Brandon Dugi is an outdoor adventure photographer and endurance athlete based out of LeChee, Arizona, a small community on the Navajo Nation bordering Page, Arizona.
I want to educate the world about the Navajo Nation and how it has been affected by COVID-19.
Growing up on the reservation as a child, I recognized the hardship my grandparents endured with the lack of running water and electricity. It was a difficult way of life, but I saw how tough they were and how it made them stronger as people. Seeing them struggle day by day I couldn’t imagine that it could get worse.
Then COVID-19 took place, and the Navajo Nation was hit hard. Covering three states including Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, it now has the highest infection rate in the country. Here is why it is so bad:
First off, 1 of 5 Native Americans has diabetes and there is a high prevalence of obesity underlying the conditions making COVID-19 dangerous.
Second, 30 percent of the homes on the reservation are still living with no running water and electricity. This makes it hard to meet centers of disease control health guidelines as it is not possible to wash your hands frequently.
Lastly, we are not getting the funds needed from the Federal Government and are having to wait weeks on end to receive any support that is addressing this crisis. These lack of funds and large delays, are big factors that are exacerbating the situation.
Fighting a disease that has a big impact on the elderly is hard for our Nation to endure. To the native people, our elders are our teachers, our protectors, our providers, our language and our way of life. We want to protect them as much as we can. If we don’t have them then who are we as a people?! Our history as Native Americans may be shattering but our hearts are strong, and we are coming together as one to help each other as much as we can.
Here are ways to help the Navajo Nation during these difficult times and help support our efforts:
– Navajo Nation COVID-19 Relief Fund
– Families helping Families (COVID Relief)
– Navajo Hopi Health Foundation