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For week ended November 14, 1999 Posted 24 Feb 2001

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(LDS) Navajo's dreams would take him far from home

Summarized by Rosemary Pollock

(LDS) Navajo's dreams would take him far from home
(Phoenix) AZ Republic 10Nov99 P2
By Betty Reid : The Arizona Republic

TUBA CITY, ARIZONA -- Jeremy Yazzie is a member of the Class of 2000. His hometown, Tuba City, straddles U.S. Highway 160, the gateway to Monument Valley, the painted Desert, the Grand Canyon and Lake Powell. The weather is perfect as he sits on the rustly tailgate of a bright blue pickup. Jeremy is watching a sea of people getting ready for a homecoming parade and thinking of his future.

The float bears a silver lettered message: Naasgoo Nei'niji Hoozhoo Doo - "May there be beauty in the uphill climb toward the future." "I'm comfortable here," Jeremy said. "It'd be hard to leave. My mother wants me to stay."

In Navajo, Tuba City is called Toh'nanas'deezi and means meandering streams. Tuba City has 24 percent unemployment with the closest university 7l miles away in Flagstaff. Jeremy, l7, hopes to become an electrical engineer and has dreams of a job and an apartment to replace the beige trailer that is home. It is parked near a sand dune not far from the busy intersection of U.S. 160 and Indian Route 263.

Leaving Tuba City is not unusual for bright Navajo youths. They must often leave to pursue their dreams. Jeremy's mother, Ella, stayed as a teenager with a Valley Mormon family that sent her to Phoenix Union Hight School District.

Jeremy and his family are faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They attend an immaculate chapel, west of the famous Tuba City Trading Post. His father, Lorenzo, an avid sports fan, says keeping busy is the key. Jeremy has remained level-headed while peers have turned to drugs, alcohol and chosen to drop out of school.

"Sure I tell him about my wild days, but I use those as teaching stories for him," Lorenzo says. "When the boys were little, I took them on the cookouts and fishing down Oak Creek."

At the same time, Jeremy's relatives draw on him to remember his Navajo beliefs. One Uncle pulls him into a sweat lodge once a month, where a purification ritual is performed and tribal philosophies are discussed. "Faith is important," Jeremy says. "What is there without it?"

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information