This is home, this is where I come from. Our stories, our teachings, and our clans revolve around the land and the water, and they are sacred and they need to be protected. In my early teens, I began to understand how coal and uranium mining affected my people including my own grandfather, who died from lung cancer. I knew then I wanted to make a commitment to protect and conserve the waters, air, and land for future generations. Therefore, I have chosen to live within the Colorado Plateau, and work and volunteer with numerous environmental advocacy organizations including Diné C.A.R.E., Black Mesa Water Coalition, Save the Confluence, and Grand Canyon Trust. As an avid hiker and explorer, I find every opportunity to be outside where I feel most content. These photos portray my connection to these landscapes. They portray the beauty, the sacredness, the quietness, and the untold stories of the Indigenous peoples of these lands. Yet, these lands and waters are constantly threatened by resource extraction, and therefore, I feel the need to advocate for clean and clean water and provide a voice and perspective for the Indigenous peoples that have been ignored and forgotten. This is home. We are still here.
Colleen Cooley is Diné, from Blue Gap and Shonto, Arizona. She is Kinyaa'áanii (Towering House), born for Lók'aa' Dine'é (Reed People), her maternal grandfather’s clan is Tó'aheedlíinii (Water that Flows Together), and her paternal grandfather’s clan is Tł'izi'łání (Manygoats). Colleen is a strong advocate for renewable energy, recycling, and sustainable initiatives on the Navajo Nation. Colleen is also a river guide on the San Juan River, an amateur photographer, and most recently has advocated for the inclusion of Indigenous and women voices in various spaces.