Arthur “Butch” Blazer and colleagues on a tour of Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona led by Michelle Curry. Diné College is a community college serving the Navajo Nation
I recently traveled to New Mexico and Arizona to visit with local Navajo government leaders, Tribal College officials, and community members to hear about life on the Navajo Reservation. Michael Burns, from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was also there to discuss an important new collaboration, the College/Underserved Community Partnership Program (CUPP).
CUPP develops partnerships between underserved communities and geographically close colleges and universities to provide technical support through faculty, students and staff at no cost to those communities. One of my top priorities is for USDA to help EPA expand the CUPP program to involve Tribal communities and colleges to advance the cause of environmental justice. Read more »
NRCS field staff work closely with Tribal members on education, outreach and implementation of on-the-ground conservation practices. Loren Crank Jr. and Barry Hamilton with NRCS worked with Bill Todachennie, the chapter’s vice president, on this project.
Grasses for grazing livestock are making a comeback on Utah’s McCracken Mesa thanks to a project partnership among the Aneth Chapter of the Navajo Nation, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Known as the McCracken Mesa Rangeland Project, the Aneth Chapter is working to rehabilitate degraded land through a grass establishment project. McCracken Mesa rises 5,500 feet and covers 57,000 acres. An estimated 37,000 acres are intended for grazing livestock. But the mesa’s terrain, extreme weather and overgrazing from livestock have left much of the land bare.
The use of native grasses ensures a more sustainable ground cover for the mesa along with habitat for wildlife. Plants that are native to an area typically are the most suitable for restoration efforts because they boast advantages such as adaptability to the soil and have mastered surviving and thriving in the sometimes harsh environment. Read more »
Two chapters of the Navajo Nation in Utah are getting new livestock wells, thanks to USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Members of the Teec Nos Pos and Red Mesa Chapters use wells drilled deep into the desert floor to water their 1,000 or so cattle. (A chapter is both a rural community and a unit of local government in the Navajo Nation.) But in the 2000s, the Navajo Nation Water Code Administration found, through testing, that these wells had high levels of arsenic, uranium and E. coli, rendering them non-potable for both humans and livestock. Read more »
Freddie Hatathlie, Roger Clark (left), Betty & Kee Acothley hold their 2013 Homeownership Month commendation presented by State Director Alan Stephens (right). USDA photos.
Betty and Kee Acothley live miles off the beaten track in the former Bennett Freeze area on the Navajo Nation.
Kee once tended thousands of head of sheep at the remote sheep camp he and his wife Betty call home. Now, at 80, he keeps only around 70 head. He and Betty, 79, follow the sheep on foot every day, returning to their modest home before dusk. Read more »
The Navajo Nation’s Hardrock Chapter recently celebrated the opening of their new chapter house and multi-purpose center with a day of celebration, speeches, food and dance.
The building will serve as a safe and secure location for after school activities and also as a health center for seniors.
USDA Rural Development funded nearly $300,000 of the $1 million facility. The funds went to the Hardrock Council on Substance Abuse, Inc. who will also use the facility for wellness and counseling services. Read more »
When Estelle Bowman was a little girl, she tagged along to meetings with attorneys who worked with her mother in the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Shiprock, N.M. As she grew older on the Navajo reservation town, she knew that she would one day become an attorney and serve her Navajo community.
Over the years, Bowman has done both and more. Today, the former district prosecutor for the Navajo Nation Department of Justice is the assistant director of the Office of Tribal Relations in Washington, D.C. for the U.S. Forest Service. Read more »