Planting hope in the Navajo Nation

Older generations on the Navajo Nation have passed down stories of scourges, resilience — and survival. New generations are bringing the tales to life.

Four miles down Farm Road, just off U.S. Route 491 in northern Navajo, a group of young Diné used what was left of daylight in early May to plant onions and potatoes on Yellow Wash Farm.

As the novel coronavirus stretched its way through Navajoland, leaving a trail of heartbreak and uncertainty, the four Navajo men, a mixture of family and friends from Shiprock, picked up their seeds and broke the earth with their shovels.

By month’s end, the Navajo Nation would have the highest per-capita infection rate in the country, surpassing even New York state. The outbreak cut a swath across the vast reservation, from outposts in Arizona to the mesas and high desert in northwest New Mexico, where Shiprock, or Naatʼáanii Nééz — the largest Navajo community — became a hotspot seemingly overnight.

I came to the Southwest, to the Navajo Nation, three decades ago plus or minus. If I’d’ve stayed, it was likely at the time I would have gone to work for the Indian Health Service. Using my geek skills.

But, my erratic personal life intervened and I ended up in northern New Mexico. That’s not important, now, to y’all. The story of these folks trying to keep their history and culture sorted…and improve the lives of folks around them…is truly important. So, click that link up above and RTFA.

5 thoughts on “Planting hope in the Navajo Nation

  1. Footnote says:

    “A former White House aide won a $3 million federal contract to supply respirator masks to Navajo Nation hospitals in New Mexico and Arizona 11 days after he created a company to sell personal protective equipment in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
    Zach Fuentes, President Donald Trump’s former deputy chief of staff, secured the deal with the Indian Health Service with limited competitive bidding and no prior federal contracting experience.
    The IHS told ProPublica it has found that 247,000 of the masks delivered by Fuentes’ company — at a cost of roughly $800,000 — may be unsuitable for medical use. An additional 130,400, worth about $422,000, are not the type specified in the procurement data, the agency said.
    What’s more, the masks Fuentes agreed to provide — Chinese-made KN95s — have come under intense scrutiny from U.S. regulators amid concerns that they offered inadequate protection.” (ProPublica May 22, 2020)

  2. 감사합니다 says:

    In a stunning act of solidarity, the South Korean government sent 10,000 face masks and 3.9 tons of other supplies including hand sanitizer to the Navajo Nation to honor the veterans who served during the Korean War.
    About 800 Navajo men served in the war, many as Code Talkers who used their native language as an unbreakable code to confound opposing forces. Around 130 of the Navajo veterans are still alive, South Korea’s Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs said.
    According to Stars and Stripes, the shipment of protective supplies meant to prevent COVID-19 infections among the Navajo tribe community was delivered in conjunction with the 70th anniversary of the Korean War.
    The shipment of protective supplies is on top of the 500,000 face masks the South Korean government already sent to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to distribute to non-Navajo veterans.

      • Bilagáana says:

        The Navajo Nation could buy the gun maker that became the target of litigation by Newtown parents after the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre, according to the Wall Street Journal.
        Remington Arms is exploring filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from creditors in the coming days, according to the a Journal report. As it does, the Navajo Nation reportedly is considered purchasing the company as part of a 2018 bankruptcy restructuring by Remington that transferred ownership of the manufacturer to the parent company of Franklin Templeton Investments and JPMorgan Chase.
        The Wall Street Journal reported that a buyer would be able to purchase Remington free from legal liabilities, citing multiple unnamed sources. It is not clear how a sale would impact the ongoing Newtown litigation.
        The federal government recognizes the Navajo Nation as the second largest Native American tribe in the United States, with the Navajo operating the largest reservation bordering Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

  3. p/s says:

    Winter storms have finally arrived in Arizona, bringing cold temperatures up north, but a new program helps keep members of the Navajo Nation supplied in firewood.
    In the winter, temperatures on the Navajo Nation can get down to single digits. Most homes on the reservation are heated with wood stoves, but wood can be hard to come by. Dr. Sophia Calderon from Tuba City Regional Health Care spoke about the program in a Nature Conservancy video.

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