- The dividing line traced by roadblocks also is tugging on sensitivities about birthrights and inequities, as Native American visitors worry about the social stigma of being locked out because of the contagion.
The outbreak on the huge Navajo reservation, the nation’s largest with 175,000 people, have made people in Gallup nervous. Many see hints of the long-running racism that has divided people in the town for centuries.
“They targeted the people around here. They’re going to be coming to Gallup to shop, so they put a stop to that,” said Johnnie Henry, who said two of his relatives on the Navajo Nation were apparently infected with COVID-19 while working at a hospital in Gallup. “We kind of look at each other and say, are we the ones bringing it? No, it’s all over.
“There’s a lot of people who want to go back into Gallup, but they’re afraid that they’re going to call us names ... say that we are the carriers.”
Inside Gallup, the streets are empty, with downtown thoroughfares largely free of cars. The lockdown idled pawn shops, halted informal jewelry sales by walking vendors, and thinned out crowds to a trickle at grocery stores and Walmart.
“The lockdown has been awesome, you don’t have to worry about any crowds,” said Andrew Sandoval, a delivery worker for Home Depot, as he ducked into a grocery store to buy his wife a cup of coffee.
Got a buddy. His sister and brother in law did a tour in the Peace Corps in rural Uzbekistan. Two years of that, they doubled down and did two years in rural Krgyzstan. I saw them after they'd just got back - they were going to settle down do something easier, more lightweight, less hopeless. They signed up for a two-year stint in Gallup.
They lasted a month.