Native American Spirit Meets Covid 19


I recently had the opportunity to interview Emerson, founder of Native.Inc, who has been organizing donation runs to Indian Country to alleviate some of the suffering brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. While the White House balked and stalled, Emerson of the Navajo Nation and Daniela of the Mapuche Nation sprang into action in the warrior way. Their North American and South American indigenous unity in action is perhaps another manifestation of the prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor, signaling better times to come.  Making monthly donation runs, through rain and snow, to Monument Valley and the surrounding areas since May of 2020, they have uplifted the spirits of native communities in need. And before returning to California, a self-imposed two-week quarantine is endured somewhere out there. Emerson is preparing for the next trip to the Skull Valley Band of Goshute Indians. Over 250 families have benefited from the donations, which have ranged from winter clothing, food, and water, to face masks, cleaning supplies, and toys. Emerson gives thanks to many for their assistance with the runs, including: San Pasqual Fire Dept., City of Indio, the greater communities of Riverside, Los Angeles, San Diego, Victorville, San Jacinto, North Hollywood, Hesperia, and relatives from Morongo Reservation, Soboba Reservation, Pala Reservation, Pechanga Reservation, Rincon Reservation, La Jolla Reservation, Santa Ysabel Reservation, Viejas Reservation, Mountain Source Dispensary on the Santa Ysabel Reservation, Her Native Voice nonprofit of Los Angeles, and a special thanks to the Soboba Indian Youth Council. 

Emerson became inspired to initiate these donation runs for many reasons. Partly it was his experience as a Marine, he relayed “we did a lot of humanitarian services for third world countries, and even though I don’t see the military helping out our own people in desperate need now during this pandemic, I still can.” He also recalled how, “these hands caused destruction and these eyes have seen destruction and it’s a part of my life I can never erase, but serving my people is a way for me to pay back for the destruction.” Emerson remembered how growing up on the reservation was a struggle and so felt especially compelled to do something during these even tougher times. He laments that since the lockdown, everything on the Navajo Reservation closes at 3 pm and nothing is open on the weekends. This causes many residents of the reservation to do their shopping outside of the reservation, further worsening the tribe’s economy he adds. He reported that the lockdown has only worsened the already tragic rates of suicide, drug abuse, and crime on the reservation. 

Maybe you have seen him selling his loud and original Native Inc gear at pow wows or you have enjoyed the tasty Indian Tacos that he makes on the side of the road near the entrance to the Pechanga Reservation, the proceeds of which are currently going toward the donation runs. The fact is that Emerson has been serving the native community since before the pandemic as a spirit runner for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Children, as a Water Protector, and a runner of the Peace and Dignity Journey. If you are looking to support or donate you can follow Emerson at Native.Inc on Instagram, where he is often posting about the progress of the trips. Emerson continues to find inspiration on the road through the courageous work of the native nurses who he sees out there every day administering Covid-19 tests. One elder’s bravery stuck with him, “he was a 65 year old grandpa administering the tests, determined to help as many relatives as he could, despite his confidence that he would contract the virus.”

inspired to persevere,Seeing all the native nurses out there every day administering the covid tests and particularly one  65 year old grandpa and that despite his age and his assurance that he was gonna catch it, that he would do what help as many relatives as he could while he was able…”