I just got back from living and working on the Navajo Reservation in Shiprock, New Mexico. I was grateful for the time to step away from residency, to live and breathe the beautiful Navajo land and sky, and to get to learn from such a beautiful culture and people. It’s hard to know where to start so here’s a mini photo journal from the month:The Northern Navajo Medical Center, where I spent most of my days. As a family medicine doc there you are full-spectrum: inpatient, outpatient, ICU, labor and delivery.
A depiction of the Navajo land, bordered by their four sacred mountains. Almost 175,000 Navajo live on the reservation spanning New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah.
The Indian Health Service also runs school-based clinics and this teen clinic.
There’s a sweat lodge in the back of the teen-clinic where they do women-only sweats as well as co-ed family sweats.
A small community clinic open twice a week.
Shiprock: a historically and religiously important landmark for the Navajo. Geologically fascinating ancient volcanic plug.
Anasazi cliff dwellings from around AD 1200 at the Navajo National Monument.
One of many fast food signs on the Rez, this Burger King with the added benefit of a Code Talkers Museum. I realized the power of these advertisements when for the first time in >20 years I had cravings for fast food.
The Navajo Reservation is a food desert, with little access to fresh produce, easy access to fast food.
Navajo Frybread… had to try it. Ubiquitous on the reservation. Created in the 1860s out of rations given to the Navajo by the US government. Now viewed by many as a traditional food.
Navajo Nation Tribal Government Headquarters in Window Rock, Arizona. They have their own executive, legislative, and judicial systems, as well as their own law enforcement agency.
Inside the Navajo Nation Council Chambers where a committee was voting on a “junk food” tax, which would add an additional 2% tax on sodas/junk foods and eliminate the sales tax on fresh produce/nuts/seeds. It passed this committee vote and is now going to the full Council vote in the coming weeks. Beautiful mural on walls tells the history of the Navajo people.
One of my typical dinners as I lived on the hospital compound in government housing: boxed lentil soups heated with the vegetables that lasted in my fridge from the weekend’s shopping trip.
It was a great month!
I’m now back in San Francisco and gearing up inpatient nights. I’m actually looking forward to it in some ways… part of me misses that hospital.