Navajo Activist Fights to Preserve Culture amid COVID, Suicide Epidemic That Took Brother’s Life

Navajo Activist Fights to Preserve Culture amid COVID, Suicide Epidemic That Took Brother’s Life

People-News·2021-03-31 14:02

Protect the Sacred Founder Allie Young on How She Keeps Her Native Culture Alive

Allie Young

| Credit: Allie Young

When Allie Young returned to her hometown of Kirtland, New Mexico at the start of the COVID pandemic last March, the 31-year-old activist had no idea how bad things were about to get for her people, the Navajo Nation, or Diné, as they call themselves. Before long, the virus had spread among the nation of about 170,000 people, and soon, enough had tested positive that Navajo Nation became the area with the highest per capita infection rate in the United States. With elders vulnerable, and other dangerous factors at play, such as the many chronic health issues that plague residents, Young, who'd been in Los Angeles working at a nonprofit, focused her energy on helping her people, launching Protect the Sacred as a way of not only keeping them healthy, but as a means of guarding their storied culture. Here, Young explains in her own words the struggles — and the joys — of growing up Diné, and how her experiences have only enforced her desire to keep her people's traditions around for years to come.

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