- By Rich Tupica
NAVAJO NATION - As the COVID-19 numbers continue to rise across Indian Country, actor Mark Ruffalo is set to take part in a virtual emergency conversation for all tribal citizens. The virtual event, Protect the Sacred, launches tonight, Tuesday, March 31 at 7 p.m. - MDT via Facebook Live and will feature Navajo comedians James and Ernie, Miss Navajo Nation Shaandiin Parrish, and Ruffalo, the acclaimed actor and ally. The online event, which is open for all, can be accessed at ProtectTheSacred.net.
Along with many others being affected by the outbreak, Navajo Nation is experiencing a rapid increase in the spread of the COVID-19 virus on tribal lands in Arizona and New Mexico. According to a news release, more than 100 people have the virus and three have died, but those are only the cases that health professionals know about. The Navajo Nation has many homes that do not have running water or electricity, putting them at further risk of spreading the virus. This week, New Mexico’s Governor Michelle Grisham warned that the spike in cases in tribal communities is dire. That’s what sparked the launch of this live stream. The organizers say they hope to reaffirm the importance to tribal communities that it's vital to stay inside, practice social distancing, and encourage their family members to self-quarantine. The stream will be a conversation moderated by one of the campaign’s creators, Allie Young.
Miss Navajo Nation Shaandiin Parrish is scheduled to participate in the Protect the Sacred streaming event tonight.
“The campaign is called Protect the Sacred in order to convey the need to protect our elders, our languages, our medicine ways and our cultures,” Young said. “There is an information gap right now about the severity of this situation. Young people think that they will not get sick and our elders do not have the information they need. “It is critical that we arm Native youth with the accurate information to be the leaders in their families,” she added. “I believe that the heroes they look up to, like Mark Ruffalo, Miss Navajo Nation and Navajo Nation leaders, can really galvanize them to step up and be warriors, protectors and leaders for the elders who fought so hard for us to still be here today. If there is one thing I know, we are proud of our people, land and culture, so it’s time for us to fight harder than ever to save what we still have. We can do this together and we shall remain.”
The campaign organizers also said in a release they hope this offers an opportunity for people to meet virtually and support one another at a time when many are feeling isolated.
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