Thoreau, New Mexico

In northwestern New Mexico, near the “four corners” region where New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado meet, is the town of Thoreau, the location of the Eastern Navajo Child Drive, an organization that provides Christmas gifts and food baskets to impoverished Navajo children. It is also Family-to-Family’s coordinating agency and link to the Navajo Nation. 

According to Navajo Nation statistics, 173,667 Navajos live on 27,000 miles of Navajo Nation tribal land in New Mexico, Arizona and UtahThe Navajo Nation is shockingly poor. 2010 Census figures note that:

  • 44% of people under the age of 18 in the Navajo Nation live below the poverty level.
  • 32% of all households in the Navajo Nation have an annual income less than $15,000. (Compared to 17% in the state of Arizona)

The Navajo Nation’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy reports that unemployment is 50.52%.

Job opportunities are few and far between. Businesses stay away from the region because roads are unpaved, and electricity, water and telecommunications services are minimal to non-existent. Police and fire protection are limited as well. As of 2000:

  • 62.7% of Navajo Nation homes had no telephone
  • Over 33% of homes had incomplete plumbing facilities
  • 78% of the 9,286 miles of reservation roads were unpaved

Kathy Spitz, who started the Eastern Navajo Child Drive in 1993, is F-to-F’s community contact in Thoreau.

Kathy: “We have families that live in 1 room — 20’x 20’ un-insulated, plywood shacks — with no utilities (maybe an extension cord strung from the one electrical meter located in the camp) and a wood stove, with 4 – 7 children. One ‘camp’ outhouse is for all families. Other families live in traditional Hogans (8 sided one room log/mud homes) with chunks of mud missing in the walls and cardboard or blankets stuffed in windows. Wind and dirt blow under the door. Soot from the wood stove accumulates making air quality dangerous.”

Many families have no available transportation; cars are old and often broken-down. Distances are vast; without phones or transportation, communication is difficult and families are isolated.

The Eastern Navajo Child Drive currently helps 250 families with special needs children. Each Navajo family receiving food from Family-to-Family also includes at least one special needs child.

In Thoreau, Family-to-Family partners with The Community Pantry food bank to provide groceries for our sponsored families.

Community Contact:
Kathy Spitz
Eastern Navajo Child Drive HC 62 Box 3749
20 Drake Rd.
Thoreau, New Mexico 87323

Read more about Thoreau, New Mexico:

“On Parched Navajo Reservation, Truck-Driving ‘Water Lady’ Brings Liquid Gold”

“Confronting a long tradition of silence”

Sources: Navajo Nation’s 2009-2010 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy of The Navajo Nation; U.S. Census Burueau: Census 2000; U.S. Census: American Community Survey 2005-2007; Demographic Analysis of the Navajo Nation Using 2010 Census and 2010 American Community Survey Estimates

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