Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

February 13, 2022

Navajo government's failure to distribute federal virus funds is crime against humanity

Bitahnii Wilson, Dine' volunteer, delivers water in February. The Navajo government has not distributed $2.1 billion in federal virus relief it received eight months ago. Bitahnii's has taken supplies to Navajo and Hopi throughout the pandemic. Photo courtesy Bitahnii Wilson.

While the Navajo government stalls the distribution of federal virus relief funds, Dine' continue to die -- as omicron spreads rapidly on Navajo Nation

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

WINDOW ROCK, Arizona -- The Navajo Nation government has failed to distribute $2.1 billion in federal virus relief funds that it received eight months ago from the American Rescue Plan Act. While omicron is spreading rapidly on the Navajo Nation, Dine' sick and isolated remain desperate for water, food and firewood.

Three Navajos died yesterday from the virus. Now, 1,636 Navajos have died. The new variant is spreading rapidly through Navajoland and Indian country. The Navajo Department of Health said that 921 Omicron cases were confirmed on the Navajo Nation.

Censored News considers the Navajo Nation government's failure to prioritize and distribute federal virus relief funds a crime against humanity.

While the Navajo government stalls the distribution of funds, Dine' die.

Of dual concern is the lack of a probe into the COVID medical experiments conducted on Navajos by Johns Hopkins University, which were funded by the U.S. Pentagon and Pfizer drug corporation, maker of the vaccine administered to Navajos.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Navajo government gave $24 million of federal virus relief, CARES funds, to its casinos in August of 2020, while Navajos were desperate for water, food and home health care. It was not until eight months later, after the casinos received funding, that CARES funds were finally distributed to the people. These expenditures of federal virus relief funds were approved by the Navajo Nation Council and Navajo President Jonathan Nez.

In June of 2020, the Navajo Council attempted to purchase Remington Arms for $300 million, for a second time. Outside consultants were highly paid for this attempted purchase. The Navajo government also bought a building in DC during the pandemic. Currently, the Navajo Council focuses on new mining, including new helium mining on the sacred mountain at Sanostee.

While sick and isolated Dine' are desperate for water, food and firewood, Dine' volunteers continue to raise their own funds and help their fellow Dine'.

Dine' volunteer Bitahnii Wilson has been delivering water and food throughout the pandemic. As Bitahnii filled water barrels this week for fellow Dine', he remembered Dine' cultural ways and how obstacles become stepping stones.

Sharing his thoughts on Indigenous Dine’h Way of Life through K’eh and K’ezhdinzino (Peace and Peaceful family relationship ) Bitahnii said, "Our challenging obstacles become our stepping stones. So when the Great Spirit asks, 'What have you done for your people?'" 
K’eh Native Action

(Above) Dine' volunteer Mercury Bitsuie alone loaded up 66 donated meals for fellow Navajos this week. Mercury said Friday, "When you got to load 66 meals up by yourself, hey at least it's not 100 or 150 meals in the summertime! Have a wonderful day." Photo courtesy Mercury Bitsuie. Mercury has delivered water, food and firewood to Dine' throughout the pandemic. Mercury's Uncle Andy Dann has served alongside him and brought supplies to Black Mesa, in Sanders, and other Dine' communities.

Failure to investigate Johns Hopkins University researchers on Navajo Nation

While the virus continues to spread rapidly on the Navajo Nation, there is little investigation into Johns Hopkins University researchers who have taken the lead on the Navajo Nation during the pandemic, in the COVID research, experiments, and information.

Of primary concern is the U.S. Pentagon's $35 million grant to Johns Hopkins for COVID plasma research experiments on Navajos.

These COVID plasma experiments were carried out using blood plasma from an infected COVID Navajo patient. The plasma of a severely infected Navajo was infused into a Navajo with a lesser case, in order to study antibodies.   

Johns Hopkins also conducted Pfizer drug experiments on Navajos using the Pfizer vaccine from the beginning of the pandemic. The Pfizer drug promotions were paid research experiments, a fact seldom revealed to the public.

Johns Hopkins did not respond to Censored News questions as to whether it is storing Navajo DNA and blood samples, or how Navajo DNA is being used.

The Indian Health Service -- distancing itself from the research of Johns Hopkins -- told Censored News that IHS is not responsible in the event of sickness or death from Johns Hopkins medical experiments on Navajos in IHS hospitals.

Johns Hopkins carried out vaccination experiments on Navajo and White Mountain Apache children for the past 40 years at Indian Health Service hospitals, with little information given to the public. The facts are now on the Johns Hopkins University website.

Currently, an international case continues in court in the United States against Johns Hopkins for intentionally infecting Indigenous in Guatemala with sexually-transmitted diseases during research experiments.

COVID spreads increasing throughout Indian country

The virus is spreading rapidly through the Navajo Nation and Indian country. The Indian Health Service shows a rapid spread of the virus in Albuquerque, Great Plains, Navajo, Oklahoma, Phoenix and California IHS service areas.

On the Tohono O'odham Nation in southern Arizona, O'odham are mourning the passing of many loved ones and many schools returned to online learning because of the COVID spread.

COVID Spreading in Navajo Bordertown Businesses

In the Navajo border town of Gallup, New Mexico, the public is not being warned about the fast spread of COVID by employees at Walmart in Gallup, and at Sunny Day Assisted Living. The spread continues at businesses in the Navajo bordertown of Gallup, and the McKinley County area. New Mexico State provides a daily list of new cases.

San Juan College COVID outbreak in northwest New Mexico.

The virus continues to spread at San Juan College in northwest New Mexico in the Farmington area. This list shows the classrooms with new cases of the virus at San Juan College:

COVID has spread in the Navajo border town of Farmington, and throughout San Juan County, at WalMarts, businesses, schools, and nursing homes, with little warning to the public. The State of New Mexico provides a daily list of new cases.

Navajo Nation: New Cases as Omicron Variant Spreads

On recent days in February of 2022, the Navajo Nation often reported between 100 and 200 new cases of COVID each day, regardless of the high rate of vaccination of Navajos.

On Saturday, the Navajo Department of Health reported 70 new COVID-19 cases for the Navajo Nation and three deaths. The total number of deaths is now 1,636. The report indicates that 48,967 individuals have recovered from COVID-19. 486,474 COVID-19 tests have been administered. The overall total number of positive COVID-19 cases is now 51,682, including 10 delayed reported cases.

Navajo Nation COVID-19 positive cases by Service Unit:
· Chinle Service Unit: 9,807
· Crownpoint Service Unit: 5,012
· Ft. Defiance Service Unit: 5,308
· Gallup Service Unit: 8,675
· Kayenta Service Unit: 4,857
· Shiprock Service Unit: 9,539
· Tuba City Service Unit: 5,663
· Winslow Service Unit: 2,799

Read more:

Unanswered questions by Johns Hopkins medical researchers on the Navajo Nation: 

Johns Hopkins fails to respond to Censored News questions:


The Navajo government's failure to distribute $2.1 billion in federal virus funds to Dine' is a crime against humanity. As the Navajo government stalls the funds, and spends elsewhere -- Omicron variant continues to spread.

Sick, dying and elderly Dine' are in need of water, food and firewood. Dine' volunteers continue to deliver supplies and raise their own funds. The American Rescue Plan Act funds were received by the Navajo government in May of 2021, eight months ago. 

Meanwhile, there are no probes of the Johns Hopkins University, taking the lead in COVID research and information on the Navajo Nation.

Johns Hopkins medical researchers received funding from the U.S. Pentagon for COVID blood plasma transfusions, an experiment using Navajos. Johns Hopkins also received funding from Pfizer drug company for COVID vaccine experiments on Navajos.

While Navajos are among the most vaccinated in the U.S., the virus continues to spread and Dine' continue to die from the virus.

In a case in federal court in the U.S., Johns Hopkins intentionally infected Indigenous in Guatemala with sexually transmitted diseases during medical experiments.

For the past 40 years, Johns Hopkins has conducted vaccine experiments on Navajo and White Mountain Apache children, in IHS hospitals, with little information going out to the public.

Censored News asked Johns Hopkins if it is currently collecting blood and DNA from Navajos, and how it is being stored and used. Johns Hopkins did not respond. 

Indian Health Service, distancing itself, told Censored News that it is not responsible for sickness or death caused by Johns Hopkins medical researchers in IHS hospitals.

About the author

Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 40 years, beginning at the Navajo Times during the 18 years that she lived on the Navajo Nation. She was a correspondent for Associated Press and USA Today. After serving as a longtime staff reporter for Indian Country Today, she was censored and terminated and created Censored News.
Censored News is now a collective, in its 15th year, with no ads, grants, salaries or revenues. Norrell lived in Colombia for one year and traveled with the Zapatistas over a time span of 12 years. She has a master's degree in international health, focused on infectious diseases, water and nutrition.

Article copyright by Brenda Norrell, Censored News. This content may not be used for news, dissertations, books, films or any other purpose, without written permission from author.

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