Navajo Mountain High School is known as one of the most remote high schools in the lower 48 states. Including grades 9 through 12, it has a total enrollment of 30 students this school year.
On Sept. 1, the school received a large donation of school supplies, personal products, clothing, food and water. The donation was organized by the Color Country Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) based in St. George, Utah.
Every year, each DAR chapter, led by its chapter regent, may choose a service community project. Navajo Mountain High School was chosen by the Color Country Chapter because it’s located in Utah on the Navajo Reservation.
Susan Dransfield, regent of the St. George Chapter, along with Kim Clark, American Indian Chapter chair, contacted Gary Rock, principal of the high school. Rock was grateful to be chosen to receive the supplies.
The high school and surrounding community sit at the base of Navajo Mountain, or Naatsis’aan in Navajo, one of the sacred mountains that define boundaries of the original Navajo Nation.
The mountain dominates the landscape of southern Utah and northern Arizona, and can be seen from long distances in many directions. It was used for navigation by people thousands of years ago. The modern-day students at the school most likely can trace their ancestry to some of those ancient navigators.
Dransfield, along with her husband and sons, has been involved with numerous Navajo humanitarian projects.
“We do it because we have a special love for the people,” she said.
Clark grew up in a small rural community in Colorado, near the base of Mount Blanca, or Sisnaajini, another mountain sacred to the Navajo. She understands what it’s like to ride a bus for long distances and attend a small, remote school with limited supplies and resources.
“It’s always nice to give back to people,” Clark said.
With its peak at 10,348 feet above sea level, Navajo Mountain looks more like a dome than a jagged mountain. As the two-hour drive from Page brought Clark closer to the community, the geologic features of Naatsis’aan become clear and intricate. Instead of the distant smooth appearance, the mountain is crisscrossed by countless canyons and rock formations of many colors.
Clark, who lives in Page, worked with Dransfield in coordinating the pickup of the donated supplies, which was open not only to members of the DAR – donations were also received from the local Colonial Dames chapter.
Terry Whitehat of Page donated a box of books for community school students. Since Clark regularly travels to St. George, she agreed to pick up the donations and store them until delivery day.
Once the benefit drive was complete, the DAR collected and delivered around $1,700 worth of supplies. Whitehat and Clark’s husband filled the back of a medium-size pickup to the ceiling of the camper shell and almost filled the back seat.
Even though the school is in San Juan County, Utah, driving there from St. George involves passing through a large portion of northern Arizona and the Navajo Nation.
As Clark and her husband drove the supplies to the school, the landscape was the greenest any of them had seen in years. It was as if there were a “second spring,” with a variety of flowers adding color to the otherwise green lands, including globemallow, paintbrush, purple daisies and countless “darn yellow composites.” This year’s dry spring wasn’t as showy as most. It seemed as if the wildflowers were making up for the otherwise insipid spring.
The Navajo Mountain community is small and close-knit. A paved road leads to the community from Arizona Highway 98 and traverses a varied, scenic and geologically fascinating area. The nearest gas station and convenience store is about 35 miles away.
The small, modern high school is part of the San Juan County Public School system. Grades K through 8 are taught in the nearby community school, which is not part of the San Juan School District but is instead its own school.
To give an idea of how remote the community is, the nearest hospitals are in Tuba City, Kayenta and Page, all in Arizona and all around 90 minutes away. More specialized care is available in Flagstaff, some three hours away, or St. George, over four hours away. Phoenix and Salt Lake City are each a solid day’s drive one way. Before the road to the community began to be paved in 1988, it took even longer.
Because of the remoteness and needs of the school, Rock was humbled and grateful for DAR’s generosity. The DAR plans another benefit drive in the fall focusing on winter clothing, food and blankets. Anyone interested in participating in the donation drive is welcome to contact Kim Clark at [email protected] Be sure to put “DAR Donation” in the subject line.