This Indigenous Scientist Helped Save Lives as COVID Devastated the Navajo Nation

“How do you tell a community in the United States that has no running water or electricity to wash their hands?”

Crystal Lee drives hours through dust on Route 66 past the border town of Gallup, N.M., on her way through the parched road to the Navajo Nation in Arizona. She is going to see family who have made it through the pandemic.

“Every single day, I knew of someone who had passed from COVID,” Lee says, staring straight ahead.

Even before the pandemic hit, Lee, a Navajo scientist and assistant professor at the University of New Mexico College of Population Health, had tried to sound the alarm. In 2017 she spoke at the United Nations, warning anyone who would listen that the Navajo Nation did not have the infrastructure or resources to survive a deadly pandemic.

But few did, and when the coronavirus pandemic raged through the Navajo Nation in 2020, it led to the highest death rate per capita in the U.S.—including members of Lee’s family.

In a new documentary short film, Lee brings us into her fight for health equity on the Navajo Nation.

Continue reading!

Recommended Posts