Gratitude and Renewal for the New Year



A May 2020 article in The Washington Post stated that “the Americas were home to 60 million people before European colonization … and between 70 and 90 percent of Native Americans were killed by diseases brought from overseas, like mumps and smallpox between 1492 and the opening decades of the 20th century.” It's hard for me to imagine what it must have been like for our ancestors to deal with deadly pandemics across Indian Country without necessary communication like telephone, cell phones, or the Internet and well-equipped hospitals. COVID-19 demonstrates emergencies and disasters are information-driven, and the level of information received determines how people cope. In a surreal way, the year 2020 froze in place when the pandemic became our reality. At the same time, media churned at warped speed when our broadcasters became boots on the ground providing life-saving information around the clock, keeping our Tribal communities connected. In the most massive campaign ever, you hosted interviews with local emergency response teams, coordinated messaging with governments, and assisted our community members in navigating voluminous and ever-changing protocols. In times like these, media access, control, and ownership rise to the top of the information ecology heap. Native radio and television stations are critical assets for Indian Country. Our homelands, as we all know, in this century still lack institutions and infrastructure other places take for granted. In areas where broadband penetration remains low, our radio and television stations are lifelines. COVID-19 and its devastation are not over. As we shift our focus to resilience and recovery, your courage to swiftly implement rapid response measures in our collective battle against the deadly virus is appreciated and valued. Not only did our network cover COVID-19 intensively, you also didn't miss a beat in providing information about Census2020 and Election2020. Our stations will continue to provide hyper-local information about COVID-19 and vaccination, safety protocols, and messages of hope and resilience in the coming months. Across Indian Country, as we renew our prayers and purify our bodies and minds for the New Year, I personally express my deepest gratitude to each one of you for lifting up our people. The lesson I treasure from this past year is that we have each other's back, and our resilience is stronger as a result. You are “first informers” and essential when our communities most need you. Asquali, Tawa’eh Loris Taylor, President and CEO Native Public Media