Somber event pays tribute to Navajo Nation members lost to COVID-19

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

WINDOW ROCK, Arizona — The glow of 1,222 luminarias paid tribute members of the Navajo Nation who died of COVID-19 as of March 17, a year after the first confirmed case of the new virus on the tribal land.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Vice President Myron Lizer and their spouses lead the tribe in remembering those lost to the virus and helping family members heal in a somber ceremony Wednesday evening.

Among those who helped setup the display was Navajo Nation Washington Office employee Cal Curley, who said he thought about the dozens of families still coping with the loss.

In the time since the first case, the tribal government implemented protocols and restrictions to slow spread of the virus and to keep communities safe.

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But those regulations changed the grieving process for many, President Nez said adding this week is one for remembrance, reflection and moving forward in unity and prayer.

That focus will be part of a virtual day of prayer from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. MDT on March 19. The event will include remarks from tribal government leaders, Secretary of the Department of the Interior Deb Haaland, faith-based leaders and Indian Health Service staff.

The event will livestream on the Navajo Nation Division of Behavioral and Mental Health Services Facebook page and on the Nez-Lizer Facebook page.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at

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