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Leah Salgado

Ed Helms, Taika Waititi, Casey Affleck, Wilmer Valderrama, Taboo, and More Join IllumiNative to Fight Invisibility of Native Communities During COVID-19

PSA, Virtual Town Hall, and Weekly Podcast Mobilize Native Peoples, Artists, and Allies to #WarriorUp to Fight the Pandemic

TULSA, OK (April 23, 2020)  Artists, actors, government leaders and activists, including Academy-Award winner Taika Waititi, Academy-Award winner Casey Affleck, Ed Helms, Taboo, Wilmer Valderrama, Riley Keough, Congresswoman Deb Haaland and Congresswoman Sharice Davids, urge viewers to #StayHomeTogether in a new PSA released today by the Native-led nonprofit IllumiNative. The PSA, in partnership with Harness, the group co-founded by America Ferrera, Wilmer Valderrama and Ryan Piers Williams, is part of IllumiNative’s #WarriorUp campaign, which will also feature a Virtual Town Hall and a weekly podcast to raise awareness of the devastating impact of COVID-19 on Native communities. 

“For decades, we have been fighting for the visibility of Native peoples. Now this fight has become absolutely vital to ensuring that Native communities are not left behind or erased from the COVID-19 response,” said Crystal Echo Hawk, Executive Director of IllumiNative. “Tribes and Native communities need to be seen, heard and included in local, state, and federal solutions and conversations. Together we can find a common pathway forward out of this public health emergency.”

On Thursday, April 30th, Taboo, IllumiNative, NDN Collective and Indian Country Today will co-host a Virtual Town Hall that will livestream on Taboo’s YouTube channel  as well as on Facebook Live on each of their respective Facebook pages to unite Indian Country and allies against COVID-19.  Spotlighting economic and healthcare issues, Native leaders, legislators, influencers, and advocates will explore how the pandemic is exacerbating disparities and inequalities affecting not only Native Americans but all communities of color. Under these unprecedented circumstances, this town hall brings together Native voices and allies to overcome these disparities and showcase the resiliency of a unified community.

This week, IllumiNative is also introducing a 30-minute podcast focused on telling stories about the impact of COVID-19 on Native communities. Hosted by IllumiNative Executive Director Crystal Echo Hawk, conversations with trusted Native leaders will include the latest headlines and feature stories from across Indian Country about the resilience, strength, hope and community that is coming together. IllumiNative’s inaugural podcast episode brings you stories from across America and unpacks health and economic issues – from the CARES Act and how it impacts tribes, to interviews with those on the frontlines of the Coronavirus pandemic. Podcast episodes are released weekly and are available at https://illuminatives.org/warrior-up/

Studies show that 78% of Americans know little to nothing about Native peoples, and representation of Native communities in mainstream media is less than 0.04%. These numbers are critical when translated directly to emergency funding during times of crises and historical lack of investment in Indian Country to sustain Native communities through a pandemic. Historically underfunded, Indian Health Services, housing, and infrastructure in Native communities have been neglected and unprepared for a crisis of this magnitude.

Native artists, comedians, educators, influencers, media, and allies are joining forces to #WarriorUp to fight against invisibility of vulnerable Native communities during this crisis. Visit https://illuminatives.org/warrior-up/ to find resources, content, and opportunities to support. 


IllumiNative is a Native-led nonprofit, launched to increase the visibility of Native peoples in American society by changing the national narrative. IllumiNative challenges negative narratives, stories, and stereotypes about Native peoples. We provide tools for Native advocates and allies including youth, community and tribal leaders, activists, and professionals across critical sectors — to develop and advocate for accurate and contemporary representations and voices of Native peoples.