Location | Tuba City, Arizona & Crownpoint, New Mexico, USA
Service Opportunities | Light construction and maintenance, tutoring youth, running and sports camps, food bank and community garden
Cultural and Recreational Highlights | visiting the Grand Canyon, a sweat lodge, hiking, cooking demonstrations, local markets, traditional story telling, and much more
The Navajo Nation is the cultural home to the Navajo people, marked with beautiful sandstone mesas, towering buttes, colorful canyons, and dramatic desert scenery. It is the largest of the Indian Reservations in the US extending over four states – Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. The Navajo people share rich cultural traditions and are well known for their contributions to the world at large, including the role of the Navajo Code Talkers in WWII and their exquisite artistry. Current challenges include maintaining cultural identity, educating their children, and economic development.
Amizade volunteers have the opportunity to learn about Navajo life and culture, work on a community-led service project, and explore the natural beauty of the area. One of Amizade’s core values is providing community-driven service, meaning that the Navajo community defines a priority project and we work with them on it. You will have the opportunity to meet Navajo community members and work together on service projects. Our volunteers often tutor Navajo school children or help improve school or community facilities. Our Navajo hosts put a high priority on your learning about Navajo life and culture and sharing this knowledge with your home community so that their way of life is better understood.
In addition to service that emphasizes learning about Navajo life and culture, you will participate in cultural and recreational activities. These activities differ slightly for our two sites, but include visiting an open air market, cultural museums, visiting nearby national landmarks, learning from local Navajo families about land use, basket weaving, visits to sheep camps, and sampling traditional foods.
Lodging Hotels, dormitories, guest houses | Food Navajo tacos, rice, beans, Southwest fare
Flights Flights easily made to the US Southwest | Visa Not for American citizens
Communication Cell networks, internet, etc. | Closest Airport Phoenix/ Flagstaff (Tuba City), Albuquerque (Crownpoint)
Amizade’s Navajo Nation Partners
Students will have a number of service opportunities relating to community needs and cultural learning. Amizade has strong relationships with organizations that work on youth and education, cultural learning, tribal government and leadership, and social support organizations including food banks and grassroots organizations providing donated home goods and clothing to families in need. Community partners include:
Greyhills High School | Greyhills high school is a local high school in Tuba City, Arizona operated by the Western Navajo Agency, a division of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. While the school has a long history as a boarding school, the majority of students are now day students, this has left a large section of the former dormitory empty and is now used to house visitors and volunteers including Amizade groups. Amizade volunteers in Tuba City not only stay at the dormitory but also eat in the cafeteria. Service projects with the school including assisting with facility and grounds cleanup and improvement. Volunteers over the age of 18 also provide tutoring and homework help to the high school students.
Angel House | Angel House is a small grassroots organization that collects donations of household items, clothes, and toys. These items are then distributed to community members in need including families who have experiences house fires or who have left their homes due to domestic violence or other emergencies. This is a relatively new project and Amizade volunteers have been instrumental in assisting to build a new storage facility. Future plans include developing this project into a thrift store that would generate income as an additional resource for assisting community members in need.
Tuba City Chapter House | Chapter Houses across the Navajo Nation serve as regional administrative centers and communal meeting places where residents have a forum to express their opinions to their Navajo Nation Council Delegate or to decide on matters concerning their chapter. Amizade volunteers have worked on several projects both directly serving the Chapter House and in partnership with Chapter House initiatives from building and facility improvements to assisting with community events and community cleanups.
Local Community Members and Residents | Projects often include serving with local community members to assist local residents with home repairs or improvements to family-land and farms. This service is regularly tied to community members who cook for visiting groups, provide demonstrations, and teach about traditional Navajo practices. Projects have included sheep shearing and repairing animal corrals, building and repairing fences and roofs, and building traditional Navajo Hogans and Sweat Lodges. These service projects not only provide much needed assistance to community members but also act as opportunities for participants to learn about Navajo culture and ways of life.
Review the Amizade Navajo Nation Site Handbook.
- Adkins, Adam (1997). Secret War: The Navajo Code Talkers in World War II. New Mexico Historical Review, October 1997
- Begay, R. (2001). Doo dilzin da: Abuse of the natural world. American Indian Quarterly, 25(1), 21-27.
- Benedek, E. (1995). My Mom Always Says, ‘Never Trust a White Person’. In Beyond the Four Corners of the World: A Navajo Woman’s Journey. Random House.
- Johansen, B. E. (1994). The High Cost of Uranium in Navajoland. Excerpted from Ecocide of Native America: Environmental Destruction of Indiana Lands and Peoples, by Donald A. Grinde, Jr., and Bruce E. Johansen. Santa Fe: Clear Light Publishers, 1994.
- Lee, Lloyd L. (2007). The future of Navajo nationalism. Wicazo Sa Review 22.1 (2007) 53-68
- Lee, Lloyd L. (2008). Reclaiming indigenous intellectual, political, and geographic space. A path for Navajo nationhood. American Indian Quarterly, 32(1)
- McCloskey, J. (1998). Three generations of Navajo women. American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 22(2).
- McPherson, R. (1998). Navajo livestock reduction in Southeastern Utah, 1933-1946: History repeats itself. American Indian Quarterly, 22(1-2), 1-18.
- Schwartz, M. T. (1997). Unraveling the anchoring cord: Navajo relocation, 1974-1996. American Anthropologist, 99(1), 43-55.
- Tohe, L. (2000). There is no word for feminism in my language. Wicazo Sa Review: A Journal of Native American Studies, 15(2), 103-110.
- Tohe, L. (2007). Hwéeldi Bééhániih: Remembering the Long Walk. Wicazo Sa Review: A Journal of Native American Studies, 22(1), 77-82.
- Yazzie, R. (1994). Life Comes From It: Navajo justice concepts. New Mexico Law Review: Indian Law Symposium, 24(2), 175-190.
- Alexie, S. (2007). The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Little, Brown.
- Yazzie, R. (1994). Life comes from it: Navajo justice concepts. The Ecology of Justice (IC#38) pg. 29
- Nielsen, O. Marianne and Zion, W James (2005). Navajo Nation Peacemaking. Living Traditional Justice The University of Arizona Press, Tucson.
- Broken Rainbow (highly recommended for all participants to watch before visiting the Navajo Nation!)
- How the West Was Lost: the Navajo
- Morgan Spurlock: 30 Days: Life on an Indian Reservation (on Netflix)
- Homeland: Segment on uranium mining in the Navajo
- Navajo Times
- Crownpoint, Tuba City and Mariano Lake Chapter websites
- Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
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Healthy and Safety
As you or your loved one prepares to serve with Amizade in The Navajo Nation, you can rest comfortably with the knowledge that Amizade has an exceptionally strong safety record and ability to respond to any emerging challenges. We have safely partnered in The Navajo Nation since 1998.