Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Fri, Sept. 18

Kayenta cemetery gets a facelift

The Kayenta Community Beautification Project recently renovated the Kayenta Community Cemetery. Submitted photo

The Kayenta Community Beautification Project recently renovated the Kayenta Community Cemetery. Submitted photo

The Kayenta Community Beautification Project of the Kayenta Township gave the Kayenta Community Cemetery a much-needed upgrade.

Gabriel Yazzie, with the township's Construction and Development Department, said the beautification project was greatly needed. Yazzie said he was up for the challenge to help revive the local cemetery.

"Before changes were made, there was old barbwire fencing everywhere, livestock roamed freely on the cemetery grounds, plots were unorganized, there were weather-damaged grave sites, access to the cemetery was rough and the biggest problem was drainage of water from storms," Yazzie said.

In May 2012, the township made the cemetery project a priority and improvements to the grounds began. Initially, the project was designed similar to the Flagstaff Cemetery in Flagstaff, Ariz., but the project was scaled back because of a limited budget.

Yazzie, with direction from Town Manager Andre Cordero, expedited the project.

"It was overwhelming at first," explained Yazzie. "But we knew the community wanted a new cemetery to place their loved ones at."

The cemetery is now fenced in with beautiful white three-rail fencing, a custom-made 16-foot iron gate with a walkthrough gate and a redirected drainage system. The site improvements also include a much larger gravel-lined parking area.

Yazzie explained the biggest challenge with this project was identifying the unnamed existing grave plots.

"We encourage individuals or families who have loved ones buried at the cemetery to come forward and help us in identifying the sites," said Yazzie. "To help with organizing future plots, the township offers assistance by meeting with family members, help them locate an area and help prepare the site - all with no fee required."

Yazzie said the community has shown their support and gratitude. Many have volunteered to pick up trash around the cemetery. The township has placed dumpsters at the cemetery for trash disposal.

"Improvements to the cemetery continue and the project has come a long way. This was made possible with patience and hard work," said Yazzie. "The new cemetery is clean, organized and is a place for Kayenta community members to place their loved ones."

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