By Kolby KickingWoman

Indian Country Today

A range of panelists from Capitol Hill to Hollywood to the Navajo Nation will meet virtually Thursday night to talk about all the ways the coronavirus is affecting Indian Country.

The nonprofit group Illuminative is co-hosting a virtual town hall at 8 p.m. EDT as part of its “Warrior Up” campaign aimed at raising awareness of the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on Indigenous communities.

Thursday's event features 20 panelists, including U.S. Reps. Debra Haaland and Sharice Davids, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, National Congress of American Indians President Fawn Sharp, singer-songwriter Billy Ray Cyrus and actress Piper Perabo. It will be moderated by Taboo, a member of the Black Eyed Peas, and Mark Trahant, editor of Indian Country Today. 

There will be no shortage of avenues to tune-in: The town hall is set to be streamed live on Taboo’s YouTube channel and on the Facebook pages of Illuminative, Indian Country Today and the group NDN Collective.

IllumiNative was created to boost the visibility of Indigenous people in the U.S. It launched the “Warrior Up” campaign to mobilize Native and non-Natives alike in the “fight for our lives” against COVID-19.

“Now is the time to fight for the visibility of Native peoples, care for our communities and ensure Native peoples are seen, heard and included in solutions and conversations about this public health emergency,” the website says.

The town hall will be broken into segments and will touch on subjects including the health and economic impacts of COVID-19 in Indian Country, and how Native peoples and communities of color are being disproportionately impacted.

“We’ll be sharing several stories of resilience, hope and community building with our partners and allies,” the site says.


Guests appearing during the event cross all sections of life, from the halls of Congress to tribal leaders to allies in the music and movie industry.

Panelists include:

  • Billy Ray Cyrus, two time Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter
  • Piper Perabo, actress and director
  • Notah Begay III, PGA award winning golfer and announcer
  • Minnesota Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan
  • U.S. Rep. Debra Haaland (NM-1st District)
  • U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids (KS-3rd District)
  • Monica Ramirez, civil rights activist and co-founder of the Latinx House
  • Crystal Echo Hawk, IllumiNative executive director
  • President Jonathan Nez, Navajo Nation
  • Abigail Echo-Hawk, Urban Indian Health Institute
  • Donald Warne, associate dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion & Indians Into Medicine, University of North Dakota
  • Dr. Dakotah Lane, Lummi Tribe
  • Chief Sneed, Eastern Band Cherokee
  • Fawn Sharp, president, National Congress of American Indians
  • Dwayne Proctor, senior program advisor and advisor to the president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Nick Tilsen, CEO, NDN Collective
  • Allie Young, Protecting the Sacred
  • Judith LeBlanc, Native Organizers Alliance
  • Jodi Archambault, Wend Collective
  • Nick Tilsen, NDN Collective

*This story has been corrected to reflect Billy Ray Cyrus' title as a two time Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter

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Kolby KickingWoman, Blackfeet/A'aniih is a reporter/producer for Indian Country Today. He is from the great state of Montana and currently reports and lives in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter - @KDKW_406. Email -

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