TWU Joins Indigenous Response to Devastating New Mexico Fires

Along with a coalition of other Indigenous organizations, Tewa Women United has stepped up to respond to community needs in the midst of Northern New Mexico wildfires in San Miguel, Mora, Colfax, Taos, and Santa Fe Counties.

The Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon fire which started in April has continued to burn and now stands as the largest wildfire in the history of the state. As of May 30, the fire has consumed more than 315,000 acres. Thousands of people have been displaced and many have lost their homes and livelihoods.

In combination with the latest surge of COVID-19, fire evacuees are faced with immense challenges, including finding temporary housing, getting access to food and personal healthcare products, loss of income, the health impact of pervasive smoke in the region, and emotional strain and stress. A number of Indigenous-led organizations have played a key role in offering support and relief to those impacted by the fire.

Throughout the pandemic and now in the wake of this fire, Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women, Three Sisters Collective, Pueblo Action Alliance, and Tewa Women United, have been distributing N95 masks and Corsi-Rosenthal box kits to Native communities across the state. In May, TWU received a shipment of 900 N95 masks, 10 air purifiers, and 45 personal care kits from Direct Relief which were distributed to Native and other land-based families impacted by the fires and smoke, and we recently hosted a workshop at our Española office for elders and youth to learn how to make air filters. TWU has scheduled three more DIY air filter workshops in June for Santa Clara, Ohkay Owingeh, and Taos Pueblos.

As journalist Austin Fisher (Source NM) notes, “Rather than placing the responsibility on individuals, these Indigenous-led mutual aid groups understand that a lack of action to mitigate COVID and to mitigate the health effects of wildfire smoke is a form of structural violence that disproportionately impacts elders, immunocompromised people, young children who still don’t have vaccine access in this country.”

In addition to the work Tewa Women United is doing for fire relief efforts, you can donate to the All Together NM Fund to support needs for emergency shelter, food and water distribution, and other critical services. The fund is administered by the New Mexico Coalition of Community Foundations, all donations are tax-deductible.