WATER IS K'É
Water is K’é elevates the central role of water to each Diné person’s identity, physical and spiritual health, celebrating Indigenous strength to bring about positive change.
The relationship between people and their environment is a major determinant of health. On Navajo Nation, decades of uranium mining and unsafe levels of uranium and arsenic documented in household water sources have led to long-standing concerns about water contamination and the public water system. Lack of access to clean water along with aggressive marketing of sugar-sweetened beverages are significant drivers of disparities related to childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes risk. Diet-related diseases are on the rise among Indigenous youth, particularly in communities affected by food and water insecurity.
Yet, Diné people maintain a vital relationship with water through Diné culture. COPE conducted a community assessment and found that a majority of adults felt it is important to incorporate traditional Diné values and teachings when deciding what food and beverages to offer their children. Many people connected water (Tó) to their identity as Diné people and expressed a need to revitalize Diné lifeways, which had been disrupted by the introduction of Western diets and culture. This highlights the importance of Diné teachings on influencing healthy choices.
Based on community input, our team concluded that promoting water in Navajo communities is not only vital for physical health, but for spiritual health as well. COPE implemented Water is K’é, a community-based intervention designed to promote healthy beverage consumption and decrease sugary beverages among Navajo preschool children. COPE creates and distributes healthy beverage kits to any community stakeholder or organization such as schools. The kits include an infused pitcher, cutting board, gloves, knife, cups, $25 gift card and apron.
Along with the healthy beverage kits, our team has worked to promote water in the communities through healthy beverage demos (infused water and smoothies), joining the November NB3 Water Challenge, creating local champion posters, and participating in community events.
We are currently working with our Water is K’e Community Advisory Group to create a curriculum/toolkit that parents can complete at home with their children or with ECE teachers in the classroom.
Our Water is K’é work is primarily conducted by our research partner Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), which is the research arm of COPE. Our supporters include Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation, and MEDICC.
Tó Kits Distributed
Water Champion Posters
We created Water Champion Posters to encourage water consumption among children and the community. Navajo champions from within the community emphasized the importance of water for each poster, which were printed and distributed at local organizations, health clinics, chapter houses, schools and other public areas. Click on the posters below to download and share!
"Our lives began with water, the Earth is water and we are born of water"
Video credit: Parvannah Lee & Shine Salt
"Without water, nothing is possible"
Video credit: Louise Benally
CARMEN GEORGE, COPE MEQ & RESEARCH MANAGER, JOINS LAUREN DEL CIELLO IN THE TALKING UNDER WATER PODCAST AS A PART OF THEIR VALUE OF WATER SERIES.
The podcast was produced by the Scranton Gillette Communications Water Group, editors of Water Quality Products (WQP), Water & Wastes Digest (WWD) and Storm Water Solutions (SWS). The podcast episode was scripted by WQP Managing Editor Lauren Del Ciello and edited by WWD Senior Managing Editor Bob Crossen.