Birthplace of RECA

The widows of Red Valley pressed for uranium justice

By Cindy Yurth
Navajo Times

(Editor's note: In an effort to chronicle the beauty and diversity of the Navajo Nation, as well as its issues, the Navajo Times has committed to visiting all 110 chapters in alphabetical order. This is the 69th in the series. Some information for this series is taken from the publication "Chapter Images" by Larry Rodgers)

RED VALLEY, Ariz., Jan. 16, 2014

Text size: A A A

(Times photo — Cindy Yurth)

The Red Rock Trading post exudes an attractive glow against a spectacular Red Valley sunset, inviting last-minute shoppers.

There are many things to talk about at Red Valley Chapter: the stunning scenery, the uranium legacy, the new projects, the chapter house lovingly built by locals of hand-hewn native stone.

But when we visited last Thursday, the topic kept returning to basketball.

This is due in no small measure to the fact that the chapter president, Lee Zhonnie, is the head basketball coach at tiny Red Valley/Cove High School (student population at last count: 51).

Still, it's hard to overestimate the pride this little chapter, population 1,417 at the last Census, takes in its team.

The eight boys, most of whom double as the cross-country team in the fall, recently won the American Indian Classic Tournament at Rio Rancho -- in the first year they were part of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Red Valley at a Glance

Name: Originally called Red Rock Chapter, Red Valley once comprised its present area plus the community now known as Cove, which formed its own chapter in 1981. In the 1980s, the U.S. Postal Service asked Red Rock to change its name to avoid confusion with Red Rock Chapter in New Mexico. To add to the confusion, Red Valley's Navajo name, Tsé Lichii Da'azkán’ ("Red Mesa") is exactly the same as that of Red Mesa Chapter.

Land area: 221,000 acres

Population: 1,417 at the 2010 Census

Major clans: Táchii'nii, Kin Lich’i'nii, Hashk'aa Hadzoho

Famous sons: Taylor McKenzie, the first Navajo doctor; Navajo Times founder Marshall Tome; businessman Fleming D. Begay; Diné College President Maggie George; Code Talker David Patterson. There were also many well-known weavers and strong local leaders, including Raymond Keeswood Sr., who just recently passed away.

Assets: Vanadium, uranium, oil, scenery, local education through high school. Red Valley is the starting point for the Shiprock Marathon and along the route of the Chuska Challenge mountain bike race.

Issues: lack of businesses, mining-related health problems.

To read the full story, pick a Navajo Times.

How to get The Times:

Back to top ^