SHIPROCK — It will take more than a day to give the Shiprock community a makeover, but Earth Day is a good day to start.

Shiprock is holding its first large-scale Earth Day cleanup Monday. The day will include picking up trash, cutting weeds, planting trees and painting buildings, several of which will have murals added.

"In the undeveloped state that (Shiprock) is in, I look at this as an opportunity to shape the community to what we want to see it as," said Duane "Chili" Yazzie, president of the Shiprock Chapter.

The chapter has been organizing the event for a month. It has enlisted the help of about 1,200 students from Shiprock middle and high schools.
Shiprock will be holding a community clean up event on Earth Day, April 22. Events will include trash pick-up, graffiti clean-up and mural paintings.
Shiprock will be holding a community clean up event on Earth Day, April 22. Events will include trash pick-up, graffiti clean-up and mural paintings. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)
Another 300 people from local businesses, churches and government offices also are expected to help.

The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, Navajo Engineering Construction Authority, San Juan County, City of Farmington, Navajo Petroleum Company and several Farmington nurseries also are participating.

"It's a new beginning," Yazzie said.

Not only will the community be cleaning up the streets, buildings and general area in Shiprock, they plan to plant about 25 trees and an assortment of flowers and shrubs.

"We have to take care of the communities ourselves," said Graham Beyale, event coordinator and a member of the Northern Din Youth Community, another group helping with the event.

Beyale explained that many Navajo people have forgotten the importance of nature in the traditional belief system. The clean up is hoped to remind people of its significance, he said.

"We're not just picking up trash. We are taking care of our home, the place that takes care of us," Beyale said.

A limited number of tools will be available for volunteers to use, but volunteers are encouraged to bring their own tools.

"It won't completely change the community, but it is something to start with," Beyale said.

Jenny Kane can be reached at 505-564-4636; jkane@daily-times.com. Follow her on Twitter @Jenny_Kane.