Category Archives: Animals

Navajo Rez Dog Rescuer Up for $50,000 award!

“Growing up in Salt Lake City, Darrell McCurtain always looked forward to visiting his relatives in Salina Springs and Rough Rock, Arizona … except for the dogs. With their mismatched ears, multi-colored coats and legs that were either too short or too long, the rez mutts were fantastical creatures to McCurtain, who was used to seeing the purebred dogs in the city.” C. Yurth, The Navajo Times

Darrell, a Navajo tribe member himself, works to improve the conditions for pets on the reservations by working with the Navajo Nation, Ute Ouray Nation, Ute Mountain Nation. YouTube

Excerpt: Rez dog rescuer up for international ‘Unsung Hero’ award By Cindy Yurth, Navajo Times

“But so many of them were bony, limping, or worse — dead alongside the highway — that the young McCurtain would sometimes leave his ancestral homeland feeling depressed. McCurtain’s love of animals persisted into adulthood, and he found himself volunteering at Nuzzles & Co., a beautiful “rescue ranch” in Park City, Utah. Eventually he worked his way into a job as the shelter’s director of intake and community outreach. Nuzzles did a good job of pulling pets from nearby kill shelters, rehabilitating them and finding them forever homes

But McCurtain’s thoughts often wandered back to the reservation, where the shelters euthanized many more dogs than they saved and people often let animals out in the desert when they couldn’t afford to care for them. In 2014, McCurtain talked his bosses into making a rescue trip down to the Navajo Nation…’They were surprised at the need on the rez,’ he recalled.

Darrell and a rescue

McCurtain also wasn’t above using his status as a tribal member to make some connections and get Nuzzles into places the average tourist never sees…The rescue now visits the reservation once a month, and usually the Ute Mountain Ute animal shelter in Towoac, Colorado, as well, and fills up its van for the eight-hour drive back to the rescue ranch. If the crew sees a dog in critical need on the street, they’ll pick it up, but in deference to Navajo Nation law, they’ll usually pull from existing rescues on the reservation…Once at the ranch, they’re vaccinated, fixed, treated for fleas, ticks and parasites, and learn how to walk on a leash and be around people and other dogs before being adopted out…While on the rez, McCurtain talks to as many people as he can about the necessity of getting their animals vaccinated and spayed or neutered.

Generally, rescue is pretty thankless work. So McCurtain was surprised when, on one of his missions to the reservation,he [found out that ] he was one of five nominees internationally for Petco Foundation’s Unsung Hero award [and] the final winner would receive $50,000 for their organization… McCurtain said if he wins and Nuzzles is awarded $50,000, he’d like to put it all toward the rez dogs.”

To Vote (or adopt a pet) visit NUZZLES & CO.


Don’t Forget:

Democratic President Elect Joe Biden 2020

“When I announced my campaign one year ago today, I said we were in a battle for the soul of the nation.  One year later, that is as true as it has ever been. I believe we can and we will emerge from this crisis a stronger, better, and fairer nation. Together, as one America.”

~Democratic Presidential Leader Joe Biden~

U.S. Presidential Election: VOTE NOVEMBER 3,  2020

Resource Sites for the COVID-19:


COVID-19 Tracker in the United States: Story summaries, lists of closures, resources. Last update5/16/20   Information Here

COVID-19 financial strain? Here are resources in 50 states

If you are interested in Indian Country Today’scontinued coverage of COVID-19, please feel free to access our continually updated Coronavirus syllabus.

(See related: Indian Country’s COVID-19 syllabus)

Where to begin?

After extensive research, the most comprehensive and user-friendly website for finding assistance from a multitude of programs is arguably

Basic information.

Indian Health Service

National Congress of American Indians

National Indian Health Board


Category: Animals | Tags: ,

Large Number of Feral Horses Dead on Navajo Land in Arizona

“Approximately 191 feral horses have been found dead in a stock pond on Navajo land in northern Arizona, according to Navajo leaders, who attributed the death to ongoing drought and famine. ‘These animals were searching for water to stay alive. In the process, they unfortunately burrowed themselves into the mud and couldn’t escape because they were so weak,’ Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez said in a statement on Thursday.” A. Vera, CNN

Approximately 191 feral horses were found dead at a stock pond on Navajo land in Arizona.

Excerpt: Nearly 200 dead horses found on Navajo land in Arizona, By Amir Vera, CNN

“Some of the horses were found thigh- to neck-deep in the mud at the stock pond in Gray Mountain, according to Nina Chester, a staff assistant for the office of the president and vice president. Hydrated lime will be spread over the animals to speed up decomposition. They will be buried on-site, the statement said.

The Navajo community in Arizona has had to contend with a growing feral horse population of about 50,000 to 70,000, according to the statement…Horses dying at the Gray Mountain stock pond isn’t new, Navajo officials said. It’s a seasonal issue.

An intense drought hit the southwestern United States this year, creating dry conditions in northern New Mexico and southwestern Arizona, according to CNN affiliate KNXV-TV. A drought emergency was declared for the Navajo Nation in March.”

Category: Animals | Tags:

Navajo Ranchers: “We Need to Manage Feral Horses”

“The March 1, Navajo Times covered the feral horse issue (Hunt canceled, feral horses a growing problem, page A1). Here’s a response by a guy with the name of a horse. In 2013, I helped the Department of Agriculture with a horse roundup. We had a crew that rounded up horses in 54 chapters. That was five years ago. Why is the president just now stating, ‘We do need to implement a horse management plan’? The plan should have been done in 2013.'”The Navajo Times

Navajo ranchers wrestle a feral horse. High Country News

Excerpt:  Feral Horses…The Navajo Times

“He also stated, ‘Horse management plan includes castration, birth control and adoptions.’ The option is ludicrous. Sounds good but each animal will continue eating 32 pounds of forage and drinking 10 gallons of water per day. We need forage and water for livestock that bring us revenue. Rez ranch life has its challenges. Can’t speak for other producers but for me it’s too many wild, unbranded, unclaimed feral horses, followed by drought and open range.

Horses wait in a cement culvert along Highway 160 for a Navajo Nation agriculture horse trailer. Navajo-Hopi Observer

Trying every strategic planning to improve beef cattle business isn’t working. Open range is a terrible way to make a living raising livestock on the rez, financially that is. In the summer months I spend money feeding, watering, buying salt blocks and range cakes for my cattle.

But in open range, the major concern is many, many feral horses at Oakridge Wildhorse Country Ranch. Named the ranch for many feral horses that nobody owns. I have horses for ranch work; I don’t need more than three.

Feral horses deplete natural springs at Oakridge. I want to ask the guy from Betatakin to come get the feral horses. I’ll help with the roundup and trucking…BIA and Navajo Nation will continue blaming everything and everyone except the fact that they allow resource mismanagement to continue for almost a century.”

Category: Animals

A Kind Vet Helps The Native Horses on Standing Rock

“Arlene Grey Bear took Lucky and Rue and Kennedy to the rodeo grounds in Fort Yates, N.D., on the Standing Rock Reservation — Lucky and Rue, her ponies, for a checkup, Kennedy, her 16-year-old granddaughter, to help. And to learn…Ms. Grey Bear is a Lakota teacher at an elementary school nearby… if a lot of our kids don’t know our language, it gets lost. That concern about heritage, and what might get lost, extends to teaching the children about horses. In our culture horses are well respected…We’re supposed to take care of our horses the right way. We teach our kids: You take care of your horse first. The horse’s needs before yours.”V. J. Blue, The New York Times

On a ranch in Mandaree, N.D., stallions in a corral await a visit from the vet.Credit Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

Excerpt: The Horses on Standing Rock Get a Checkup, By Victor J. Blue The New York Times

But how do you take care of the horses if there isn’t a vet nearby? There are no full-time veterinarians on the Standing Rock Reservation, let alone specialists in equine health.

Dr. Davis wants young people in Standing Rock to get involved, and perhaps even see veterinary medicine as a career.Credit V. Blue NYT

Enter Dr. Eric Davis, a veterinarian at the University of California, Davis, and the director of Rural Veterinary Experience Teaching and Service, a program that has since 2011 sent veterinary students to clinics at farms, rodeo grounds and homes to provide free or reduced-cost care for horses. ‘We seek out places where other people don’t go,’ Dr. Davis said. ‘I think that you have the opportunity to do the most good if you go to a place that has the least resources.’

There are no full-time veterinarians on the Standing Rock Reservation, let alone specialists in equine health.Credit V. Blue NYT

The care the volunteer vets provide is essential: treating wounds, fixing teeth and trimming hooves — key to keeping the horses healthy on the Plains. Dr. Davis and his students also geld stallions, which can become uncontrollable without the procedure. For the students, Dr. Davis said, it is ‘hands on, get blood on your gloves’ training.’

Dr. Davis uses a headlamp to check the teeth of a pony on a farm on the Standing Rock Reservation.. Credit V. Blue NYT

The goal is bigger than just providing care, though. Dr. Davis wants young people in Standing Rock to get involved and perhaps even see veterinary medicine as a career.’I would love it if I can help get students, reservation youth, more interested in doing things with horses,’  he said. But he added that doing that when ‘you are the old white guy on the reservation,’ can be difficult:  ‘I don’t know what to say or what to do or how to act. And I’d be faking it if I tried to, and I can’t fake stuff.’ He hopes that will change next year, as the first Lakota recruit will join the program from the Cheyenne River Reservation. He also wants his students, many of them from urban areas, to see what rural practice is like.

Dr. Victor Urbiola anesthetizes a horse on a farm in Bottineau, N.D. Credit V. Blue NYT

On a Friday evening after a day of work earlier this year, the students headed to a powwow at Porcupine, on the Standing Rock Reservation. They bought fry bread and tacos and sat in the stands, taking in the traditional Lakota dances. ‘We have very few students that come from a background of farming, where people have to work and struggle,’ Dr. Davis said.

The care the volunteer veterinarians provide is essential- treating wounds, fixing teeth and trimming hooves — key to keeping these horses healthy on the Plains. Credit V. Blue NYT

Credit V. Blue NYT

‘I can give students the chance to look,” Dr. Davis said. “Whether they see or not is kind of up to them.”


Category: Animals

Don’t Miss The Seneca White Deer Tour This Month!

“Bus tours of the former Seneca Army Depot, are about to get going again. The people taking the tours will likely be looking for a particular attraction…it is the white deer, of course, that have generated so much chatter and photos online in recent years.” R.  Gorbman, WSKG-NPR

Seneca White Deer-photo- wikipedia

Excerpt: Seneca Army Depot Tours Begin Later This Month, Randy Gorbman, WSKG-NPR

“The former army depot in Seneca County hasn’t been used for military purposes in a number of years but a local farm equipment company owner, Earl Martin, bought several thousand acres of the former depot and created Deer Haven Park, which he hopes will be a tourist attraction, since there already is a lot of interest in the white deer herd, an unusual genetic variation located at that site.

Seneca White Deer-photo: Ithaca Journal

Dennis Money is president of the organization Seneca White Deer. He says last time they did a count a couple of years ago, there were about 75 white deer, and the number is likely less than that now. But he says tour-goers still have a decent chance to see them.

‘We don’t guarantee you’re going to see a white deer, and I tell people, this is not a Walt Disney movie, we don’t have them tied to every tree. This is real life, some days you’re going to see a bunch and some days you’re going to see one,’ Money told WXXI News.

Money says the whole idea of the tours, which were last held about five years ago, is to not only showcase the white deer, but the rich military and civilian history of that property.

The Seneca White Deer are rare.

“We’re going to be creative, we’re going to come up with different ideas, we’ve already talked about having biking trips and photography trips and teaching classes in wildlife biology.”

The tours begin on November 16. You can get more information at


Category: Animals

Using Wild Horses to Tame Wild Inmates

“There’s a term in the horse world known as ‘gentling.’ It refers to working with a wild horse until it becomes responsive to a trainer’s commands, meaning that it no longer wants to kick you in the face. If handled properly, it even bonds with its trainer. Gentling happens every day at the Silver State Industries ranch in Carson City, Nevada…. Up to 2,000 wild horses are corralled there at any time; a good number are trained for adoption. The ranch is part of the Northern Nevada Correctional Center, a medium-security prison that also houses minimum-security inmates. Twelve to 15 inmates, most of whom have little or no experience with horses, work under the instruction of a cowboy named Hank Curry. It is the inmates who do the gentling.”S. Kurutz, The New York Times

Gentling refers to working with a wild horse until it becomes responsive to a trainer’s commands. Sometimes the trainer and the horse bond. Credit Ryan Shorosky for The New York Times

Excerpt: Wild Horses and the Inmates Who ‘Gentle’ Them, by Steven Kurutz, The New York Time

John Harris, an inmate who is taking part in the program, grew up on a family farm in Northern Iowa, so he wasn’t a stranger to livestock. A mustang is not a barn horse, however. Often they are terrified, skittish and incredibly strong willed from having survived in the wild.

The inmates work under the direction of Hank Curry. Credit Ryan Shorosky for The New York Times

When he started in the Wild Horse Program at the prison two years ago, ‘I was a lot more aggressive with my training,’ Mr. Harris said. ‘I wanted something done now. That don’t work. You have to take your time.”’

He credited Mr. Curry for his softer approach: ‘Hank had to kind of gentle me.’Mr. Curry, who is 67, no longer sees his job as strictly horse trainer, as he once did. Instead, he said, ‘I’m a counselor, a teacher, a horse trainer. You establish pride in the guy and pride in his job, he’s going to be a lot more successful when he gets out of here.’ Most of the inmates he works with are nonviolent offenders, with sentences of two years or less, and they signed up for the job.

Inmates train their assigned horses at the Stewart Conservation Camp in Carson City, Nev.

‘I’m fortunate,’ Mr. Curry said. ‘I don’t have to deal with big-time punks.’ Everyone involved in the program recognizes the symbolism: the way the horses and the inmates are both penned up and how through the training process they rehabilitate one another.

Wearing dusty Levi’s, work boots and hand-me-down chaps, the inmates clean stalls and repair gear. They water and feed the horses and undertake the slow process of earning a wild animal’s trust. It’s dirty, bruising work in blazing heat. The Wild Horse Program at the prison isn’t unique. There are programs like it in Arizona, Colorado, California, Kansas and Wyoming.

It’s one of the ways the Bureau of Land Management is dealing with a population of mustangs and wild burros in the Western states that, after the 2017 foal crop, could be as high as 86,000.

Wild horses in Navada.

The inmates’ work culminates every four months with an adoption day for the public. The inmates put on a big rodeo intro, waving flags and riding around a roofed arena, showing off to the bidders in the bleachers their horses and, by extension, their equestrian skills. They have a competition as to whose horse will fetch the most money ($15,000 is the record).

There’s a lot of guys, they wish they could adopt out a horse themselves, because they’ve got that bond with them, said Mr. Harris… Me, personally, I just like seeing them getting adopted out.  ‘I look at them like us: I helped the horse become a better person so he can make parole.”

Category: Animals