Two decades into a severe drought on the Navajo reservation, the open range around Maybelle Sloan’s sheep farm stretches out in a brown expanse of earth and sagebrush.
A dry wind blows dust across the high-desert plateau, smoke from wildfires in Arizona and California shrouding the nearby rim of the Grand Canyon.
The summer monsoon rains have failed again, and stock ponds meant to collect rainwater for the hot summer months are dry.
There are signs some of the next generation are keeping up ranching traditions.
Some youths simply help their grandparents haul water each day from the sole well for livestock in the Bodaway-Gap area. Still others, including Maybelle’s children, send money from their work off the reservation to help fund their families’ ranches. “Us Indians, we don’t give up really easy,” Maybelle said. “We’re really determined people.”
PHOTO EDITING MARIKA KOCHIASHVILI; TEXT EDITING BY LISA SHUMAKER; LAYOUT JULIA DALRYMPLE