- The Washington Times - Monday, April 16, 2001

LUKACHUKAI, Ariz.

Navajo elder Edward Bahe Harvey doesn't need his thick eyeglasses to see how this tiny community below the snow-covered Chuska Mountains has exploded.

"I could stretch out my legs and feel comfortable in 1940. Today, we're folded up on the land like this," said Mr. Harvey, 92, suddenly sitting up on his couch to mimic how new homes, trailers and livestock are crowding together.

"I can see into my neighbor's horse corrals. That's how much we've grown."

Lukachukai, pronounced loo-ka-choo'-ki, is Arizona's fastest-growing "defined place," a geographic area identified by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Of course, Lukachukai's 1,285 percent growth is the result of a tiny initial population. In 1990, 113 persons lived here. Ten years later, the number of residents mushroomed to 1,565.

Lukachukai is emblematic of the growing populations in dozens of communities across the Navajo Nation, the country's largest Indian reservation.

The higher numbers in Lukachukai are partly the result of an extraordinary effort to count American Indians, employing Indian census counters and deploying them on everything from horseback to all-terrain vehicles to helicopters in search of the most remote residents.

Lukachukai and other small towns also are experiencing a kind of rural sprawl across once-empty landscapes.

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