Personal story from PNE Co-founder Tyrone Whitehorse on

  • Tyrone Whitehorse, of the Navajo Nation, writes that the coronavirus is wreaking havoc on his community.
  • Navajo Nation currently has the highest per capita COVID-19 infection rate in the United States.
  • The reservation, which has a population of 173,000 people, has had 4,434 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 147 deaths, making an infection rate of 2.5%.
  • Whitehorse writes that it’s hard to follow public health guidelines when the reservation is facing “systemic disparities,” like limited access to healthcare, minimal running water, and a lack of protective supplies.

Read the complete story here.

Our collaboration with the Economist on threat of the pandemic to Native Americans

American Indians face an acute risk from COVID-19. The loss of elders is a blow to their cultures.

The Spokane people have an unusual way of saying “he got sick”: in their form of the Salish language it translates literally as “he was greeted by an illness”, using the ordinary verb for one person greeting another. In Spokane culture, illnesses are considered entities, like animals or humans. Though they may be enemies, they are to be treated with respect, not fear.

Read this powerful piece here.

PNE Co-founder Bleu Adams on MSNBC’s “Last Word” highlights need for water, electricity, broadband

Bleu Adams, a Navajo business owner and co-founder of the volunteer group “Protect Native Elders” which is distributing relief to native communities, tells Lawrence O’Donnell the “lack of infrastructure regarding access to electricity, water and internet” makes it challenging to contain the spread of coronavirus. Watch the segment here.

Bleu Adams on MSNBC’s “Last Word”



PNE co-founder Bleu Adams interviewed for

Protect Native Elders, a Native-led volunteer organization providing support to tribal communities, says inadequate infrastructure among tribal communities makes distributing supplies during coronavirus more difficult. 

“There are no distribution systems, phones, electricity or broadband service and terrible roads in most rural areas,” Bleu Adams, Navajo business owner and cofounder of Protect Native Elders, said.

Read the complete article here

Press Release: CARE ACT Assistance Not Eminent for Native Americans

SALT LAKE CITY, UT — May 11, 2020 — Protect Native Elders, a Native-lead, 100% volunteer organization working to provide rapid relief support to indigenous communities during the Covid-19 outbreak, issues a statement in response to the recent $600 million dollar government payout received by several Native American Nations.

“Although some Native American Nations have received the much needed Care Act funding, it will continue to be a complex and slow-moving situation.  (more…)

Mashable story on what makes PNE unique and effective

Mashable story on what makes PNE unique and effective:

  • focused on getting PPE, water, and other critical supplies to tribes across the U.S.
  • donations are distributed to optimize for maximum impact, based on emerging coronavirus epicenters, the amount of aid previously received, and the number of cases
  • using a combination of drop shipping, courier delivery, tribal contacts, and Navajo Nation distribution hub

Johnnie Henry, president of the Navajo Nation's Church Rock chapter house community center. Image: Morgan Lee, AP / Shutterstock

Gratitude from the Tohono O’Odham Nation

Read this inspiring letter written to Protect Native Elders from Verlon Jose, Governor of the Traditional O’odham Leaders, President of PPEP First American Resources and Services, Former Vice Chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation and Former Chairman of the Tohono O’odham Legislative Council.

An excerpt:

Nothing was reaching us until we found Protect Native Elders who offered rapid support. They delivered multiple shipments of masks and face shields helping to diminish the concerns of those working on the front lines. … One life is too many to lose. If we can protect and save one life at a time and many more by providing the basic need of Personal Protective Equipment and Food, we would have a better society in this world.


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