Montezuma Creek woman wins award

Montezuma Creek resident Pfawnn Eskee received the Allied Professional Award from the US Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) on April 23.

The award category recognizes an individual or individuals from a specific discipline outside the victim assistance field for their service to victims and contribution to the victim assistance field. 

“Pfawnn Eskee has made it possible for crime victims in some of America’s most remote communities to benefit from high-quality mental health and substance use treatment and comprehensive care,” said US Office of Justice Programs Acting Assistant Attorney General Maureen A. Henneberg.

“Even as the pandemic has taken a disproportionately heavy toll on the people of the Navajo Nation, she has seen to it that victims of violence and abuse receive the emotional support they need and the material assistance they deserve.”

Eskee is a licensed counselor with Utah Navajo Health System. As part of a video presentation accompanying the award, Eskee shared the need for mental health services on the Navajo Nation. 

“Growing up I didn’t have a therapist around that looked like me. That could understand my background and the struggles that we go through, not just me, but my communities.

“We always talk about intergenerational trauma within our Native American Communities.

“A lot of people I’ve seen especially in treatment have never told anybody their trauma experience.”

Eskee’s work has been focused on preventing and aiding victims of sexual violence and advocating for sexual assault nurse examinations (SANE).

“I, along with some of our nurses, decided to get together as a group and start that for our clinic.

“Now we have multiple SANE nurses; we have a Sexaual Assault Response Team. So if we’re able to heal one person it doesn’t become an ongoing cycle.”

In addition to her behavioral health work, Eskee administers the WeAreNavajo.org website, which provides community outreach, online resources and information for the community. 

“When I came back to the reservation, I thought, ‘it’s hard to find information here,’ so part of my time is also running the website WeAreNavajo.org.

“We include things like Navajo traditional cultural stories, traditional recipes. It’s become a hub of tons of information.”

During the pandemic, in addition to her daily work, Eskee organized efforts to aid her communities with donations, updates about changes in services, and deliveries of essential items to elders and their families.

In the most difficult of times, she fulfilled the unmet needs of the most vulnerable in her care and in her community.

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