This article is part of a series describing the various food runs that the Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program conducts to eleven different locations around the Navajo Reservation. These locations are served in groups of two or three sites per trip. The articles will hopefully be of general interest but also serve as an orientation for prospective food run volunteers and for those who have signed up for a particular food run.
The Navajo Mountain food run is one of a pair, the other being Oljato. This food run set is the first of the spring and fall seasons and takes place about a month earlier than the remaining food runs. In the spring it occurs in late April and in the fall, late August. These are the most recent of the locations to be added to the areas we serve.
The first Navajo Mountain food run took place in August of 2008. Like Oljato, it is supported by a generous grant from American Express who wanted to support areas in the Utah portion of the reservation. The following map* shows the Navajo Reservation with particular reference to the location of the food run at Navajo Mountain and the lodging base for this run which is Kayenta. You can click on the map to see a larger view.
It's this remoteness that gives Navajo Mountain an important role in the history of the Navajo people. In the 1860's when Kit Carson was rounding up as many Navajos as he could for their forced march to Fort Sumner, many were able to escape and find refuge in this isolated area.
For the food run to Navajo Mountain we spend the night in relative comfort at the Wetherill Inn in Kayenta.
The following morning we make an early departure for Navajo Mountain because of the length of the drive. There is time for a quick motel breakfast, and then we must be on the road. For me, at least, this drive is both relaxing and fascinating because of the beauty of the land we pass through. When we turn off the major highway, U.S. 160, Navajo Mountain looms in the distance.
The Rainbow Circle of food boxes has a unique addition to each set at this food run. Navajo Mountain has had a very unreliable water source over the years with all of their culinary water derived from one spring which at times doesn't function properly. In honor of this special situation and hardship, each Elder receives two cases of drinking water.
At this particular food run in 2011 each Elder also received the gift of a shovel.
Shonto trading post is only a few miles off the route and is well worth a visit to get a glimpse of what one of these outposts was like a hundred years ago.
*This map is adapted from the wonderful Indian Country Map published by the Automobile Club of Southern California. Overlays have been created to show the borders of the Navajo Reservation as well as the food run sites (red) and lodging locations (turquoise) utilized by the food runs. Some of the road information is out of date (the roads to Navajo Mountain and the Big Mountain Food Run sites are now paved. Also, the reservation extends considerably further east into New Mexico than is shown on this map.