ST. MICHAELS, AZ — First Lady Dr. Jill Biden’s second day on the Navajo Nation started in a place where she feels most comfortable, inside a school. Friday it was the Hunters Point Boarding School in St. Michael, Arizona.
Dr. Biden, who is a community college professor, spoke with students for more than an hour on the challenges they faced in the last year as COVID 19 ravaged the Navajo Nation.
“And this semester has been so hard. Hasn’t it?” Doctor Biden asked. The First Lady encouraged the students to keep a journal. Write it down, she said, so when your children ask about the pandemic you can tell them.
The trip to the Navajo Nation has offered the First Lady a glimpse into what life after COVID-19 might be like. A year ago, the Navajo had the highest per capita rate of COVID infections in the country. Today the Navajo Nation has the highest vaccination rate in the United States and is second in the world only to Israel in the number of its people who are vaccinated and considered COVID free.
This is not Dr. Biden’s first trip to the Navajo Nation. As Second Lady she delivered the commencement address at Navajo Technical University in 2013. In 2019 she toured the first ever Cancer Treatment Center on Indian land in Tuba City with Navajo Nation President Jonathon Nez and his wife First Lady Phenelia Nez.
President Nez and First Lady Nez joined the First Lady on a visit to the Tsehootsooi Medical Center, a tribal healthcare facility with a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Fort Defiance. Carrying two boxes of cookies for healthcare workers, the First Lady was greeted by Dr. Sandi Adkins, the Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Atkins told the First Lady when the first doses of vaccine were being administered we had icicles on our eyelashes.
At each stop during this trip, the First Lady emphasized the Biden administration’s commitment to improving the standard of living of the Navajo people, protecting the environment, and continuing to help with the recovery from the COVID crisis.
“On this path of light, Joe and I will walk with you. We stand with the Navajo nation today, tomorrow, and always,” she said.