New Lands, Padres Mesa look toward relocation office closure

Horses and quonset in background

Navajo Times | Cindy Yurth
Padres Mesa Ranch Manager Bill Inman (left) gives a tour of the ranch to Navajo Nation Washington Office staffer Natasha John and Ken Degenfelder, legislative aide to the House Natural Resources Committee, which oversees the Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation.

CHAMBERS, Ariz.

With the Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation set to sunset next year, there have been many emotional public hearings with testimony from people on the Navajo Partitioned Land and Hopi Partitioned Land who are still struggling with the aftermath of the Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement.

But what about the people of Nahata Dziil, the “New Lands” set aside exclusively for relocatees?

They’re suffering too, said Darrell “Sparky” Tso, chairman of the Nahata Dziil Commission Governance. “We did our part. We moved here,” Tso said in a recent interview at Padres Mesa Demonstration Ranch. “And in some ways we’re having a worse time than those who stayed put.”

Tso claims his chapter has an 80 percent unemployment rate, which would make it the worst on the Navajo Nation. The contract was finally signed last week for a long-sought shopping center along I-40 after 20 years of planning — but the infrastructure put in by the federal government in the 1980s did not anticipate this scale of development.

“We have a six-inch (diameter) water line, which isn’t even adequate for fire safety,” Tso said. “We have no fire hydrants, no public safety, no ambulance, no college campus. We’re asking the federal government to take care of the things they promised us before they close up shop.”

If Nahata Dziil is not developed, it’s not for lack of vision. Tso got his nickname “Sparky” because once you get him started, the ideas fly off him like sparks. Tso, who says he had to file multiple appeals before he got his own relocation home, ran for the commission because “I got tired of complaining and decided to be part of the solution.” He feels that, with just a bit longer launch pad, Nahata Dziil could be an example for the “Big Rez,” i.e., the main portion of the Navajo Nation.


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Categories: News
Tags: New Lands

About Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth is the Tséyi’ Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation. Her other beats include agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.” She can be reached at editor@navajotimes.com.