Protect the Peoples Emergency Partnership Fund

Protect the Peoples Emergency (PPE) Partnership Fund

Providing Coronavirus Masks and Supplies to Grassroots Indigenous Communities from Alaska to the Amazon

Several months after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the infection and death rate on the Navajo Nation alone remains 10 times higher than the state of Arizona, despite the fact that the tribe reported its first case of Coronavirus 51 days after Arizona did. This disproportionate level of suffering is playing out all across Indian Country from our Native Alaskan relatives all the way through Turtle Island and South to the Amazon.

The PPE partnership came together to help, but we can’t do it without you.

Background photo by Deidra Peaches 
Navajo & Hopi Families COVID 19 Relief Fund volunteers unloading water donated by Jason Mamoa
A patrol team is stationed at one check point leading into the Pine Ridge reservation. Arlo Iron Cloud photo in Lakota Times

Our Success To Date

This all-volunteer partnership has so far distributed 100,000 masks and other PPE to over 40 communities here on Turtle Island and to our relatives further South including the Yaqui and Tohono O’Odham communities of Mexico, and the Huni Kui of Brazil. There are larger relief efforts out there and all help is needed. We believe our Partnership fills a critical gap for grassroots Indigenous communities that still can’t get the supplies they need to protect their people.

Help us raise $350,000 to continue providing grassroots Indigenous communities of North, Central and South America the personal protection equipment (PPE) they desperately require but still cannot access. We have already raised close to $200,000 and distributed 100,000 masks and supplies. Every dollar we raise will go to those most in need.

“We received the masks in the nick of time! We had to send 7 different individuals out to deliver food. I was able to give masks to all of the food delivery people. In addition, the organization, Running Strong, that provides these food boxes, did not have masks when we went to pick up the food, so I was able to give them a box as well. Yesterday we delivered about 200 food boxes throughout six communities!”

Why the Coronavirus is so Deadly for Native American Communities

The Indian Health Service (IHS), tribal and urban medical clinics lack the staffing, equipment and capacity to treat Coronavirus patients. Already underfunded, these facilities cannot compete with private hospitals in a bidding war for critically needed PPE. State and Federal COVID-19 support is slow to reach Indian Country. Our Native nations and Indigenous communities are poorly prepared to handle the escalating COVID-19 pandemic, mainly due to the failure of the U.S. government fulfilling its trust responsibilities under treaty agreements to provide adequate health care, housing, and other basic needs like clean water. This situation is aggravated by chronic poverty and poor health conditions in Indian Country caused by a long legacy of genocide, colonization, and racism.

"You're telling people, 'Wash your hands for 20 seconds multiple times a day,' and they don't have running water. Or you're saying, 'Go buy groceries for 2-3 weeks and shelter in place and don't come out,' but people can't afford groceries for 2-3 weeks. So it's just a setup for frustration and concern by the population here."

Why the Coronavirus is so Deadly for Indigenous Communities of the Amazon

COVID-19 has the potential to wipe out entire communities of Indigenous people in the Amazon, including their lack of immunological defenses to western-borne diseases due to their avoidance of contact with non-Indigenous people, and the difficulty of obtaining the safest of equipment and supplies that can provide the type of protection and healthcare that this new virus demands. Brazil ranks 2nd behind the US in Coronavirus cases. The mortality rate is about 6.4% among the Brazilian population, that number rises to 12.6% among Indigenous populations, according to CNN. Some Indigenous communities report nearly half of their tribe are infected, and most are days away from the nearest hospital.

Chief Ninawa, President of the Huni Kui People’s Federation of the Brazilian Amazon (pictured). At his urgent request, we have sourced, purchased and shipped to him 15,000 PPE masks & sanitation supplies necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 racing through his homelands.

Direct Distribution

Each week we meet virtually to assess where COVID-19 is hitting hardest, and where supplies are most needed. Working from across the country, the PPE partners have created an Emergency Pipeline including sourcing, purchasing and distributing PPE to tribal healthcare facilities and Native community-based mutual aid efforts most in need throughout Indian Country.  Through our collective network of allies we have identified reputable and certified sources for securing masks from abroad and within the US. We work to identify Native health facilities that need large shipments of PPE, and grassroots organizations delivering mutual aid who need smaller bundles of 500-2,000 masks.

The PPE partners