Church Rock, New Mexico

Coordinates: 35°34′09″N 108°36′42″W / 35.56917°N 108.61167°W / 35.56917; -108.61167
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Church Rock, New Mexico
Churchrock Chapter
Location of Church Rock, New Mexico
Location of Church Rock, New Mexico
Church Rock, New Mexico is located in the United States
Church Rock, New Mexico
Church Rock, New Mexico
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 35°34′09″N 108°36′42″W / 35.56917°N 108.61167°W / 35.56917; -108.61167
CountryUnited States
StateNew Mexico
 • TypeChapter Government
 • PresidentLarry King
 • Vice-PresidentCaroline Whiteman
 • Secretary-TreasurerFrancine Smith
 • Tribal Council MemberSteven Arviso
 • Total18.34 sq mi (47.50 km2)
 • Land18.34 sq mi (47.50 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
Elevation7,025 ft (2,141 m)
 • Total1,542
 • Density84.07/sq mi (32.46/km2)
Time zoneUTC-7 (Mountain (MST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-6 (MDT)
ZIP code
Area code505
FIPS code35-15370
GNIS feature ID2407618[2]

Church Rock (Navajo: Kinłitsosinil) is a census-designated place (CDP) in McKinley County, New Mexico, United States. The population was 1,128 at the 2010 census.[4] Church Rock is named for Church Rock, a prominent natural landmark with the same name.


Church Rock, a famous landmark. Photo circa 1875.

Church Rock is located at 35°32′6″N 108°36′42″W / 35.53500°N 108.61167°W / 35.53500; -108.61167 (35.534961, -108.611593).[5]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 2.3 square miles (6.0 km2), of which 2.3 square miles (6.0 km2) is land and 0.03 square miles (0.078 km2) (1.2%) is water.[4]

Uranium mining[edit]

On July 16, 1979, the dam at a United Nuclear Corporation (based in Virginia) Church Rock uranium mill was breached and spilled 1,100 tons of milled uranium ore and 94 million US gallons (360,000 m3) of heavy metal effluent into the Puerco River. This was the largest release of radioactive waste in U.S. history, but until recently, no epidemiological studies were undertaken on the effects on the population.[6] With the declining uranium market, two of the mines closed in 1983 and the third closed in February 1986.[7]

In 2003 the Church Rock Uranium Monitoring Project was initiated by the Churchrock Chapter of the Navajo Nation to assess environmental impacts of abandoned uranium mines and build capacity to conduct community-based research with policy implications.[8] Its May 2007 report found that significant radiation from both natural and mining sources remains in the area; the community is dedicated to remedy the problem as much as possible.[8]

In 2005 the Navajo Nation prohibited any further uranium mining in the nation. In 2008 the US EPA and the Navajo EPA began a five-year plan to identify and ameliorate areas contaminated by uranium mining; their priority has been water sources and structures.[9]

In 2013 the Churchrock Chapter passed a resolution supporting a demonstration in-situ mining at Section 8 and 17. The resolution passed with 68 in support 26 opposed and 16 abstained. Minority of community members continue to oppose mining operations as well as outside residents who reside in other chapters and non-Navajos.[10][11]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[12][3]
Languages (2000) [13] Percent
Spoke Navajo at home 63.31%
Spoke English at home 36.69%

As of the census[14] of 2000, there were 1,077 people, 258 households, and 214 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 450.7 inhabitants per square mile (174.0/km2). There were 299 housing units at an average density of 125.1 per square mile (48.3/km2). The racial makeup of the CDP was 98.14% Native American, 0.65% White, 0.09% African American, 0.28% from other races, and 0.84% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.39% of the population.

There were 258 households, out of which 56.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.4% were married couples living together, 31.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 16.7% were non-families. 15.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 3.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 4.17 and the average family size was 4.65.

In the CDP, the population was spread out, with 42.2% under the age of 18, 11.7% from 18 to 24, 26.0% from 25 to 44, 15.6% from 45 to 64, and 4.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 22 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.3 males.

The median income for a household in the CDP was $27,917, and the median income for a family was $28,958. Males had a median income of $23,529 versus $21,016 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $6,780. About 34.3% of families and 36.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 47.5% of those under age 18 and none of those age 65 or over.


It is in Gallup-McKinley County Public Schools.[15]


In August, the Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial brings members of almost all Native tribes, as well as visitors, to Red Rock State Park.[16]

Churchrock Chapter celebrates the annual, Treaty Day Festival on June 1. The first event took place on June 1, 2010. The event is to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of 1868 between the Navajo Tribe and United States Government to emancipate the Navajo people from Fort Sumner, New Mexico (Bosque Redondo).


Church Rock is the location of Fire Rock Casino, which opened on November 19, 2008.

Navajo Nation government[edit]

2004-2008 Chapter Officials 2008-2012 Chapter Official 2013-2017 Chapter Officials 2017-2021 Chapter Officials 2021-2025 Chapter Officials
Johnny Livingston, President Johnnie Henry Jr., President Johnnie Henry Jr., President Johnnie Henry Jr., President Larry King, President
Robinson Kelly, Vice-President Robinson Kelly, Vice-President Sherman Woody, Vice-President Sherman Woody, Vice-President Caroline Whiteman, Vice-President
Deeanna Washee, Secretary/Treasurer Louise Jim, Secretary/Treasurer Louise Jim, Secretary/Treasurer Louise Jim, Secretary/Treasurer Francis Smith, Secretary/Treasurer
Vanessa Morgan Begay-Lee, Land Board Member Emery Chee, Land Board Member Emery Chee, Land Board Member Donald Arviso, Land Board Member Emery Chee, Land Board Member


  1. ^ "ArcGIS REST Services Directory". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 12, 2022.
  2. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Church Rock, New Mexico
  3. ^ a b "Census Population API". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 12, 2022.
  4. ^ a b "2010 Census Gazetteer Files - Places: New Mexico". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
  5. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  6. ^ Brugge, D; Bui, C (September 2007). "The Sequoyah corporation fuels release and the Church Rock spill: unpublicized nuclear releases in American Indian communities". Am J Public Health. 97 (9): 1595–600. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2006.103044. PMC 1963288. PMID 17666688.
  7. ^ Shuey, Chris (1992). "Contaminant Loading on the Puerco River: A Historical Overview", Southwest Research and Information Center Albuquerque, New Mexico, 14 October 1992. "Puerco River Spill, Historical Overview". Archived from the original on October 14, 2008. Retrieved October 29, 2008.
  8. ^ a b Shuey, Chris; et al. (2007). "REPORT OF THE CHURCH ROCK URANIUM MONITORING PROJECT 2003-2007, CHURCHROCK CHAPTER, NAVAJO NATION, SOUTHWEST RESEARCH AND INFORMATION CENTER and NAVAJO EDUCATION AND SCHOLARSHIP FOUNDATION" (PDF). Window Rock, Navajo Nation (Arizona), USA. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 10, 2012. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  9. ^ Felicia Fonseca, "Navajo woman helps prompt uranium mine cleanup", Associated Press, carried in Houston Chronicle, 5 September 2011, accessed 5 October 2011
  10. ^ "Uranium project given green light on Navajo Nation" Archived 2014-07-26 at the Wayback Machine, Farmington Daily Times, carried in "Farmington Daily Times", 24 December 2013, accessed 16 July 2014
  11. ^ "Churchrock supports uranium mining", Gallup Independent, carried in "Gallup Independent", 9 February 2013, accessed 16 July 2014
  12. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  13. ^ "Data Center Results". Archived from the original on May 25, 2017. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  14. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  15. ^ "2020 CENSUS - SCHOOL DISTRICT REFERENCE MAP: McKinley County, NM" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved July 20, 2021.
  16. ^ "Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial". Retrieved September 2, 2021.

External links[edit]