Coronavirus devastated Native American communities and put a spotlight on some long-standing problems in Indian Country that made the pandemic that much worse.
At the grassroots level, everyday heroes have stepped up to help and work to overcome.
These are their stories.
PHOENIX – Water is a precious commodity in rural Native American communities like the Navajo Nation, where a virus that requires good hygiene has taken an especially heavy toll. One man is looking to help, by delivering barrels of water to those in need.
PHOENIX – There are few grocery stores in Indian Country, so as COVID-19 leaves shelves scarce, Indigenous communities are returning to their food-growing roots.
PHOENIX – With telehealth expansion, community leaders and medical providers see a chance for improved health outcomes amid COVID-19 and beyond, but a lack of infrastructure hinders access for some on tribal lands.
SCOTTSDALE – Considered the most respected members of Indigenous communities, elders hold immense cultural wisdom. But COVID-19 has hit them especially hard.
PHOENIX – With COVID-19 disproportionately affecting tribal nations, Native youth are stepping up to help others, preserve their culture and start the healing process.
PIÑON – Even in the best of times, Native American K-12 students have faced an uphill battle to getting a high school diploma. Now COVID has brought new challenges, but one district is doing everything it can to help its students persevere.
AJO – When COVID-19 crashed the food systems in Ajo and the nearby Tohono O’odham Nation, locals stepped in to fill the gap. After the shelves of the town’s lone grocery store were picked bare in April, one nonprofit transformed a cafe into a de facto food pantry.
The Navajo Nation has been hit hard by COVID-19. Schools and teachers like those at the Diné College in Tsaile pass on traditional knowledge in the face of a pandemic.
PHOENIX – When two Arizona veterans heard that veterans on the Navajo reservation were struggling during the pandemic, they felt it was their duty to help. So they started raising money to get supplies directly to them.
PHOENIX – For centuries, Native Americans have used talking circles to solve problems and provide healing. During the pandemic, these practices moved online and outdoors to help those in need.
WHITERIVER – COVID-19 devastated Native American communities. With the spotlight often on places like the Navajo Nation, the much smaller White Mountain Apache Tribe quietly battled to save its people.
PHOENIX – A year since its founding, a water access campaign on the Navajo reservation has delivered more than 250,000 gallons of water to those in need. Founder Zoel Zohnnie talks about how he has kept the effort going and lessons learned.