.

On Thursday, Lionel Tso from LeChee, AZ delivered homemade masks that were made by Tasia and Krista Thompson, Secilia Killsback, Julie Doka, and Jewel Hughes from Fort McDowell, Arizona. The masks will be handed out during today’s distributions in the Western Navajo Agency. We know there are many families and supporters who are working hard to gather supplies and deliver them to the Navajo Nation. Please stay safe and wash your hands! Ahe’hee’
Relief efforts in Church Rock and Bahastl’ah

The Navajo President's Office executive directors and staff members also led a food distribution in the communities of Church Rock and Bahastl’ah (Twin Lakes), New Mexico on Thursday. A no-contact distribution took place with up to 500 packages delivered to families. Watch video.

The coordination of the items was conducted by Dr. Pearl Yellowman, Division Director under Community Development with the New Mexico Indian Affairs Secretary Lynn Trujillo. The sites were designated with team leaders Oliver Whaley, Executive Director of the Navajo Nation EPA and JT Willie, Division Director of the Navajo Nation Division of Economic Development to carry out the delivery of items to Navajo residences at both sites. New Mexico Indian Affairs Deputy Secretary Nadine Padilla assisted with the delivery of water, flour, and beans from NAPI, and other grocery necessities.

“Our goals are to get as much aid out to the chapter communities. We are doing our best to reach everyone and bring much-needed resources. Thank you to New Mexico Secretary Lynn Trujillo and Deputy Secretary Nadine Padilla for the continuous support through this time. We are glad to step up wherever necessary to help our people and come together as a team to assist Dr. Yellowman in coordinating these distributions,” stated JT Willie. Dr. Yellowman expressed her appreciation in all efforts taking place in bringing assistance to the chapter locations, “Small acts of service multiples into saving lives.”
The Navajo Nation reports a total of 17,148 COVID-19 tests have been administered with 12,806 negative test results. The 2,757 confirmed positive cases on the Navajo Nation include the following counties:
· McKinley County, NM: 762
· Apache County, AZ: 701
· Navajo County, AZ: 591
· Coconino County, AZ: 308
· San Juan County, NM: 273
· San Juan County, UT: 46
· Socorro County, NM: 26
· Cibola County, NM: 26
· Bernalillo County: 3
· Sandoval County, NM: 21

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