The Native American Presbyterian community is doing their best to keep members informed and to keep their spiritual needs met during this time of social-distancing. Several churches are live-streaming their worship services including:
- First Indian Presbyterian Church, Kamiah, ID
- Central Presbyterian Church, Phoenix, AZ
- Church of the Indian Fellowship, Tacoma, WA
- Kuukpik Presbyterian Church of Nuiqsut, AK
- Indian Presbyterian Church, Livingston, TX
Tribal communities, where our 95 Native American Presbyterian churches are located, are doing their best to help their people during this pandemic and social distancing. Tribes are giving out food, funds, conducting COVID-19 testing and have shut-down tribal facilities to protect the communities from further contamination. Yet Native people on various reservations continue to test-positively for the virus, deaths are still occurring and much needed resources are badly needed.
The Navajo Nation exceeded New York and New Jersey for the highest per-capita coronavirus infection rate in the country. Their reservation mostly lies within the northeast corner of covers Arizona and parts of New Mexico and Utah with a 2010 census population of 173,667. They have one of the strictest stay-at-home orders in the country requiring residents not leave home only for emergencies or if they are essential workers. They must have documentation on company letterhead with a verifiable manager’s contact number when they leave home.
Multiple generations live in one home. When one gets the virus then goes home, they infect the rest of the family. Thirty to forty percent of homes do not have running water preventing proper hygiene. The Navajo reservation has few grocery stores, convenience stores and gas stations to purchase food.
Presbytery of Grand Canyon has set up a Navajo Relief restricted account to collect donations. Checks may be directed to the Presbytery indicating: to the order of Presbytery of Grand Canyon with a note in the memo line saying “Navajo Relief”. Those funds will be directed for support of the Navajo Nation in consultation with Rev. Norma McCabe, Coordinator for the Presbytery’s Native American ministries – northern area. Checks may be sent to: Presbytery of Grand Canyon; 4141 E. Thomas Rd.; Phoenix, AZ. 85018-8707.
The Indian Health Service (IHS) reports 7,244 confirmed cases of covid-19 as of May 20th with the Navajo Nation being the hot spot. Doctors Without Borders has sent workers to the Navajo reservation to help as best they can.
Gina Gilio-Whitaker of the Colville Confederated Tribes recently argued, “We must change the way we inhabit the planet.” If we don’t, covid-19 won’t be the last pandemic we see in our lifetimes. And it may not be the worst.”