The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian features The COVID-19 Outbreak in the Navajo Nation by photojournalist Donovan Quintero (Diné [Navajo]), the third installment of its online exhibition series Developing Stories: Native Photographers in the Field.

This virtual photo essay is a series of 44 images that showcase how the pandemic affected the everyday lives of the Diné over the course of a year. The images highlight the resilience of the Diné and the critical roles played by tribal council members, police, health-care workers, and other unsung heroes of the pandemic. The essay concludes with the rollout of the vaccines and Diné prayers for the future.

The photo essay also features an audio interview between Quintero and Cécile Ganteaume, the exhibition’s curator.

Quintero was born and raised on the Navajo Nation reservation. Since 2005, he has worked for the Navajo Times covering news, sports, and feature stories. He served in the US Navy and traveled widely before returning to his roots. Quintero got his start in journalism at the Gallup Independent and the Farmington Daily Times, both in New Mexico. He has covered the pandemic since it first struck the reservation in March 2020.

In addition to Quintero’s work, Developing Stories: Native Photographers in the Field includes the photo essays The Genízaro Pueblo of Abiquiú by Russel Albert Daniels (Diné descent and Ho-Chunk descent) and Reservation Mathematics: Navigating Love in Native America by Tailyr Irvine (Salish and Kootenai).

Developing Stories: Native Photographers in the Field is a series of photo essays created by Native photojournalists in collaboration with the National Museum of the American Indian. Each photographer explores an issue that is of deep personal interest and touches the lives of Native people in a specific community. 

To view The COVID-19 Outbreak in the Navajo Nation and other photo essays from Developing Stories, visit

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