Roundtable: Indian Country Response to Covid-19

Throughout the pandemic, communities looked to the local and federal government for support in meeting their everyday needs. Although disproportionately affected, many Tribal Nations across the country took the response upon themselves, successfully staving off and addressing the pandemic, providing food, words of support and other necessities for those living in remote areas, often with limited supplies at their local grocery stores or gas stations.

During the Rural Assembly Everywhere “Indian Country Response to Covid-19″ Roundtable (3 p.m. Wednesday April 21), we’ll learn about Tribal successes in protecting, providing and paving a path forward for their people in this challenging time. 

Meet our roundtable participants: 

Miss Navajo Nation Shaandiin Parrish serves as the ambassador for the Navajo Nation and represents the Navajo people’s values, culture, traditions and history in the modern world. In 2018, Ms. Parrish graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a minor in Educational Studies. Prior to her role as Miss Navajo Nation, Ms. Parrish cumulated governmental experience working for the Arizona State Treasurer Kimberly Yee, Arizona State Senate, the Town of Gilbert, Arizona, and the Navajo Nation legislative branch. Ms. Parrish has also served in representing indigenous people in the roles of Miss Indian Arizona State University 2013-2014 and Miss Indian Arizona 2016-2017.

Maria Givens is a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe in northern Idaho and serves as the Communications and Public Relations Director for the Native American Agriculture Fund. Prior to joining NAAF, she worked as a freelance writer reporting on tribal political issues and native food systems publishing pieces in Vox, the Daily Yonder and Civil Eats. She graduated from the University of Colorado in 2019 with a Masters of the Environment and specialized in Sustainable Food Systems. During graduate school, Maria taught Native high school students tribal sovereignty and leadership through the University of Colorado Upward Bound program. Before she went to graduate school, Maria worked on agriculture policy in Washington, D.C. at the National Congress of American Indians. Maria was the staff lead for NCAI on the 2018 Native Farm Bill Coalition and handled the telecommunications and cultural protections portfolios for the national tribal organization. She also worked on the Change the Mascot campaign for NCAI. From 2015-2016, Maria served in US Senator Jeff Merkley’s Washington, D.C. office as a legislative fellow. In Senator Merkley’s Office, Maria worked on legislative efforts to build tribal housing for Columbia River tribes to support the salmon fishing way of life for Northwest Tribes. Maria has also worked as a policy analyst for the National Indian Health Board, as a field organizer for a congressional campaign in Tacoma, Washington and in the External Affairs office at AT&T. She received her bachelors from the University of Washington-Seattle where she double majored in Political Science and American Indian Studies. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, playing basketball and picking huckleberries in the Idaho mountains with her family.

Candalerian Preston is a tribal enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Community. She hails from the village of Bapchule. Her parents are the late Darrell Brown of Bapchule and the late Mildred Brown of Shungopavi on the Hopi reservation. Her paternal grandparents are the late Alfred Brown Sr. and late Oleta Brown. Her maternal grandparents are the late Leroy Kewanyama and the late Elvira Kewanyama. Mrs. Preston has more than 15 years of experience in public health. Her range of experience covers nutrition, wellness, pharmacology, health education, and public health policy. She is proficient at reviewing, researching, and developing policy. She has extensive knowledge of tribal, state, and federal grant funding and compliance requirements. In her most recent role as a data health analyst, she was responsible for maintaining and storing data within reporting systems, data retrieval, analysis, reporting, and evaluation. Mrs. Preston has her Bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Wellness from Arizona State University and has earned her Master of Public Health degree in Health Policy and Management from the University of Arizona. She is passionate about helping her fellow community members. She has personally survived the social ills within the Gila River and Hopi reservations and strives to use her education and experience to better indigenous community. Mrs. Candalerian Preston is honored to oversee and direct the Tribal Health department

Amber Torres is a tribal citizen of the Walker River Paiute Tribe in Schurz, Nevada.  She has been elected to serve on the Walker River Tribal Council since 2010, and held the role of the Tribal Chairman since 2016.  She worked for the Walker River Tribal Health Clinic in Purchased Referred Care for thirteen years prior to this. She has three daughters Kylie, Elizabella and Brynn Torres.  She currently represents Nevada tribes by serving on the Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada Executive Board, Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona Steering Committee, National Indian Health Board, Tribal Leaders Diabetes Committee for IHS/SDPI, Tribal Interior Budget Council for BIA, IHS Director’s Workgroup on Improving Purchase Referred Care, Native Farm Bill Coalition, Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), Chairman USDA Tribal Leaders Consultation Workgroup, a Co-Chair for Indian Health Service National Budget Formulation Committee, and the National Congress of American Indians Executive Board.  She has been nominated to serve on these boards as the Phoenix Area Representative which represent the Arizona, Nevada and Utah tribes. 

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