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Local Diné activist wins environmental award

Nicole Horseherder
Tó Nizhóní Ání
Sacred Water Speaks
Nicole Horseherder

Local Diné activist Nicole Horseherder receives the national Heinz Award for the Environment today. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports, the thirty-year-old award honors people who have made outstanding contributions in art, economy, and the environment.

Horseherder is the first Navajo and second Native American to win the award. She founded of the nonprofit group Tó Nizhóní Ání which has fought to protect water on the Navajo and Hopi Nations and now focuses on the transition to clean energy.

Of the award, she says many Indigenous leaders are connected to their traditional teachings about how to live in harmony with the Earth. "I hope that they carry it forward and voice it as clearly as possible, because… we carry the solutions with us. It’s just we never had a voice big enough to be heard. We’ve always been collateral damage in the history of this nation."

The Heinz Award is named for late U.S. Senator John Heinz and is managed by his family foundation. It comes with a cash prize of $250,000.

Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.