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Noon – 5 p.m.

500 W. Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204

The COVID-19 Outbreak in the Navajo Nation

Image caption: Image of artist Donovan Quintero (Diné)

Donovan Quintero (Diné)

In March 2020, COVID-19 started ravaging the Navajo Nation, turning it into a national hot spot for the virus. The infection rate among Diné (Navajo people) was aggravated by several issues, including chronic underlying illnesses, food and water insecurity, and a lack of electricity among a third of households. Many Diné live in extended families where COVID-19 can spread quickly. There are often vast distances between households and towns, which can make it difficult for Diné to receive public health messages and medical assistance.

Donovan Quintero, a photojournalist for the Navajo Times – Diné bi Naaltsoos, has documented the pandemic’s impact throughout the Navajo Nation and the Diné’s response to it. He began documenting the pandemic when it first struck the reservation. In this photo essay, Quintero explores how the Diné have been impacted by the pandemic and how they have taken care of one another. His photos capture the vast expanse of the reservation and the isolation and resilience of the Diné. His essay also highlights the critical roles played by tribal council members, police, health care workers, and the unsung heroes of the pandemic. The essay ends with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and Diné prayers for the future.

SOURCE: Smithsonian Institution National Museum of the American Indian

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