Collective Care in a Time of COVID

With support from your donations as well as the Decolonizing Wealth Project’s Native American Community Response fund, Tewa Women United has been distributing care bundles over the summer to community elders, wisdom keepers, youth development project participants and members of our youth council, individuals, families, and anyone who was struggling in these stressful times of the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier in the summer, bundles distributed by our Indigenous Women’s Health Program to pregnant and parenting families included traditional foods, medicines, stress relieving tools, gift and gas cards, protective masks, diapers, and wipes.

Members of our Saya’in (Circle of Grandmothers) worked intensely to prepare and distribute care bundles. They collected the plant medicines of sage, osha, cota (Indian tea), rosebuds and seashells and blessed the items with the sacred waters from the streams in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Some of the Saya’in care bundles were given to families experiencing grief in response to the deaths of vulnerable community members. The Saya’in were active in networking to reach marginalized individuals and families through partnership with other TWU programs, the local organic food cooperative, and the Local Behavioral Health Collaborative (LC18). Working closely with LC18 was instrumental in overcoming barriers to distribution in the eight northern pueblos during this time when most are still closed to non-residents. After respectful requests were made to the tribal governors for assistance, a contact person was identified for the Pueblo to receive the bundles and packages for distribution.

Our Environmental Justice Program Coordinator provided Care Seed Bundles containing seeds of medicine and other plants along with guidance on planting as an activity to gain a sense of grounding with Mother Earth, contribute to the self sustenance of growing for oneself and giving to others, and to recharge wounded spirits through flowering plants.

Our Women’s Leadership and Economic Freedom program staff created Care Packages that included Indigenous coloring books, hygiene products, snacks, arts and crafts materials, and self-care tools such as lavender mists and stress management toys. Also included in the Women and Youth bundles were activity kits to encourage social distancing such as paint-by-numbers, kinetic sand, science activity kits, puzzles, bird houses, bracelet making materials, yarn art kits, digging for gems kits, encouragement poster kits, and paracord kits.

Altogether, TWU staff, youth, and volunteers have distributed 338 care bundles to local Pueblos and the surrounding community, rural and land-based families, and the unrecognized pueblo of Abiquiu. We estimate that at least 1,000 individuals benefited from those care bundles. Our activities maintained community connections and affirmed the value of remaining in relationship while maintaining physical distance. We are committed to collective care as the loving pathway through this extraordinarily difficult time.