Story at a glance

  • Some Native American communities lack access to basic resources, including food and water, that are vital to fighting the novel coronavirus.
  • A new PSA focuses on social distancing as a prevention measure against the disease.
  • Celebrities including Ed Helms, Taika Waititi, Casey Affleck, Wilmer Valderrama and Taboo ask members of the Native American community to stay apart.

Nonprofits IllumiNative and Harness conscripted the most famous Native Americans they could find for a new social distancing public service announcement (PSA), although "you probably haven't heard of any of them," one quipped in the video. So they recruited a few celebrities you may have heard of, including Ed Helms, Taika Waititi, Casey Affleck, Wilmer Valderrama and Taboo.


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The less than 3-minute video features prominent voices asking members of the Native American community to come together during this pandemic — by staying apart. 

"I am protecting the elders by staying away from them," said golfer Notah Begay in the video. 

The coronavirus pandemic poses a major threat to the Native American community, especially those living on reservations, where cases of COVID-19 have been reported. Some Native American communities lack access to basic resources, including food and water, that are vital to fighting the novel coronavirus. At the same time, the closure of casinos means that some tribal governments are losing their primary source of revenue.


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“For decades, we have been fighting for the visibility of Native peoples. Now this fight has become absolutely vital to ensuring that Native communities are not left behind or erased from the COVID-19 response,” said Crystal Echo Hawk, Executive Director of IllumiNative. “Tribes and Native communities need to be seen, heard and included in local, state, and federal solutions and conversations. Together we can find a common pathway forward out of this public health emergency.”

IllumiNative is co-hosting a virtual town hall on April 30 along with NDN Collective and Indian Country Today to highlight the stories of community members and raise issues facing the population. The livestream will air on their Facebook pages as well as Taboo’s Youtube page

The nonprofit is also putting out a podcast on the subject to bring awareness to a community, noting in a press release that studies show that 78 percent  of Americans know little to nothing about Native peoples, and representation of Native communities in mainstream media is less than 0.04 percent. 

“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,” said IllumiNative on their website, promoting the hashtag “Warrior Up.”


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Published on Apr 23, 2020