Thousands of Diné people throughout the Navajo Nation drive several miles to get the water they need for drinking, cooking, bathing and washing.
Charmayne of Tsaile, Arizona in the District 11 has been living without running water and waiting on the tribal waiting list for three years to be connected to a water line.
Charmayne had to drive 10 miles to get water, in effect trading gasoline for water for her household of one 14-year-old and five adults.
In an attempt to get running water for her family, Charmayne has been in regular contact with the tribal water authority.
“We have been on the waiting list for quite some time,” she told us. “Every time we place a call for a follow-up on our paperwork, we are told there is no funding available…We have been patiently waiting.”
But that’s all changed today for the household of six. They now have a hydrant in their yard, provided by the Running Strong for American Indian Youth® water line connection program.
Now all she and her family have to do is walk out the door to get all the safe, clean water they need.
Running Strong Grants Administrator Cassandra Chee-Tom (Diné) recently returned from the reservation where her family lives. She has provided an eyewitness account about what current life is like for those without running water.
“The Tsaile/Wheatfields area is the only place for people within a two-hour radius to get water from a mountain watering hole,” Cassandra informed us.
“Families would travel hours to get in line and then wait hours to fill up,” she reported. “There was not even a hose at the public water hole, so people would have to bring their own hose or find a way to fill up their containers.”
There used to be two places where people could get water, but the smaller water hole dried up a year ago. Now people rely on the one located up in the Chuska mountain, which can become difficult to reach during the winter and spring season.
“My dad drove me to that area and it’s completely dried up,” said Cassandra. “There’s nothing, so the animals in that area are walking around skin and bones trying to find water and vegetation. I’m worried now because what will the people do if the last Tsaile public water hole dries up, too. Thousands of families depend on that particular water hole. Connecting them to the grid from their residence is important.”
“It’s sad to see families filling up every container they can to haul home,” she added. “They have to pay people to take them, even family members have to put in gas.”
“You are considered wealthy if you can turn on the tap water in your own home.”
But Cassandra is hopeful and grateful for the supporters of Running Strong who are helping bring water to hundreds of her people every year.
“I’m just so thankful we helped a number of homes on the Navajo Nation and the families are grateful. They said we are doing a great thing and wish us many thanks. I wanted to share this with you and the need on the Diné reservation.”
“Running Strong is saving lives!”