ST. GEORGE — With COVID-19 cases rising in some border states around the Navajo Nation, the COVID-19 case numbers on the reservation are now at 6,672 with 319 deaths. The pandemic has been taking a toll on the Navajo people who are having trouble accessing necessary supplies. People around Southern Utah are looking to combat this by organizing donations and making trips to the border towns in order to get the essential supplies to the reservation.
Lindison Webb, a resident of Cedar City who was born on the reservation, has started to organize efforts to get donations for food and supplies to be sent to the Navajo Nation. Webb is a native Navajo speaker who learned to speak English around four or five years old at boarding school in Kaibito, Arizona and is now working to help his people on the reservation.
“From a per capita impact of coronavirus to the tribe, as it became a hot spot, it sort of went against the pattern you see here in Southern Utah,” Webb said of the reason why he is organizing his efforts. “Rural Utah hasn’t been hit but rural Navajo country was hit. Other efforts were focusing on different areas of the tribe but where I grew up, people were not able to get out with the shutdowns and daily curfews.”
He then began to put together some donations and joined together with some people in Page, Arizona. Webb made one trip to the reservation in May and he thought it would be his only trip, but when he saw how much the donations did for the communities in the area he decided to continue in his efforts.
Webb then began to raise awareness of the issues in Southern Utah, especially Cedar City where he lives and on LinkedIn with some professionals.
“I just feel like I have to do something because if I don’t do it then nobody else will,” Webb said. “From a genealogical perspective, my great-grandfather was the chief of the western side of the tribe who led the resistance against occupation. He did stuff and people always look to my family to solve problems so my father did the same thing. When he died in 2015, I sort of took over as the patriarch of my family and to a certain extent of my clan, the Rock Gap people.”
Webb took another shipment to Page on Friday, with another shipment of goods set to be delivered to Cedar City next week. On his website, Webb estimated that about 90 or so households are benefitting from the last donations he delivered.
In Page, there is only a Walmart that services the local community and they are often out of the necessary supplies. To counter this, Webb buys the products and supplies in Cedar City and transports those supplies to the reservation. There is a scarcity of supplies in and around the Navajo Nation and that is the biggest issue.
Webb said people in Southern Utah might not know much about the impact COVID-19 has had on the Navajo Nation. For some, it could be an out of sight, out of mind thing. Webb said this is why he does what he is doing.
“Most everyone in Southern Utah has the privilege of not knowing somebody who has either become sick or died,” Webb said. “For me, my sister just came out of having coronavirus, two of my cousins who work law enforcement for the Navajo Nation both died and one of my aunts died.”
Webb also spoke about the discrimination that the Navajo people have been seeing in border towns around the reservation. People are afraid of coming in contact with those from the reservation and they face a “level of discrimination. It’s not as obvious but it’s there,” Webb said.
Click here to access Webb’s GoFundMe account where you can donate to help him get supplies to the Navajo Nation.
Another group in St. George, Big Ocean Women, is organizing more efforts to gather supplies and food donations for the Navajo Nation. Karen Liston, a member of Big Ocean Women, spoke about the fundraiser that will be going on around the state of Utah.
“We’re going to do a little bit on Saturday but we’re going to wait till the second weekend in July to put booths all over,” Liston said.
The St. George group of Big Ocean Women will be making over 1,500 masks and collecting needed items for the Navajo Nation. The most needed items include gloves, hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, bleach, cleaning supplies, Lysol, trash bags, bar soap, laundry soap, thermometers, “Liquid IV” drink mix (found at Costco), baby wipes, formula and female personal hygiene items such as pads and tampons.
Other needed supplies include any type of canned foods, beans, dried corn, rice, yeast, flour, baking powder, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, cooking oil, salt, sugar, oatmeal, potato flakes, cornmeal, spam, corned beef hash, jerky, canned chicken and water.
“The water is not piped into their location,” Liston added. “They live out in the middle of nowhere with no running water so they won’t be able to wash their hands or they’ve had somebody bring them water and wood. they need the general sanitary items recommended by the CDC.”
The supplies drop-off locations will be located around Washington County in Veyo, St. George and Washington. The first drop-off was held at the Spanish Trail Supply Company in Veyo on Saturday. The other locations will have drop-offs on July 11 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Click here for the flyer with more information on the donations.
According to an article by the Associated Press, in response to the outbreak and cases of COVID-19 being seen in and around the reservation the Navajo Nation is reinstating weekend shutdowns to try and prevent the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible. This also includes nightly curfews.
The article also mentioned that masks are required when people are out in public.
The reinstatement of the weekend lockdowns is due to the rising COVID-19 case numbers in Arizona, where the state saw a new record for daily cases with 2,519 on Thursday morning.
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