Navajo Nation

Laura Paskus

Away from any cities or streetlights, the nights here at Chaco Culture National Historic Park are dark. Looking up, it takes a little longer than usual to spot even the most familiar constellations. That’s because there are so many more stars visible across Orion’s shoulders or surrounding Gemini’s twins.

Elizabeth McKenzie

Irrigation water still isn’t flowing from the San Juan River to some farms on the Navajo Nation. Two chapters voted to keep ditches shut off after the Gold King Mine spill last month. But Navajo folks around the state are reaching out to help farmers and ranchers there. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

UPDATE 8/25 at 12:30 p.m.: President Russell Begaye is awaiting soil and sediment samples from the Navajo Nation's Environmental Protection Agency before deciding whether to remove restrictions on irrigation from the San Juan River, according to spokesperson Mihio Manus. Begaye, a farmer himself who's relied on the river, met with farmers in Shiprock on Thursday, Aug. 20. 


Marisa Demarco / KUNM

It’s been two weeks since the Gold King Mine spill closed irrigation on the Navajo Nation and officials say fields around Shiprock are beginning to die off. Farmers there want to know when they’ll be able to water their crops again.    

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

It’s been nearly two weeks since the Gold King Mine spill caused the shut down of San Juan River irrigation to farms on the Navajo Nation. Emergency stopgap measures aren’t quite panning out. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Update Aug. 18, 11:30 a.m.: The EPA said the water for the Navajo Nation came from nearby Bloomfield and met state and federal quality standards. The trucks came from a division of an Aztec, N.M.-based company, Triple S Trucking, that moves non-potable water. The company also hauls fluids to and from oil fields. KUNM awaits comment from Triple S. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

SHIPROCK, N.M.—Not everyone on the Navajo Nation had heard about the Gold King Mine spill that happened more than a week ago, even though they might live along the San Juan River.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

SHIPROCK, N.M.—Farmers near the San Juan are frustrated by the lack of data from the Environmental Protection Agency after pollutants were released from the Gold King Mine more than a week ago. 

Toxins traveling through the Animas flowed into New Mexico’s San Juan, but it’s not yet known exactly what’s in the river on the Navajo Nation or at what concentrations. That’s at the root of a lot of worry for farmers in Shiprock, who fear the worst for their crops.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

UPDATE, Friday, Aug. 14, 5 p.m.: The EPA says testing results from the Navajo Nation should be released on Saturday.   

Rita Daniels / KUNM

The Navajo Nation Council met on Monday, Aug. 10, to talk about impacts from the more than 3-million-gallon toxic spill into the Animas River. "This is an assault on our way of life," said Delegate Amber Crotty. "This is an assault on core of who we are as Diné people."

Rita Daniels

The Obama Administration released details this week on the Clean Power Plan which calls for power plants across the country to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Ed Williams

During the Cold War, the Navajo Nation found itself in the middle of a uranium mining boom. Today, more than 500 mines on the reservation are shut down or abandoned—but the pollution they left behind is still very much there. 

Fri. 07/03 8a: When the oft-delayed election for Navajo Nation President was finally held, Russell Begaye, a native New Mexican, was the overwhelming winner. Arguing that the Navajo people are tired of the old system, the Begaye campaign theme was the “awakening of a new dawn”. His platform was based on what he called the four pillars: Navajo veterans, infrastructure, Navajo elders/youth, and employment. It’s a forward-looking agenda but where is the money going to come from to adequately fund the four pillars and change the circumstances for the most impoverished Tribe in the US.

Laura Paskus

There used to be big talk about a big boom coming to the San Juan Basin. Industry thought they’d sink 20,000 new oil wells. Companies wanted to take advantage of oil deposits squeezed into tiny fissures in tight shale deep underground.


KUNM Call In Show 6/18 8a: 

There are well over 100 abandoned uranium mines in New Mexico, and most of them are on Navajo land. Many communities are still dealing with the health and environmental consequences of uranium contamination from mines that haven’t been cleaned up.

What has uranium mining meant for your community? What should the state, tribal and federal governments be doing to fix the problem?

We’ll be asking those questions this week and we'd like to hear from you! Email, post comments online or call in live during the show.  

Shehan 365 via Flickr


The Navajo Nation Supreme Court has settled the question of how to fund a belated presidential election.

The court says the tribe's controller can use money from a fund used to satisfy legal judgments and claims against the Navajo Nation.

The opinion came after the tribe's Department of Justice asked the court to clarify how $317,000 legally could be transferred to the election office.

Navajo Attorney General Harrison Tsosie said Tuesday that his office is evaluating the court's opinion.

Laura Paskus

When the US Bureau of Land Management's Farmington District Manager, Victoria Barr, came into the KUNM studio for the Call In Show, she brought a brand-new map with her. She sent along the PDF, for those who would like to take a look at the active leases and special designated areas near Chaco Canyon National Historical Park.

Environmental Protection Agency

The Navajo Nation is set to receive over a billion dollars to clean up abandoned uranium mines on tribal land. The money comes after years of court battles with mining companies.

Laura Paskus

Etta Arviso is one of the Diné – or, Navajo – women who I met last year in Counselor, New Mexico. She is an “allottee,” which means her family lives on land adjacent to the Navajo reservation that is held in trust by the United States government. 

In this audio clip, she introduces herself, talks about the history of her homeland and people, and voices her opposition to increased oil and gas development on the checkerboard lands of the eastern Navajo Nation.

Laura Paskus

On Thursday night, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management hosted a crowded—and sometimes heated—public meeting in Santa Fe. Currently, the agency is considering a pipeline that would carry crude oil from northwestern New Mexico to rail lines along Interstate 40.

As it’s currently proposed, the 140-mile long pipeline would run across federal, private, state and Navajo Nation lands.  After local residents and activists complained, the agency agreed to extend the public comment period and hold three additional meetings.

Laura Paskus


Sarah Jane White’s walking to the top of a sandy hill near the eastern edge of the Navajo reservation. Along the way, she points to footprints in the sand. Her 4-year-old grandson, Albino, crouches to look. She shows him the prints of a horse, then a cow. Each time, he’s delighted.

It’s sunny and warm, though just a few days before the official start of winter. We walk past juniper trees, an old sweat lodge. Albino powers across the sandstone arroyo and on up the hill. The sky’s a deep blue. And depending on the breeze, the air smells like either sage or pine.

Jeff Adair via Flickr

Residents of the Navajo Nation will now be paying more for junk food. Last week Navajo President Ben Shelly signed the Healthy Dine' Nation Act into law, adding a tax on unhealthy food sold anywhere on Navajo land. Deswood Tome is Special Advisor to President Shelly. He spoke to KUNM about the law's implications. 

"The law imposes a tax on junk food as a deterrent, so when people go to the store they'll make a conscious decision to buy nutritious food," Tome said.

Tuzen via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly has signed an executive order aimed at improving 911 service and emergency communications across the reservation.

The order calls for collaboration between various tribal departments and private communication providers.

Shelly says no one should have to worry about their call going unanswered.

Tribal officials say the need to improve the existing communications system is evident. According to tribal statistics, 60 percent of homes on the Navajo Nation lack telephone lines and just over half of the reservation has wireless coverage.

Ed Williams-KUNM

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People gathered at the Albuquerque Indian Center Friday morning to remember two homeless men who were beaten to death as they slept in a park last week.

Allison Gorman and Kee Thompson were both Native American, and their murders have drawn attention to ongoing violence against Native Americans in New Mexico.

Navajo Nation To Take Over Gallup Detox Center

Jul 24, 2013
Donovan Quintero

The largest detoxification center in New Mexico is scheduled to close and reopen under a new name and management: The Navajo Nation.

The Na'Nizhoozhi Center, Inc., served nearly 24,000 people in 2012 and averaged between 75 and 100 intakes per day.

Navajo Nation Declares Drought Emergency

Jul 2, 2013
Margaret Hiza-Redsteer, USGS Flagstaff, AZ / USGS

Navajo President Ben Shelley has declared a state of emergency for drought conditions on the Navajo Nation. Officials are concerned ongoing drought may be creating unsafe conditions for people who need drinkable water.

Navajo Nation Explores Future Of Coal

May 17, 2013
Navajo Nation

The Navajo Nation says the only financially viable future for its coal supply may be in clean coal technologies, and overseas exports.

KUNM's Tristan Ahtone reports the Nation is taking preliminary steps to find a future for its coal resources in light of tough, domestic regulations.

Navajo Nation Funds Water Projects

May 9, 2013

With drought affecting much of the southwest, the Navajo Nation is working to bring water to it's citizens with the tribal government recently approving over $8-million dollars for water infrastructure projects.
The Navajo Nation is roughly the size of West Virginia, has a population of around 170,000 people, and much of the Nations citizens are in need of water.

Fort Wingate Is "Indian Country" Says Court

Apr 5, 2013
Navajo Nation

The New Mexico Court of Appeals has allowed the Navajo Nation jurisdiction over the Fort Wingate Indian School just east of Gallup, giving the Nation criminal jurisdiction over tribal members on the Fort Wingate site.

In 1999 a juvenile member of the Navajo Nation was charged with battery at the Fort Wingate High School, and McKinley County attempted to prosecute. The child in question claimed the county had no jurisdiction because Fort Wingate is “Indian Country.” This week, the New Mexico Court of Appeals agreed.

Navajo Nation Takes Final Steps To Broadband Access

Mar 25, 2013
Navajo Tribal Utility Authority

The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority says it's in the final phases of unveiling high-speed broadband and wireless services for the majority of the Navajo Nation. The project would bring telecommunications services to the nations largest reservation straddling Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico.

A few companies have offered broadband accessibility to parts of the Navajo Nation in the past, however, historically, the Nation has dealt with little to no telecommunications access.