Central Navajo Youth Opportunity Coalition
Helping Grandma Thomas's Kids

Yes, A Walk to Window Rock is planned for the Summer of 2005!CNYOC Seal
\CO/Navajo Cooperatives
PO Box 2060
Chinle, AZ
Who We Are
Central Navajo Youth Opportunity Coalition is a collection of individuals, businesses and governmental agencies that is addressing together the necessity to provide Central Navajo youth with a safe place where they can congregate, fraternize, play, and learn. With the increase of high density housing, this is even more needed than ever as the communities' resources are minimal. Children in the Central Navajo Nation enjoy the beauty of their land, but this comes at a price. The nearest public swimming pool is ninety miles distant. We have no gamerooms, public gyms, miniature golf courses, indoor basket ball courts or bowling alleys.
How We Started
Many years ago, the hand of a missing high school senior, due to graduate in May was found protruding from the rough sand, in the bottom of a local wash. The hand was attached to an arm and the arm to a body. He had been murdered. The death shook the community. At a Chapter Meeting (the equivalent of a town meeting) parents placed the fault squarely on the backs of the younger generation. "They don't listen", "They don't follow traditions", "They have no common sense" and like remarks could be heard from many assembled. No one came forth with a solution.

Finally, the voice of reason and traditional Navajo Family Values spoke. "We are at Fault" "Each of us as parents are responsible for our children from the minute they come into this world, until that time as one of us leaves it." :Our communities' children are all our responsibility."

The voice was that of Dr. Marjorie Thomas. She was retired from many years working to educate "her" children - they are all her children. She was a teacher and principal in Tuba City and served as a principal and Associate Superintendent for the Chinle Unified School District.

Nothing was resolved at the meeting, but Mrs. Thomas did not forget her children's plight. At some point she decided that something must be done to help the children of the Central Navajo Nation and she was going to do something. She decided she would sit at the entrance to the area's supermarket and take collections from those who came and went. This did not last long. As Grandma talked with people in the community, she found many helping hands. She also found ideas.

What We've Done
A teacher at the Chinle High School grinned at Grandma's efforts to collect enough money from shoppers. He knew how to raise money. He had a gift of gab and knew how to wring money from backers for a worthwhile project, just as you or I would wring water from a Sponge. It wasn't after too many conversations that his ideas began not to seem as crazy as they first sounded. No body had ever done what he suggested. "Have a walk to the Navajo Nation Capitol". "Take pledges on a telethon over Navajo Nation Television and KTNN radio". So began four year's worth of walks between Chinle and the Capitol. Walking between fifteen and twenty-five miles each day, she and her entourage were followed by a host of vehicles, including several porta-potties donated by a Chinle firm. Meals along the way were prepared and delivered by businesses or local chapters. Sometimes the route was through Tsaile', but more often it was along the Federal and State Highways. Most times Grandma made the entire walk on her feet. Other times when her diabetes was causing problems she was in a wheel chair, traveling in class, pushed by a former Miss Navajo Nation! Every time however she finished on her feet with her cane and the familiar umbrella resting on her shoulder.

Help came from every quarter. There is not room enough here to thank all who lent a hand. These walks were only a start. Grandma walked in the parades for all the Navajo Nation Fairs. We walked in Shiprock, Tuba City, Window Rock and in Chinle. Eventually we had enough money to seriously consider a small structure, but we had no land. Again, more hands came to the rescue. Architects for the Chinle Unified School District contributed their skills to create a master plan - one that could be phased in building by building. The Chinle Governing Board committed some of its land for the center's construction. It appeared the center would become reality. Then the expected backing from the Navajo Nation never materialized. Politicians came and went and those who remained remembered not their predecessors' promises.

What the number three is to the outside world, the number four is in Navajoland. There are four directions, four Sacred Mountains, four original clans and four tries at any effort before one stops. After four summer's walks had still not collected sufficient monies for even a small part of a center, and the Navajo tribal council had turned a deaf ear to the needs of those who will someday control the land of the Navajo, a new plan formed.

Other tribes with casino had money. They had lots of money. Maybe they would be willing to contribute some of it to benefit Navajo Nation Youth? The next summer the cross country trip was planned. The governing board of the organization which controlled the monies raised considered the trip to be a sound investment. To Grandma Thomas's dismay, while she was cordially received where-ever she went, the trip did not produce the expected results. Time and time again, the same question was asked "How is your own tribe assisting you?" "What is the Navajo Nation doing to help it's youth?" "Is the tribal council supporting you in this effort?" The answer was always the same.

What We're Doing
Grandma Thomas has again taken to the road. Leaving Chinle on Monday, April 17,2000, she and here walkers plan to be in Window Rock, Arizona for the o penning of the Spring Navajo Nation Council Session. She will again seek matching funds or more from the tribe for the Central Navajo Nation Youth.
How You Can Help
  • Join Grandma Marjorie on the road from April 17, thru Friday April 21, 2000
  • Make a donation in either a flat amount or dollar per mile figure for every mile Grandma completes. Send your donations to the CNYOC at PO Box 2040, Chinle, Arizona 86503.
  • Come by and join us as we are camped out on our way in the evenings.
    • Monday, Milepost 425, US 191 North of SR 264 (Snake Flats)
    • Tuesday, Ganado Chapter House
    • Wednesday, Cross Canyon Trading Post
    • St. Micheals Chapter House
  • Join Us on the Walkathon on Navajo Nation TV 5 on Tuesday Evening April 18, 2000
  • Join us in other fund raisers, such as a Fun Run and Walk in Canyon DeChelly. This will be announced later this year.
  • Contact the Navajo Tribal Council and urge they support Central Navajo Youth with a substantial monetary grant.
What do we need? Everything! Eventhough we don't have a place to put it we have teamed up with other Chinle groups serving Central Navajo Nation Youth and have been successfull in delivering some gifts so they can be used by students with these groups.

Watch this site for future meeting dates of the Coalition. Attend! We usually have pot-luck meals when we meet.

Write Us!
Copyright Central Navajo Youth Opportunities Coalition 2000
PO Box 2040
Chinle, Arizona 86503