Sunday, July 3, 2022

Native American Deaths Rising at Alarming Rate from COVID-19

native americans - protect our communities

*Tulsa, Okla.  – Navajo Nation, the nation’s largest Native American reservation, announced the number of COVID-19 cases rose to 698 Saturday, up 101 from just one day before, and 24 people have died from complications of the virus,  according to the Navajo Department of Health and Navajo Area Indian Health Service.

Many communities such as Navajo Nation are leading COVID-19 hotspots with approximately 700 cases, a number of infected people more than the states of: West Virginia, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Alaska, or territories like Guam and the Virgin Islands. The Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Nation’s COVID- 19 cases recently nearly doubled in 48 hours.

Hundreds of Native Americans contracted the virus and the numbers are rising daily. The virus is hitting southwest tribes and communities hardest but there is no way to know the total impact on the Native American community, as the Indian Health Service does not report urban cases and 70% of Native peoples do not live on reservations. Also, there is also significant concern for Native elders and Native children and youth as Native American experience high health disparities and underlying conditions that can make them more vulnerable to the virus.

IllumiNative, focuses on shattering the invisibility and false narratives that adversely impact Native Americans in the United States. It creates a framework for a rapid response system to gain significant traction around critical media stories about Native American issues.

Bridge Philanthropic Consulting (BPC), globally recognized as the nation’s only African American-owned and premiere full- service philanthropic firm, announced it is serving as a rapid response media partner for its client, IllumiNative.

As the COVID-19 pandemic cases continue to sweep through Native American communities, IllumiNative and BPC are combining efforts to raise public awareness of the intensifying need for increased funding support for health care systems that serve Native American communities. They are also aiming to bring to the forefront the need for funding to improve the emergency response to Native peoples diagnosed with COVID-19.

The lack of mainstream media attention and public awareness of how the coronavirus is impacting Native peoples threaten to create a barrier to communities receiving financial support to address critical needs. Without a sustained funding stream to support critical measures to respond to public health needs, small business relief, and threats to employment, Tribal governments cannot safeguard the health and safety of their citizenry during the coronavirus crisis.

“The invisibility of Native peoples during the COVID-19 pandemic is fatal with the potential to kill thousands if not immediately addressed,” said Crystal Echo Hawk, IllumiNative Executive Director. “From our research, we know that 78% of Americans know little to nothing about Native peoples and our representation in mainstream media is less than 0.04%. This invisibility directly transfers to critical funding during times of crises and historical lack of investment in Indian Country to sustain Native communities through a pandemic. Historically underfunded, Indian Health Services, housing, and infrastructure in Native communities have been neglected and unprepared for a crisis of this magnitude. In many parts of the country, tribes are the leading economic drivers, health care providers, and job creators making them important partners and allies in the systems of American government from the local, state, and federal level. Tribes and Native communities need fair and equal investment to help fight this non-discriminating virus and make sure that the health of our communities is recognized and represented.”

IllumiNative’s COVID-19 emergency efforts are focused on leveraging communications and culture shifters to help amplify the authentic representation and impact of the pandemic on Native communities through mainstream media. To optimize our messaging and raise public awareness in a transmedia world, we will provide media training for Native leaders, launch a COVID-19 podcast, and engage in key partnerships with Native artists/influencers and celebrities to produce content, including Covid-19 PSAs. IllumiNative will partner with the National Indian Education Association and Amplifier to create and disseminate digital education tools, lesson plans, and resources for more than 1 million students and families within the next four weeks.

Native-lead COVID-19 initiatives include the following, however this is NOT enough:

NDN Collective: They are launching an emergency relief fund this Wednesday with a goal of $10M. It will include grants and support to Native nonprofits, artists, tribes and loans to Native American businesses impacted.

Native American Community Response Fund, organized by Native Americans in Philanthropy, Decolonizing Wealth and National Urban Indian Family Coalition, will provide emergency support for the most vulnerable Native American families and communities impacted by COVID-19. Wealth-Fund/home

Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund:

American Indian College Fund Tribal College Student Relief will help support tribal college students impacted with support for rent, food, childcare and other needs.

Flicker Fund, organized by the Seventh Generation Fund, provides direct grant support to stressed Indigenous communities on the frontlines of the COVID- 19 pandemic.

NB3 Foundation COVID-19 Response Fund, will fund access to nutritional food and clean water, access to education opportunities and youth development.!/donation/checkout

Native Americans are a vibrant and growing population with rich, distinct cultures in the United States, but Americans have been taught an inaccurate history about Native peoples. The perpetual false narratives and toxic stereotypes fuel bias against Native peoples and render them invisible, which is especially harmful during global health events such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Research has shown that during similar respiratory viral pandemics, such as the 1918 Spanish Flu and 2009 H1N1 influenza, that Native children and adults had markedly higher rates of both disease and fatalities in some cases four to five times higher than the general U.S. population. As a result, there is an urgent need to ensure that Native communities have the resources, testing, personal protective equipment (PPE), and assistance they need.


About Bridge Philanthropic Consulting, LLC

Bridge Philanthropic Consulting (BPC) the nation’s only full-service Black-Owned fundraising firm. Our company has a proven track record of extraordinary success helping philanthropic organizations and institutions to realize their dreams, accomplish their missions and grow their aspirations. With more than 120 years of combined experience, our leaders have raised hundreds of millions of dollars for clients throughout the world.


About IllumiNative
IllumiNative, is a Native-led nonprofit, launched to increase the visibility of Native peoples in American society by changing the national narrative. IllumiNative challenges negative narratives, stories, and stereotypes about Native peoples. We provide tools for Native advocates and allies including youth, community and tribal leaders, activists, and professionals across critical sectors — to develop and advocate for accurate and contemporary representations and voices of Native peoples. Visit for more information.

IllumiNative Social Media Handles:
Twitter: @_illuminatives Instagram: @_illuminatives






Company Name: Bridge Philanthropic Consulting
Contact Person: Edna Sims Email:




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