Take Action around 'Sun Kissed'
- Find out whether any families in your area have children with XP. If so, meet with them to find out what types of support they would welcome. Alternatively, get involved in national efforts to support families dealing with XP and/or support research aimed at treating or curing the disease.
Dorey offers this prayer for his daughter:
My creator, I am speaking to you again.
Please watch over my baby so that she won't have to suffer, so that I may know she's all right.
My creator, please hear my prayer,
With my prayer let beauty be restored, let harmony be restored, let harmony be restored.
- At an interfaith gathering, compare Dorey's prayer to prayers with which you are familiar. Then invite each person in the group to craft a prayer for his or her own children and/or the children in your community. Invite all participants to read their prayers aloud. Talk about how the prayers differ and what they have in common.
- Work with your school district to ensure that accurate information about Navajo history and culture, including information about the Long Walk, is included in the curriculum.
- Host a screening for public health officials and staff. Use a discussion of health equity issues in the film as a springboard to identify and address health equity issues in your community.
Get informed about the issues in the film and lead a discussion in your community.
After losing their son to Xeroderma Pigmentosum, known as XP, a rare and fatal genetic disease that causes skin cancer from any exposure to sunlight, Dorey and Yolanda Nez faced the devastating reality that their daughter, Leanndra, was also afflicted with XP. At their home in New Mexico, Dorey shouldered the enormous burden of caring for his daughter, while Yolanda, in her work as an advocate for Native American children with disabilities, encountered other Navajos who knew of children with the same disease. Following these leads, the couple made the astonishing discovery that while XP shows up at a rate of one in one million in the general U.S. population, on the Navajo reservation, which crosses three states, the rate is one in 30,000.
The film shows the family caught in a tug of war between traditional Navajo healing ways and Western medicine—neither of which is able to save their children. As Dorey and Yolanda work through the intense emotion of accepting the impending death of their child, they find themselves questioning everything they believe. And viewers question everything along with them. More than simply a window into issues confronting Navajo people today, Sun Kissed serves as a rich springboard for discussions about identity, responsibility and the unique love of parents for their children.
In this lesson, history meets science as students investigate whether an event in the 1860s that limited genetic variation among Navajos may have led to both children of a modern-day Navajo couple being born with a rare genetic disease. To investigate this theory, students will use a basic simulation model to track gene frequencies across multiple generations.
This multi-media resource list, compiled by Penny Talbert and Rebecca Zinner of Ephrata Public Library, provides a range of perspectives on the issues raised by the POV documentary Sun Kissed.