INDIAN WELLS, Arizona — Every morning, Nora John and her two children climb into her pickup truck and drive.
They cover miles over sloping hills that tilt the truck sideways, through washes that often flood with water and mud, and between rock formations to reach their destination: the bus stop.
The kids climb onto the yellow school bus, pulled up on the rubblelining the Navajo Nation freeway, and spend hours every weekday driving to and from school.
It’s an exhausting, yet important, ritual for families like the Johns who live on the reservation. For them, the buses are a lifeline to an education they may not receive otherwise.
“Without a bus, that would impact us a lot,” John said. “We’d have to take care of our own transportation for our kids, we’d have to drive them into town.”
The bus service is a lifeline districts in and around the reservation struggle to pay for every year as they grapple with heavy costs associated with the long, often mountainous drives and a long history of cuts in education funding by the state.