Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

A Century of Federal Indifference Left Generations of Navajo Homes Without Running Water


April 15, 2021

The San Juan Lateral under construction along Highway 491 in western New Mexico. Image/Elizabeth Miller

When Julie Badonie was growing up in the small Navajo community of Tohatchi in the 1940s, her father drove a horse-drawn wagon early each morning to a nearby spring. There, he filled wooden barrels with water the family would use that day to drink, cook, and wash.

Badonie, the youngest of seven children, including brothers who fought in World War II and the Korean War, or one of her siblings would go along. She remembers it as fun. At home, a hose siphoned the water into buckets to bring into the house.

[This story was originally published by New Mexico In Depth.]

Badonie left for boarding school in kindergarten, first just a few miles across town, then several days' travel away in Crownpoint, where an older sister worked as a cook, and eventually, all the way to Albuquerque for high school. Coming home meant coming back to life without flushing toilets, running faucets, or lights that turned on with a switch, but she didn't mind.


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