Federal Goverment Jeopardizes Navajo Family's Ties To Its Land : Code Switch : NPR: At 89 years old, Stella Peshlakai Smith shuffles around her Arizona yard in white tennis shoes and a long traditional Navajo skirt. She points to her ceremonial home, called a hogan. "My father made this one [almost 100 years ago]," Smith says. Her modern house sits next door.
Over the past few centuries, families settled on what is now the Wupatki National Monument in Flagstaff, Ariz. The National Park Service says Smith is the only person authorized to live on that land. She was born a year before the land became a national monument and the Park Service has given her special permission to stay.
Her descendants want the right to live there, too, but the Park Service has told them they will have to leave when Smith dies.
Five generations have buried their umbilical cords here, a Navajo tradition that ties them to the land. After the U.S. Army forced thousands of Navajos to walk 400 miles to Fort Sumner in the 1860s, the Peshlakai family settled here.