In October 2015 Neil and Mark attended the first meeting of a task force formed to create, nurture and propagate the Navajo Nation Trails Initiative (NNTI). Since that meeting, held in Window Rock, Southwest Trail Solutions has been providing pro bono assistance and training in all aspects of trail system design and construction, visiting the Nation monthly.
The purpose of the NNTI is to provide trails to enhance community physical, emotional and spiritual health as well as distance trails to promote ecotourism.
The Navajo Nation, which is the size of New England, includes some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, and many routes will quickly become popular ecotourism destinations.
The NNTI is a grassroots effort, one that has the support of tribal leadership – President Begaye and Vice President Nez actively support the initiative – as well as that of agencies including the Department of Natural Resources and Indian Health Services. Already several trails have been built or are under construction, and many more are in the planning stages. As word gets out, more and more communities come to the task force with requests for assistance.
Southwest Trail Solutions has adopted this project as a way of helping the Navajo People develop this system themselves. Our objective is not to be some kind of “trails Santa,” but rather share our skills and knowledge so the people who live in the Navajo Nation – and have an intimate connection with and knowledge of the land – can create a trail system that reflects their values and needs.
This trail, a reroute replacing a fall line segment of trail near Diné College in Tsaile, is one of the first trails constructed as a result of the Navajo Nation Trails Initiative. It was built by Ki Jana Martinez, a student leader at the college.