Canoncito, New Mexico
twoh hah jee leh
Continuing today with Navajo place names, Tóhajiilee is a community located about 35 miles west of Albuquerque in New Mexico and was also known as Cañoncito. It is not physically a contiguous part of the Navajo Reservation, but it maintains a legitimate presence in the Navajo Nation Tribal Government.
This word was chosen to replace Cañoncito in the late 1990s because previous generations of Navajo people drew water (tó) from natural wells that were situated in the area. Members of the community decided that a true Navajo name was more suitable and they were successful in making it official with the various surrounding governments.
What’s interesting is that this trend continues today. Multiple chapters* have adopted Navajo names in lieu of Spanish or English place names in recent years.
Tóhajiilee has also been in the national news recently for its proposed 4000 megawatt solar array project, which would be the largest of its kind on tribal land.
*‘Chapters’ refers to Chapter Houses, which are the local government offices that assume the political affairs of the local (geographical) community. In all, there are 110 chapters that comprise the Navajo Nation.
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