Native American Families and Holiday Gatherings: COVID-19 Edition

As we approach the holiday season and plan to gather with friends, family, and tribal members, it is important to remember the safety precautions we must take during the COVID-19 pandemic. While it can be disappointing to have to change holiday traditions, we recommend following local guidelines and finding alternative ways to celebrate the holidays safely. The more precautions we take, the faster we can slow the spread of COVID-19.

California Governor, Gavin Newsom, has issued new mandates and recommendations for the residents of California. If you do not reside in California, please search your community’s guidelines to ensure that you take the proper steps to remain safe and healthy this holiday season.

California’s recommended preventative measures are the following:

  1. Effective Saturday, November 21st through Monday, December 21st, there will be a closure of non-essential work and activities in purple tier counties from 10 pm-5 am. You can search for your county’s status here:

  2. Stay home, unless an essential activity needs to be attended to. Avoid all non-essential travel.

  3. Wear a face mask when in public and near individuals, even if they are family.

  4. Self-quarantine for 14 days if exposed to COVID-19, feel sick, or have traveled.

  5. Limit gatherings to only those in your household that you live with.

  6. Wash your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds.

When making plans for the holidays this year, please remember to social distance and only celebrate with the people who live in your household. It is understandable that as Native American families, we want to celebrate the holidays in large groups with our extended family. It can be tempting to make plans with all of our loved ones. However, by doing so, we increase the chances of contracting the illness or spreading it to those we love.

Low-risk activities are an alternative to spending extended periods of time with family and friends without the potential of contracting COVID-19.

Here are a few low-risk activities you can try this year:

  1. Create a Zoom call with all family, friends, and/or tribal members where you can all see each other and talk, eat, or play a game together. To use Zoom and/or create an account, click here. Or, if you are unfamiliar with Zoom, check out this help article!

  2. Cook a favorite dish of yours for yourself and/or members of your household.

  3. Host a virtual movie night through video conferencing software by having the host share their screen, or through this Chrome extension called “Scener”.

  4. Initiate a family group text chat to stay connected with friends and family throughout the day, or coordinate a time to meet virtually.

  5. Go on a socially distanced walk to make the most of the day.

  6. Host a virtual craft night in honor of the holidays you celebrate with family, friends, and/or tribal members.

Regardless of what new holiday tradition you adopt this year, please remain safe and healthy this holiday season. Be cautious of how your decisions might affect others. Making small individual sacrifices will contribute to minimizing the severity of the pandemic for everyone.

Allow this quote from my personal tribe, Tunica-Biloxi, to resonate with you: “Cherishing Our Past, Building For Our Future.” Remember all of the sacrifices our elders have made, and use them as inspiration for making a better future. We too must make sacrifices, even if they include spending the holidays alone or limited to household members. In the end, our actions will make a difference for our future.

If you would like to learn more about COVID-19, resources, and testing, please visit