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The Navajo Nation issued a proclamation recognizing March 17, 2022 as “Navajo Nation Day of Prayer” in honor and memory of all lives lost to COVID-19. To commemorate the day, Navajo Nation leaders gathered for a prayer service Thursday morning to remember those who have died and ask for blessings for their communities and frontline health care workers. The date marks two years since the first COVID-19 case was confirmed on the Navajo Nation.  

“We gather to offer corn pollen and protection prayers to bring comfort to the countless families affected by COVID-19,” said Navajo Nation Council Speaker Seth Damon (Bááhaalí, Chichiltah, Manuelito, Red Rock, Rock Springs, Tséyatoh) in a press release Thursday. “The last two years brought us together as one Navajo family to protect our elders, young people, and those most vulnerable. The vaccine saved millions of lives around the world and allowed the Navajo Nation to be a leader for Indian Country for vaccinations. Science prevailed again as face masks and other preventive measures proved to be the first step to ending this pandemic.”

The proclamation and prayer service recognize the “hardships, sacrifices, and losses” that people on the Navajo Nation continue to endure, the press release says. As of March 16, there have been 52,754 COVID-19 cases reported on the Navajo Nation and 1,657 lives lost since the start of the pandemic, according to the Navajo Department of Health.  

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“Today, we come together with all faiths, to join in prayer to honor and remember the lives lost to COVID-19 over the past two years and to ask for strength and comfort for all of the families,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez. “Through the strength and teachings of our ancestors and the guidance of our public health experts, we continue to see a decline in new cases and hospitalizations. We must continue to pray, take precautions, and get vaccinated as we move forward together.”

Former Navajo Nation Vice President Rex Lee Jim and Pastor Ron Harvey offered prayers during the morning service. In accordance with the proclamation, all flags on the Navajo Nation are being flown at half-staff on Thursday. 

“Peace, healing, strength, and joy come in many ways to bear our burdens,” said Chief Justice JoAnn B. Jayne. “We pray for a prosperous life within the Four Sacred Mountains and beyond, knowing that our ancestors are forever present. Ahéhée.”

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Author: Kelsey TurnerEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Kelsey Turner is a contributing writer for Native News Online and a graduate student at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.