Growing up and living on the Navajo Nation in a rural area called Spider Rock has always been a beautiful place to be. Spider Rock is located at the end of the South Rim Drive, which is 20 miles out of the nearest town of Chinle, Az. Spider Rock is a major tourist attraction however, we are not considered a town because we live in such a rural area. Spider Rock does not have any stores or gas stations and running water to make our lives healthy and convenient. Therefore, we have to travel to Chinle, Az. or the nearest border towns to shop for food, water, home supplies, laundry, schools, our jobs and to check our mail at the post office.
Spider Rock has been my home for decades as we have lived here from generation to generation. Although this is our grassroots homeland, this pandemic has made us realize how inconvenient, unsafe and unhealthy it is to live on the outskirts of the nearest town but most importantly, without running water. For many generational decades, we have not had running water and indoor plumbing into our homes. Not only is it inconvenient, but it is also a major health risk. The lack of running water means we do not have the luxury to turn on a faucet to take a warm, soothing, relaxing, shower to take care of our personal hygiene. Not only that but we cannot wash dishes in a sink properly, conveniently turn a knob to do our laundry at home, and most importantly, we cannot effectively wash our hands successfully for 20 seconds as the CDC recommends, which is a basic necessity to help prevent the spread of COVID 19. However, this is impossible to do when we continue to live without running water as we still wash our hands in a small plastic bin that we share with other family members.
This pandemic has shown us just how much more important it is to have running water. But as we continue to make a living without this luxury, we have to improvise around our home to lower the risk of bringing this virus into our homes. As a result, my husband built an outdoor shower which is successful with a camping shower bag. With my husband being an essential worker, this is vital as he gets home, he instantly washes himself to wash away any kind of germs he may have come in contact with throughout the day. Not only that, but this outdoor shower also benefits us when I have to make an “essentials run.” Since we do not have indoor plumbing, our house was not built with a shower/restroom. In addition to building a “shower room,” my husband also purchased a washer for us to do laundry at home. Although we did have to improvise on the plumbing and drainage, this has helped us in eliminating trips to the community laundromat in Chinle, Az. Before we bought this washer, I had to stand in line at the laundromat in Chinle, Az. as early as 5:00 am to get our family laundry done. Although this significantly reduces my times in crowded areas, I have also found myself making more trips to Chinle, Az. to keep up with the demand of water we need to clean our home, doing laundry at home, filling our shower bag to take daily showers for a family of 5, mopping our home daily, washing dishes 3 times a day and cooking more since we’ve been sheltering in place since March 2020. I haul water buckets and barrels at least twice a week to keep up with this demand and traveling at least an hour round trip to meet this basic survival necessity. The constant drives of constantly hauling barrels also puts wear and tear on our vehicles. Since the water we haul from the local Chapter House is not drinking water, I also have to make constant trips to Bashas’ Diné Market to purchase bottled drinking water and refill 3 gallon jugs at the water dispenser to utilize to hydrate ourselves daily and for cooking meals for my family and children.
More than ever, have we realized just how important running water, indoor plumbing and an indoor restroom is very important to our health and our livelihood to prevent COVID 19. COVID 19 will strike anyone and anywhere. Therefore, personal hygiene and hand washing is extremely important to prevent the spread and to save lives. However, it is very inconvenient when we still continue to live without this basic infrastructure. Hauling unsafe and non-clean water is also a health issue but it’s the only choice we have, and have had for many, many years. This greatly puts us at risk to more sicknesses and any diseases that could be prevented if we had easy access to clean, running water.
In the near future, I hope Spider Rock gets the basic infrastructure we need. I would love to have a home that at the turn of a knob, I can take a shower, I can wash my dishes in a sink, I can prepare meals with clean water, I can wash my hands properly, I can water plants in a yard, provide water for my pets, I hope I can one day replace my outhouse with a proper clean restroom and most importantly, take care of our wellbeing to live long, healthy lives.
This hand washing station will certainly put my mind at ease as we will be able to wash our hands with clean flowing water to wash away any germs. This could keep us safe and prevent any virus from entering our home. So thank you for your donation, as hand washing is the key to saving lives!
–Resident of Spider Rock