Since the beginning of the year, the Opportunity Fund has become a model for tribal philanthropic work across the Colorado Plateau. In addition to funding, our staff is conducting site visits and providing advice to all grantees.
During the visit with the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project, the organization expressed to us their sincere appreciation. They brought together their project team and presented their plans and curriculum that will be on full display this summer at the Youth Ecology Camp. The day ended with the rare experience of observing a Zuni Kachina Dance.
We experienced a similar expression of gratitude in our visit to the newly constructed elder center green house built by the Tolani Lake Enterprises. Our hearts were touched as we visited over lunch with the elders. There was joy in their eyes as they toured the new facility.
The day ended with us helping the elders with their Easter egg hunt.
Nahat’a Dziil Initiates works to achieve balance between protection of land and traditional ranching
Years ago, traditional Navajo elders and community members gathered under the shade of nearby trees to talk through important issues and discuss solution steps. Today, the community of Nahat’a Dziil, Arizona is reinvigorating these processes as they create a plan instilled with strong cultural values and prosperity as defined by Navajo teachings. Nahat’a Dziil elders and young adults have been gathering regularly to discuss their vision for their ranch community in the years to come to ensure that they cooperatively protect the land’s health and also achieve a sustainable profit on their cattle sales.
In 1974, an act of Congress relocated some of most traditional Navajo families from their homelands on Big Mountain to the community of Newlands, Arizona, a community just two hours east of Flagstaff off of I-40. While the community has suffered collective trauma as a result of their removal, they are determined to begin planning a brighter future. To reflect this mentality, the name of “Newlands” was changed by the community to “Nahat’a Dziil,” which translates to “strength in planning” in the Navajo language.
Today, the community has fourteen grazing units spread across 300,000 acres of land, and has been strategizing on creating a ranching association that will help them get top dollar for their cattle. In order to achieve this goal they must unify to implement a uniform health, tagging, and vaccination process and sell their cattle collectively. The team that has been actively planning the business is working on a formal business plan that will help the community think through long-term needs. It has been a challenging task, but they are making great progress. With the help of Navajo Padres Mesa Demonstration Ranch, a 60,900 acre ranch located just across the freeway from the community, they are learning how to implement health programs that will create a top-quality beef product while respecting and honoring the land.
— Tony Skrelunas