Sunday, March 13, 2016

Packing Rainbow Food Boxes - 3/12/16

by John Aldrich

A sure sign of spring - and food runs just around the corner - are the two Saturday mornings we spend at the warehouse packing Rainbow Food Boxes. Yesterday was the first of these 2 days. It was a beautiful day and we had an outstanding turnout of volunteers to help with the work. It was gratifying to see many new faces along with those of seasoned veterans. Altogether there were about 70 people eager to help our Elders by packing the boxes that will be delivered during the spring food runs to the reservation.

The custom is to start the day with a brief circle outside for general orientation and a Navajo prayer.

Then we got right to work, with new volunteers pairing up with experienced people to load the boxes. As the teams move in a circle around the warehouse the sets of boxes for each Elder are filled with the prescribed food items. When we have an abundance of volunteers, as we did yesterday, some are assigned to handing out items to the "shoppers" to assure that the correct count ends up in each box.

After the boxes are filled, each set receives a pair of labels so that it will ultimately be delivered to a specific Elder. The labels are color-coded for each of our eleven food runs.

The boxes then go to the taping tables where they are taped shut and the labels affixed. The boxes for each food run are stacked together for efficient loading when the time comes for trucks and vehicles to be loaded for the food runs.

New volunteers are typically quite impressed with the level of organization involved in this whole process. The mastermind behind this logistical feat is our congenial ANE program assistant director, C.J. Robb.

On a side note, the award for volunteers in attendance who were furthest from home goes to two amiable and hard working young men from Nepal. They are attending Cottonwood High School here in Salt Lake, and it was a pleasure to have them join us.

 Here are some additional shots from yesterday's activity.

Next Saturday, March 19th at 8:00 a.m., we will converge on the warehouse once more to complete the process of packing the Rainbow Boxes. We would love to have you join us. The work is not strenuous and everyone has lots of fun.

See you then!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Winter Stories - 2016

by John Aldrich

The first big event on the ANE calendar every year is our Winter Stories night at the warehouse. Among traditional Navajo families, winter is the time to gather and tell stories and play games. Such times serve as one of the principal mechanisms by which the culture gets passed along to younger generations. In our urban environment it's harder for families to maintain this tradition. The many Navajo families who live along the Wasatch Front are mostly from younger generations, and their Elders, the source of wisdom and cultural knowledge, remain on the reservation.

Winter Stories night is an attempt to provide something of a substitute for our local Navajos as well as interested Bilagaanas (Anglo people). Rodger Williams has been organizing this event for a number of years, and the crowd keeps growing with each iteration. Last Sunday evening 180 people gathered for the potluck event with the majority being Navajo. In addition to story tellers, we had a drum group with singers and a variety of assorted royalty.

The evening began with the drum group, Cliff Eagle, performing an Honor Song.

Being a potluck meal, there was a wide variety of food and an ample amount of everything. No one could possibly have left hungry.

In addition to organizing the event, Rodger Williams also told stories and sang.

Our new Shi Yazhi Ambassador, Athen Canyon, was attending and presented a story about her grandfather. Other royalty included 1st attendant Ash Ne'a Anderson as well as Miss Native American Events.

Before each performance by the Cliff Eagle group, their leader, Emerson Bill, provided some background about what they would sing.

Although Cliff Eagle usually performs around their big drum, they also presented a song using hand drums.

Lacee Harris has been a popular story teller at many previous Winter Stories nights. This time he told several including one about Ma'ii. Ma'ii, or Coyote, is a popular subject of Native American stories. Representing the Trickster, Ma'ii gets himself into all sorts of predicaments which serve as lessons for all of us and the youngsters in particular.

We were particularly pleased to have Harry James and his wife Prestine join us again. Harry has been a fixture at ANE events for years and leads the Pow Wow that is the final event at our annual rug show.

Prestine took some time to describe one of the sacred Navajo winter ceremonies, the Yei Bei Chei, a nine-day event for healing and well-being. During the ceremony dancers appear wearing costumes and regalia representing the Yeis or Holy People of the Navajo. She also brought some art work so that we all could see what these costumes look like.

The Medicine Man who leads the Yei Bei Chei ceremony must sing hundreds of songs during the course of the nine days, and they must all be sung correctly and in the proper sequence for the ceremony to be effective.

Harry sang one of the songs from this special winter event.

A stirring conclusion to the evening then came with a final song from Cliff Eagle.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

by John Aldrich

At Adopt-A-Native-Elder we like to get a head start on the Thanksgiving holiday and hold our special event on the Sunday before the official day.

Last evening one hundred volunteers and assorted royalty gathered to share in a celebration to honor all of the people who have put in many dedicated hours over the past year on behalf of our Elders. All of the major events in the ANE calendar are over for the year following the successful rug show which ended 2 weeks ago. So it was time to relax and enjoy everyone's company one more time before the year is over.

Our Thanksgiving event is a potluck dinner organized by Virginia Aldrich. The suggestion was made some years ago that we should produce a cookbook of dishes brought by our many volunteers who are also talented cooks. The suggestion was never implemented but the thought behind it remains just as valid. In addition to turkey and ham, there was a cornucopia of other delights - and plenty to go around.

Prior to the meal there was ample time for visiting while we were being soothed by beautiful flute music played by Scott Bitter. C.J. made a presentation to Virginia and Rodger Williams offered a prayer. Linda wasn't able to be with us this year since she had hip replacement surgery a week ago. But Rodger reported that she was doing well and sorry that she couldn't be with us.

Following the meal C.J. reported on the results of the rug show, which were excellent. Eileen Quintana presented four finalists from the Shi Yazhi Princess/Ambassador event at the rug show. These girls presented themselves with great poise as they introduced themselves in Navajo and related what the ANE experience meant to them. These girls work beautifully as a team and had attended a pow wow at UVU following the rug show where they were able to collect donations on behalf of the program.

The evening concluded with some words about the Christmas stocking program by Joan Reid. As we look ahead now to our own Thanksgiving travels and dinners, we wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Keshmish.

Without further comment, here is a collection of photos from the evening: