About The Hozho Center
Living sustainably within the community
“Honoring our past to return to the land today”
The Hozho Center will allow Diné and those who support the mission to live sustainably within this community. The Hozho Center will be located on 1,698 acres (Historical Trading Post included) adjacent to the Navajo Nation at Borrego Pass, New Mexico. The Center will include a Ceremonial Center, a visitors Welcome Center, Diné Museum, gift shop, restaurant, lodging, traditional hogans for housing, as well as agricultural, construction, educational, and staff facilities.
The Ceremonial Center will offer the facilities needed to offer traditional Diné ceremonies, rituals, and practices. This center will also include an herbal garden which will function as both an educational center for apprentices to learn about traditional Diné medicine and for traditional healing practice.
The Diné Museum will showcase the rich Diné history, the story of the clans, and will include antique rugs and other reclaimed artifacts from the Borrego and other trading posts.
The Sheep Camp Restaurant will feature the Navajo-Churro lamb and also include ingredients from our pastures, gardens, and local Diné producers such as the Three Sisters (corn, beans and squash).
Hozho Lodging will offer a unique stay for visitors. Modern-made hogans created with ancient architecture, these traditional homes will offer visitors an authentic experience. Visitors will have the option to stay in the heart of a traditional Diné sheep camp or in a secluded hogan on the side of a mesa.
Our workshop and retreats will focus on sustainable living based upon the application of Hózhóo and K’é. These principles will guide participants and the community to achieve our collective dream of spiritual, mental, physical, and social health.
Have an Impact
Prior to colonization, the Diné lived in self-sufficient agropastoral camps consisting of extended family members based upon the principles of K'é', clan relationships, and Hózhóo. To live within Hózhóo means to live in a symbiotic relationship with nature and their relatives. Working together with respect and reverence, the camps created a sustainable life for all camp members and with other similar camps.
Starting in 1863, many of these camps were destroyed or greatly diminished in the U.S. military “Scorched Earth Campaign,” which sought to bring an end to our traditional ways of life. Soon after, over half of the Diné population was forced to march to a concentration camp at Fort Sumner. After the treaty of 1868, and having suffered extensive trauma, the Diné returned to a much smaller homeland and started rebuilding their camps within a dysfunctional government-imposed reservation system.
Despite many obstacles, the Diné revitalized their sheep camps and once again built a thriving economy based upon the K'é and Hózhóo teachings. The Navajo-Churro Sheep flocks, gardens, and orchards provided their personal food necessities; the surplus products were sold or bartered for other products and tools.
To manage this surplus, certain lots of tribal land were allotted to establish trading posts within the boundaries of the reservation. The trading post system greatly increased the demand for surplus sheep, wool, and rugs and soon the Diné camps became dependent upon local trading posts and border towns such as Gallup, Farmington, Flagstaff, Durango and Cortez.
During the 1930’s Great Depression, the U.S. government imposed a massive livestock reduction re-traumatizing the Diné herders and destroying more Navajo-Churro Sheep flocks. The traders and the government encouraged the Diné to restock with sheep breeds which were deemed more profitable to a market economy.
The Navajo-Churro breed faced total extinction, but a few Diné resistance camps were able to protect some of their sacred Churros. Although some camps survived the stock reduction, they were unable to overcome the many other ill-conceived assimilation policies forced on Native Americans across the nation. These policies included:
boarding schools which forced Native children from their homes
the relocation of Diné families to major metropolitan areas for industrial work
the stripping of Diné lands through coal and uranium mining
the growth of a wage economy on and off the reservation created by expanding governmental services and industry on the reservation and in the border towns
The wage economy continued to erode the sustainability of the Diné camps due to a labor shortage within the camps, a decline in the physical and mental health of camp members due to intergenerational trauma, and the desertification of unmanaged land.
Population growth on the reservation became centered around schools, governmental facilities, and border towns. Cluster housing with modern infrastructure was built to serve these economic centers. Those left struggling in the camps were supported by family members with wage employment, retired workers who returned to the camps, and governmental assistance programs.
Starting in the 1970’s, Dr. Lyle McNeal founded the Navajo Sheep Project to partner with the Diné to save the Navajo-Churro Sheep from extinction and to reintroduce the Churro to traditional Diné camps. Hundreds of Navajo-Churros have been placed with Diné caretakers over the past forty years along with the implementation of educational and technical support to help revitalize these camps.
Today in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic is infecting the Navajo Nation with devastating results. The debilitated condition of the isolated camps and the return of a large number of Diné to their camps make them a hotbed for infection spreading the virus throughout the reservation.
Each day, more and more Diné are realizing the need to revitalize their camps in order to protect themselves and the next generations against threats like COVID-19 and other long term social, economic, and environmental changes. The Hozho Center will play a major role in revitalizing the camps by offering programs and services within a modern-built, traditionally modeled Diné camp based upon the values of K'é and Hózhóo.
The Hozho Center will bring the camps of the past into the present for the survival of future generations.