Southeast Utah Bureau | KUER 90.1

Southeast Utah Bureau

A table displays many posters of missing Navajo people.
Courtesy Navajo Nation Missing Persons Updates

Salt Lake resident Cassandra Begay says her family left the Navajo Nation to escape violence on the reservation. But she wasn’t able to leave the issue behind. 

two ornaments with different designs hang from a tree branch. One is a starry sky and the other is turquoise and says “take pride of being indigenous” with a red handprint beneath it.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Twenty-four custom ornaments made the trip from Montezuma Creek to Washington, D.C. to adorn a Christmas tree across from the White House this holiday season. The tree is part of the ‘America Celebrates’ display, which includes the towering National Christmas Tree, and 56 smaller trees, representing every U.S. state and territory. 

Photo of the San Juan County administrative building.
Courtesy of San Juan County

Weber County has completed an investigation into an allegation of electioneering by the San Juan County Clerk. But San Juan will have to find another county to determine whether or not to file charges. 

Aerial view of houses located in valley among red rock formations.
istock / Alena Mozhjer

GALLUP, N.M. — Most people in the United States will receive a letter in the spring asking them to fill out the 2020 census online. But residents of the Navajo Nation will receive a paper questionnaire, hand-delivered to their door. That means the Census Bureau must recruit workers to visit every home on the reservation. 

Two women walk up to a house with dogs running around on red dirt ground.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

There is only one measure on the ballot this year in San Juan County. It asks voters if they think the county should explore changing its form of government, which is currently a three-member commission. That could mean more commissioners and new districts. And that’s got some residents concerned. 

Photo of Bears Ears Buttes.
Erik Neumann

Legal challenges to President Donald Trump’s reduction of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase national monuments may move forward, now that a federal judge has denied the Trump Administration’s requests that the cases be dismissed. 

Photo of oil pump.
iStock.com / DennyThurstonPhotography

Environmental groups are sounding the alarm about a process they say cheats taxpayers and favors the oil and gas industry. The Wilderness Society and Center for Western Priorities say Congress needs to pass legislation to reform the Bureau of Land Management’s oil and gas leasing program.

Photo of Huckabay looking out her window.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

This story has been corrected.

SPANISH VALLEY — When Marlene Huckabay moved to Spanish Valley in 1994, her two-acre lot was little more than a patch of desert with a tar paper shack surrounded by stark, red-rock cliffs.

Photo of a man and woman dancing together in the middle of a red dirt corral as children look on.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

At the White Mesa fairground in central San Juan County, about 50 boys and girls stand opposite each other in a red dirt corral lined with tall cedars. They’re ready to take their first steps in the traditional Bear Dance. But first, they need a partner. 

Photo of former San Juan County CommissionerMark Maryboy at a town hall meeting.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Efforts to change the form of government in San Juan County brought cultural and political tensions to the fore last week, prompting accusations of racism. Former County Commissioner Mark Maryboy, whose brother Kenneth is a county commissioner, called some residents who support the change in county government “racist Mormons,” adding, “They are all probably a member of the Ku Klux Klan.”

Photo of people marching at a rally.
Courtesy of Meskee Yanabah Yatsayte / Navajo Nation Missing Persons Updates

In response to advocates who say the Navajo Nation isn’t doing enough to help families looking for missing loved ones, the nation recently announced plans to improve missing persons investigations. 

Photo of commission meeting.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Updated 1:45 p.m. MDT 8/24/19 

A little more than six months after the swearing-in of San Juan County’s first majority-Navajo County Commission, long-simmering tension brought on by years of distrust, frustration and, at times, prejudice is bubbling over.

Photo of bear returning to wild.
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Updated 1:05 p.m. MDT 8/13/19: Bear activity is up in 2019, according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR). As of July, 29 incidents involving bears had been reported, more than double the number of incidents reported by the same time last year. 

Photo of Peavin Canyon Fire.
Courtesy U.S. Forest Service

The word wildfire tends to invoke fear, but some wildfires are actually good. According to the U.S. Forest Service, the Peavine and Poison Canyon fires currently burning in the Manti-La Sal National Forest will help the environment and act as future fire suppressants.

Photo of construction at Zion National Park.
David Fuchs / KUER

ZION NATIONAL PARK — Just two miles from the town of Springdale, the South Campground at Zion National Park is a stunning place to spend the night: Shielded from the desert sun by cottonwood groves, the campsites are scattered about the banks of the Virgin River and framed against the backdrop of Zion’s towering, red rock canyon walls.

Photo of dancers performing the "Buffalo Dance" at Bears Ears.
Russel Daniels for KUER

BEARS EARS NATIONAL MONUMENT — Dressed in elaborate headpieces made to resemble bison heads, two Pueblo men circled and lunged at each other, their white moccasins kicking up red dirt from the ground. 

As the sun climbed high in the sky, they performed a traditional dance honoring the bison. The ceremony, which is usually held in winter, was the last in an hour-long ceremonial dance to celebrate the Pueblo people’s homecoming to a landscape where their forebears once dwelled. 

Photo of White Mesa Mill in Blanding, Utah
Flickr Creative Commons / Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Uranium mines in Southeast Utah will remain idle — for now — as President Trump has delayed a decision to impose a buy-American quota on U.S. nuclear producers that would have bolstered domestic mining. 

Photo of commissioners.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

The San Juan County Commission met in Monument Valley on Tuesday to conduct its bimonthly meeting. It was the first time the commission has ever met on the Navajo Nation, according to Commissioner Willie Grayeyes. More than 50 people attended the meeting, around two-thirds of whom were Navajo. 

Photo of audience.
Courtesy Jolene Holgate/Missing and Murdered Dine Relatives Co-coordinator

Navajo Nation officials are working to increase efforts to track the number of tribal members who are missing and murdered, as federal legislation to mandate data collection lags in Congress.

KUER Opens Bureaus, Adds Reporters In Southern Utah

Apr 25, 2019
Report For America photo.
Report For America

KUER announced Thursday the station will establish its first regional bureaus — and add two reporters to its ranks — in partnership with the national service program Report For America. Set to open in June, the bureaus will serve audiences in under-covered areas in southwestern and southeastern Utah.

 

Reporters Kate Groetzinger and David Fuchs were selected by RFA and KUER to serve as participants, or “corps members,” in the service program now entering its second year. Though KUER is based in Salt Lake City, both reporters will live in the southern Utah communities served by their bureaus and by KUER’s statewide broadcast signal.

Groetzinger and Fuchs will also lead community engagement projects as part of their service requirement as corps members.

 

KUER’s Southeast Utah Bureau, as it will be known, will be based in San Juan County. The Southwest Utah Bureau will be be based in the St. George area. Both initiatives will focus on local government, public lands and the environment, indigenous issues, faith and spirituality and other topics of relevance to Utahns.

Groetzinger and Fuchs are among 61 reporters placed by RFA in 50 news organizations across 28 states and Puerto Rico. The newly minted corps members were chosen from a highly competitive pool of nearly 1,000 applicants. In keeping with the goals of RFA, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, corps members report on under-covered issues and communities, with the goal of addressing “an urgent need in American journalism at a time when local news deserts threaten our democracy like never before.”

The bureau reporters’ work will be supported by funding from RFA and KUER. In addition, several local partner organizations will offer key resources to support the bureaus, including Radio Dixie at Dixie State University, Utah State University-Blanding and DesignBuildBLUFF, a non-profit working in local housing and education in responsive design and construction.

  

About the reporters:

Kate Groetzinger (Southeast Utah Bureau) joins us from Austin, Texas, where she is completing a master's degree in journalism at the University of Texas at Austin's Moody School of Journalism. She has worked for Austin’s NPR station, KUT, and her work has been published in the Texas Observer, The Austin Chronicle, Quartz, Rhode Island Magazine and Artsy. She has also worked for the Voces Oral History Archive at the University of Texas, collecting and preserving the stories of Latino/a civil rights leaders in Texas. She holds a degree in English from Brown University.