“COVID Throws Rodeo Season for a Loop”

“In his 40-plus years of rodeoing, Alvin Smith [president of the Navajo Nation Rodeo Association] has not experienced anything like this…the rodeo circuits in the area have dealt with things like tuberculosis and Hantavirus in the past but nothing of this magnitude as all public events are bowing down to the stringent measures in place to help contain the highly contagious disease.” Q. Jodie, Navajo Times

Navajo Fair and Rodeo-Crownpoint NM 2019

Excerpt: Riding it out… By Quentin Jodie, Navajo Times

“This virus has hit everyone hard and it’s nobody’s fault,” Smith said in an interview with the Navajo Times on Monday. I’ve talked to (stock contractor) Charley Willie the other day and we’ve never seen anything like this.’ As of press time, the novel coronavirus has affected more than 189,000 people in the United States, including 174 positive cases on the Navajo Nation. ‘We don’t know what’s going to happen,’ Smith said

Team ropers Edward Hawley and Myles John captured the world title at last year’s Indian National Finals Rodeo. The current season is put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Locally, he said the pandemic is affecting contestants, stock contractors and rodeo committees in a huge way as the NNRA had to cancel or postpone five rodeos for the month of March and April. Smith said he’s afraid that a handful of contestants are going to have a tough time making ends meet with rodeo being one of a few means of generating an income for their respective households.

‘They’re kind of freaking out,’ he said, while adding that the local stock contractors are also hurting.

With no income coming in, Smith said the stock contractors are taking a hit when they have to purchase hay and feed as their animals are sitting idly.

‘That’s their bread and butter,’ he said. ‘It’s hurtful for everyone.’

As for the rodeo committees, Smith said some of their sponsors are starting to back out.

To help the best way he can Smith said he’s sending out prayers and he’s asking the NNRA members to be vigilant and obey the shelter-in-place orders placed by Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez.

‘The best thing we can do it wait this out,’ he said.

Of the five rodeos that were scheduled, Smith said at least two would be postponed. Unfortunately, the association will lose a pair of INFR Tour Rodeos that were scheduled in Socorro, New Mexico this weekend and Page, Arizona next weekend. ‘We had proposed to have these two tour rodeos on back-to-back weekends but we lost both of them,” the NNRA president said. “Those two rodeos were a huge deal for us… Smith said he’s not sure when the association will put together a tour rodeo but he’s open to host the event as late as September and, perhaps, coinciding with the Navajo Nation Fair at a different site near Window Rock… Smith said there are other options on the table and he’s looking forward to discussing them with his board members…But with tribal restrictions in place on public gatherings, Smith said he had to cancel a meeting last week.

He’s hoping to reschedule another one during the week of Apr. 20. ‘We’ll see what happens because everything is in limbo right now,’ he said, adding that there is no timetable on when they’ll host their first rodeo this season.”

For Rodeo Schedule Updates Visit NNRA

Class of 2019 Indian National Finals Rodeo World Champions

Other News:

WASHINGTON — The National Indian Health Board this week launched a new website with “tribally specific” Coronavirus-related developments, tools and information:  nihb.org/covid-19/

The new COVID-19 Tribal Resource Center site targets tribal leaders, tribal health workers and administrators, tribal community members and advocates for tribal health policy. The site has six main areas of information: 

Updates and Communications from NIHB and federal agencies; 

Community Health Tools section has fact sheets on vulnerable populations like elders and people with compromised immune systems;

Advocacy Tools has legislative alerts, letters to Congress and summaries on the COVID-19 relief funding packages; 

Tribal Response Plans shares Tribe-specific resources; 

Administration and Agency Responses has guidance and waivers from federal agencies; 

Upcoming calls and webinars.

“Tribes told the National Indian Health Board that they needed more resource materials on Coronavirus and we listened,” said NIHB CEO Stacy A. Bohlen. “The NIHB COVID-19 Tribal Resource Center website is the place for Tribes and Tribal health authorities to gather resources to help educate and protect Native youth, elders and families.

Good News Story: Navajo Nation Reaches Out to Elders

‘It warms the heart’: Navajo mount grassroots effort to tackle coronavirus

Navajos volunteer to care for elders and vulnerable people on the tribe’s vast territory. By N. Lakhani, The Guardian

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