Indianz.Com > COVID-19 > Navajo Division of Transportation (Navajo Nation)
Posted: May 10, 2020

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez loads a food box into a vehicle at a food distribution event in Sawmill, Arizona, on May 5, 2020. Photo courtesy Navajo Division of Transportation


May 8, 2020


TSE BONITO N.M.-This week, essential staff from the Navajo Division of Transportation delivered water, food and cleaning supplies to chapters across the Navajo Nation in support of the Office of the President and Vice President’s distribution and relief efforts.

“My team starts their days before sunrise, loading pallets of water and food into our semi so that these goods can be delivered to chapters in need that continue to shelter in place,” said Garret Silversmith, Executive Director for the Navajo Division of Transportation.

Silversmith appreciates his staff for contributing to the distribution efforts alongside the OPVP, Navajo Nation Executive Branch Divisions, essential chapter staff and community health representatives. 

The food distribution efforts support the fight against the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected the Navajo Nation, the state of Arizona and the United States.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said the distributions support Navajo communities that are fighting the pandemic by staying home, staying safe and saving lives.

The president said this week’s distributions hit the Navajo satellite chapters as well as chapters in the Western, Fort Defiance and Eastern Navajo Agencies.

The coordination of contributing resources is critical as the efforts target the vast expanse of the Navajo Nation.

“We have donations coming in from many sources and areas,” President Nez said. “In Arizona, we’re lucky to have plenty of fresh fruit and vegetable donations, while in New Mexico we are happy to be coordinating with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham for certain resources.”

Navajo DOT Director Garret Silversmith hands a food box to Navajo Division of Natural Resources Director Dr. Rudy Shebala during a distribution in Sawmill, Arizona, on May 5, 2020. Photo courtesy Navajo Division of Transportation

As the Navajo Nation heads into another 57-hour curfew on the weekend of May 8-10, President Nez said the response of the Navajo people has been encouraging.

“Our people are staying home and that’s why there’s a need to provide these resources to them,” he said. “They’re not traveling to the big supermarkets and we’re helping those that are following through on the imposed health orders.”

During Thursday’s distribution event at Coppermine Chapter, Delegate Paul Begay (Coppermine, K’aibii’to, LeChee, Tonalea/Red Lake, Bodaway/Gap) said his constituency is staying home because they are afraid to go out and risk infection.

“They are afraid to be among other people which causes them to be secluded within their area,” he said. “This isolation brings the need for food, water and other resources for them to lead their everyday lives. This distribution program has been a real morale booster and it’s helped those living on the outskirts.”

This week’s distributions were in the communities and chapters of Chichiltah, Red Rock, Manuelito, Bááháálí, Crystal, Sawmill, Alamo, Ramah, Bodaway/Gap, Coppermine, LeChee, Kaibeto, Inscription House, Shonto, Forest Lake, Black Mesa and Hard Rock.

Director Silversmith joins OPVP in thanking all donators, volunteers, chapter officials and staff, public safety and health care workers, community health representatives and county officials for their direct effort in supporting the distribution events. Navajo DOT also thanks the OPVP, the 24th Navajo Nation Council, and Navajo DOT staff for their continued support.

“My staff pushes twelve-hour days to deliver food and water to our people, our relatives,” Silversmith said. “They get tired but they continue on because they know that they’re positively impacting the Navajo Nation during this pandemic.”

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