- By Rich Tupica
ADDISON, Texas -- From small-town Oklahoma native to internationally acclaimed actor and musician, Wes Studi forever changed a stereotype with his unforgettable performances in Dances with Wolves, The Last of the Mohicans, Heat and Avatar.
Now, he’s working on another mission. Yesterday, the Cherokee citizen and legendary film star released a public service announcement (PSA) to raise awareness of the serious effects of COVID-19 in Indian Country and request widespread support for Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) to ensure Native Americans are not left behind during the pandemic. What sparked the PSA is a series of vital health issues happening in the wake of COVID-19, even with many stay-at-home orders in place. The risk of contracting the virus is higher among Native Americans due to overcrowded housing and high rates of diabetes, kidney disease and asthma. And despite more than 7,100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the Navajo Nation and other tribal communities, federal aid has been slow to arrive.
In his new PSA, the Oscar winner reminds the public of the need for immediate attention and charitable donations to PWNA, which has secured tribal clearances and follows CDC and tribal guidelines to continue delivering critical items, such as food, water, sanitizer and personal protective equipment (PPE).
For more information on the PSA, and to learn how to donate, visit NativePartnership.org/COVIDrelief. Organizers are asking people to share this on social media using the hashtags #NativeHope and #COVID19. You can also call 1(800) 416-8102 to learn more.
“Every day, remote reservation communities face shortages of food, water and healthcare, and COVID-19 has magnified that reality,” said Joshua Arce, PWNA president and CEO. “Donations are critical now as we bring relief to under-resourced communities.”
Studi notes PWNA is a nonprofit he trusts. In 2019, they collaborated in a five-part Realities Video Series with Wes Studi that aimed to give an accurate portrayal of reservation life and dispels long-held myths that continue to impact Native communities.
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