The Chinle Service Area covers the central part of the Navajo Nation. Due to its central location, it is referred to as the “Heart of the Navajo Nation.” The name Chinle comes from the Navajo pronunciation of “Ch’inìlì” which refers to the water coming out of Canyon De Chelly. The canyon gets its name from the Spaniards that explored the area in the 1600s because of the jagged edges of the canyon. There are actually two canyons that join together. The northern canyon is called “Canyon Del Muerto” or “Canyon of the Dead” referring to massacres of Navajos in caves. It is also the home of Fortress Rock where Navajos hid from soldiers in 1863-64 when Kit Carson rampaged through the canyon and destroyed Navajo crops and livestock. It was the last strong hold of the Navajos before they surrendered to the United States Army.
Canyon De Chelly is an international attraction with tourists that come from all parts of the world. The canyon is unique because of its awesome walls, but one can go to the bottom via a trail or tour trucks. Many Navajo families still graze their livestock and have fields in the canyon where they grow peaches, melons, corn and many other crops.
The Chinle Service Area has a population of over 29,000 and we provide education, prevention, and wellness services that include health screening for blood glucose, high blood pressure, and cholesterol. These services are carried out by health fairs in collaboration with other health entities from the Indian Health Service, the Navajo Nation, County and State. We have a wellness center in Many Farms which is utilized on a daily basis from within the community and surrounding areas such as Chinle, Rough Rock, and Round Rock.
Parts of the Chinle Service Area are pretty remote and isolated, accessible only by dirt, country roads that extend for miles, especially in the Pinon, Arizona areas. Although there is a Health Clinic in the community, major medical services is located in Chinle. For some people this may be 60 miles away. During inclement weather, it takes up to three hours for medical help to arrive, and therefore, it is important for our staff readily available for emergency situations where they can provide assistance with referrals, or sometimes with transportation.
The Chinle Service Area is home of the annual “Mobilizing to Defeat Diabetes from Four Directions.” This was initiated by the late Leroy Halwood to make people aware of the need to prevent diabetes by changing their lifestyle through movement. “Mobilizing to Defeat Diabetes from Four Directions” takes place during the third Friday in November. The first leg starts with bikers taking off towards Chinle anywhere from 20-25 miles away. They are joined at the second stage by horseback riders seven to 10 miles from Chinle. Runners then join in as the third leg at five miles from the finish line and walkers begin three miles out and they all converge on Chinle at the Chapter House. While people are mobilizing towards the Chapter House, there are diabetes education booths, prevention information, entertainment, and special presentation by speakers taking place for spectators and family members of those participating. For the past three years, there have been over 800 participants in the event.