Navajo Nation asks for help, gets supplies from Hollywood filmmakers who use their land for productions

Coronavirus New Mexico

NAVAJO NATION (KRQE) – Members of the Navajo Nation are still in desperate need of supplies. Now, they’re asking for help from those in Hollywood who use their land in TV and film.

Coronavirus cases continue to soar in the Navajo Nation. Members say it’s bringing to light the reality of many of their living conditions and the impact that has on how the virus affects them.

“A lot of our people don’t have housing. A lot of people still don’t have running water and electricity,” said Dineh Benally, President of the Navajo Nation San Juan River Farm Board – Shiprock Chapter. “Living in a single-wide trailer of 10 or more people, sharing one restroom, or they’re staying in these rent-to-own storage sheds.”

Benally says many of those people are desperately in need of hand sanitizer, disinfectant sprays and face masks. Now, he’s asking Hollywood for help.

“We get a lot of tourists that come through here from all over the world,” said Benally.

Landscapes like Shiprock and Monument Valley have popped up in big productions. One of the most recent ones was Jumanji: The Next Level. Benally says he hopes the actors, producers and directors that have filmed there will help.

“I think the way to move forward on trying to get support is we have to contact the influential people,” said Benally.

Some celebrities have already stepped in to help. Actor Sean Penn’s Community Organized Relief Effort, or CORE, brought food and other essentials to the Navajo Nation. Actor Jason Momoa sent 20,000 cans of Mananalu water to them. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, through Protect the Sacred, collaborated on a Facebook live with actors Paul Rudd and Mark Ruffalo, director Taika Waititi and members of the Navajo Nation to call on Navajo youth to stay home and protect their elders.

“Being a warrior doesn’t mean that sometimes you have to be on the front lines,” said President Nez. “Sometimes, being a warrior means to just go home and pray.”

Benally says he wants his people to have a fighting chance and some helping hands can go a long way. “With prayers and faith, we are going to get through this,” said Benally.

The Navajo Nation is home to more than 250,000 members across New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. As of Wednesday morning, there are 2,474 cases of the virus in the Navajo Nation.


New Mexico Coronavirus Resources

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