SHIPROCK — Alyza Yellowhorse’s face lit up when she saw her new pair of Nike shoes. She opened the orange box and showed the shoes to her father.
“Yesterday she talked about it, that she was going to buy some new shoes. She’s excited and happy to have them,” said Daron Shorty, Yellowhorse’s father. “She said she couldn’t wait.”
Former Governor Bill Richardson delivered 300 pairs of Nike shoes on July 8 to Dream Diné Charter School in Shiprock. The shoes will be donated to students at the school and distributed to children in six Navajo Nation communities.
Pandora Watchman, the school’s chief administrator, said many students came from low-income families and parents could not afford shoes. The donation therefore helps them.
“They need a good pair of shoes to wear, play outside and work outside,” Watchman said.
Governor Richardson-Peterson Zah COVID-19 Navajo Families Relief Fund partnered with the Notah Begay III Foundation, Nike N7 Fund and Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma to purchase the shoes.
“In this part of the state, there are no shoe stores, so Navajo families have to travel to border towns to get their groceries,” Richardson said, adding that the drive can take up to three hours for families.
“We know a lot of students need quality shoes,” the former governor said.
Richardson established the relief fund in April 2020 to help provide essential supplies and equipment to the New Mexico portion of the Navajo Nation to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
The NB3 Foundation, founded by professional golfer Notah Begay III, provided administrative support and a 50% shoe discount for the project, according to information from the Richardson-Zah relief fund.
Thanks to the discount, the group was able to purchase more shoes that will be provided to children in a second distribution, Richardson said.
In addition to the shoes, Dream Diné received a $10,000 grant from Good Sports, a national nonprofit organization that creates access to sports and fitness opportunities for children in need.
Watchman said the school is developing physical activity programs and the grant will boost that project.
Shiprock resident Duane “Chili” Yazzie explained that Richardson was no stranger to the Navajo people.
Yazzie explained that during his tenure, Richardson participated in parades at the Northern Navajo Nation Fair and assisted the tribe with several initiatives and resources.
“We adopted this man a long time ago, so we’re welcoming him home. … By the way, Bill, my shoe size is eight,” Yazzie said with a laugh.
The joke didn’t escape Richardson, who after thanking the NB3 Foundation and the Nike N7 Fund for the shoe purchase, said there might be a size eight available for Yazzie.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for the Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at [email protected]
Support local journalism with a digital subscription to The Daily Times.