Seattle’s urban Native community confronts COVID-19 and looks to the future

Seattle’s urban Native community confronts COVID-19 and looks to the future

Thursday, May 6, 2021

The strength and resilience of Native values:
Seattle’s urban Native community confronts COVID-19 and looks to the future

SEATTLE, Thursday, May 6, 2021 – It’s been a little more than a year since COVID-19 upended the world. Now, members of Seattle’s urban Native community are speaking out about how their organizations and communities coped with COVID by affirming and practicing traditional Native values, as well as what they see for the future.

The public is invited to join Seattle Urban Native Nonprofits (SUNN) collaborative on Wednesday, May 12, from 1 – 2:30 p.m. to celebrate the return of light and warmth, healing and renewal, as local Native leaders share traditions, songs, reflections and insights from a year of upheaval and change. The event will be held on Zoom, and registration is free:
See the event information here:

The SUNN collaborative currently includes 12 Native-led and Native-serving organizations in Seattle-King County. Together, these organizations hold a responsibility to the relatives of the Coast Salish territories and those relatives that migrate here everyday from across Indian Country.

Every day Native-led communities mobilize to spur social change through social services, advocacy on behalf of the Native community, performing arts and other cultural opportunities, educational programs, and more.

News about Native communities since the pandemic began has been focused almost exclusively on the disproportionately negative impacts of COVID, with the pandemic exposing many of the longstanding inequities experienced by Native communities.

Yet the pandemic also provided new opportunities for program growth and impact, relationship building with the wider Seattle community, and strengthening of the ties binding the rich tapestry of Native-led and serving organizations in Seattle-King County.

To help Native communities thrive during a year of social distancing and isolation, SUNN member organizations did everything from upgrading technology to support educational and social opportunities, planting gardens to combat food insecurity, pivoting and expanding their services to meet basic needs for food and traditional medicines, providing online avenues for performing arts and cultural programming for youth, and so much more.

“COVID-19 put into stark relief the disproportionate injustices posed to many Native communities and individuals,” according to Cina Littlebird, an attorney with Northwest Justice Project, Native American Division. “The silver lining of this was that folks understood the need to invest in these communities in ways that they hadn’t previously.”

“I think we all learned how strong we are, and how resilient our communities are,” said Jessica Juarez-Wagner, development director for United Indians of All Tribes Foundation. “The urban Native community we have here is something beautiful.”

“We are always moved to witness the leadership and creativity of Native nonprofits and people past and present,” said Claudia Kauffman, co-founder of Native Action Network. “Across sectors, our communities rallied together to support each other.”

Register free to receive a Zoom link here:
Or go here: to view the event live on SUNN’s Facebook page.

About SUNN

Seattle Urban Native Nonprofits (SUNN) collaborative convenes and strengthens Native-led organizations throughout King County to build collective power through dialog, education, action, and advocacy. To increase the well-being of our urban Native family, we call upon Indigenous strength, resilience, and wisdom to address systemic inequities and galvanize community-centered solutions.

Seattle Urban Native Nonprofits was a direct outcome of the 2014 United Way King County report, “Together, We Lift Up The Sky” about the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) community in Seattle-King County. While acknowledging the serious challenges facing the AI/AN community, the report also highlighted its considerable assets as well as a number of opportunities moving forward. Meeting regularly, these leaders are moving forward together by centering Indigenous strengths-based approaches, identifying shared priorities and opportunities for mutual support.

SUNN member organizations include:

Chief Seattle Club

Duwamish Tribal Services

Na’ah Illahee Fund

Indigenous Showcase

Native Action Network

Northwest Justice Project

Potlatch Fund

Red Eagle Soaring

United Indians of All Tribes Foundation

Urban Native Education Alliance

National Urban Indian Family Coaliton

Native American Women’s Dialog on Infant Mortality

Organization Media Contact:

Twitter: @seaurbannatives
Facebook: @seattleurbannativenonprofits

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. I can provide access to recent interviews with  SUNN members as well as a link to an in-depth soon-to-be published blog post.

Jill Neumeister
Seattle Urban Native Non-profits (SUNN)
Communication Consultant