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.