"that’s what Navajos do, [they] fight for [their] country"

Sonny, the “troublemaker” of his family, was born and raised on the Navajo Reservation. At the age of 16 his parents were tired of his rebellious behavior, so they gave him an ultimatum: live by their rules or move out. Sonny hitchhiked off the Reservation and into a nearby city.

By the age of 20 he had gotten his GED and gone to college. Soon after, he enlisted in the military because “that’s what Navajos do, [they] fight for [their] country”. While on active duty for 20 years, Sonny saw the world: visiting the Virgin Islands, Vietnam, Guyana, Iraq and Afghanistan. After completing his military service, Sonny settled in Virginia and started a family

Sonny was “pretty well-off”, living in a beautiful home with multiple cars. But he longed to move his family back to the Navajo Reservation. He was adamant that his children would grow up appreciating their Navajo heritage. Though an uncertain future on the Reservation meant giving up his comfortable life on the East Coast, Sonny was willing to risk it all. 

After moving back Sonny started volunteering at St. Bonaventure Indian Mission, where he now works full-time. He installs solar panels for homes without electricity on the reservation. Without a secure power source in their homes, many Navajo endure freezing nights, three seasons out of the year.

Sonny brings warmth into American homes in more ways than one. He's still the jokester of the community. Whatever he is doing or wherever he is, Sonny never ceases to make the people around him, friends or strangers, burst with laughter. When he isn’t welcoming visitors with stories of his crazy childhood and exotic travels, you can catch him hunting, line dancing, and sharing animal memes on Facebook.

Help Sonny give warmth and water by supporting this project!