Church Participates in Sheep Donation on Navajo Reservation

(Courtesy photo)

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Latter-day Saints participated in an effort to provide live sheep to the Navajo Nation in Utah. Representatives from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offered assistance with senior staff from the Utah Governor’s Office and leaders from the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food and the Utah Farm Bureau in Monument Valley and Navajo Mountain on Monday, June 1, 2020.

The project included the delivery of 250 live sheep to residents in Halchita, Navajo Mountain and Oljató-Monument Valley, along with 10,000 pounds of flour processed by Utah wheat farmers in San Juan County.

“That is what sustains life. It gives hope. It gives [people] a tool and it also gives prosperity,” said Rebecca Benally, project coordinator. “Because of COVID, some people are on lockdown, quarantine. They feel lonely. They feel depressed. They feel that maybe no one’s thinking about them. So with this sheep, it has given people what they tell me is hope and that somebody cares about them.”

The group also met with Navajo tribal members in Monument Valley, Utah, to receive an update on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“The Navajo Nation has the highest infection rate from the COVID-19 virus in the United States, ahead of New York and New Jersey,” explained Larry Echo Hawk, special counsel of Indian affairs for the Utah governor’s office and an emeritus General Authority Seventy of the Church. “It has been really challenging and difficult for the Navajo people here, where 30 percent of them don’t even have running water, and households with maybe three generations of people living in that household.”

The project is part of the Farmers Feeding Utah program. Monday’s donations were the second delivery of live sheep to the Navajo chapters in Utah. On May 25, 250 live sheep were delivered to Navajo families in need from Aneth, Red Mesa and Tódahadekanii.

In addition, tribal members in Utah received deliveries of thousands of pounds of frozen lamb meat and flour on May 22 and May 28.

“This will be probably the single most important thing that happens during this pandemic,” said Elder Todd S. Larkin, an Area Seventy who is overseeing the Church’s humanitarian efforts for the Navajo Nation.

Elder Larkin continued, “They’ll take these sheep and … it will provide food, nourishment to their families, probably until this is over. I sure hope it doesn’t last longer than that.”