Navajo vs. Navajo

A battle over whether to preserve natural resources or develop them

In the desiccated climate of New Mexico's San Juan Basin, a land of red sandstone mesas peppered with pinon trees, water is so precious that Navajo tradition regards it as a living entity. Survival here has long depended on the health of underground pools and streams that feed wells and the occasional surface spring. That's why Billy Martin is worried. The water supply to his tiny town of Crownpoint (pop. 2,500) is threatened, he says, by money-grubbers who don't understand water's importance to Native American culture. It sounds like a familiar story... until you realize that Martin, 69, isn't upset with...

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