I weep when I dream about Sagebrush, a place known to my Navajo family as Tsaa Tah.
While the country fought about civil rights and the Vietnam War, my family, the Blackwood Streak and Bitter Water clans, lived in hogans made of stone, canvas tents and a house built by my father at Sagebrush. Our winter sheep camp in the arroyo cradled three flocks of sheep next to a corral made of limestone. Sage grew tall in the deep ravines. Shorter sage covered the mesas and rock outcroppings. Trees were nonexistent, except for a lone juniper every few miles.
My family held tight to their earth-based faith and strove to live in harmony with the land. But sometimes we had to fight the elements to keep our animals and ourselves alive.
Flock belonging to Navajo shepherds foraging in deep snow of severe winter. (Ralph Crane/Life magazine, 1967.)
In the winter of 1967, a giant snowstorm hit the Navajo Nation and buried Sagebrush and my family. Then-Navajo leader Raymond Nakai called it the “worst weather disaster in modern Navajo history.” While my relatives sat marooned at Sagebrush, I was a 9-year-old second grader stuck at Tuba City Boarding School, a military-style residential hall and elementary school. Continue reading →
Sandy beaches have reappeared more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) downstream of Glen Canyon Dam, an early measure of success for a massive flood last week designed to rebuild habitat along the Colorado River in the iconic Grand Canyon.
However, it will be weeks before scientists know whether the six days of high flows realized the Department of the Interior’s goals of moving more than 500,000 metric tons of sediment down the canyon.
For immediate release: October 2, 2012
Contact: Deon Ben, 928.774.7488
Grand Canyon Trust to support Protect the Confluence Coalition efforts
FLAGSTAFF – The Grand Canyon Trust has accepted an invitation from the People of the Confluence, an organized group of local families and voters from the Bodaway/Gap Chapter, to join their campaign to oppose the proposed Escalade development at the confluence of the Little Colorado and Colorado rivers. The People of the Confluence are adamantly opposed to the development being pushed by Confluence Partners, LLC and have launched a campaign against the development because it is culturally insensitive to the traditional lifestyle led by many Navajo families, and will potentially harm sacred sites and prayer offering locations.
In a letter dated September 21, the People of the Confluence extended a formal invitation to several nonprofit organizations, coalitions, local tribal nations, and grassroots organizers to collaborate as the Protect the Confluence Coalition and assist them in their efforts to oppose the development.
“The Confluence Partners, LLC has vigorously pushed their proposed development on the Bodaway/Gap community and across the Western Agency of the Navajo Nation,” stated the letter from the People of the Confluence to invited coalition members. “The Confluence Partners, LLC’s inappropriate actions in our community have disrupted family, community relationships, and altered the balance of K’e (kinship).”
“Finally, not wanting the resort, the Navajos of the area need to be assured that the tribe has conduct[ed] adequate archaeological and cultural surveys over the proposed resort area,” Charles Cambridge, Ph.D., wrote in a letter to Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly.