The Nalgene company (Water is Life) bottle will support efforts to combat the ongoing water crisis on the Navajo Nation. It is the second bottle created by Redhair, a Stanford engineering student
Press announcements from Nalgene.com
The Nalgene Water Fund (NWF) has announced a new design within the “Tó éí iiná” (Water is Life) limited-edition series created by Diné designer Jaden Redhair. Five dollars of every bottle sale will continue to go toward supporting local nonprofits addressing the water crisis on the Navajo Nation.
According to The Navajo Water Project, 30% of Navajo families live without running water. Incredibly, they are 67 times more likely than other Americans to live without running water or a toilet. Nalgene Outdoor partnered with Redhair in 2020 to create the first artist-designed, limited-edition bottle for the NWF. After record sales and multiple rounds of reprints, the NWF has donated nearly $80,000, to date, to two nonprofit partners on the Navajo Nation that work to make safe drinking water more accessible, DigDeep and Community Outreach and Patient Empowerment (COPE).
“I’m so pleased that my passion for design can educate so many people outside of the Navajo Nation about the essential role of water in our culture and continue to help raise funds toward improving access to clean water for our people,” says Redhair, age 22, an accomplished Navajo artist and recent Stanford University graduate, born for the Jemez Clan.
The new limited-edition “Tó éí iiná” (Water is Life) bottle is available exclusively at Nalgene.com and retails for $20. The 32-ounce Sustain™ bottle is made from Eastman’s Tritan Renew™ material derived from 50% recycled plastic. Like all Nalgene bottles, it is leakproof, dishwasher-safe and ready for all of life’s everyday adventures.
“We’re thankful to have partners like Jaden Redhair, who can create amazing designs and DigDeep and COPE, who can immediately put the money into the Navajo community, creating jobs, installing water systems, and benefiting the Navajo people,” says Elissa McGee, general manager, Nalgene Outdoor.
Interview with Jaden Redhair about the “Tó éí iiná” (Water is Life) Limited-Edition Bottle (his second design)
Posted from the Nalgene website located here
In late 2020, Nalgene Outdoor partnered with Jaden Redhair, an accomplished Navajo artist born for the Jemez Clan, to create the first artist-designed limited-edition bottle for the Nalgene Water Fund (NWF). Five dollars of every bottle sold went into the Nalgene Water Fund, which supports domestic communities struggling with access to clean water. After record sales and multiple rounds of reprints, to date, the Nalgene Water Fund has donated nearly $80,000 between two nonprofit partners on the Navajo Nation, DigDeep and Community Outreach and Patient Empowerment (COPE). Inspired by the first bottle’s success and the outpouring of support to the Navajo Nation, Jaden created a second design for the “Tó éí iiná” (Water is Life) limited-edition series, a striking coyote silhouette. Nalgene Outdoor sat down with Jaden, now age 22 and a graduate student, to check in and learn more about the inspiration behind his new design.
What have you been up to since you designed your first bottle for the Nalgene Water Fund?
Time has flown! I earned my undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in spring 2022. This past summer, I worked at Kimley-Horn, an engineering consulting firm. I return to Stanford this fall to start a Master’s degree program.
What inspired the Coyote design?
In addition to graphic design, I also love photography. I was inspired to use a past photo I took of the night sky across Asaayi Lake in New Mexico. I thought about the many stories we have as Diné people and wanted to share the idea behind one of them. The shape of a coyote draws from the Navajo story that the stars in the night sky were scattered in place by a coyote.
What does “Tó éí iiná” (Water is Life) mean to you?
To me, “Tó éí iiná” means that all things in nature are connected through water. It is how we survive and how the world around us is all interconnected.
You have several younger siblings. What is your hope for them as they continue to grow up on Navajo Nation?
I hope that my siblings strive for their goals and contribute to help the Navajo Nation thrive. They each have their own path and wherever that may lead them, I’ll be there to support them.
You’re an amazing young man! What is your hope for the future?
I hope that through my efforts as a designer and engineer, I inspire more native youth to make it a mission to help their communities in any way they can. We need to take care of our nation so that future generations will persevere and thrive in an ever-changing world. Our culture is what holds us together, and positive change will have everlasting effects for years to come.
Interview with Redhair about his first design, the “Tó éí iiná” bottle
Posted from the Nalgene website located here
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Jaden Redhair and I am from Window Rock, Arizona, the capital of the Navajo Nation. At home, I live with my parents and six younger siblings. I am currently a Junior at Stanford University studying Electrical Engineering. My family is everything to me – Not just my parents and siblings but my extended family – I am fortunate to still know my great-grandmother. My youngest sibling is eight. I think they were the most excited to see my Nalgene bottle design. When the bottles arrived, my dad created vinyl name stickers for each of my siblings. They were like, “Woah, this is mine! This is mine!”
What do you want the world to know about Navajo Nation?
My home is in the news because so many people still struggle for basic rights such as access to water. The Nalgene Water Fund is helping to raise awareness that people on U.S. soil don’t always have clean water. This is really important for people to know, and so is the fact that our community is very unique. The people make Navajo Nation what it is. We have a kinship – or clan – system. At birth, we are each given four different clans. They are from our mother, father, paternal grandfather, and maternal grandfather. This kinship allows us to have relations with others regardless of bloodline. No matter where we are in the Navajo Nation, we can find a relative somewhere and be able to connect with them. We believe in taking care of one another. For me, water really is life! I am from the Jemez Clan and born for the Charcoal Streaked of the Red Running into the Water Clan. My maternal grandfather’s clan is Water’s Edge and my
paternal grandfather’s clan is Bitter Water.
What was your inspiration behind your design on the Nalgene bottle?
Graphic design is a passion of mine. My dad is the graphic design teacher at the high school in Window Rock. I took three years of design courses and it gave me a way to express what is important to me. In high school, as part of my community service, I designed posters for COPE [a local Navajo non-profit]. When COPE recommended me to the Nalgene Water Fund to design a bottle, I was so honored! I could use my passion for the good of my people. In thinking about the design, primarily I wanted to create something that speaks to people who don’t know anything about the Navajo Nation. I want to share what Navajo Nation stands for and convey what makes our land and way of life so special. A critical part of my design is the Navajo (wedding) basket or Ts’aa’ in Navajo language (on the Nalgene bottle this is the star-centered object above the mountain). I sought counsel from my grandmother to explain its significance. The basket is traditionally used for rituals and a vessel for ceremonial acts for life’s milestones. For example, during a wedding ceremony the basket holds the food when cornmeal mush is exchanged; or as part of a Kinaalda, what we call the coming of age ceremony for a young woman. I selected colors that felt like the desert to me. I chose to include Monument Valley, an incredible Navajo landscape because of its presence in movies, particularly Transformers. That was a really big blockbuster movie, so it’s recognizable.
You named the bottle “Water is Life.” Why?
“Tó éí iiná” (Water is Life) encompasses the sacred need for nature, especially for Native American people. We Navajos were the original caretakers of the land in what is now known as Arizona. Water is an essential source of understanding how the land worked and how to sustainably live off it. Water is an important part of the Navajo Nation – to grow food, to nourish the circle of life. We can’t understate the importance of water. Nothing can exist without water. And still, I had classmates in my high school who had no running water at home and had to drive miles to refill containers to just cook food, never mind bathe or brush their teeth.
What can the rest of the world do to best help the Navajo Nation?
Going to Stanford, I’ve met so many different students and they’ve said “Oh I didn’t even know Native Americans were still around.” The first step is awareness and understanding that we are still here and still thriving. We are still pushing to survive and it’s a daily struggle for some of us. Starting with that awareness, we’ll be able to identify the problems and work together to create solutions.
About the Nalgene Water Fund (NWF)
The NWF supports domestic communities struggling with access to clean water by partnering with grassroots nonprofits to raise funds and awareness. As Nalgene Outdoor proudly makes its products in the USA, the fund aims to support local communities. NWF donations are not just monetary, but also in-kind support with a focus on benefiting the community and infrastructure for future success. Nalgene Outdoor created the reusable water bottle category over 50 years ago with a simple idea that we can refill drinking water in reusable containers to help the environment. Yet, clean water for all is critical to this mission.
Since its inception in late 2019, the NWF, with the support of Thermo Fisher Scientific, has contributed more than $650,000 in financial and in-kind donations to programs in Navajo Nation, Benton Harbor, MI and most notably to helping establish the Flint Community Water Lab in Flint, MI, a unique water quality testing program.
About Our Partners
DigDeep is a national nonprofit organization working to ensure every American has access to running water and sanitation inside their homes. Thus far, the Nalgene Water Fund has supported DigDeep’s Navajo Water Project, a community-managed utility alternative that brings hot and cold running water to homes on the reservation that are not connected to piped water or sewer lines.
The $47,500 donated to date supports DigDeep’s work to install running water inside homes on the Navajo Nation (which spans the corners of Utah, New Mexico and Arizona) and has also helped to fund water truck deliveries, truck maintenance, and staff training, including CDL training that is offered to Navajo technicians wishing to become licensed water truck delivery drivers. DigDeep’s Navajo Water Project is Indigenous-led and locally staffed.
Community Outreach and Patient Empowerment (COPE) is a non-profit organization working to address health disparities in Navajo Nation through community-based outreach and food security initiatives. During the height of COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021, the NWF donated nearly $30,000 in critical funding and supplies to help install water refill stations and provide carboys (large vessels) to transport water from the source to residence in one container. Recently, the NWF donated an additional $3,000 and 100 30-ml Nalgene sampling bottles to help fund a new pilot COPE program. The “Student Citizen Water Project” empowers six students to collect water samples in Nalgene water bottles in some of the Navajo Nation’s most marginalized areas. Data from these results are currently being analyzed to prioritize the placement of the filtered water refill stations donated by the NWF.
This student-centered approach model The Flint Community Lab is also a recipient of NWF support and a first-of-its-kind, community-based water testing facility in Flint, Michigan. A novel concept — for the community, by the community — the Lab relies on high school students to collect water samples. A multi-generational approach, this concept builds trust in the process where younger members work side-by-side with elders to help assess water safety. The Flint Community Lab has generously offered to test the water for COPE using their state-of-the-art testing equipment.