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
by   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.

August 2022 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.

NDN Collective Hosts Extreme Heat and Climate Change Webinar

Brandi Douglas

Posted 4 days ago
The webinar included a presentation by Dr. Gaurab Basu, of Cambridge Health Alliance, in collaboration with the NDN Collective Climate Justice Team, providing information needed to prepare and adapt to the heat and climate change health equity crisis.
Impacts of Permitting Reform Proposal on Tribes and Indigenous Communities

NDN Collective Climate Justice Team , Dr. Kyle Whyte

Posted 4 days ago
This analysis and summary, co-authored by the NDN Collective Climate Justice Team alongside Dr. Kyle Whyte, organizer and Professor of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan, captures the impacts of Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) permitting reform proposal and is based on the most recent draft text released on September 21, 2022. 
NDN Collective Announces Open Application Period for NDN Changemaker Fellowship Posted 5 days ago
“We are honored to offer this fellowship and recognize visionary Indigenous changemakers who are working towards defending their territories, sustainably developing and decolonizing their communities.” 
Honoring Youth and Families: NDN Collective 3rd Annual Backpack Giveaway Provides More Than School Supplies

Brandi Douglas

Posted 2 weeks ago
“Our hope is that this event starts the kids' school year off in a good way and shows them we recognize, value and honor them.”
NDN Collective Officially Opens Doors of Rapid City's First Indigenous-Led School for Indigenous Students Posted 3 weeks ago
"It is important for students to see themselves in what they are learning everyday, and to have the opportunity to be who they are, learn their language, and be recognized for their inherent Indigenous genius. At Oceti Sakowin Community Academy students will have the opportunity to do this, which is what the ancestors have wanted for our wakanyeja – our children.”
Indigenous Groups From North America Write Letter to Chilean Leadership, Supporting Monumental Provisions in Proposed Chilean Constitution Posted 3 weeks ago
"Chile’s newly proposed constitution sets a precedent for the U.S. and other governments to not only recognize it is beyond time to update our draconian constitutions, but also that integrating Indigenous rights into our core laws will move us towards truly achieving equity and justice."
Sko Vote Den Artist Showcase Brings Music and Voter Engagement to Santa Fe

Brandy Calabaza

Posted 3 weeks ago
Bringing Indigenous relatives together through art and music for a fun and interactive event aimed at the power of voting, encouraging attendees to utilize their ability to vote in the upcoming election as a means of building and reclaiming Indigenous power.
NDN Collective Takes One Step Closer to Building Tiny Home Community for Houseless Relatives in Rapid City

Brandi Douglas

Posted 1 month ago
NDN Collective’s tiny home community development, Gliúŋ, to provide essential needs, access to resources, security and belonging to unhoused Indigenous relatives in the Rapid City area.
NDN Collective to Co-Host ‘Sko Vote Den Artist Showcase’ in Santa Fe Posted 1 month ago
“Indigenous people have been shut out of the political sphere for far too long – it’s time to show up for ourselves and our communities, by centering our issues, our solutions, and electing our people to office.”
NDN Collective Responds to Gov. Noem’s Updated Social Studies Standards Posted 1 month ago
“The newly proposed SD social studies are merely another reflection of Governor Noem’s refusal to address inequity and racism –  whether it be in policy, practice, or curriculum. The proposed social studies standards do not accurately reflect the truths or experience of Indigenous people, specifically those of the Oceti Sakowin."

United like never before, we rise together—arm in arm—to equip all Indigenous Peoples with the tools needed to become architects of our future. Through a holistic approach to infrastructure, funding, advocacy, movement building, and philanthropy we are fostering a world of justice and equity for all people and the planet.