Acoma group gives 'sense of belonging' - Albuquerque Journal

Acoma group gives ‘sense of belonging’

Illustration by Cathryn Cunningham/Albuquerque Journal

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Like many of New Mexico’s Indigenous communities, Acoma Pueblo went into lockdown in spring 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

What followed for the pueblo about an hour west of Albuquerque was months of isolation, economic hardship and illness, cancellations of school and celebrations, a ray of hope from the vaccine and, now, lingering uncertainty about how the pandemic will end.

To help support the community, the Acoma Pueblo Health and Human Services Division hosts a virtual pandemic survivors group each week.

Mark Lorenzo Jr., a cultural liaison with Acoma Behavioral Health Services who helps run the online group, sees it as a space to “begin the healing process” from the shared traumas of the pandemic.

“It gives us a sense of belonging,” Lorenzo said. “We all miss our gatherings and our social traditions, our feasts or ceremonies. So this gives us another purpose to gather. And it lets us know that we’re not alone in this.”

Virtual meetups began in late 2020, then picked back up again this summer.

Each week the group discusses lessons learned during the pandemic, how they stay physically and emotionally healthy, and how to maintain cultures and traditions.

Edwina Valdo, a former Acoma Health Department director, has worked in the pueblo’s health command center since last March. She delivers quarantine notices to people who tested positive for the virus, coordinates emergency food deliveries and organizes virus testing and vaccination events.

“COVID has affected everyone in one way or another, whether you got COVID yourself or had a family member that passed, or maybe you went on unemployment because your hours got cut,” Valdo said.

“We all experience it in a different way.”

The leaders said the group is unique because of its cultural perspective.

Participants sometimes speak in the pueblo’s language, and each session begins and ends with prayer.

“We treat this pandemic as another living being and so within those prayers, we ask that it rests one day and leaves the people of this world alone,” Lorenzo said.

The group shares how they’ve coped with isolation or illness.

Lorenzo enjoys biking with family and practicing traditional dances with his young son. Valdo has used exercise, cooking and reading as outlets.

The Acoma employees may educate participants about the pueblo’s counseling resources or other support groups.

Future plans include more guest speakers, conversations between elders and younger pueblo members and, eventually, in-person meetings.

“Our pueblo is really small. Everybody knows everyone,” Valdo said. “I think everyone knows who has passed from COVID or who had COVID. We’re really emphasizing that this group is a confidential group. And we do our best to protect individuals who want to share their story.”

Home » ABQnews Seeker » Acoma group gives ‘sense of belonging’

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
The stage is set: ‘La Traviata’ to kick off ...
ABQnews Seeker
New productions of 'Don Giovanni,' 'La ... New productions of 'Don Giovanni,' 'La Traviata' and 'Der Rosenkavalier,' and a revival of 'The Elixir of Love,' cap a 2024 Santa Fe Opera ...
Job Talk: 'I'm done': Finding a new career without ...
ABQnews Seeker
Dear J.T. & Dale: I no ... Dear J.T. & Dale: I no longer want to be a nurse. I tried to stick it out after the pandemic, but I'm done.
Isotopes manager Lopez can toast to a career milestone
ABQnews Seeker
Veteran manager gets 1,000th career victory ... Veteran manager gets 1,000th career victory with the Isotopes on Sunday, days after getting loss 1,000 as well.
Photos: Isotopes take on Sugar Land during Mariachis Night ...
ABQnews Seeker
Track and field: Lobos send a dozen to NCAA ...
ABQnews Seeker
Twelve athletes from the New Mexico ... Twelve athletes from the New Mexico track and field team have made, in total, 15 qualifying marks for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field ...
UNM women's basketball adds Gonzaga to this season's schedule
ABQnews Seeker
UNM will take on powerhouse Gonzaga ... UNM will take on powerhouse Gonzaga in a pre-conference matchup this season in Spokane, Washington. It will be the opener of a home-and-home series ...
Pro golf's feud is over; Notah Begay III weighs ...
ABQnews Seeker
Begay, 50, checked his email to ... Begay, 50, checked his email to make sure it was real — "I actually thought, 'is it April Fools Day?'" — and sure enough, ...
Florida official says migrants flown to California went willingly, ...
ABQnews Seeker
Asylum-seekers, mostly from Colombia and Venezuela, ... Asylum-seekers, mostly from Colombia and Venezuela, had been picked up in El Paso, Texas, taken to New Mexico and then put on charter flights ...
Michael J. Sheehan legacy: Archbishop took over in Santa ...
ABQnews Seeker
Archbishop Emeritus Michael J. Sheehan, who ... Archbishop Emeritus Michael J. Sheehan, who died earlier this week, took reins of Archdiocese of Santa Fe at crisis point and led for the ...