Group Gives Back To Those Who Helped Native Americans During Pandemic

Nov 27, 2020, 11:37 PM | Updated: Nov 28, 2020, 9:59 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – On Native American Heritage Day, several Utahns were honoring their heritage and helping preserve it by giving back to those who have helped Utah’s reservations during the pandemic.

Native communities continue being some of the hardest-hit by COVID-19, as case fatality rates for Native Americans in Utah are the highest at 15.6/1,000 cases.

Now, one organization is working to get them help — one bead at a time.


“I think each piece really is made with a bit of that person’s soul and heart,” said Heather Smith Tanana with the Utah Tribal Relief Foundation. “There’s a lot to beading, a lot of different stitches you can learn.”

Beading is an intricate yet painstaking process. But for Tanana, it’s relaxing and reminders her of her grandmother.

“My grandmother was a weaver and made beautiful rugs,” she said. “I never was able to learn that skill.”

But she found a hook in beading.

Heather Smith Tanana creates pieces for those who have donated to help Native Americans during the pandemic. (KSL-TV)

“It was something that I was able to do on a low budget low investment at first, and then I really grew to love it,” Tanana said.

These pieces have a special meaning for her. During the pandemic, the Utah Tribal Relief Foundation has been collecting donations for hard-to-reach Native communities. Tanana and other volunteers are making these pieces as a thank you.

“We wanted to be able to say thank you, beyond just sending an e-mail or a card,” she said. “Having my Dine family being directly impacted by the pandemic, I was very personally invested and very thankful when we received support.”

With your support, we have been able to provide food and much needed supplies to Native families across the state of Utah throughout the pandemic. Let’s keep up the good work!

Posted by Utah Tribal Relief Foundation on Wednesday, November 18, 2020

And so on this day honoring Native Americans, this is how Tanana chose to honor her ancestors.

“After you’ve tried beading yourself, you realize how much time and love goes into it,” she said.

The foundation is teaming up with Backcountry Santa Pilots for another flight on Dec. 10. They are accepting donations,* including supplies and toys for children.

To find out more about donation locations, communities serviced and most needed items, click here.

*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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Group Gives Back To Those Who Helped Native Americans During Pandemic