A Trail of Togetherness for Hopi Elders
In 1974, the US government re-designated some of Hopi’s land to the Navajo, forcing many Hopi people to abandon their long-time homes, yet another trail of tears. Some of the Hopi resettled in a new community – Yuwehloo Pahki Village (YPV), also known as Spider Mound. Only 24 people live there, including 10 Elders.
YPV is extremely isolated and essentially cut off from the rest of Hopi. Because of the forced relocation, the Navajo community of Jeddito separates YPV from the rest of Hopi. Also standing between YPV and the rest of Hopi are rough roads, rough terrain between villages, and scarcity of transportation, placing its residents:
- 60-minutes from the nearest post office and tribal headquarters in Kykotsmovi (Second Mesa), which is also home to the only full-service grocery store on Hopi
- 45 minutes from the Indian Health Service hospital in Polacca
- 35 minutes from the nearest gas station in Sichomovi (First Mesa)
- 15 minutes from a community grocery store and laundromat in Keams Canyon
YPV is also challenged by a lesser portion of tribal funding for community services. They are still working on the basics, such as an arrangement with Navajo utility authorities to pipe in uncontaminated drinking water. Most Elders in YPV burn coal and wood, but the community lacks a vehicle and dry facility for cost-effectively hauling winter fuel or storing it.
Another key concern for YPV is the isolation of Hopi Elders. For two years, their Youth & Elderly Program was closed due to a lack of funding. The Community Service Administrator was considering renovating a condemned trailer, but the faulty wiring, roofing, and flooring made it unsafe for use. This left YPV Elders alone, uninvolved, and generally more vulnerable. Thankfully, YPV has a new place where Elders in their community can connect!
National Relief Charities initiated a project to secure a Senior Activities Trailer for use by Hopi Elders in YPV. The project was made possible in part by a grant from the S.L. Gimbel Foundation Advised Fund at The Community Foundation serving the counties of Riverside and San Bernardino. The project was also supported by a grant from the H.O.M.E. Foundation (Helping Our Mobile Elderly) of the Greater Los Angeles area.
The YPV project is about a trail of togetherness. Isolation is challenging. In a recent blog post, Helen shared about Huskie, a Navajo Elder in the Spider Rock community near Chinle, AZ who said, “the hardest thing I’ve ever come across is being alone all the time.” This will no longer be the case for YPV Elders. The community expects a big boost for the mental health and wellbeing of Elders who spend most of their time alone.
On Tuesday, June 5, 2013, a special ceremony was held to dedicate the Senior Activities Trailer to the Yuwehloo Pahki Village Elders. It is “their place,” a place where they have a sense of belonging and a place where they can be together. The trailer is set up and ready for use. Typical activities will include classes on traditional gardening, sewing circles, arts and crafts, health screenings, and more.