Tsegi Canyon

In far Northern Arizona on the Navajo Nation lies an archaeologically rich canyon, called Tsegi. Steeped in a rich cultural history tucked into the alcoves of these steep sandstone walls, this beautiful and remote canyon is home to a handful of Navajo ranching families who have, for generations, run cattle, sheep, and horses on the lush fertile grasses of the canyon floor. Slowly at first, these families began to see the land literally wash away before their eyes.

Armed with new knowledge and a desire to heal the land, these families recognized that the warning signs were too important to ignore. In the fall of 2018, the families launched a pilot project to see what could be done. Starting with 1,000 acres, then growing to many more, the livestock was temporarily removed, and native plants were planted in strategic locations to bring the watershed back to ecological health. The willows, cottonwoods, and wetland grasses have returned, and with them the sounds and signs of migrating birds, frogs, and native wildlife that symbolize a healthy ecosystem.

The families throughout Tsegi were so taken by how quickly the land had begun to heal, that they decided to continue the project on an additional 5,000 acres. Their story is about choosing to make a sacrifice for something larger than their ranching income. They have chosen to bring the medicine back to the land and heal.

This film quietly reveals the story of the restoration of Tsegi Canyon and inspires a movement to bring medicine back to the landscape before it’s too late.