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Davis Journal

‘Buffalo Blessings’ offers basic needs to Hopi and Navaho Native Americans

May 31, 2024 07:41AM ● By Kerry Angelbuer
Anna Bennett and a Native American in the Hopi Village of Mishonghori. Courtesy photo

Anna Bennett and a Native American in the Hopi Village of Mishonghori. Courtesy photo

When Sweetgrass covered the plains and the buffalo were plentiful, enough food and warm clothing could be obtained to bless the peaceful Hopi and Navajo tribes. The Buffalo dance held early in the year on the reservation pleads for enough snow and rain to nourish the land to support the plantings of beans, corn and squash. Since no irrigation is available to the tribes, this blessing is sorely needed. Anna Bennett, who lives in North Salt Lake and is the founder of “Buffalo Blessings” tries to answer the call of the dance by providing the basic needs for the Native Americans no matter the weather. 

Many years ago, Bennett and her husband travelled to the reservations and were filled with compassion for the lack of water, electricity and other basic needs they saw all around them. Many women walked for miles to obtain water and a man plowed his field with a metal disk attached to a stick. They found a sponsor within the tribe named White Eagle who was also striving to help his people and began to augment his efforts. Bennett applied for the federally recognized status for her charity so that all donations could be written off on taxes and began to raise funds and advocate for basic needs. Sundance Film festival donated high quality clothing left from promotional events, and Smith’s Marketplace allows shoppers to designate “Buffalo Blessings” so that a portion of all shopping done in the store will go to this charity. She has collected many individual volunteers and donors over the years who loyally contribute to her charity. A working, used tractor was provided to the man with only a plow stick, a bed for a couple suffering greatly from ravages of diabetes, a wood stove for a family struggling to stay warm in the winter and many plastic containers to store ample water and corn to protect from vermin. Bennett’s husband, who passed away in 2020, organized all the transportation of thousands of pounds of healthy foods and other goods to the reservations. 

Bennett was not sure that the charity could go on without her husband, but recognized that needs during the pandemic, combined with drought, were even more dire. She hit upon the idea of a grocery gift certificate that could only be exchanged for food at local stores. During the pandemic, certificates, clothing and hygiene kits were handed out at outdoor locations with masks worn by both givers and receivers. She is especially generous to the grandmothers on the reservations that are often raising three to six of their grandchildren on very limited means. “It is the greatest feeling in the world,” said Bennett, “to be on the reservation, and be invited in to eat as the people express their gratitude and often cry.” Although she feels that her efforts “are only a drop in the bucket,” she finds the work “quite fulfilling.” Donations are accepted at and on their Facebook page. Bennett’s phone number and email address are also available on the website allowing interested donors and volunteers to speak to her. Bennett makes jewelry to sell on Etsy along with other donated items – like a huge online yard sale. All donations and money from sales go directly to those in need. Volunteers pay their own travel, lodging and incidental costs so the 100% of donations go to Native Americans.