Franklin Countys First News

Kingfield residents providing relief for Navajo Nation

Face masks for the Indigenous People's Face Mask Project.

KINGFIELD - A group of sewers that span from Kingfield and New York to Arizona have come together to meet the needs of a community who are facing the COVID-19 pandemic with little resources: the Navajo Nation.

Kingfield resident Jan Royall started out making masks with friends to hand out in town. The masks hung from lines strung up outside of Tranten's grocery store and Western Maine Pharmacy- a no-contact way of getting the face coverings to those who needed them, with no questions asked. The group managed to distribute more than 2,000 masks.

Now that Maine's cases of the virus are leveling out, Royall said the group decided to shift gears and focus on a community who needed them more. Royall first visited Navajo Nation several years ago when she was learning how to traditionally weave from two Navajo master weavers. The class was a five day intensive study, and Royall attended it two years in a row. She still keeps in touch with women from the class, and sent face masks when the pandemic hit.

"I kept hearing on the news how dire the situation was out there," Royall said. "I told them I wished I could make enough masks for the whole community."

A lack of running water, no sanitation and little access to hospitals were just a few of the highlights that caught Royall's attention. A program that Royall participates in helps Navajo elders access food because the closest grocery store is two hours away.

Royall began sending more and more masks, made by her network of friends and acquaintances and distributed with food hand outs in three locations in Navajo Nation. The Indigenous People's Face Mask Project started at the end of June and has already made more than 1,000 masks. The group consists of 10 volunteer sewers. Almost all of the fabric is donated, but Royall said the cost of shipping is adding up. The group would like to include a hand sanitizer with each mask, but as of now, funds are coming from their own pockets.

"It seems to me that this pandemic has reminded many of us that even small acts of kindness can make a difference," Royall said.

For serious inquires about getting involved, either with organizational efforts, fundraising, or sewing, contact Royall at jsrglass@yahoo.com.

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9 Responses »

  1. Thank You Folks.

  2. Jan. Thank you for doing this... the fabrics you have chosen reflect your artistry.. And thank you Amber for ferreting out and writing about this project

    Jo Josephson

  3. Thank you so much for making masks for us.We really do appreciate it.We all live like third world country in the United States, especially the Bennett Freeze area, where I reside all my life. Look it up on the web. We were supposed to use the six million dollars for the covid relief fund, we haven't seen a penny yet. Thank you so much for all you're doing for us. God bless you all.

  4. Thank you Jan … wonderful and caring project. I am curious …
    "A lack of running water, no sanitation and little access to hospitals were just a few of the highlights that caught Royall's attention. A program that Royall participates in helps Navajo elders access food because the closest grocery store is two hours away." where is this located? You made no reference to what state this is located in. In this day and age this is almost unbelievable. How can anyone help if interested? Thank you again.

  5. It is my hope that in this time of social "reckoning" , our Native citizens would be recognized as equal.
    The Bennett Freeze is a good example of how the Native people have been often mistreated.
    How long do these proud people wait in line for recognition behind the current mess?
    When many say "All Lives Matter" is absolutely not to take from black lives but to demand that in fact, "These" Lives Also Matter.
    All men are created equal.
    Yes we are.

    Again, thank you guys for doing what you're doing.

    Everything Is Beautiful.

  6. wonderful and thank you !

  7. It is just what real Mainers do best!

  8. Great article showing what people can accomplish when they work together !

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