The Pastoral Way of Life on the Navajo Reservation

Adrian Herder of the Chíshsí clan of the Navajo Nation gives us a peek inside his life growing up at Hardrock on the Navajo reservation in Northern, Arizona.  One of five kids, Adrian grew up without running water in a one room home. His Native American family lives the traditional pastoral way of life: His father and mother and aunt, Lorraine Herder and Edith Simonson, still  herd sheep, shear them for sheep’s wool, clean the wool, brush it, spin it and use plant dyes to create artisan, hand-crafted Navajo wool yarn skeins. The wool is then woven into traditional Navajo rugs.

The Indigenous People’s way of life is being treated by the extractive coal-mining industry. Peabody coal mine has been mining for coal on the Navajo reservation for over 40 years. The result: an ever-decreasing supply of ground water. The water aqueducts are low and seeps and springs which these people rely on to sustainable live their way of life are drying up.

Nicole Herseherder, her husband  Marshall Johnson and their children are experiencing the same thing. They live on their families winter residence land in Black Mesa Arizona. They have horses and plant traditional Native corn and now  they now have to haul water long distances in order to survive. The couple founded To’Nizhoni Ani “Sacred Water” to teach their children and the next seven generations about the importance of and sacredness of water. They want their Native American relatives to be able to live and practice sustainability, without reliance on outside resources for help.

Indigenous People discuss life on the Navajo Reservation

Adrian Herder, Edith Simonson and Lorraine Herder discuss the life on the Navajo Reservation (Photo by Victoria Linssen © 2018)

Native American corn prepared by indigenous people

Marshall Johnson teaches his children the cultural way of preparing native american corn. (Photo by Victoria Linssen © 2018)

Black Husk Native American Corn

Native American corn brought to harvest by monsoon rains (Photo by Victoria Linssen © 2018)

Native American Marshall Johnson and Nicole Horseherder Harvest Native Corn

Marshall Johnson and Nicole Horseherder gather indigenous corn near Black Mesa Arizona on the Navajo Reservation. (Photo by Victoria Linssen © 2018)

Monsoon Rains Bring Indigenous Peoples Corn to Harvest

Adrian Herder, Marshall Johnson, Nicole Horseherder and their family check-out their Native American corn. (Photo by Victoria Linssen © 2018)

Indigenous People Marshall Johnson, Nicole Horseherder and Their Family Share Their Story

Marshall Johnson and his wife Nicole Horseherder teach traditional ways to their children. (Photo by Victoria Linssen © 2018)

The wide open spaces of Black Mesa Arizona on the Navajo Reservation

Clouds loom over the vast open spaces and petroglyphs of Black Mesa, AZ. (Photo by Victoria Linssen © 2018)

Indigenous Navajo women weaves until she is 101 years old.

Alice Hersehender continued to weave until she was 101 years old (Photo by Victoria Linssen © 2018)

Native American Navajo Weaving on Hardrock reservation

Lorraine Herder displays her traditional Navajo Weaving (Photo by Victoria Linssen © 2018)

Sustainable wool skeins handmade by Navajo Native Women

Wool skeins made from hand by Navajo Indigenous People who shear sheep and then brush, spin and dye the wool with plant dye. (Photo by Victoria Linssen © 2018)

Navajo wool yarn is dyed with plant dye by Lorraine Herder of the Hardrock Reservation in Northern Arizona

Lorraine Herder dips hand-crafted Navajo wool yarn into plant dye. (Photo by Victoria Linssen © 2018)

Navajo Native Americans living the pastoral way of life use all of the sheep for survival.

A cleaned and gutted sheep hangs on a fence to prepare and dry the meat. (Photo by Victoria Linssen © 2018)

Navajo Wool is sheared, cleaned and prepped for yarn and rugs.

Wool freshly sheared by the Navajo people is prepared to be made into wool yarn and rugs. (Photo by Victoria Linssen © 2018)