On my spring break road trip, my most eye-opening experience was our venture into the Navajo Nation Reservation. This was completely unplanned, as the route we meant to take to the Grand Canyon from Utah was closed.
What I saw and learned on this drive opened me to the struggles and strengths of the Navajo people. I became awestruck from seeing such beautiful landscape and culture that I was never told about.
A Navajo man from whom I bought jewelry had so much pride and passion in describing some history to me. It made me think about how much got colonized from them. I also opened up and shared how I felt a disconnect to my culture, due to modernized Americanization. I felt that coming upon an area with such a deep past not only taught me something about others, but about myself.
One thing I deeply regret is not carrying enough cash. There were many Navajo vendors selling their products around the area. I felt happy purchasing directly from them as it is their own work and even explained the meaning and process of creating these beautiful items. It made me ponder about all the fake Native American items I have seen and owned in the past.
The Navajo Nation reservation now only encompasses 1/10th of what they originally had. Americans considered this to be “worthless desert wasteland”.
However, today the reservation is home to a power plant that provides electric to Arizona, Nevada and California. It also brings power for pumping water to central and southern Arizona. Despite this, many Navajo are not even able to retain their own electrical power and water– in fact, they are in danger of uranium poisoning in their water due to uranium mining.
It truly left me sad to discover the turmoil that is silently going on within our own country. Why does one population get so overseen compared to another? What makes one area more important than another?
The reservation being seen as a wasteland to the Americans was truly said out of ignorance and greed. I am happy to learn that a culture can turn suppression into strength and still taking pride in what they own. I only hope that awareness can be spread about the corruption going on within. I hope that their stories can be spread and for ignorance to disappear.