For five weeks over the summer, an all Native American crew of Arizona high school students learned about Canyon de Chelly in Tsaile, Arizona.
The National Monument partnered with the Student Conservation Association (SCA)—which helps to restore and protect national parks—to provide the teens job experience and help them feel more connected to the history of the canyon.
Canyon de Chelly National Monument is a unique National Parks Service (NPS) site as it is entirely on Navajo trust land and still sustains a community of Navajo people, “who are connected to a landscape of great historical and spiritual significance,” reads the NPS website.
The eight participants of the Native American Crew and three crew leaders—one of whom was non-Native—were chosen from the local community. The crew took on many tasks over the five week program including reseeding disturbed roadsides, repairing hiking trails, restoring the watershed, cultivating farmland, and preparing the foundation for the traditional Navajo Hogan at the park’s visitor center.
According to a press release, “one parent remarked that she saw how the students, including her daughter, had grown and matured by their participation in this unique program.”
The crew was modeled after the SCA National Conservation Crew, but with special attention paid to Native American history and knowledge of the area.