It is important to recognize that Native communities were America’s first land stewards, holding a deeply interactive and impassioned connection to the natural world. Today, for a variety of reasons, we are now seeing unprecedented, large wildfires across the western United States as well as coordinated efforts to solve that problem. Thus, Red Feather’s collaborative effort to provide firewood to Native families in need is part of a holistic solution to reduce wildfire risks and restore some level of socio-ecological balance. As a housing organization, we could not stand idly by as families faced freezing to death, due to inadequate heating fuel.
Recognizing that firewood alone is an imperfect solution to keeping families warm and healthy, we have continued to expand related aspects of our work, such as our retrofits and repairs of roofs, windows, and doors. We have also greatly expanded our heating system improvement program, which has included replacing older, inefficient potbelly-style stoves with modern EPA-certified, clean-burning devices. Additionally, we have installed more than 50 mini-split heat pumps, which produce zero emissions and have the added benefit of providing air conditioning--a growing necessity that few Native families have historically been able to enjoy. We are also installing solar heating furnaces as a supplemental heat source that improves air quality and reduces heating expenses.
Our flexible, adaptive programming has allowed us to be quick and nimble during these unprecedented times. When the pandemic swept across Navajo and Hopi lands, we promptly responded by providing hand-washing stations to families without running water in hopes that improving access to hand hygiene would slow the spread of the virus. We have also been able to re-envision our educational classes by developing an on-line suite of videos and instruction materials. Now students can stream or watch DVDs that provide practical strategies for creating healthier living environments. To further advance this work, we are distributing customized, healthy home kits. These do-it-yourself kits can include items such as carbon monoxide and smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, chimney cleaning brushes, and aging-in-place items.
The one constant in all these efforts is the generous trust that all of you place in us. Your continued support of our work allows Red Feather to keep evolving and supporting those in need. For that, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Red Feather Executive Director Joe Seidenberg