Preserving Navajo culture during the pandemic 'I'll do anything for my people'

When the Covid-19 made its way to Navajo Nation, activist Allie Young found her mission.

Young was born in Navajo Nation, and moved back to stay with family during the pandemic. In March 2020, she founded “Protect the Sacred,” a grassroots initiative to educate and empower Navajo Youth, and young people throughout Indian Country.

“We’re supposed to receive quality healthcare for being pushed onto reservations, but that hasn’t been the case. And the pandemic has revealed how broken the infrastructure is in our healthcare system,” said Young.

When the stimulus package was announced, the Trump administration didn’t initially include Navajo Nation. In June, a federal judged ordered the Treasury to distribute $679 million in Covid-19 relief to tribes after it was withheld for months.

“We’re still mourning our loved ones who should still be here. They were preventable deaths,” Young told Yahoo Life. “It’s about protecting what we have left. And we always say the little we have left because our people, our languages, our cultures have been decimated since first contact.”

One of the main missions of “Protect the Sacred is to preserve the culture and language of Navajo people. With the Covid-19 disproportionally affecting older people, Young spread education on how to protect tribal elders. She sees their role in Navajo Nation as one that is irreplaceable.

“Learn our language. Learn simple phrases in Navajo and post that on Tik Tok or Instagram like many other young Indigenous people,” said Young. "We think about our elders and all of what our ancestors have been through for us to be here today. And then we think about our youth and future generations. I’ll do anything for my people."