The NDN Covid-19 Response Project Learn more

Sarah Sunshine Manning · May 1, 2020

In Case You Missed It: Native Americans & COVID-19 Town Hall

This town hall was part of IllumiNative's #WarriorUp campaign which works to shine a light on the impacts and needs resulting from COVID-19 in Indian Country.

Life amid the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us all in unprecedented ways, and even still, we are coming together in strength and community. During these extraordinary times, Indigenous people throughout Turtle Island have had no choice but to draw upon our ancestral resilience and mobilize for the sake of our communities, our Nations, and the collective future of humanity.

The Native Americans & COVID-19 Town Hall was organized to bring us all together in this same fashion, to continue drawing strength from each other, and to provide time and space to put our minds together in order to envision a vibrant, transformative future even during these challenging times. This town hall was part of IllumiNative’s #WarriorUp campaign which works to shine a light on the impacts and needs resulting from COVID-19 in Indian Country.

Organized by IllumiNative and co-hosted by the NDN Collective and Indian Country Today, this event brought together a powerful line-up of Indigenous leaders, professionals, and organizers who have long had their boots-on-the-ground in Indigenous communities, not just during these challenging pandemic times, but long before that.  From Congressional Representatives Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids, to Navajo Nation President Jonathon Nez, to NDN Collective’s own President and CEO Nick Tilsen, leaders from all corners of Indian Country came together in solidarity during the town hall.
 

Panelists and host Crystal Echo Hawk for the panel, “COVID-19: Disproportionate Impacts on Native Peoples and Communities of Color.”


A special line-up of celebrity guests also joined the town hall, including Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas, country musician Billy Ray Cyrus, and actress Piper Perabo.  Taboo opened up the town hall with a message of hope and resilience, and the event was also live-streamed on his YouTube channel. During the town hall, Cyrus announced that he was donating 20,000 masks to Indigenous communities to protect against further transmission of COVID-19.

Crystal Echohawk of IllumiNative and Mark Trahant of Indian Country Today moderated each of the panels. 

“Our values and our ancestral teachings are so relevant right now,” said Jodi Archambault of the Wend Collective during the town hall. “Communities are planting gardens, children are learning songs, and they’re learning languages. Without audiences, people are just doing it because it makes their hearts sing.”
 

Five different panels were featured during the town hall: 

COVID-19 Health Impact on Indian Country

Panelists: 

  • President Jonathon Nez, Navajo Nation
  • Abigail Echo-Hawk, Urban Indian Health Institute
  • Donald Warne, Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Indians into Medicine, University of North Dakota
  • Dr. Dakota Lane, Lummi Tribe 

COVID-19 Impact on Tribal Government and Economies in Indian Country & Beyond 

Panelists: 

  • Chief Sneed, Eastern Band Cherokee
  • Representative Sharice Davids, U.S. House of Representatives
  • Fawn Sharp, President, National Congress of American Indians

COVID-19 Disproportionate Impacts on Native Peoples and Communities of Color

Panelists: 

  • Dwayne Proctor, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Representative Deb Haaland, U.S. House of Representatives
  • Minnesota Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan 
  • Monica Ramirez, The Latin-X House

Resilience and Community Building in the Time of COVID-19

Panelists: 

  • Nick Tilsen, President and CEO of NDN Collective
  • Allie Young, Protecting the Sacred
  • Notah Begay III, NB3 Foundation
  • Piper Perabo, Actress
  • Billy Ray Cyrus, Musician

We Are All Related: Pathways Forward for Resilience, Health and Transformative Change

Panelists: 

  • Judith LeBlanc, Native Organizers Alliance
  • Jodi Archambault, Wend Collective
  • Nick Tilsen, NDN Collective
  • Crystal Echohawk, IllumiNative 

Panelists Crystal Echo Hawk, Judith LeBlanc, Jodi Archambault, and Nick Tilsen for the panel, “We are All Related: Pathways Forward for Resilience, Health, and Transformative Change”

“It’s wonderful to be together, even though we’re apart,” said Judith LeBlanc of Native Organizers Alliance, during the closing panel.  LeBlanc called in from Brooklyn, New York, where she joins a large community of urban Indians impacted by COVID-19. 

“If we double down on our values and remember to lead always with the fact that we are all related, we are all a part of this larger circle of people, and that what we do every day matters and has an impact on us immediately, for our future descendants and for people all across the world, that’s the lesson,” said LeBlanc. “Double down on our values, build upon them, lift them up and keep them alive, because that’s where the solutions will come from.” 

The town hall was live streamed from Taboo’s YouTube channel where it can still be viewed, and also on the Facebook pages of IllumiNative, NDN Collective, Indian Country Today, and  Now This News.  More than 216,000 people have viewed the Town Hall so far on Facebook.

Thank you to all who tuned in to the livestream, and a special thanks to our partners at IllumiNative, Indian Country Today, and to all of our panelists and guests. 

Learn More About IllumiNative’s Warrior Up Campaign here. 

Sarah Sunshine Manning
Sarah Sunshine Manning

Sarah Sunshine Manning, NDN Collective Director of Communications, is a citizen of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation in Idaho and Nevada, and Chippewa-Cree of Rocky Boy, Montana. Manning directs NDN Collective’s communications strategy and impact. She also serves as producer of the NDN Podcast While Indigenous and as editor of the NDN blog. Manning has Bachelor’s degrees in American Indian Studies, Social Science-History, and licensure in Secondary Education. She has a Master’s degree in journalism and mass communication.

May 2020 Edition

Stay Informed. Take Action.
Subscribe to the NDN allies newsletter

Sign up to get our newsletter. Delivered once per month.

We care about the protection of your data and would never sell your email or share it with anyone without your permission.

Recently published on NDN

Posted 7 months ago Alcatraz Canoe Journey: Honoring 50 Years of Indigenous Resistance and Persistence

Jade Begay

"If we work to reframe Alcatraz as a symbol for Indigenous sovereignty and reposition it in people’s psyche that way, it could be a very powerful thing, especially for people who are so often forgotten overlooked and marginalized like Natives in America."
Posted 1 day ago Joint Statement: NDN Collective, IllumiNative, and Native Organizers Alliance call for justice for George Floyd
Indigenous organizations NDN Collective, IllumiNative, and Native Organizers Alliance call for justice for #GeorgeFloyd and an end to systemic racism
Posted 2 weeks ago Biden to stop KXL pipeline if elected- VOTE! and hold him to his word
NDN Collective calls for mass mobilization with voting in response to Joe Biden's announcement that he would stop the KXL pipeline if elected.
Posted 2 weeks ago SD Tribal Nations are exercising sovereignty and protecting citizens with checkpoints-- Noem should take note
NDN Collective's statement of solidarity with SD Tribal Nations exercising sovereignty and protecting citizens with checkpoints during COVID-19.
Posted 3 weeks ago NDN COVID-19 Response Project Awards $2.5 Million to Indigenous Communities in April
NDN has made awards to 95 Tribal Nations and Indigenous-led organizations totaling over $2,500,000 in grant awards. Selected grantees represent Indigenous communities from 23 states and Mexico.
Posted 4 weeks ago "We will continue leaning in": Nick Tilsen on COVID-19 Response

Nick Tilsen

NDN Collective President and CEO Nick Tilsen recaps the past month of mobilization in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Posted 1 month ago NDN Collective Announces RFI for Indigenous Contractors to Provide Support to Indigenous Communities Dealing w/ COVID-19
The RFI is designed to complement COVID-19 Response grants and loans that are offered by NDN Collective
Posted 1 month ago NDN Collective Announces Grants up to $5k for Indigenous Artists & Entrepreneurs Impacted by COVID-19 Pandemic
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The NDN Artist and Entrepreneur Fund will provide grants of up to $5,000 to ease these current hardships in this time of economic uncertainty.
Posted 1 month ago Earth Day 2020: We can no longer take baby steps. Honor the Earth as your own mother.

Andrew Catt-Iron shell

While fifty years have come and gone from the first Earth Day, we do not have another fifty years to get this right.
Posted 2 months ago NDN Changemaker Fellowship Now Open for Indigenous Applicants Throughout Turtle Island
The NDN Changemaker Fellowship is a 12-month opportunity for Indigenous leaders to articulate their vision for social change, to identify the support they will need to get there and to invest in their own development, health, healing and wellbeing.
Posted 2 months ago NDN Collective Announces $10 Million COVID-19 Response Project for Indigenous People
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: NDN COVID-19 Response Project provides grants, communication and strategic support to Indigenous people.
NDN Collective
317 Main St #1
Rapid City, SD 57701
P: +1 (605) 791-3999
E: info@ndncollective.org
© 2020 NDN Collective. All rights reserved.