August 2014

The Navajo Nation’s Energy Landscape

Coal, Oil, Gas plus Some Wind and Solar


Despite coal’s decreasing competitiveness and federal policies that are moving quickly to curb energy-industry pollution, Navajo Nation government leaders have continued to bet on coal, along with oil and natural gas. Coal and the power plants it feeds account for a significant portion of the tribe’s general fund. In a place where 40 percent of households remain without electricity, coal is a cheap, readily available resource that still warms Navajo homes and provides jobs.

Last year, Navajo Transitional Energy Co. LLC, a company owned by the Navajo Nation, finalized a deal to purchase the More >

Ancient Voices – Contemporary Contexts


A Cross-Cultural Forum: “Caring for Earth for Our Common Future”

Ghost Ranch, Abiquiú, New Mexico


Seth Roffman


In November 2013, indigenous elders from across the United States, and from Greenland and Mexico, came to Ghost Ranch in northern New Mexico to participate in a three-day cross-cultural forum organized by the Bozeman, Mont.-based American Indian Institute. Feeling disenfranchised and frustrated by lack of action after years of high-level government summits on social- and environmental-justice issues, the “runners who speak for the Earth” came seeking allies to help get their voices out.

Amid the hills and mesas immortalized by painter Georgia O’Keeffe, the assembled leaders shared More >

Culture Relative to Homeland: A Hopi Perspective


An interview with Lyle Balenquah conducted by Jack Loeffler


JL: How do you perceive culture relative to homeland?


LB: Culture relative to homeland is a big idea. Homeland is something that is always in the back of my mind. I’ve been fortunate to be doing a lot of archaeological survey work beyond the political boundaries of the reservation in areas Hopi consider to be their true homeland. People have asked me to draw maps of what is a homeland for Hopi, and I find it difficult to connect the dots and say this is the boundary. I’m always more inclined to use More >

The Santo Domingo Heritage Trail Arts Project


Barbara Epstein


The Santo Domingo Heritage Trail Arts Project, which recently earned a nearly half-million-dollar ArtPlace America grant, stemmed from years of work and collaborations that developed into a vision with an exciting scope,” says Jamie Blosser, a member of the team involved in developing the project and facilitating its implementation. “It’s tying together many different projects in a beautiful way,” she added. In a recent conversation, Blosser, associate at Atkin Olshin Schade Architects and a 2014 Loeb Fellow at Harvard, explained how the project evolved and why it’s so important for the Pueblo of Santo Domingo.

The resurrection of a commuter More >

UNM Institute Helps Native Communities Address Design Challenges


Carolyn Gonzáles


In the three short years since the Indigenous Design + Planning Institute (iD+Pi) was established at the University of New Mexico School of Architecture and Planning (UNM SAAP), the institute’s faculty, staff and students have completed two major projects: one at Ysleta del Sur, and the other at Nambé Pueblo. Additionally, a project for New Mexico Main Street at Zuni is in final draft form, and a comprehensive master plan for Taos Pueblo is just a few months from completion.


The need for iD+Pi’s services is matched only by the desire of the institute to meet community needs. Under More >

The Pueblo Food Experience: A Pre-Contact Project

A Project of Flowering Tree Permaculture Institute


Roxanne Swentzell


The process of assimilation of Native Americans by the outside world, which started centuries ago, continues to this day. One aspect of this assimilation is the change in traditional diets. As a result, our health has suffered greatly. Diabetes, cancer, kidney and liver failure, hormonal imbalances, inflammation, allergies, obesity, alcohol and drug addictions are but some of the symptoms of living in this modern time. One can blame the environment and lifestyles, but many of these symptoms come from what we put in our mouths. Native people are particularly susceptible to diabetes because More >

EVERYDAY GREEN: The Native Food Sovereignty Movement


Susan Guyette


Food, Earth’s medicine, nurtures and heals. A growing movement in Indian Country recognizes that the future of Native cultures depends upon healthy people learning and practicing food traditions. Native people have co-evolved for thousands of years, cultivating and gathering foods and observing which nourished a thriving body and which had healing properties. As Pueblo scholar Greg Cajete points out, Native science understands this through observing connections.


The high rates of obesity and diabetes present in contemporary Native American communities are best understood in historical context. Colonialism imposed a food system not suited to Native people. Loss of much of the More >

Report Says the Navajo Nation Is a Food Desert

 Food sovereignty: the ability of a nation to provide food within its borders to feed its people


The Diné Food Sovereignty Report, an extensive study on the Navajo Nation’s food supply, was released in May 2014 by Diné Policy Institute (DPI), a Navajo think tank. The report reveals that, of the 230 Navajo people surveyed in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, 40 percent said people in their community don’t get enough food on a daily basis, even though more than half the population receives some kind of government food subsidy.

Sixty percent say there are foods they need or want but More >

Book Profile

Four Square Leagues: Pueblo Land in New Mexico

Malcolm Ebright, Rick Hendricks and Richard W. Hughes

12 original drawings, 4 maps, 7 illustrations, index, bibliography. 452 pages

UNM Press, 2014,




This long-awaited book is a detailed, up-to-date account of the complex history of Pueblo Indian land in New Mexico, beginning in the late 17th century and continuing to the present day.

The authors (historian Malcolm Ebright, an attorney and director of the Center for Land Grant Studies; New Mexico State Historian Rick Hendricks; and Richard W. Hughes, an attorney specializing in Indian law) have scoured documents and legal decisions to trace More >

Gutierrez Family Dry-Land Farm at Puye


As a hawk circled high overhead, Joey Gutierrez drove a small tractor back and forth over his family’s field, still moist from the previous day’s rain, planting beans and corn. Joey, his father, Joe Val Gutierrez, and his sister Jacquelyn, who planted potatoes, were working the field their family had planted for generations at Puye, Santa Clara Pueblo’s ancestral land. Numerous cliff-dwelling ruins overlook the field. The remains of a 200-year-old log cabin lodge Joe Val’s ancestors built stand nearby.


Every other year, the family plants dry-land (non-irrigated) crops, enough for eating, for seed, and extra for any deer, elk or More >

Harvesting Traditions: A One-Woman Show by Kathleen Wall


Matthew J. Martínez


The Pablita Velarde Museum of Indian Women in the Arts’ (PVMIWA) mission is to educate, preserve, exhibit and promote the work and achievements of Native women artists throughout North America across all art forms and genres. For the next six months at the new museum in downtown Santa Fe, Kathleen Wall (Jémez Pueblo) is featured in “Harvesting Tradition,” an exhibition that focuses on the beauty and artistry of traditional knowledge in food ways expressed in her clay sculptures and paintings.


Expressions of historical knowledge and food ways embedded in Wall’s artwork convey a larger message of what it More >

The Natwani Coalition: Strengthening Hopi Culture and Agriculture for 10 Years


Samantha Honani Antone


When you think about it, the cuisine we put on our tables gives our families life, health and a sense of identity. Since 2004, the Hopi Foundation’s Natwani Coalition has offered a variety of community- and school-based educational programs to hundreds of our Hopisinom (people) in Hopi and Hopi-Tewa communities. These programs promote the cultivation of our local traditional foods and encourage healthy nutritional habits.

It wasn’t too long ago that our overall wellness was in balance. We all contributed to how we fed our families and ourselves. Today, we see health conditions and diseases caused by our diet and More >

$1 Billion Allocated for Navajo Uranium Cleanup

Largest Uranium Mine in the U.S Proposed Near Mount Taylor


About four million tons of uranium ore were extracted during mining operations on the Navajo Nation from 1944 to 1986. Many Navajos worked and lived close to the mines and mills. There are more than 500 abandoned and mostly unremediated uranium mining claims. Two-hundred-fifty-nine are scattered across New Mexico. Dust blows off the huge tailings piles. Drinking-water sources in some of these areas still have high levels of radionuclides. A seven-year UNM study of the Navajo Nation, which spans parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, found that tribal members exposed More >

Northern Pueblos Housing Authority’s Clean Energy Projects


Seth Roffman


The Northern Pueblos Housing Authority (NPHA) has been the federally recognized, Tribally Designated Housing Entity for the pueblos of Picurís, San Ildefonso and Tesuque since 1971. The Authority contributes to the quality of life of those pueblos by developing high-quality housing and business and community facilities. The NPHA is governed by a board of commissioners appointed by its member pueblos.


The leaders of NPHA’s member pueblos see steady development of renewable-energy (RE) power production as a practical way to fulfill their common commitments to the values of tribal sovereignty, responsible stewardship of the Earth and cost-effective government. They support state More >

Native Renewable Energy Newsbites


Markets Emerging for Renewable-Energy Development on Tribal Lands

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has estimated that Indian lands contain substantial generating capacity for renewable-energy (RE) resources, with more than 23,000 million megawatt-hours of generation capacity from solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and small/low-power hydro technologies.

As coal plants face costly new regulations and an unpredictable future, tribes are looking to diversify power-supply resources and create jobs and a sustainable revenue source to benefit local communities. Many tribes are actively pursuing ownership and development of utility-scale RE projects on their lands. In recent years, they have worked with Congress to clear federal More >

Remembering 400 Years of Exile


Matthew J. Martínez


This year, 2014, marks the 400th anniversary of Juan de Oñate’s exile from New Mexico. In 1598, Oñate traveled north from México, accompanied by a caravan of a thousand soldiers, colonists, missionaries and Tlaxcalan Mexican Indians, along with cattle, sheep, goats, oxen and horses, and arrived in Yungeh—Place of the Mockingbird—in present-day Ohkay Owingeh. It is said that Oñate’s dusty procession could be seen for miles and that even the odor of cattle preceded his arrival. I often wonder what Pueblo people at that time thought of this new wave of European arrivals to a relatively quiet farming More >

Native Newsbites – August 2014


Buwah Kwi wa Tewha Project at Santa Clara Pueblo

Guided by traditional teachings, Honor Our Pueblo Existence (HOPE), a nonprofit organization based at the Pueblo of Santa Clara in northern New Mexico, works on cultural restoration and reclamation projects within the pueblo, and also on environmental issues within the pueblo’s ancestral homelands.

The Cerro Grande and Las Conchas wildfires destroyed 78 percent of Santa Clara’s watershed, including sacred sites, leaving the community in a precarious position in regard to some cultural teachings and experiences that must be passed on to future generations. The pueblo’s residents have been mourning their loss and looking More >

Op-Ed: New Mexico Tribal Families: Thriving in ‘Our Own Ways’


Kathy Sanchez and Mikki Anaya


New Mexico is about 121,356 square miles in size. Approximately one-third of our population lives in rural communities. Our tribal lands are found in rural New Mexico. Many of us live in these communities because they are our ancestral homes, the land where generations of our families have lived. Also, many rural working families have no choice but to live here because the cost of housing, whether it is to rent or purchase, is generally much lower than in urban areas.

But there are trade-offs. For working families, living in rural communities and on tribal lands More >

OP-ED: Networking for Wellness

Beata Tsosie-Peña


In these times, we are incorporating our personal truths and ancestral knowledge, reclaiming our Native ways of being and knowing as we interact and honor all our relations as part of our living Earth. Indigenous knowledge is being turned to more and more in the struggle to develop solutions to global challenges. Permaculture principles, organic agriculture, solar energy, earth structures, rainwater catchment and conservation, dry-land farming, seed saving, Earth-honoring spirituality, simplicity, anti-consumerism, and a return to Pueblo/Native foods are some examples of indigenous/land-based knowledge that have great potential for preserving humanity within a systemic culture of violence. A culture More >

Growing Financial Independence at Ohkay Owingeh


Drew Tulchin


Northern New Mexico has long been one of the poorest regions in one of the poorest states in the United States. Compounding this, Native American people statistically have been at the bottom of earned-income indicators. Fortunately, there is a bright spot coming out of the Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh, just north of Española: Cha Piyeh, Inc., or CPI.

Cha Piyeh means “lending money” in Tewa. CPI is a nonprofit, mission-based lender, incorporated in 2009. CPI provides affordable loans, financial education and financial empowerment. The organization currently serves enrolled members of Ohkay Owingeh and their families. “We are here to help More >