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Indigenous health first

On the program today is Ethel Branch, Navajo, founder and interim executive director of Yee Ha’ólníi Doo Navajo & Hopi family relief fund families COIVD-19 relief fund. The National Congress of American Indians is in session this week and Lycia Maddocks, gives us highlights
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They say part of being a person is helping others and that’s why Ethel Branch, Navajo Nation, stepped up.

In fact, none other than Bill Gates called Branch one of seven unsung heroes for leadership during the Covid crisis. 

She is the Founder and Interim Executive Director of Yee Ha’ólníi Doo Navajo & Hopi family relief fund families COIVD-19 relief fund. 

In order to do COVID relief work, she took a leave of absence as a member at her law firm and her go fund me page has raised more than $5 million.

The National Congress of American Indians is in session this week, and once again, it’s a virtual conference. Lycia Maddocks, a citizen of the Quechan Tribe, joins us to give us a few highlights. She is the vice president of external affairs at NCAI. 

A slice of our Indigenous world  

  • The confirmation hearings for Rep. Deb Haaland begin this week in the U.S. Senate.
  • The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe scored a legal victory last week when the U.S. Interior Department reversed course on a series of moves designed to end the tribe’s reservation status in Massachusetts.

  • Elders will tell you, make sure to always use your time wisely. Well that’s exactly what staff did at the Heart Butte Public School in Montana. 

Some quotes from today's show

Ethel Branch

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"When I did my personal shopping there were shelves that were barren. And I was also shopping for my mom and she doesn't have running water or electricity. Some of the non-perishable items she needed just weren't on the shelves. That got me extremely concerned about our elders, some of whom have to drive two hours just to get to a meaningful grocery store and were worried that they would come and find these barren shelves, not get the things that they have to go searching and increased risk of exposure in that process. And in the end, maybe not end up with all of what they needed and being on fixed incomes, not being able to come back again for quite some time."

 “I got a real positive response from all over the country. And so I went ahead and did that for them to go fund me. And by the end of the day, we'd raised $5,000. And by the fourth day, we'd raised over a hundred thousand dollars. And, you know, it was sorta like, okay, even with the 5,001 day, that was way more than I thought I'd raised in total. So, I immediately reached out to some really amazing Navajo and Hopi women leaders who I knew were close to their communities and would know, you know, who has the real need and where, where do we best place these resources? And so that's kind of how we started our second day."

Lycia Maddox 

“I think it’s all about relationship building and tribal leader involvement, you know NCAI is a tribal leader driven organization. And so tribal leaders' voices at the table to state what those priorities are of the utmost importance. And so we started to lay those foundations at our annual meeting in November. We're walking into these conversations with Indian country's priorities, and we want to make sure that we have all of the right people at the table. We're inviting all of the newly appointed officials to understand the baseline of what these priorities are and really having substantive transactional conversations about how to make that happen."

"I think that this just opened up a door for everyone to figure out a new mode of operation. You know being in this pandemic has made us standstill and run faster at the same time. With all of the new advances in technology, it's giving us the opportunity to use those types of resources to engage with each other the way that we have never engaged before and for Indian country. To be united taking these opportunities to navigate this environment in a different way will really bring a lot of unity and help us to have one voice which will hopefully bring about good, big change."

Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @TrahantReports Trahant is based in Phoenix. 

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