Trailblazer: Amy Denet Deal
A few years ago, Amy Denet Deal (formerly Amy Yeung) was a very fashionable executive in Los Angeles. When her daughter, Lily, graduated from high school in 2018, Denet Deal left LA and moved to New Mexico from Diné (the Navajo nation) to rejoin her native mother’s tribe. Yeung, adopted, later changed his name to “the matriarch Diné who brought me to this world.”
“I decided I wanted to be committed to serving my whole life,” he says. “I did everything I wanted to do. I took care of my baby and he was ready to go out into the world. It was my time.”
Denet Deal was concerned about the lack of basic infrastructure it found. Nearly a third of Navajo homes do not run water, and approximately 15,000 electricity are missing. Only 13 supermarkets supply an area of 27,000 square kilometers, and residents have to drive an average of 1 or 3 hours to get food.
COVID-19 has dealt a severe blow to the already vulnerable population. “Do you know how hard COVID-19 has been for us when you can’t wash your hands and you can’t get WiFi so you don’t know what’s going on? ”Personal protective equipment (PPE) was almost non-existent pandemic.
Denet Deal realized that it had the skills to meet critical needs. “I’ve run large corporations in my life. I know how to raise funds. I know how to make masks, ”he says. The recycled clothing company, Orenda Tribe, switched to manufacturing face masks, and in companies like Patagonia and Outdoor Voices they called for connections for fabrics. To fund the efforts, the Denet Deal requested donations and raised money. The benefit concert The Voices of Siihasin, which won a Grammy in July 2020 with singer / songwriter Jewel, raised $ 200,000 – enough to fund a 42,000 care box for children and their families in the Diné community.
In 2020, Denet Deal and its group of women volunteers who make up the Dził Asdzáán (Mountain Woman) Command Center raised more than $ 835,000 and distributed more than one million PPE units and one million food rations.
In the short term, the Denet Deal is focused on meeting the needs of its tribe through the pandemic, but it has greater long-term goals. “I want to work out sustainable solutions for the future to address the problems we face – food insecurity, joblessness, land problems, environmental genocide,” he says. “I’m very committed, because this is the future of my tribe.”