Close Window



Friends –

We are all suddenly experiencing a frightening world. A powerful illness surrounds us all and so far its spread can only be controlled by severely limiting, even eliminating, activities that we most love. There should be no family gatherings, trips to the park, concerts, and shows. No visiting the shopping malls or traveling to new and distant places. No casual dining out when you don't feel like cooking.

And there are new habits that we are learning, such as wearing face masks and gloves for necessary trips to the grocery store. We have learned to scrub our hands like a surgeon whenever we return home, prepare to go out, or accept a package in the mail. We keep countertops and living spaces scrubbed clean as the best way to prevent a virus from making a new home on miscellaneous bio-matter. And should the unthinkable happen and we become very sick, the ability for an ambulance to find our house is dependable.

Yet, there is privilege in these sacrifices we are making.

It is so much more difficult for those that live in tribal lands of SE Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, quarantine is important. There is a higher percentage of health vulnerability among the Navajo, so keeping away from the virus is the best bet. Even necessary trips to the grocery store are a risk. The absence of reliable or running water makes it a joke to consider washing hands for even 20 seconds – let alone full body showers or frequent scrubbing of countertops. And there are cases where people have died because the ambulances can't figure out where their home is, and sometimes even which state it is in so as to know which emergency service applies.

But the virus only exacerbates the problems that have always faced the Navajo in San Juan County. These difficulties that I listed are only some of problems that they have faced for the last century on a daily basis. Even without the difficulties imposed by the virus, the dominating Jim-Crow treatment of native people here has long been debilitating and shameful.

If I had to deal with all this, it would make me give up. But the Navajo strength, resilience, intelligence, kindness – and even sense of humor – is incredible. Willie Grayeyes from Navajo Mountain (now a county supervisor after a long-fought election battle) is one of those very incredibly strong people.

I could write a book but instead, should you feel inclined, a simple Google search on Willie Grayeyes will tell you so much. I was honored to have met him a couple of years ago.

Stay healthy. Help others stay healthy.

  margie lopez read