Water Warriors United

The news has been crippling. Per capita, the Navajo Nation located across a wide swath of Northern Arizona and New Mexico, is experiencing the worst Covid-19 outbreak in the United States. Doctors Without Borders have been dispatched, which in-and-of itself is noteworthy. Very rarely in modern history has the organization gotten involved outside of war zones. The Navajo Nation deals with some considerable infrastructure issues that make fighting a global pandemic especially difficult.

The two counties in Arizona that have the largest Per Capita count of Covid-19 are Navajo and Apache County, the two side by side in the northeastern corner of the State. The Navajo Nation in Arizona is pretty much everything from I-17 East and I-40 North, with the Hopi Nation occuping a bullseye area of the landmass around Keams Canyon.

But some folks have stepped up in these troubling times. Some folks have taken their isolation, their anxiety, and their fears of the unknown, and channeled that energy for good in a time of crisis. Some folks are rising to this challenge, meeting it head on, and in so doing, are making this world a better place. One such person working tirelessly on the Navajo Nation is Zoel Zohnnie, whose organization, Water Warriors United, is taking it upon themselves to get much needed water to the People.


Water Warriors Timeline

April 28th: Zoel Zohnnie posted on his Facebook page:

Good morning Faceboogers!!! Ha. I’ve decided to begin a one-man water hauling operation to help our elders and families on the Rez who can’t haul water for themselves. I’m humbly asking for your help to get the water tank, the hose, the water from NTUA, and gas money I need. I’ve started the campaign with $100 of my own money and will be using my own truck. If you’re able to pitch in there is a PayPal link at the bottom and I will be sharing it throughout the next couple days. I also have CashApp and Zelle. I’ve already partnered with the Shiprock Farmers Market through my good friend Trini King and I’m taking information of people in the 4 Corners area who may need water hauled for them. Thank you all in advance and keep staying safe! 👊🏽😌💛🔆https://www.paypal.me/stoodis

Five hours later he had enough donations to get his first hauling tank and the delivery hose.

May 1st: the Governor of New Mexico shut down all road access to Gallup to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Within two days, Zoel has already received two batches of donations, outfitted his truck with cleaning supplies, and water delivery supplies, and is using social media to learn about other areas of the Nation and their water hauling capabilities, access to potable water. He is already covering the Nation from Farmington, New Mexico to Tuba City, Arizona. Keep in mind, he is largely using back roads, Native roadways, and the elevation change across the Nation can be extreme. Trucks are necessary.

May 4th: With his feet on the ground, and his tires burning across his native land, Zoel sees another problem. Buckets. Many of the elders do not have any way to store the water beyond 5 gallon buckets and 10 gallon tanks. Zoel once again takes to social media looking for barrel drums to deliver more water to the elders.

May 6th: Zoel is able to use donations and pure charisma to make a deal for a 16′ trailer to help in the delivery effort from Navajo Tractor Sales.

May 8th: Water Warriors is up with a donation infrastructure, new water barrels to deliver to remote areas, and a flatbed trailer to haul them on. This is just over a week into his one man operation. While in quarantine, and furloughed from his work as a Boiler Maker. (I mean he can’t be acting in movies, television shows, and Super Bowl commercials all the time.)

May 9th: 40 55 gallon drums appear across Arizona to the Water Warriors effort, and Zoel, needs to go gather em all up. 5 from Benalillo, New Mexico, 3 from Show Low, Arizona, 22 from Prescott, and 10 from Apache Junction. It was supposed to be his day off. By the next morning, he was loaded in Prescott.

May 11th: Doctors Without Borders dispatches team to the Navajo Nation.

May 12th: The President of the Navajo Nation crafts a plan to invest stimulus package on water infrastructure. Those funds are “still in transit” from the Trump administration.

Zoel has lined up ANOTHER 40 barrels for his trade out barrel service across the Nation.

May 13: Enthusiasm is contagious, and Zoel has been taking his project to the social media masses for two weeks. It is inspiring. Actress Busy Phillips contracts him, and donates a SECOND flat bed trailer to the Water Warriors Project.

May 15: Water Warriors have ANOTHER 35 barrels, and Zoel has added a second team to his operation to cover more ground.

May 17: Water Warriors have an official logo, two teams, over a hundred 55 gallon barrels, and are covering water delivery for all outlying areas, and isolated elders on the Nation.

Today is May 19, 2020. Zoel’s one man operation, started on his own funds, while out of work has been in outside of a dream for 21 days. That, my friends, is how we can change the world. These are some of the faces of that effort. This is what Heart looks like.


“Most people just say it, but I really do love my life lately…Thank you all so much for a beautiful week and for helping to restore a little bit of my faith in humanity. It truly does mean a lot in these ridiculously divisive (and tense) times that we’re living in. May you all feel just a slice of the goodness you’re providing to those who are receiving it. I really wish you could see their faces and hear their voices when they accept what’s happening as we deliver their water. It truly is deeply rewarding and absolutely makes the troubles of society fade away.Your gift to them allows them to feel heavenly love from above right in front of me, and that’s exactly the blessing I need. The reminder that my problems are small. That my time here is temporary and that the rewards my soul feels from our giving to those who need it are far more important than anything I could ever give to myself. So thank you for that. Again. I can’t say it enough. And even now I can’t ever convey it through words in the beautiful way that it consumes me in moments like this picture… 😌☺️💙💧

Zoel Zohnnie

Keep the Greasy Side Down