The Tuba City Service Area covers the western part of the Navajo Nation extending from Grey Mountain to the south to Kaibeto in the north. Tuba City is the growth center of the west with Highway 160 going through from the south to the north and Highway 264 coming in from the east. Tuba City got its name from a Hopi Tribal Chief by the name of Toova who lived in nearby Moencopi. Mormon settlers moved into the area in the late 1880s and developed their community, but later had to move out due to land given back to the Navajos by the Federal government.
The Navajos call the community of Tuba as “Tònaneesdìzì” or “Intertwining waters.” The name referred to many irrigation ditches that ran through the gardening fields just south of the present town site. Up to this day, you can still see water sipping out from the bottom of the mesa along the fertile Kerley Valley.
The Grand Canyon is just west of Tuba City, but Dinosaur Tracks is the local attraction that receives thousands of visitors each year which is located seven miles west of the community. Tuba City is also the home of the “Western Navajo Nation Fair” that takes place in mid-October of each year highlighted by the traditional Yei Bi Chei ceremony, carnival and rodeo. It is the third largest fair on the Navajo Nation with its parade attracting near 50,000 people.
Tuba City is the only town sized community with a population of 8,000. The total population in the identified service area is approximately 21,933 people who live on 7,205 square miles of land considered as desert terrain to some high plateaus. This equates to an average population density of only 3.15 people per square mile. The Tuba City Regional Medical Center has estimated that at least 41 percent of the population is diabetic or pre-diabetic. The Navajo people reside in clusters of hogans, trailers,, or solid permanent homes. Some of the homes still do not have electricity, sewer systems, running water, or gas lines.
Although we have a limited staff, we provide diabetes education and prevention through health fairs, nutrition demonstrations, and wellness activities at chapter houses, schools, community centers, community events, and home visits. Most of the success that we’ve had in our Service Area has been through one-on-one education with clients in their own homes.
The annual events in our area include the Youth Day and Elderly Day at the Western Navajo Fair where we provide games for kids and provide health screening for the elderly. We also work very closely with the Indian Health Service Health Promotions in the annual fun run and walk that takes place during the Fair. We’ve sponsored Chili Cook-offs in the past during the Fair and participated in the annual parade with a float and disseminating information to people along the route.
The success story that we would like to share with you is that a year ago, we brought together many vendors and businesses together for nutrition education. We shared our concern with them about trans-fat and cholesterol in some of the fast foods and burritos, especially those sold at flea markets and along the roads. We had a positive response from everyone who attended and they have made positive efforts in selling food cooked with vegetable oils rather than lard.