Submitted by: Amy Eisenberg, Ph.D.

Recognizing the devastating effects of COVID-19 on New York hospitals and Native Nations, Amy Eisenberg, a University of Arizona professor, John Amato along with international team member Cyrus Liu of ibasso Audio, China, saw an opportunity to help.  Together they were able to donate thousands of KN95 hospital masks to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

In addition to this, after the Big Horn fires in Tucson, AZ destroyed the homes of the local desert wildlife Amy and her teammates sprung into action to help the tortoises who were left exposed without burrows and food.

Dr. Eisenberg kindly shared the story of the work she and her colleagues are doing for both the Native Nations and the Desert Tortoises. Continue reading to learn more and view photographs of their work.

The Art of Covid- A helping hand Amy Eisenberg
Pictures taken by John Amato, RN and Amy Eisenberg, Ph.D.
(Images provided by Amy Eisenberg, Ph.D.)

John Amato, RN and I are stewards who safeguard the natural and cultural heritage resources in the Tohono O’odham Haki:dag – sacred homeland of the Tohono O’odham Nation in Babad Du’ag – the Catalina Mountains. We work in the mountains and desert every day helping our beloved fellow creatures. The Bighorn Fire was devastating and with the drought, there is little wild food for the tortoises to eat in order to see them through their long brumation. In some areas, it is truly like a graveyard……In addition, we rescued several tortoises from a Meritage Homes housing and road development site that DEVASTATED the tortoises’ burrows and homeland…..They are safe with us now…..

We help the tortoises, other creatures and the natural and cultural resources because our Mother Earth greatly needs all our stewardship. We haul hundreds of pounds of trash out of the mountains and deserts that impact native species. 

As Associate Scholar with Center for World Indigenous Studies who works with First Nations peoples, we understand the inequities facing Native peoples…. We have worked on various continents and island nations with native peoples and understand the pressing needs of the indigenous peoples of Turtle Island who are impacted greatly by the coronavirus and the failings of the US governments in addressing and delivering PPE supplies to First Nations, some of which are the most impoverished communities in our country. 

Our message is: Respect and Protect our Mother Earth and her precious beloved creatures with all your heart. Please help our Mother Earth who sustains all life; who sustains us all. Native Nations treaties, natural and cultural heritage resources must be respect and honored. This is vital for addressing their needs and confronting the serious inequities on Turtle Island. 

Tikkun Olam – the Repair and Renewal of our world.

I was offered a Sustainable Agriculture teaching position in the Marshall Islands however the Sonoran Desert Tortoises needed to be saved from extermination….They should be federally protected as the Mojave Desert Tortoise but they are not.   I teach at the University of Arizona. Loving and caring for the tortoises teaches us patience…..They are our teachers. As a natural scientist, we must value the scientific principles regarding this pandemic. Sadly, the current administration is not doing this maturely and responsibly. Therefore we must actively educate, act and promote mask-wearing, social distancing and be realistic, responsible and honest about this deadly coronavirus. 

“We have a choice to use the gift of our lives to make this world a better place.” – Jane Goodall    Together, we can and must…..