The Traditional Support Caravan

Traditional Support Caravan

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The caravan distributes food each fall to help Navajo families endure the winter.

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Woman

Organization Overvview

Established: 1994, Boulder, CO

Distribution Areas: Northern Arizona (Navajo Reservation), including, but not necessarily limited to: Forest Lake, Cactus Valley, Red Willow Springs, Big Mountain, and Teesto (areas of distribution vary from year to year due to road conditions and relocation or absence of certain families).

Brief Summary: The Traditional Support Caravan is a grass roots, not for profit organization, that was founded over ten years ago in response to a request for help by a group of Navajo (Dine) Elders who spoke at the Rocky Mountain Center for Peace and Justice in Boulder. These elders, the majority of whom were women, spoke of their increasingly desperate struggle to maintain their traditional way of life in the wake of an aggressive campaign to strip mine their sacred homelands. The “resistors” who have remained on their lands are determined to remain at home, maintain their language and traditional way of life for themselves as well as the generations to come.

The organization itself operates on a volunteer basis. There are no administrative costs and all participants donate the price of gas, lodging, and any wear-and-tear on their vehicles. All directions are received directly from the families and no decisions are made without consultation.

Distributed Goods: The bulk of what is distributed by the Traditional Support Caravan is food. Each year, a request list is agreed upon and volunteers raise money to purchase and or seek out donations for the required goods. The staple goods are: flour, cooking oil, salt, pinto beans, potatoes, onions, carrots, garlic, oatmeal, coffee, sugar, crushed red pepper, dried soups and pastas, nutritional bars, peanut butter, non-perishable soups, salt licks (for livestock), lambing formula, as well as some first aid materials and elder care products (ensure, lotion, etc.).

Logistics: Although the protocol varies from year to year, generally the caravan volunteers leave from their varying hometowns (Colorado, California, New Mexico, etc) on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Depending on weather conditions, volunteers meet at a pre-determined location that evening and have a planning meeting and camp for the night. Early the next morning volunteers enter the reservation in a caravan of trucks and 4-wheel drive vehicles, meet up with our Navajo guide, and begin the two to three day process of food distribution. The bulk goods are broken down into individual units and placed in vehicles and driven (on dirt roads) from homesite to homesite. Volunteers are almost always well received and greatly appreciated.

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