April 20, 2020
— Richard Two Dogs (Oglala Lakota – South Dakota)
— Michelle Kahn-John (Diné) and Anson Etsitty, Sr. (Diné) Navajo Nation, Arizona, USA
The spring season is a time of rejuvenation and new beginnings. We celebrate this season by participating in traditional and spiritual celebrations and gatherings. Many of our tribal communities are typically gathering with family, friends, and relatives by sharing stories, food, medicinal plants, and making spiritual offerings.While the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the ability to gather within our tribal communities, it is also changing global rituals. We are challenged with finding alternative ways to celebrate these observances.We have traditional stories that have been handed down, about previous epidemics that we have faced. These stories include examples of our people social distancing ourselves from others, and this helped to save our people. These traditional beliefs define who we are as a community and how we identify as Indigenous peoples.
Today, we are being faced with new opportunities to collaborate with our federal partners in unique ways by stressing the importance of social distancing as the one proven method to slow the spread of the virus.If you must go out, remember that you can help reduce the spread of the virus if you are careful and practice social distancing strategies
- Wear a cloth face cover that covers your nose and mouth• Continue to stay 6 feet away from others
- Do not shake hands, hug, or touch others
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer
Together we must be vigilant in our efforts to slow the spread of infections within our tribal communities, including hand washing, staying at home, avoiding large social gatherings, and practicing social distancing. We know that these are unprecedented times, but we are all in this together. Our collective work in Indian Country has never been more important than it is today. We look forward to sustaining our healthy communities today and for future generations to come.Indian people are resilient, and together we will get beyond this.