Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

May 15, 2020

Seamstresses Unite to Fight COVID-19 on Navajo and Hopi Nations

Deb Kizzia chain sewing order for Window Rock Navajo Nation PD - 500 masks total
Photo credit: Theresa Hatathlie-Delmar

Theresa Hatathlie-Delmar Coalmine Mine Mesa

By Cassandra Begay

Censored News
May 15, 2020

TÓ NANEESDIZÍ, DINÉTAH, (TUBA CITY, NAVAJO NATION) — Diné (Navajo) seamstresses have organized to fight COVID-19 with resourcefulness, creativity, and sewing machines having created and distributed over 18,000 masks to date. 
As confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Navajo Nation climb to 3,392 with 119 deaths, the all-volunteer subsidiaries to the Navajo and Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund (Relief Fund), "Western Navajo Seamstresses COVID 19 Dooda" and "Eastern Navajo Seamstresses United COVID 19 Dooda" are rapidly sewing masks and other PPE for community members, first responders, and healthcare providers.
Next week the Relief Fund will be including masks with their food boxes.  So far the Relief Fund has served over 4,300 households in over 50 communities on Navajo Nation and in 5 of the 12 Hopi Villages. In addition, our GoFundMe for this effort has surpassed $3.7 million dollars.
On March 23rd, Theresa Hatathlie-Delmar, who is from Coalmine Mesa on the Navajo Nation, was approached by Relief Fund founder Ethel Branch asking for her help in mobilizing a sewing group to make cloth masks to help the overall relief effort.
"Amid organizing and coordinating a response to the many assistance requests for food and basic essentials, it came to light there was a shortage of masks for hospital personnel," says Hatathlie-Delmar, Lead Seamstress for the Relief Fund, and leader of the Fund's united seamstress effort. "A few days after the launch of our group, the requests for masks from hospitals and first responders came flooding in. Every day since then our group has sewn and sent masks out."

Originally formed as the Navajo Seamstresses United Covid-19 Dooda group, the group has grown so tremendously that it now has Western and Eastern Chapters.  The Western Chapter, led by Hatathlie-Delmar, now has more than 500 members from the Navajo and Hopi Nations, Southern Arizona, New Mexico, Southern Utah, Colorado, New York, and Georgia, as well as from our brothers and sisters from the Blackfeet, Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota Nations.

At first the group had little to no supplies due to material scarcity. However, they now have been  receiving daily material donations from throughout the country.

"We have made and donated more than 18,000 masks so far," stated Hatathlie-Delmar, who is also the Vice President of the Diné College Board of Regents. "Our group members have sent out packages of masks to various places throughout the Navajo and Hopi Reservations such as elder care facilities, social services, clinics, to hospital maintenance workers, security guards, custodians, and more. Recently a Navajo Nation agency contacted me requesting 5,000 masks. An organization from Los Angeles, California is helping make this possible by shipping medical grade material for masks."

The seamstress group also responded to a shortage of hospital gowns as confirmed COVID-19 cases started to rise. The Navajo Nation has reported more confirmed cases of COVID-19 per capita than any U.S. state.

"After consulting with various health and public safety employees, we were sent a pattern for the gowns but production has been slow due to the yardage required for the gowns and the availability of materials," says Hatathlie-Delmar. "The gowns are sewn by ladies in Tuba City and for now, donations are being sent to Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation."

On April 12, Hatathlie-Delmar along with Ramona Begay, a member of the Navajo Nation Women's Commission, launched the "Eastern Navajo Seamstresses United COVID 19 Dooda" to expand the group's reach across the entire Navajo Nation. 

"This is a labor of love for our group members as almost every member personally knows someone who has fallen ill to COVID-19. Many of us also have lost someone we know to the virus," states Hatathlie-Delmar. "Our united purpose is to meet the demand for our Nation's need of masks and gowns to keep our people healthy and safe."

You can join and learn more about the Western and Eastern Navajo Seamstresses United COVID-19 Dooda on their Facebook pages. 

Photos are approved an enclosed for press to use.
On March 15, 2020, former Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch founded the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund. The Fund and Leadership Team of 12 Diné and Hopi women mobilized a massive volunteer emergency effort to provide food and water distribution throughout the Navajo and Hopi Nations.
Please visit our website for more information, to donate, and for additional resources including volunteer & support request forms:  You can donate to the Seamstresses efforts by giving on the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund GoFundMe page and noting in your comments that your donation is for the seamstresses.  You can send in-kind donations of thread and needles (most needed by the seamstresses right now) Taala Hooghan Infoshop, c/o Navajo/Hopi Relief, 1704 N. Second St, Flagstaff, AZ  86004.
Diné and Hopi residents can also call toll-free to request support: 1-833-956-1554.


Laurie’s Cafe said...

I have made 75 mask sent them and have another 150 coming

Unknown said...

I would love to send thread and needles. What kind of needle specifically do you need?