Growing up my siblings and me were often left at my grandparent’s house in Coalmine Canyon while my mother worked. Coalmine Canyon is on the Navajo Nation and the Old Coalmine is where we lived.
Coalmine Canyon was a beautiful place to grow up. There was a chapter house where my grandmother wove rugs. The rugs were sold for a higher price then what the local Trading Posts were buying them for, which boosted the economy on the Navajo Nation. My grandfather worked at SRP in Page, Arizona. He would be home on weekends and always with a bag of fruits for my siblings and me.
My grandmother’s house was a magical place. In the morning, before the sun come up over the horizon, my siblings and me would go to the sheep corral and feed the lambs and the motherless calf named Keesh Mish. Afterward we would get ready for school. At 6:30 A.M. my brother, my baby sister, and me would walk to the bus stop that was a quarter of a mile from our home.
There were so many kids on the bus that we got to know when we had community get togethers. The girls would be talking about the lambs that were just born, the boys would be picking on the ones that were sleeping and challenging each other to a knuckle fight. We all knew each other‘s parents and grandparents.
Everyone in the community had there own herd of livestock and their own fields of corn, squash, watermelon, and orchards of apple trees, apricot trees, and peach trees. Every time there was a chapter meeting, everyone brought something to eat. Each dinner started with a prayer, all the kids played outside while our grandparents and parents sat in on the chapter meeting.
When I was about seven, I started to hear the other kids on the bus talk about moving to Sanders, Tuba City, Gallup, and Red Lake. They said that their families were being relocated. They would be getting a house; they would be taking their livestock with them. All I was worried about was who was I going to play with when we had chapter meetings, who was going to be at the chapter meetings, and I was afraid of my grandparents were going to be relocated as well.
All that was left in our community was the abandon houses, the fences that once guarded the fields from rabbits, horses, and sheep. Old corrals where men used to brand their cattle, train horses, and where young boys learned how to ride were rotting and weeds started coming up. The chapter house was no longer in use, and was marked off so that no one could enter. The playground was no longer safe and the pre-school no longer a pre-school.
For a while, it seemed like a ghost town, stories started about how people driving through at night saw ghosts and objects chasing their vehicles as they drove through town.
Now there is a new Coalmine Canyon Community. There are over 600 residences here. A new chapter house here. It is located about five miles west of the Old Coalmine Canyon. Some people have the horse corrals next to their homes. There are areas where cowboys and cowgirls that practice barrel racing, team roping, and bull riding here in this community. Athletes in this community run up the dirt road, children play, and parents fix up their yards every year.
My grandparents were the last people to relocate to the new Coalmine only because they were getting old and their old house had no running water and no electricity. Every year our family would haul wood to ensure my grandparents would be warm in the winter, and to provide wood for our own personal use, for example we would have family cookouts, or a ceremony.
Now my siblings and me are growing up and my grandparents, aunts, and uncles are getting older, they constantly encourage us to go to college. Get our degrees and come back to the community and help out. This year, my sibling and me will all be attending college. I am a sophomore attending ASU, my little brother will be attending Dine College, and my baby sister will be attending Eastern Arizona College. We all have plans to get out Master Degrees, start working and come home to help our community grow and prosper.
Right now, our community is small, but we have plans for stores and parks, and schools to be built here. Plans to have gas stations where we can purchase gas instead of driving twenty-five miles to the nearest gas station, to open a veterinarian clinic for our livestock, and to have a police and fire station, to build parks where the children can play. The one thing that we lack is the people who know how to manage stores, a veterinarian, police men and women, fire fighters, engineers, and community planners. The some people in our community have not attended college; some have not even completed high school.
My siblings and I plan to change that. I’m going to school for business, my brother is going to school to become a veterinarian, and my sister will be going to school to become a dentist. We plan to come back after graduation and start helping our community grow to a bigger more comfortable place to live.
We would also like to preserve our heritage. We are Navajo, the biggest Native American Tribe in the United States who is losing our identity and language. We would like future generations to be proud of where they come from, to help them understand that without knowing where they come from they don’t know where they are going. There are many single mothers here in our community and they all struggle with finding a babysitter, especially here in our community. However, my mother who has the resources to start a day care center here very soon, we just need the paper work filled out and for it to be passed in resolution form by the chapter officials and sent to the Navajo Nation Council to be passed and recognized. This process will take a little less then a year. Nevertheless, it will be here soon.
I love my community and after I finish college I plan to come back and help my community grow and to start my own family here. As well as to help other college students continue on with school in hopes that they come back to the community and help us grow to a safe comfortable place for our children to grow.