Water Resources Professional Project Reports

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2020


The Navajo Nation consists of 110 chapters, local government subdivisions, organized into five regional agencies. Over half of the Navajo Nation chapters have traditional names in the Navajo language that describe a local water source including springs, washes, rivers, ponds, and reservoirs. Therefore, traditional Navajo names consist of Traditional Navajo Ecological Knowledge (TNEK) and can assist in documenting water sources that can be further assessed for vulnerability and sensitivity to climate change. There are 52 Navajo Nation chapters located in the San Juan River Basin and 28 chapters have water related names. Water sources associated with place names will also be evaluated for risks from industrial development. Water is sacred to the Navajo people and provides a strong sense of identity, kinship, and livelihood to Navajo communities. To ensure profiled water sources are protected and community values upheld, documentation of the water sources will be constructed to conceal the true location as advised by community leaders. Water sources identified from TNEK will be mapped to allow for a better comprehension of the vast available water that is present on Navajo land, which can then be used in future environmental assessments or impact studies. Environmental assessments will need to take into consideration the impacts industrial development has on natural resources, in addition, implementing action to protect highly vulnerable water sources. This project generates a valuable source of knowledge through reclaiming Navajo place names, preserving TNEK, and building resilient ecological communities on Navajo land in the face of a changing climate.


sustainable water resources, mapping, predicting change, ecosystems, indigenous