Ideas. Stories. Community.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Navajo Nation

  • The U.S. EPA has announced that it reached a settlement with the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority that means the NTUA has agreed to improve wastewater treatment facilities in three communities in northern Arizona. The Department of Justice filed a complaint on behalf of the EPA that says the facilities violated Clean Water Act permits meant to protect human health and the environment by discharging wastewater not treated to proper levels into washes across the tribal nation. It also says the NTUA failed to maintain their facilities’ sewage systems and prevent sewage spills. The roughly $100 million settlement will mean some short-term and long-term upgrades to facilities in Chinle, Kayenta and Tuba City that serve about 20,000 people, mostly Navajo citizens. And four seats on the Cortez City Council are open in the upcoming election on April 2. Nomination packets are available at City Hall, and are due this Monday, January 22.
  • At a Shiprock Chapter meeting this Wednesday, officials will vote on a resolution that calls for independent oversight of cleanup efforts after an oil spill north of town. Residents held a meeting on Saturday to discuss the ramifications of the spill and the community-drafted resolution, which also requests an investigation into the cause of the incident by both the U.S. EPA and the New Mexico Environment Department. Last month, a pipeline that transports crude oil from New Mexico to Aneth, Utah, was breached by a grading truck on agricultural land. The pipeline is operated by a subsidiary of Navajo Nation Oil and Gas, which is a tribal enterprise. Beverly Maxwell and other Navajo residents who live near the spill are frustrated with what they describe as a lack of communication from local and national tribal authorities about details of the still-ongoing cleanup.
  • More than a week after an oil spill on agricultural land near Shiprock, New Mexico, some Navajo residents in the area say they have concerns about the pace and scale of the environmental cleanup.
  • A federal program tasked with surveying abandoned uranium mines used during the Cold War era held a meeting last week about mines located on the Navajo Nation. More than 3,400 defense-related uranium mines are scattered throughout the Four Corners region, the result of a prospecting rush beginning in the 1940s sponsored by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. The meeting was held in Sanostee, New Mexico, a community that’s home to 12 such abandoned mines, many of which are located at the base of the Chuska Mountains near the Sanostee Wash. The Defense-Related Uranium Mine program, or DRUM, is a Department of Energy initiative started in 2017 to both survey abandoned mines and ensure they’re sealed off and inaccessible to the public. Some Sanostee residents who attended the meeting expressed concern about runoff from the mines and its effects on livestock that graze nearby, as well as potential health problems for residents, like cancer.
  • Founded in 2015, Dził Ditł’ooí School of Empowerment, Action and Perseverance (DEAP) is in Navajo, New Mexico, nestled in the Chuska Mountains. One of the school’s administrators says it was created out of a desire to Indigenize education for students by including traditional Navajo practices and spaces in the curriculum – especially after decades of cultural erasure due to the U.S. Indian boarding school system.
  • On Tuesday morning, Navajo sheep herders and Montezuma Land Conservancy will come together at a farm in Lewis to celebrate a threatened breed of sheep and its place in Diné culture. The Navajo-Churro sheep breed became endangered in the 1930s due to livestock reduction policies implemented by the U.S. government. Montezuma Land Conservancy offered for Navajo herders from Teec Nos Pos, Arizona to have their Churro sheep graze at a farm north of Cortez in exchange for education for the public on weaving and wool. Roy Kady is a member of the Navajo Nation and a weaver who’s contributing to the revitalization of the breed, which began in the 70s. He and his apprentice herders – most of them younger Navajo citizens living on the reservation, many in Teec Nos Pos – will be holding fiber and weaving demonstrations at Fozzie’s Farm. And last week, residents of Montezuma County attended a meeting in the Dolores Public Library on the need for more veterinarians for the area, including those who respond to after-hours emergencies.
  • On Wednesday morning, flags were lowered to half mast for the funeral service for a Cortez police officer who was killed in the line of duty last week. Hundreds of police vehicles formed the motorcade for Sgt. Michael Moran. The funeral was held at the Cortez Recreation Center and was not open to the public. And Montezuma Land Conservancy will hold a sheep celebration event at Fozzie’s Farm in Lewis, Colorado on Tuesday next week, in partnership with Navajo sheep herders. The event will include the butchering of a sheep in accordance with Diné cultural tradition, starting at around 8 a.m. At 10 a.m., Diné fiber artists will hold workshops and demonstrations. Herders in Teec Nos Pos loaned their sheep and goats to Fozzie’s Farm as part of a cultural exchange with Montezuma Land Conservancy, or MLC.
  • A grassroots community group on the Navajo Nation is making winter supply runs to deliver water and food to elders in the Black Mesa region of northern Arizona. Diné Land and Water is a Navajo-led organization based out of Sanders. Mercury Bitsuie, a project manager for the group, hauls water, wood and food to elders and families who live in a highly remote area in Black Mesa’s Big Mountain community. Big Mountain is just north of the Hopi Nation and is located on land that has historically been the subject of disputes between the Hopi and Navajo tribes. Many Navajo families who live there don’t have access to clean water or electricity according to Bitsuie, and roads in the area can frequently become impassable due to snow. Bitsuie says his group is actively raising funds on GoFundMe for winter supply runs. And Colorado workers can now start signing up online for more paid time-off through the state.
  • There’s been an increase in hydropower projects across the U.S., including on different tribal reservations. But some advocates say tribes like the Navajo Nation aren’t being consulted enough about their development.
  • On Friday, the activist group Stolen People, Stolen Benefits will hold a walk in Phoenix to continue raising awareness about the displacement of Native American people who were taken to fake sober living homes. Advocates like Reva Stewart who do outreach in Phoenix say they’re continuing to see an increase in the number of unhoused people who need help returning to tribal communities like the Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico and the Navajo Nation. That’s after Governor of Arizona Katie Hobbs announced the state would crack down on these fraudulent facilities in May. Stewart says that an activist in their group who is a White Mountain Apache tribal member recently lost a close friend to a drug overdose in a Phoenix area group home. Almost one year after the first news stories on fraudulent Arizona group homes broke, it appears many facilities are finding ways to operate and recruit even after having their payments from the state Medicaid agency suspended.