Letter From Rough Rock
Rough Rock has a historic Trading Post that still operates to sell various arts, jewelry, and some groceries.
Rough Rock is a small community about 35 miles west of Chinle, Arizona. Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) Southwest Reservation Aid (SWRA) has served up to 7 Program Partners in the community, including the Senior Center, Chapter House, Community Health, and schools. Rough Rock has a historic Trading Post that still operates to sell various arts, jewelry, and some groceries.
We checked in with Regina Bia, a Community Health worker serving about 40-80 residents in Rough Rock. Regina provides health education for high-risk Elders and people with disabilities. The program has been a Partner with SWRA for over 10 years.
Regina has requested supplies to help her with home visits and continued regular requests during 2020 when the pandemic hit Navajo lands hard. In every order between February 2020 and March 2021, SWRA sent water to help support the Elders and residents she serves. We caught up with Regina and asked her a few questions related to Covid-19 and the importance of water during a pandemic.
Read Regina's letter below, answering our questions about Covid-19 and the importance of clean, accessible water during a pandemic.
First of all, I thank PWNA in always coming through when I order and receive all the supplies for my clients and the community I serve as a Community Health Worker. It is always distributed and appreciated by all my clients.
Next, you ask how important water is in Rough Rock community and surrounding areas locally where I work. I think water is one of the most important resources that is so limited to this rural and secluded area. Some of my clients do not have running water at all. Some have the OEH Cistern System set-up which requires water hauling to refill the 500-gallon underground tank. Water hauling is most common for livestock and for home use. I will elaborate more on the common uses.
Water hauling is done from the chapter house for a price, but sometimes the water tested for purity fails with Office of Environmental Health, and community members cannot haul water for the next two months until another water test is done and passed. Water hauling is also done from the local windmills which becomes a problem because the surrounding residents near the windmills do not let other community members haul water from "their" wells. This behavior most times starts unnecessary disputes among cattle owners and other livestock owners. The chapter water is supposed to be for home use, and it is clean water, which is why it's tested on a regular basis, but community members use it mainly for livestock water.
Due to social distancing, stay-at-home orders, and most importantly, concern for the health of our Native Elders, these photos were taken pre-pandemic and repurposed for the use of this story. Thank you for understanding.
Furthermore, in this pandemic, the Rough Rock chapter house has been closed for much needed renovations. The renovations just happen to fall in the time this pandemic hit. Community members think that it was the wrong time to close the chapter for services when water was needed the most. Community members have been driving to other areas to get water. Some go to Kayenta, Many Farms, and most go to Chinle for water hauling. Which is about 45 miles to Kayenta, 15 miles to Many Farms, and 35 miles to Chinle.
Water for home use includes water for handwashing. That is the most concerning to me at this time because I mainly do health education and health promotion in addition to CoVid-19 prevention and precautions which emphasizes frequent hand washing. For those that do not have running water, I distribute the water provided by PWNA. I get anywhere from 6-10 cases of water for each shipment I receive from PWNA. It is most appreciated by clients who do not have running water. I know they can only give so much for every community, but I always ask for additional cases if available.
Water is very important in this pandemic. Handwashing is a necessity. It should be the other way around, but for right now in this pandemic, I truly believe that frequent hand washing is more important than water. When you think about it in that manner, we need water for hand washing to happen and prevent as many Covid19 infections as possible.
I hope I answered all your questions. And thank you for your time. I will include my information again in my response. Please come visit Rough Rock again. I can show you around to my clients that do not have running water and see how scarce water is for most of the rural reservation communities.
Regina Bia, LNA, SCHW, NMCHW
NDOH CHR Outreach Program
Chinle Service Unit
SWRA has shipped over a ton of water to the Rough Rock community in the past year.
Some numbers on the shipments that went to Rough Rock Community Health Representative:
- Regina received 9 shipments between February 2020 and March 2021.
- There was an extended break after the February 2020 shipment, and the next shipment wasn't received until May. This break was likely caused by the tribe closing its borders to protect its residents by decreasing the numbers of positive cases and rising deaths.
- SWRA shipped almost 1 ton and a half to Regina in the 9 shipments (2991 pounds).
Covid-19 Related numbers according to the Navajo Nation Department of Health (as of March 22, 2021):
- Number of positive cases - 30,007
- Total Negative Tests - 202,332
- Total confirmed deaths - 1,233
- Service Area Confirmed Cases for Chinle - 5,515
- Daily case rate per 10,000 population = 2,019.3
- Total new cases in last seven days - 3
Thank you for your support of our Program Partners like Regina who work hard to make sure our NAtive communities are taken care of.
Southwest Reservation Aid (SWRA) is a program of Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA).