Together, we can and must do more. We also can and must do more together.
Two weeks ago, Haury had a conversation with Nikki Tulley, a second-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Environmental Science with a concentration in Hydroscience at the University of Arizona, and Annie Lascoe, Chief Relationship Officer at DigDeep. We knew Annie and Nikki's passion for and experience in improving Indigenous communities’ living conditions in the Southwest would help us better understand the implications of water accessibility in food sovereignty, energy dependency, and health in the Navajo Nation. We wanted to learn more about how we can help them accomplish their goals, but nothing prepared us for what we witnessed in that conversation. Annie’s passion in describing her sustainability work and Nikki's insights about the sustainability challenges captured the essence of the severity and complexity of the problem and the hope and resilience which makes us certain it is solvable.
Nikki has been following DigDeep's work since she was an undergraduate. In fact, the DigDeep video The Navajo Access Water Project featuring Darlene Arviso – "the water lady" – inspired her to focus her research on hydro science. "I was so drawn by the video," Nikki said. "We don't think the way we have to get water to our homes is unique because I grew up in a home without water for a good part of my life. We don't go around with cameras filming our everyday life, but when I saw that video, I was like, whoa!" Nikki said.
Nikki's compelling story moved Annie, who was very grateful that DigDeep's work is resonating within the communities DigDeep serves. "I'm always thinking of ways to center indigenous women's voices in our work, and people with lived experience who can shine a light on the incredible resilience and phenomenal solutions that are happening and how vibrant Navajo culture is," Annie said.
We know we have initiated something more significant than an outreach partnership with Nikki and Annie. We connected on a personal level. Such meaningful moments of connection and understanding will inform and inspire our work to come.
Nikki and Annie will continue their conversation and find authentic and effective pathways to address the Navajo Nation water sustainability goals. Haury will be there to help them pursue these worthy ends.
“I truly believe that the Navajo Nation is an unbelievable model for cross-sector collaboration that is keeping the community safer in a crisis and is deploying the most cutting edge strategies to help preserve life. It's really been incredible. [We need to] figure out ways for the rest of the American public to know [about it] because we still have so much to learn from Indigenous communities and particularly the Navajo Nation.” - Annie Lascoe. DigDeep
About Nikki and Annie:
Nikki Tulley is a member of the Navajo Nation and focuses her research on water resource management in Indigenous and rural communities. She is currently working in the Indige-FEWSS (Indigenous Food, Energy & Water Security and Sovereignty) Program at the UArizona. Nikki is featured in an Indige-FEWSS video where she talks about her research. The video was part of the STEM for All Video Showcase of federally funded programs highlighting innovation in STEM education. The University of Arizona's Indige-FEWSS program won the first ranked Presenters' Choice Award. Watch the Video. If you want to know more about Nikki’s research work, listen to the interview between Dr. Monica Ramírez-Andreota and Nikki. The interview is part of the Thesis Thursday series Dr. Ramírez-Andreota hosts on KXCI 91.3 https://kxci.org/podcast/nikki-tulley/
Annie Lascoe has worked for women’s rights for many years. Since she joined DigDeep last year, her work has expanded to include water accessibility rights. Annie’s work includes the use of water trucks and other vehicles to deliver clean water to homes in areas not already served and her team is working uninterrupted delivering water to families during the pandemic. DigDeep is an organization implementing community-led projects to bring clean water into American homes – including Navajo homes. DigDeep and US Water Alliance published the report Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States in 2019. The report presents an analysis of the water and sanitation access challenge in the United States and proposes a plan of action to ensure equitable water access. You can read the report here: http://closethewatergap.org/ To learn more about DigDeep go to https://www.digdeep.org/ Watch the Navajo Water Access Project video that inspired Nikki here. The video features Darlene Arviso – "the water lady."