July 29th, 2020 Last Updated on: July 29th, 2020
Beautifully located 8 miles within the Grand Canyon National Park, are the Havasu Baaja (Havasupai), People of the Blue-Green Waters. Their land is known for its majestic waterfalls supplied by hidden limestone aquifers, set against the dreamy backdrop of towering mesas, known as the Grand Canyon.
By April, many different federally recognized Indian tribes had problems accessing their CARES ACT funds because of electronic filing and lawsuits. Since the money was being held up, local organizations began planning relief efforts to help remote Native communities survive the Covid-19 pandemic. One such relief effort came to the Havasupai in the form of seeds.
What a great idea because if anyone has ever been to their community, they're actually known for farming.
As the coronavirus began making headway into Indian County, Havasupai effectively shut down their reservation from visitors to avoid any spread. A large part of their economy is based on tourism, so with the Covid-19 funds in limbo and no tourism dollars coming in, they were in a tough spot.
Supai's community is only accessible by a helicopter ride or an 8-mile hike, so it's not exactly like they can run to the local Walmart for supplies.
So rather than waiting around for incoming supplies and Federal relief monies, friends of the Havasupai put out a call for a seed drive and donations began pouring in, they ended up receiving over 1000 seed packages from Japan to the UK, from Washington to Maine. Some of the seed packages they received were corn, squash, beans, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, and cassava to name a few. Also, Native people representing 20 other Federal tribes also sent in and the results were FANTASTIC!
Let's meet the organizer of this wildly successful seed drive!
Please introduce yourself:
My name is Mark J. Randolph. I am a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation of Oklahoma. My clan is Bird from the Tribal Town of Tulsa Canadian. I am a Masters degreed Social Worker. Currently I am a Muscogee Creek Nation National Council Representative for Wagoner, Mayes, and Rogers Counties in Northeastern Oklahoma on the Creek Reservation.
The Seminole Nation of Oklahoma was giving out fresh vegetables during the Pandemic. I shared the location of the event on Facebook. I received a message from a Haskell sister and friend Evangeline Kissoon stating they could use some seeds in Supai. I spoke with a friend of mine Eto Foya and through our strategizing, prayers were made. I thought of my other friends from Supai, Mark Putesoy and Sarah Kissoon who have already transitioned into the next world. I thought of my friend Felicia Siyuga who like Evangeline Kissoon is an elected leader of the Havasupai. I thought of the good connections and family I’ve made with members of other Tribal Nations. I asked my friend to agree with my earnest prayer. I made a Facebook post and tagged 19 people who are positive people that believe in prayer and empowerment.
Over 3,000 people seen this post and it was shared many times. It went all over Turtle Island as well as other countries. People from all over made pledges and many were citizens of the Muscogee Creek Nation. Many were elders. I believe the call that went out was spiritually rooted and people responded from their heart. The outpouring was way more than I ever expected.
It would be great if all people helped people. I believe that all Tribal Nations are brothers and sisters and we must empower and support each other. As a proud Haskell Indian Nations University Alumus I am connected with, “family” , that represent Nations from all over Indian Country. These connections and positive relationships are a great wealth and blessing. It’s our duty to help each other not only during the Pandemic but always.
Here's a close up of the corn stalks being grown!
And yup, those are green beans below!
I don't know about you guys but these photos are giving me warm, fuzzy feelings of compassion, knowing that there are people in the world who care enough to lend a helping hand to those in need, especially now, when our entire planet is being affected by this global pandemic. Seeing this act of kindness gives me hope for a brighter future.
On behalf of Powwows.com and all of our readers, we'd like to thank Mark Randolph and his social media community members for all their fundraising relief efforts, me-gwetch! (Thank You)
Cover photo by Carrie Sinyella.
Photos by Sybil Hanna.
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