Kay Atene’s family lives together on the same red earth in Oljato-Monument Valley in Utah that her great-grandparents returned to after surviving the “Long Walk” more than 150 years ago.
Generations living together is central to how the Navajo have navigated crises for centuries. But the coronavirus has put that in jeopardy: Crowded homes have become one of the deadliest places to be during the pandemic.
Covid-19 has hit Native communities harder than any other in the United States, with three times the hospitalization rate and two times the death rate as White communities. Even without a pandemic, “normal” on the Navajo Nation means a lack of clean water and health services, and higher levels of overcrowded, substandard housing than any other tribal land in America. If that’s not addressed, new covid strains or another health crisis will remain threats to the Diné, as the Navajo people call themselves.