Dalton Walker

Indian Country Today

Apparently, your undies play a key role in proper mask etiquette.

It’s true. Well, in a roundabout way it is.

The Tohono O’odham Nation was looking for a new way to better explain to citizens the importance of wearing a mask and how to properly care for it during the COVID-19 era. It may have found it when it turned to a lighthearted message with comparisons to tighty-whities.

The tribe’s Office of Emergency Management posted a graphic this week on Facebook that showed a mask, a pair of underwear and seven tips on how treating a mask like undies will avoid cross contamination.


The information isn’t original — similar tips have been shared on Pinterest and elsewhere. But the Tohono O’odham Nation put its own twist on the design, including the tribe’s Man in the Maze symbol, which represents life’s journey.

A local doctor vetted the information, said Deanna Garcia, public information officer. She asked a graphic designer with the tribe to add a Tohono O’odham spin before posting.

“I ran it through several different people trying to make sure it was going to be OK and wasn’t going to be offensive in any way,” Garcia said. “It kind of just took off” on Facebook.

The graphic has been shared over 1,100 times.

The tips include:

  • Do not touch or adjust (especially in public).
  • Do not borrow or lend.
  • Make sure it fits tight but comfortable.
  • Make sure it's clean (daily or as needed).
  • Wear the right side out.
  • If there’s hole in it, throw it away.
  • If it’s stained, throw it away.

On the Facebook post, one commentator said “Nice way to put it,” while another wrote “Well said.”

The post is easily the page’s most popular, said Paul Mesa, the tribe’s emergency management administrator.

“For me, if we can get somebody to smile, to laugh, I think those are especially needed during times like this in this COVID-19 environment,” Mesa said.

Everyone over the age of 2 should wear a cloth face cover when out in public spaces, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the mask or cloth is not a substitute for social distancing by 6 feet.

Like many tribal nations, Tohono O’odham has been affected by the new coronavirus. In its most recent public update, the tribe said 62 citizens have tested positive and eight have died. The tribe has about 28,000 citizens.

(More information: Indian Country's COVID-19 syllabus)

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Dalton Walker, Red Lake Anishinaabe, is a national correspondent at Indian Country Today. Follow him on Twitter - @daltonwalker

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