Tag Archives: Access To Water

7/2011 Draft Water Resource Development Strategy for the Navajo Nation by Navajo Nation Department of Water Resources

7/2011 Draft Water Resource Development Strategy for the Navajo Nation by Navajo Nation Department of Water…“>7/2011 Draft Water Resource Development Strategy for the Navajo Nation, Navajo Nation Department of Water Resources
Excerpt: The lack of infrastructure, the lack of economic development, and the sustained poverty are closely connected. Throughout the arid southwest, and especially on the Navajo Nation, a reliable water supply is essential for jump-starting and sustaining economic development. The Navajo Nation has identified economic development growth centers throughout the reservation. These economic development centers represent large population bases, which have the potential to benefit from an economy of scale in infrastructure development. Accordingly the Navajo Nation will focus resources in these locations to stimulate economic growth.

6/13/2012 Rita Sebastian Re: Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Agreement FOR THE OFFICIAL RECORD

6/13/2012 Rita Sebastian Re: Legislation No. 0230-12 for the OFFICIAL RECORD“>6/13/2012 Rita Sebastian Re: Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Agreement: Harvard Native American Economic Development Project and Brandeis Heller School for Social Policy would be happy to support studies regarding Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Social Impact Assessment (SIA), and Economic Impact Analysis. Let science and careful policy analysis speak before you make any decisions to sell away water rights. Please let me know if we can be of any assistance.

5/21/2012 Navajo Human Rights Commission Resolution opposing Navajo Hopi Little CO River Water Rights Act of 2012

5/21/2012 Navajo Human Rights Commission Resolution“>

5/22/2012 Gallup Independent: Twist of fate – Dog bite leads to unfolding story behind water-hauling picture By Kathy Helms

5 22 2012 Twist of Fate – Dog Bite Leads to Unfolding Story Behind Water-hauling Picture“>

9/10/2011 Gallup Independent: Residents suffer while tribes debate water issues

Rose Chewing Lane from Boadaway/Gap drank water from eight of these 55-gallon barrels for several years9/10/2011 Gallup Independent: Residents suffer while tribes debate water issues By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau: WINDOW ROCK – Members of the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission and the Hopi Tribe will meet next week to discuss water issues brought up by Navajos residing on Hopi Partitioned Land who refused to leave their homes after Congress partitioned the disputed lands in 1974 and forced the relocation of Navajo and Hopi families. In April, after two years of efforts by the grassroots group Forgotten People, U.S. and Navajo agencies, the first load of safe drinking water was delivered to residents in the Black Falls/Box Springs/Grand Falls area near Leupp who were drinking uranium- and arsenic-contaminated water. The group hopes to replicate that success for residents of HPL and the former Bennett Freeze.

On Aug. 22, Forgotten People planned to conduct a meeting of HPL residents at the Big Mountain home of elderly matriarch Pauline Whitesinger to discuss the possibility of implementing the water-hauling pilot project in their area.

Marsha Monestersky, Forgotten People program director, and Ed Becenti, Window Rock liaison, asked Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly and other Navajo officials to attend, as well as officials from the Hopi Tribe. But that meeting went belly-up after Hopi informed Navajo that a permit was required and that Monestersky has an exclusion order against her.

“At this time, the Hopi Tribe will not be supporting or attending the meeting,” according to a letter from Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa. “To begin, the issues being raised – water and transportation issues – are Government-to-Government issues. Thus, a request for this type of meeting must come from the Navajo Nation, not the ‘Forgotten People.’”

Shingoitewa said since no one had requested a permit to hold the event, the meeting would be in violation of the Hopi Tribe’s rules and regulations. “Finally, there is a valid and binding exclusion order for Ms. Monestersky. Thus, Ms. Monestersky is not welcome on Hopi land,” he said.

Monestersky, a paralegal, first came to the area in 1975 to assist Navajo HPL residents with relocation issues and taking their case before the United Nations. Those efforts resulted in the first investigation against the United States by the United Nations for human rights violations. Monestersky said she was charged by Hopi with the unauthorized practice of law, accused of being present on HPL on several occasions without a permit, and for writing a $35 check that bounced, making her of “unfit moral character.”

She wrote the check off-reservation to buy an electric heater at Walmart in 1995 because she was “living in a cold, shabby trailer in Winslow” at the time. It was only after she moved to the reservation that she learned the check had bounced. Though she paid it off, she believes the check charge was used as an excuse by Hopi to get her banished forever from HPL.

“If they expel everyone who wrote a bad check, half the people here would be gone,” she said at the time. “What they really wanted to do was stop me from working with Navajo families here and helping them stick up for their rights.”

Pauline Whitesinger said the wells throughout HPL have been capped off, fenced or bulldozed, and the natural water near her home is contaminated. “When I drink the water it hurts my throat and I have a reaction when I swallow it and get sick.”

Raymond Maxx, executive director of the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission, said Friday that they met recently with HPL residents who brought up the water issues. “We don’t know why the wells were capped off. We’re supposed to have a meeting with the Hopis this coming week regarding the issue.”

Louella Nahsonhoya, public information officer for Hopi, said the tribe is reviewing the issues and is moving cautiously with advice. Calls to Clayton Honyumptewa, director of Hopi Department of Natural Resources, were not returned.

Rena Babbitt Lane, whose husband passed away years ago after suffering a ruptured aneurysm while trying to open a cover from a dismantled well, attended the Aug. 26 meeting at Hardrock Chapter. Through her daughters Mary and Zena Lane, Rena said the number one priority everyone talked about is water.

“The Navajo Nation said the Hopi Tribe told them they capped off the wells because they did not want people to drink contaminated water. We need water for our livestock and we were never told anything by the Hopis. What is the water contaminated with? Why did they just destroy all the water resources without telling us why, even the Rocky Ridge well for Big Mountain residents?”

Lane, who is in her 80s, said they have to buy water from the chapter house and haul it 16 miles one way on a sandy road filled with potholes. Unlike in Window Rock, the monsoon season has not been kind. “The water ponds are filled with sand and the water when it does come does not last. We need tractors to dig out the water ponds and a water well near our home,” she said.

“We can’t really depend on our Council people and the Hopi and Navajo government. They are of no help to those of us that live on HPL. When we tell them something, both tribes point a finger at each other and no one helps us.”

Caroline Tohannie, an elder born and raised on Black Mesa, said they are suffering health problems and sickness because of the land dispute. “To this day there are a lot of arguments with both tribal councils. Why is it like that when they are supposed to work for the people to improve our lives? Can’t we work out our disagreements with the traditional people instead of the tribal councils? That is the way we want it.

“We need to reintroduce the greetings between the traditional Hopi and Navajos to straighten out our differences in that manner. In our language, k’e has to be regenerated. We have to reintroduce our greetings at the fireplace with the fire stick. Those are the laws of the traditional people and we need to follow the red road again.”

2011 World Water Week

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8/21/2011 Att'y letter to UN CERD & Right to Water and Free Assembly

James Zion Letter to Patrick Thorn Berry UN CERD Committee Member“>JAMES W. ZION, Attorney at Law, Admitted in the Navajo Nation, Connecticut and the United States Supreme Court, 3808 Ladera Drive N.W., Albuquerque, NM 87120, (505) 839-9549, August 21,2011 TO: Professor Patrick Thornberry CMG, Professor of International Law, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Keele University, Keele, Staffordshire, UNITED KINGDOM ST5 5BG

Re: Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute Issues and CERD: Dear Professor Thornberry: I was privileged to be in the audience on 22 February 2008 when you had a closing discussion with the United States Mission to the United Nations on the U.S. periodic report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. You specifically asked that the United States mention the status of Big Mountain and Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute issues in its next periodic report to CERD. It is due on 20 November of this year.

I am the attorney for The Forgotten People, a non-governmental organization that serves the Navajo survivors of the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute, including individuals who still live on Hopi lands on Black Mesa. One of the issues they face is getting potable water, and it must be hauled to homes by truck. The dirt roads in the area are poor and require frequent maintenance. The Forgotten People has projects with attempts to obtain funding and logistical support so it can get water carried to people in affected areas in the western part of the Navajo Nation. That includes those who live in areas where the ground water is contaminated with uranium waste from mining and remote communities of Navajos without water who are ignored by both the Navajo and the Hopi tribes.

The specific problem I write about is that The Forgotten People announced a meeting to be held at the residence of Pauline White singer at Big Mountain within the area partitioned to the Hopi Tribe on Monday, August 22, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. to “discuss a request for safe drinking water delivery and impassable dirt road repair.” The purpose of the meeting is to ask for assistance from the Navajo and Hopi tribes to get water hauled to homes at Big Mountain and to get the roads in and out of the area graded.

The news of the meeting came to the attention of Mr. LeRoy N. Shingoitewa, the Chairman of the Hopi Tribe, and on August 19, 2011 he wrote to Marsha Monestersky and Ed Becenti of The Forgotten People to inform them, among other things, that “the meeting would be in violation of the Hopi Tribe’s rules and regulations.” He added that Ms. Monestersky is the subject of an order excluding her from the Hopi Reservation (because of her advocacy for Navajo rights). He also noted that one had requested a permit to hold a meeting, when permits are not required by Hopi law and are prohibited by the Indian Civil Rights Act.

We have a situation where the chief executive of the Hopi Tribe, on learning of a meeting to discuss access to water as a human right and to petition for road repairs, has prohibited the meeting in violation of freedom of speech and assembly and the right to petition government provisions of the federal Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968.

I have been asked to bring this situation to your attention and to additionally advise that there are recurring problems of violations of the rights of the refugees of the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute.

They include a Navajo-Hopi compact that violates individual rights and a situation whereby monies and resources held in trust by the Navajo Nation for the benefit of survivors of the Navajo-Hopi land dispute are unaccounted for and likely wasted. I will bring those matters to your attention and that of CERD as the time for the filing of the next United States CERD periodic report approaches.

I therefore bring these facts to your attention so that you will know that your February 2008 request for new information was prescient in its assessment of emerging events.

Your attention to these matters and communication to the full Committee will be appreciated. A copy of the August 19, 2011 letter signed for Chairman Shingoitewa is enclosed.

Sincerely,
James W. Zion

TEXT OF HOPI TRIBE’S LETTER TO MS. MARSHA MONESTERSKY AND MR. ED BECENTI

LeRoy N. Shingoitewa
Chairman HOPI TRIBE
August 19, 2011
Herman G. Honanie
Vice Chairman

Ms. Marsha Monestersky, Program Director
Mr. Ed Becenti
The Forgotten People
Tuba City, Arizona 86045

Dear Ms. Monestersky & Mr. Ed Becenti:

It has come to my attention and the attention of the Hopi Tribal Council that you intend to hold a meeting for the HPL Navajo families on Monday, August 22, 2011, to “discuss a request for safe drinking water delivery and impassable dirt road repair,” as quoted directly from your press release. As we understand your press release, the meeting will take place on HPL, at Pauline Whitesinger’s residence in Big Mountain and will be led by Ms. Marsha Monestersky, Program Director of the Forgotten People. You have requested Hopi Tribal officials participation, as well as other directors and executive officers from the Navajo and Hopi Nations.

At this time, the Hopi Tribe will not be supporting or attending the meeting. To begin, the issues being raised – water and transportation issues – are Government-to-Government issues. Thus, a request for this type ofmeeting must come from the Navajo Nation, not the “Forgotten People.” Additionally, you should be advised that no one has requested a permit from the Hopi Nation to hold this event. As such, the meeting would be in violation of the Hopi Tribe’s rules and regulations. Finally, there is a valid and binding exclusion order for Ms. Monestersky. Thus, Ms. Monestersky is not welcome on Hopi land. Her attendance would clearly violate her exclusion order, which is currently in force.

I hope the above clarifies the Hopi Tribe’s position and we respectfully request that you abide by all Hopi rules, regulation and orders. If you have any questions regarding the Hopi Tribe’s response, please contact Mr. Clayton Honyumptewa, Director, Department of Natural Resources at (928) 734-3641 or my office at (928) 734-3100.

Sincerely,
LeRoy N. Shingoitewa, Chairman
The Hopi Tribe
P.O. BOX 123 KYKOTSMOVI. AZ.. 86039
(928) 734-3000

Ltr. to Monestersky & Becenti
RE: Hopi Tribal Resp.
08119/11

xc. Vice Chairman Honanie
Clayton Honyumptewa, DNR
Robert Lyttle, Interim Gen. Counsel
Norberto Cisneros, Asst. Gen. Counsel
Hon. President Ben Shelley NN
Raymond Maxx, NHLCO, NN

8/2/2011 Forgotten People HPL residents request Safe Drinking Water

Re: Forgotten People and Hopi Partition Land (HPL) residents request for Safe Drinking Water Delivery on top of Black Mesa, in Black Mesa, Cactus Valley, Big Mountain, Star Mountain, Jeddito Island and throughout HPL: From: Caroline Tohannie, Board of Director, Norris Nez, Board of Director, Lucy Knorr, Sec’y/Treasurer, Rena Babbitt Lane, Pauline Whitesinger, Leonard Benally, Carlos Begay, Sr., Hopi Partition Land, Navajo Nation, AZ: Via Email To: Ed Becenti: rezztone@yahoo.com For: President Ben Shelly, The Navajo Nation Venue: Forest Lake Chapter Town Hall Meeting Dated: August 2, 2011: Dear President Shelly: We are blessed that last night as the Board of Directors met to discuss how Hopi Partition Land residents can get access to safe drinking water, Pauline Whitesinger, an elderly matriarch from Big Mountain joined Caroline Tohannie, Rena Babbitt Lane, Carlos W. Begay, Sr. and Leonard Benally to compel the Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly to work with Ed Becenti, Forgotten People’s Window Rock liaison, Forgotten People, the US Environmental Protection Agency, Navajo Department of Water Resources to include safe drinking water delivery on HPL to the US EPA Navajo Nation Pilot Project Feasibility Study and compel the Hopi Tribe to sign off so the Navajo Nation can implement their fiduciary trust responsibility and provide HPL residents with access to safe drinking water and impassable dirt road repair.

Forgotten People is a nonprofit grassroots organization active within the former Bennett Freeze and Hopi Partition Land. We represent communities that span over 2 million acres of remote desert terrain in the northeastern part of Arizona including Hopi Partition Land communities impacted by forced relocation by the US government and Peabody Coal Company’s mining operations. Most of the members practice a subsistence lifestyle of herding sheep. Many elderly community members speak only Dine’.

Pauline Whitesinger, Big Mountain speaks: We want to participate in a water hauling project. The wells throughout HPL have been capped off, fenced off, bulldozed and the natural water source near me is contaminated and unregulated. When I drink the water it hurts my throat and I have a reaction when I swallow it and get sick. I have no vehicle and have no access to safe drinking water. My livestock are thirsty. We are living under a State of Emergency! We are endangered, denied access to water, forced to travel over unpassable dirt roads and endure violations during our ceremonies that the Hopi Tribe says requires a permit to conduct. There are other water sources near me and they are all denied to me for my use. When I was offering a sacrament to the water the Hopi told me to leave the water alone, it does not belong to me. I speak on behalf of my people. We have brought our case and our words (as attached) to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner (see link for UN OHCHR website), Congressional, federal, and tribal forums advocating for our human right to water and sanitation.

Caroline Tohannie, Black Mesa speaks: Our springs were our wetlands with cat tails and other wetlands growth. But they are no longer here. This is where we make offerings and get our healing medicine like cat tails or wreaths for ceremonial purposes. These are our sacred sites. The BIA made wells that had concrete covers and manual pumps. But BIA Rangers came around and disassembled them, taking the pumps out, unscrewing parts, taking off pipes. All the windmills in our region were capped off by the BIA. At first one windmill was capped off but we could reopen it at first but then found the BIA welded the cover shut with dirt over the well opening. There was no longer any way to get water from the well. At another windmill in the area, the BIA disassembled the windmill pump so it would not work. We have been fenced and capped off from access to water. This has created many problems for living things, even insects that need water, animals, birds and people. These tactics are being done to force us off our land so Peabody Coal Company can expand their mining operations.

Caroline and Bert Tohannie and Rena Babbitt Lane live on top of Black Mesa along the route of Peabody Coal Company’s coal slurry pipeline. Billions of gallons of pristine Navajo Aquifer water flowed under their homes but they have no access to water, no emergency access and their vehicles break down traveling long distances over un-passable dirt roads.

Hosteen Nez Begay in Cactus Valley lives 1/8 mile from a water well that has been dismantled for since the 1980’s when the US Bureau of Indian Affiars started dismantling, bulldozing, fencing off water wells. Hosteen has to travel 30 miles each way over rough dirt roads from Cactus Valley to Peabody’s public drinking water stand observing chunks of coal in their drinking water.

Carlos W. Begay in Black Mesa says: In the summer of 1998, on Glenna Begay’s land, Peabody Coal Company installed a sediment pond for contaminated runoff a few yards away from sacred Sagebrush spring planted there by Medicine people. This spring contains a year-round drinking water resource. Bitter Spring in the area, containing a source of water for our animals was bulldozed and Peabody installed a water pump there for the slurry line and a dam to flush the water pipeline. The people and the livestock are thirsty.

These Forgotten People are suffering great hardship and request replication of the Black Falls/Box Springs project to prioritize HPL safe drinking water delivery points and grading of dirt roads and investigate capped off, bulldozed and fenced off water wells throughout HPL.

Forgotten People prays the Navajo Nation President and central government will receive guidance from James W. Zion, Esq.’s application of Fundamental Laws upheld by the Navajo Nation Supreme Court that the land, property, resources and income generated from them are the property of the Navajo People.

Forgotten People compels the Navajo Nation President to work with the Hopi Tribe so they will allow the Navajo Nation to provide HPL residents safe drinking water, livestock water sources and road repair.

On May 6, 2009, President Obama signed legislation HR 956 and S531 to repeal the portion of Public Law 93-531 (The Relocation Act) to lift the Freeze on all Navajo and Hopi lands (including HPL). Unfortunately, this did not address the extensive impact this law had on our people. While the Freeze has halted essential construction, including power line extensions, waterline extensions, and improvements to roads and community facilities, no rehabilitation program was developed to address the effects of the Freeze including access to water and sanitation for water haulers.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) is involved in a major effort to improve access to safe water on the Navajo Nation and redress problems resulting from the legacy of uranium mining in the 1950s and 60’s as a result of two pressures. The EPA made a commitment at the 2002 United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, South Africa, pledging to reduce the number of its citizens lacking access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 50% by 2015. The largest concentration of people without piped water and sanitation is on the Navajo Nation, especially in the HPL communities.

Forgotten People believes reaching our goals will require collaboration with the Navajo Nation President and the central government using a human rights centered approach to development. Forgotten People believes this collaboration will provide tangible improvements for our communities.

Wars of the future will be fought over water, as they are over oil today, as our ‘Blue Gold’, the source of human survival, enters the global marketplace. We pray, you will understand that here, water is the most precious of all resources and our water rights must not be waived and minimized in a Water Rights Settlement when our local water sources have been capped off, fenced off, bulldozed by the US government’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. Without water we cannot survive and our livestock cannot survive and we must for our future generations and our continued way of life.

We need immediate action to stop corporate favoritism. While the Navajo Nation allows corporations to export energy, HPL residents are hauling water by small barrels, drinking contaminated water and have not a drop of water to drink.

The Dinè people do not get power from the NGS. It goes to Phoenix and Tucson and other cities. There is a fundamental unfairness and lack of information on the Navajo Nation. The issues addressed by Forgotten People’s highlight the need for strengthening and implementing cross-cutting principles in international human rights law. This is needed by the Navajo Nation in considering a draft Energy policy.

As members of civil society, Forgotten People affirms the right to development and transparency and enforcement of the Navajo Nation’s fiduciary trust responsibility to provide goods and services to HPL residents. Public health is threatened. To implement ‘Water Without Boarders” for endangered water haulers, we pray you will work with Ed Becenti and Forgotten People so we can sustain our lives.

Respectfully submitted,

Norris Nez, Hathalie, Board of Director, Coal Mine
Caroline Tohannie, Board of Director, Black Mesa
Pauline Whitesinger, Big Mountain
Rena Babbitt Lane, Black Mesa
Carlos W. Begay, Sr., Black Mesa
Leonard Benally, Big Mountain
Lucy Knorr, Sec’y/Treasurer
Marsha Monesterky, Program Director
On behalf of Forgotten People with the Support of Black Falls/Box Springs/Grand Falls residents

Copy: Clancy Tenley, Assistant Director, US EPA Superfund: tenley.clancy@epamail.epa.gov
Najam Tariq, Navajo Department of Water Resources: najamhtariq1@hotmail.com
James W. Zion, Esq., Attorney for Forgotten People JZion@aol.com

4/19/2011: First scheduled safe drinking water delivery for water haulers at Box Springs turn off

Please check out the Picassa Web Album:  https://picasaweb.google.com/forgottenpeoplecdc/4192011SafeDrinkingWaterDelivery?feat=directlink On Tuesday, April 19, 2011 the US EPA funded 4,000 gallon water hauling truck made its first scheduled delivery of safe drinking water for water haulers at the Box Springs turn off.  People waited in line and children played as everyone waited to fill their tanks with safe drinking water. Navajo Nation Department of Water Resources distributed a few 200 gallon and 50 gallon tanks and Ronald Tohannie, Black Falls Project Manager had water haulers complete applications to participate in the safe drinking water pilot project and used our new 500 gallon water hauling trailer to deliver water to some people’s homes.  Access to safe drinking water is a human right.

4/12/2011 Gallup Independent: Nation delivers drinking water to Box Springs

Nation delivers drinking water to Box Springs  By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau, Gallup Independent, 4/12/2011 4 12 2011 Nation Delivers Drinking Water to Box Springs www.scribd.com  On Friday, April 8, 2011, the Navajo Nation delivered the first load of safe drinking water to Black Falls/Box Springs/Grand Falls residents living under a historic state of public health emergency… BLACK FALLS, Ariz. — Battling winds gusting at more than 40 miles per hour and washboard roads so rough they made one’s teeth rattle, the first 4,000-gallon tanker of safe drinking water from the Navajo Nation arrived safely Friday morning in Box Springs, located a few miles out a well-worn dirt road near Black Falls.   It was a major milestone after more than two years of effort by the grassroots group the Forgotten People, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Navajo Nation EPA and former employee Deb Misra, Department of Water Resources, Emergency Management, two presidential administrations, Navajo Nation Council delegates and a host of others.

But the superstar Friday was Najam Tariq of Navajo Division of Water Resources, who put together a proposal in February 2009 which led to U.S. EPA awarding $2.64 million for the three-year Safe Drinking Water Hauling Feasibility Study and Pilot Project. The funds allowed the Nation to purchase five 4,000 gallon water-hauling tankers and an equipment service truck to transport safe drinking water to residents in Black Falls, Box Springs and Grand Falls who have been drinking uranium- and arsenic-contaminated water, as well as other portions of the reservation where similar conditions exist.

“I did make a promise that the first load of water would be delivered to the people over here,” Tariq said, as he was welcomed into the home of cancer victim Rolanda Tohannie, who is recovering from her 10th surgery, this time for tumors in her throat. When water delivery didn’t come fast enough, Forgotten People showed up on the doorstep of newly installed Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly, demanding action. Shelly asked them to give him two months to see what he could do.

“Ever since the last meeting that was held in Window Rock with President Shelly, I have been getting calls,” Tariq said. “I think he put two people on me to call me every week. … They got my home number, they got my office number, they got my cell phone number and they just called me. ‘Where do you stand? President Shelly said 60 days.’ I said tell Mr. Shelly we are working very hard. We will get there within 60 days – and I think we got there,” Tariq said.

A Declaration of Public Health Emergency was declared on Jan. 15, 2010, due to the number of cancer cases in the area and the fact that residents such as Tohannie were drinking contaminated water from livestock watering points without knowing the water was unsafe to drink.

“I’m very happy that I received the water that Tariq promised and happy that God approved it,” Tohannie said. “As for the roads, it would be great if the roads were fixed for the hauling of the water, because water is life.”

But the water hauling project is just a temporary fix, according to Tariq. Water Resources has submitted a proposal to U.S. EPA through Indian Health Services to drill two exploratory wells. EPA has approved $450,000 for drilling the first well, which is expected to be completed this year. If the water quality from that well is good for human consumption, the agency will consider funding $500,000 for a second exploratory well.

“Once this project becomes feasible it will provide water to 155 homes north-northwest of Leupp. That includes Box Springs, Black Falls and Grand Falls area,” Tariq said. But people still need livestock water, so they started two waterline extension projects and have completed two storage tanks. One is located near Box Springs and another near Grand Falls. “Our intentions are we want to have the water in the 24,000 gallon storage tanks within the next two months. That is the livestock water,” he said.

Navajo Nation Council Delegate Walter Phelps, who represents the area, said, “You don’t know how excited and how happy I am for you. Be grateful. Be thankful. This is not something that’s coming out of our pockets. This is special funds from EPA. It’s not coming from Indian Health Service. They have claimed infeasible $52 million worth of projects for the five chapters that I’m overseeing right now.”

Isabelle Walker from Shelly’s office reminded everyone that they are not the only ones who are suffering. “There are other people in dire need of assistance. They don’t have electricity, they don’t have running water to their home a distance from here. They’re also in need of help. This issue of addressing the water needs of the people has gone through many administrations, election after election,” she said. She encouraged them to keep pushing forward in trying to get the services to the people.

Marsha Monestersky, program manager for Forgotten People, said trying to solve access to safe drinking water problems on the Navajo Nation “is like trying to run in quicksand.” One thing Forgotten People wants to do is form a water and energy co-op.

“I believe the collaboration of Forgotten People, Black Falls/Box Springs/Grand Falls residents with the U.S. EPA Superfund and Navajo Department of Water Resources will create a prototype of a safe drinking water delivery system that begins to fulfill the intent of a January 2010 Navajo Nation Declaration of Public Health Emergency, supports people’s human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, and will benefit water haulers throughout the Navajo Nation,” she said.

Eleanor Peshlakai of Black Falls is very much in support of drilling wells, she said, because it is more reliable than water hauling, especially when it comes to weather conditions. “We get sudden rains, and that is going to be very tough on pursuing the method of hauling water and relying only on that.”

Elsie Tohannie of Black Falls said her family has to haul water from the west side of Leupp. The road is terrible and the trailer they use takes a beating, she said. “I’m looking forward to this change of lifestyle.”