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Healer of the Water Monster

Healer of the Water Monster

Nathan Todacheenie, an 11-year-old Diné boy who is spending the summer with his grandmother, must summon his courage to save the life of a Water Monster—and help his uncle heal.
Healer of the Water Monster

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In his Author’s Note, Brian Young explains that the uranium mine responsible for Pond’s illness is real. Ask students how it would be possible to provide safe drinking water for people and animals in areas with abandoned uranium mines. Show students the Navajo Water Project website where together you can learn about the challenges Navajo people face in obtaining clean, safe water.

Talk with students about Nathan’s experience living without running water at Nali’s. Get them thinking about how much water they use every day and how they get it. Have them compare their experience to what they learn about residents on the Navajo reservation who haul water either from watering points or from unregulated water sources, such as wells and springs.

Show students the EPA’s tool How’s My Waterway? and together look up information about the health of your local watershed. Talk with students about what a watershed is and our responsibility to protect the health and quality of our water and our watersheds. Have students do more research about their watershed and learn about simple things they can do at home to help keep their watershed clean and healthy and improve its overall condition. Get students to educate others about watershed conservation and share what they learn with others by creating a flier or presentation. 

Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing

  1. Nathan is trying to do the right thing by keeping his promise to help Pond. What gives him courage? Would you call Nathan a hero? Why or why not?
  2. Why does Nali not have running water for her mobile home? What is the cause of Pond’s sickness? How are these things related?
  3. How is Nathan's journey to save Pond in parallel with his efforts to help his Uncle Jet? What does he draw on for both?
  4. How is Nathan healed by his experiences? How has he changed how he thinks about himself?
  5. What did you learn about Navajo stories and traditions from reading the Author’s Note? Why do you think it’s important to read stories by Indigenous authors? 

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