For decades, many homeowners on Navajo and Hopi Nations have learned to make do with no running water, broken windows, under-insulated attics and walls, and polluted indoor air from inadequate heating stoves and moldy conditions. It is no wonder that our partner communities have significantly lower life expectancy than other Americans. Enter COVID-19, and these under-reported and ignored disparities helped ignite a wildfire of infections and loss of life. Navajo Chapters and Hopi Villages took aggressive steps to shut down to the outside world, which has helped save many lives. So has an aggressive effort to provide emergency assistance in the form of food, water, face masks, and sanitation supplies, by the nonprofit sector and a host of like-minded citizen groups and compassionate individuals.
Red Feather has focused their energies on deploying a do-it yourself handwashing system to keep families healthy and help save lives. Realizing the virus will likely be with us for some time, we are now cementing plans to move some of our Healthy Housing educational work to an online platform. Participants will be able to stream video content and access resources from the safety of their home. For housing repairs, we are developing more robust safety protocols that will allow us to slowly return to work. Ultimately, waiting for COVID to dissipate entirely before addressing critical housing needs could cause more harm than good. Let us not forget that this past winter, both Navajo and Hopi Nations experienced the closure of a major coal mine, suffering not just economic impacts but the loss of free coal used for home heating. Therefore, we are deploying a multi-prong approach to provide relief, including a collaborative firewood network, educational outreach, and new heating systems to help combat air pollution, which the CDC says can exacerbate COVID.
Red Feather is stepping up to the call of duty during this historic moment in our lives, to ensure that our communities remain resilient. We hope you enjoy the updates in this newsletter and highlight that now, more an ever, your continued support of our work is needed.