2020: A Year of Collective Care and Beloved Communities
This has truly been a year like no other.
Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic in March, Tewa Women United staff have worked hard to find creative solutions to respond to the needs of our communities throughout the Tewa homelands and Rio Arriba County.
Our activities maintained connections and affirmed the value of remaining in relationship while maintaining physical distance. We are re-membering that one of the most powerful things we can do at this time is re-connect with our lifeways and land-based traditions, and encourage others to do so during this stressful time.
Since March, we have prepared and distributed nearly 400 Care Bundles to support community members, especially those most vulnerable:
- Our Yiya Vi Kagindi Doula Project created and distributed more than 60 care packages to nurture body, mind, heart, and spirit, with contents customized for elders, pregnant or nursing mothers, and adult females. Contents included traditional foods, medicines, stress relieving tools, gift and gas cards, protective masks, diapers, and wipes.
- Our Sayain (Grandmothers) used their personal supplies of herbs, fabric, and other materials to sew masks for those in the community, as well as providing herbs and plants. They gave 120 care bundles to community members in need.
- Our Environmental Health and Justice Program provided more than 100 community members with Care Seed Bundles containing seeds of medicinal and other plants.
- Our Women’s Leadership and Economic Freedom Program distributed 51 Women’s Wellness bundles and 66 Youth Care Packages.
Environmental Health and Justice
- Seed Library Opens! In early March, prior to stay-at-home orders, we opened the Española Healing Foods Seed Library after years of visioning and planning with community partners. Located inside the Española Public Library, the Seed Library gives all community members access to native and heirloom seeds, as well as support in learning how to nurture them. Elder Marian Naranjo from Santa Clara Pueblo shared these words at the opening, which take on even more relevance now: “You cannot afford to let those ancestral, traditional knowledges go away. We don’t know what’s going to happen…And it’s so vital that we continue these traditional ways, because it was survival for hundreds of years.”
- Tree-Generation Fest This year, in lieu of our annual Regeneration Fest Española, we created “Tree-Generation Fest” to continue to engage youth in positive and connective ways. In collaboration with the Northern Youth Project, we purchased 65 fruit and nut-bearing trees and distributed them to youth participants who received mentorship to plant the trees in their communities and learn about local environmental knowledge and practices.
- Española Healing Foods Oasis The EHFO entered its fifth season as an educational and community gathering site in downtown Española. While this season was much quieter due to pandemic restrictions, small groups of volunteers maintained and nurtured the site, planting and harvesting amaranth and other plant relatives; and adding retainer walls, another spiral garden, and vegetable beds. Please come visit this beautiful oasis any time – it is intended to be a place of beauty and nourishment for all community members!
- Advocacy Our EHJ Program continues to be a courageous voice on environmental justice issues in the Tewa homelands and beyond. We organized community members to speak out against plans to vent radioactive tritium at LANL as well as fracking in the Greater Chaco region. We continue to work with community partners toward seed sovereignty, clean waters, and a healthy environment for everyone.
Indigenous Women’s Health and Reproductive Justice
- Doula Services and Family Support In the midst of this pandemic, our YVK community doulas continued to support 17 birthing parents and their partners through virtual and in-person visits. We also partnered with MoGro to provide 20 local families with three months of healthy food. Our Community Doula Training Program went virtual with 7 students in this cohort representing communities throughout northern New Mexico. We also created virtual offerings to support pregnant parents and families. Check out our YouTube playlists for videos about native plants and their healing properties and guidance for pregnant parents.
- Advocacy Our IWH staff and network has been very active this year advocating for best practices and policies that support our birthing parents, particularly during the COVID-19 public health crisis. One of those advocacy efforts was recently published: Perinatal Emergency Recommendations, Considering Disparities and Outcomes. This was a collaboration of Indigenous, Black and People of color birth workers and advocates to place a care plan for the state of New Mexico in regards to perinatal, and reproductive health care needs of people during a pandemic/state of emergency. We advocated for Native/ Pueblo women at Albuquerque’s Lovelace Hospital who were separated from their newborn babies without informed consent; more than 7,000 people signed our petition to call for an end to this racial profiling.
- We are excited about the many IWH offerings coming to you in 2021 including our very own TWU podcast, the New Mexico Birth and Reproductive Justice Summit in January, and online parenting classes.
Women’s Leadership and Economic Freedom Program (including A’Gin Project)
- A’Gin Healthy Sexuality and Body Sovereignty The A’Gin Project has been running virtual cohorts in local schools throughout the pandemic. We appreciate all the dedication it takes to persevere and finish a cohort while everything is online, and we know how much support families need. In September, the project offered free meals to 20 families around the Española area who had a student learning virtually. Earlier in the summer, A’Gin Youth took time to learn about systemic racism and the many ways that it is hidden in modern policy, and how we can be in solidarity with Black brothers and sisters. Five members of A’Gin youth received training in Video and Media making with Littleglobe Productions and Tewa Roots Society, creating beautiful stories like this one.
- We also created a virtual series of offerings – Storytelling/Q+A and Visiting With Relatives, online time and conversation with respected community leaders, including Elder Kathy Sanchez, Dr. Christina Castro, and Reyes Devore.
- Engaging Young Men and Boys TWU’s Engaging Young Men and Boys Project implements a culturally adapted and enhanced version of the A Call to Men’s Live Respect curriculum that is braided with the A’Gin Healthy Sexuality and Body Sovereignty curriculum. In May, the project organized an afternoon panel discussion with New Mexico community members/leaders as they discuss how they model masculinity and manhood for themselves, their families and their communities. Throughout the year the project has been generating social media content to engage young men and boys in practicing healthy relationships.
Even as we have pivoted services this year, we continue to work in holistic ways to go beyond direct service. We are supporting movements rooted in P’in Haa (Breath of Heart/Life) and P’in Nall (Touching Heart and Spirit) that nurture and celebrate the collective power of beloved families, communities, and Nung Ochuu Quiyo (Earth Mother).
We are a collective of all of our experiences with multiple women, men, and children. All of these experiences have guided our processes and directions, and that is where the power is.
Kuunda woha/thank you for being part of our Beloved Community this year.