Saturday, June 17, 2006

A trip through Navajo country

On a recent trip into California, I travelled through Navajo Country. I remember growing up in this area, barren and desolate, water is scarce, life can be very hard.

I can't help but remince about my experiences on these reservations. I loved it, fit right in, it was never foreign to me to see these people and what little they had because I identified with them. They have a lot of family nearby always and they don't need what they don't have. We used to be able to play baseball with a Navajo family near Canyon De Chelly.

My first memory of meeting this Navajo man and his family is of the many dogs he had chained up around his house. They were thin as are most reservation dogs and I, being the animal lover I was started to run over to them to give them a pet, only to hear the blasted warning from my father " no! don't pet those dogs!". Back then I thought he was just plain mean for not wanting me to pet that poor creature.

Now I understand. They were full of fleas and ticks, could have had rabies and were practically starving. I grew up with this and so it became second nature to see. We used to help my dad guide tours into Canyon De Chelly. We watched many a tour bus and a few horses get caught in quick sand, the buses rarely made it out. I remember all of the horses making it though. I met an old lady who lives in the heart of that canyon, probably never has seen civilization as we know it. She still lived in a hogan and had a pretty nomadic way of life, herding her sheep and surviving off of the land.

On this last trip through this country, I encountered many starving horses staring at us as we drove by with a yearning look in their eye, not all of them, but many. The land has nothing to offer them, the drought has hit hard and water is scarce. They have no home and no one to care for them, though they may have at some point. The Navajo people that live on these reservations have nothing really for themselves let alone their animals. Where is the funding in place to care for these horses, dogs and other animals? What if there could be a way to come up with it?

There are many horse rescues caring for horses that go through the sale barns and would otherwise be on their way to slaughter had these people not rescued them, but what about these reservation horses, is it better for them to starve to death rather than encountering that slaughter truck? I ask myself these questions thinking that it is definitely the lesser of two evils. But I can't help but think, what if we could come up with a way to fund hay and veterinary services for these animals? Would the Navajo people be open to us helping?

Just food for thought.............................