The Haury Program honored three outstanding Diné leaders working on clean water access issues in the Navajo Nation

The Haury Program honored three outstanding Diné leaders working on clean water access issues in the Navajo Nation

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

On September 25, the Haury Program celebrated three exceptional tribal resilience leaders who helped forge the partnership that advanced the Navajo Nation’s Water Access Coordination Group (WACG) mission. The WACG mission was to identify, acquire, prioritize, and use available resources to increase access to quality water for off-grid tribal homes. The mission’s success would not have been possible without the three honorees’ commitment to their community. 

This heroic and collaborative work of the WACG partners was led by Mr. James Adakai, Navajo Nation Capital Projects Management Department, and Captain David Harvey, Indian Health Service. It helped Navajo households that depend on these water sources reduce their round trip travel distance from 52 to 17 miles. In addition, Navajo families now have access to a website they can consult to locate one of the 59 transitional water points within the Nation. Involved in the WACG are the 2021 Haury Program Tribal Resilience Leadership honorees, Dr. Karletta Chief, Dr. Crystal Tulley-Cordova, and Nikki Tulley.

Dr. Karletta Chief (Diné). Dr. Chief is an Associate Professor at the UArizona Environmental Science department. Dr. Chief brings relevant science to Native American communities by providing hydrology expertise, assessing information needs, transferring knowledge, and developing applied science projects. Through Dr. Chief's leadership, the WACG invited UArizona to participate and assist in supporting the Navajo Nation's water access goals during the COVID pandemic and beyond. Dr. Chief exemplifies the highest values of University outreach, and last year, she received the highest honor that UArizona confers upon outreach scholars – the 2021 Distinguished Outreach Professor Award.

Dr. Crystal Tulley-Cordova (Diné) is the Principal Hydrologist at the Navajo Nation Department of Water Resources. Dr. Tulley-Cordova addresses water access and water quality issues in the Navajo Nation, including protecting and managing water resources to ensure Navajo residents have access to safe drinking water. Dr. Tulley-Cordova was also honored by the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) with the Professional of the Year Award. Both honors recognize her extraordinary capacity to forge partnerships among the web of entities and people necessary to develop and implement effective water resilience solutions for the Navajo Nation.

Nikki Tulley (Diné) is a Ph.D. candidate in the UArizona Environmental Science department. Ms. Tulley dedicates her work to ensure that people living in Indigenous communities have access to clean drinking water to sustain their way of life in an ever-changing environment. In addition, Ms. Tulley is a gifted spokesperson for tribal resilience and captures the Navajo Nation's beauty with her award-winning photography.  

By establishing the Tribal Resilience Leadership Award, the Haury Program recognizes and celebrates leaders who promote Native communities' goals in ways that respect and honor tribal sovereignty, traditional knowledge, customs, and governance. The Haury Program is honored to partner with Native Nations and the UArizona to develop scalable, socially just, impactful, and culturally sound solutions.

Learn more