Tó éí ííńá át’é: Water Is Life
As young Navajo filmmakers, we’ve set out to illustrate the environmental and social impacts of industrial development and the continued struggle of the Navajo People. We’ve also touch upon how the history of our people has impacted the future generations. We hope our depiction of these struggles could lead to change in the Navajo/ Hopi Government and most importantly, the People.
In the Navajo culture, water is sacred, without water there would be no life. So it is disheartening for many to suffer the repercussion of companies like Peabody Coal Mine, which for over 40 years used 1.4 billion gallons of potable water to slurry coal from Black Mesa, AZ to Laughlin, NV. Within the 273 mile stretch of pipeline, its puzzling to see how Peabody Coal was able to create a sustainable pipeline while many Native American families are still without running water.
With the Colorado River outlining the northern western region of the Navajo Nation, it would seem practical to assume that the people themselves have an entitled right to the water. Yet, through the creation of the Central Arizona Project, Black Mesa Coal Mine, and Kayenta Coal mine, Four Corner Generating Station, Mohave Generating Station, Navajo Generating Station, Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant, and Uranium Mining-have spawn even greater problems within the Navajo and Hopi reservation.
The use of unregulated and untreated water poses a constant health risk from uranium exposure, resulting in a significant effect on the health of the Navajo people. Reproductive-organ cancers in teenage Navajo girls average 17 times higher than the average of girls in the United States (1) yet, many Navajo people and their livestock are still drinking uranium & arsenic contaminated water.
As young Native American filmmakers, we feel obligated to document the ongoing struggles of Native Americans and the loss of their initial entitlement to the natural resources that surround their sacred boundaries. Through the production of our documentary, we hope to restore hope for future generations. Maybe our depiction of these struggles could lead to change in the Navajo/ Hopi Government and most importantly, the People.
My name is Deidra Peaches; I am 23 years old from the Navajo Nation located in Northern Arizona. Jake Hoyungowa, my collaborator, and I have worked tirelessly on a feature documentary entitled “Water Is Life: Tó éí ííná át’é”
Unlike many documentaries, produced by filmmakers indirectly affected by the issue, we as Navajo youth, speak to our audience as people who will forever be affected by the impacts of industrialization and its ramifications on our environment, our government, our health, but most importantly, our way of life.So, we come to you today, requesting your help and generosity in providing the opportunity for our voices to be heard. Both Jake and I have visited cities around America, observing other peoples connection to their home and environment. Yet, no matter how far we travel, we feel obligated to protect our mother.We are not just making this film for us, we are making this film so the next generation of Navajo Youth will know our history and preserve the culture our ancestors kept so holy and dear to them.Jake and I, though we are only 23 years old, through thick and thin, continue to strive to be the change we want to see in the world.