Sunday, August 10, 2014

Packing Rainbow Food Boxes 8/9/14

by John Aldrich

Yesterday was the second of two Saturdays devoted to packing all of the Rainbow Food Boxes for the fall food runs. This is a big job so we were pleased to have a good turnout of volunteers to help. There were no large groups today but many regular volunteers, a number of new volunteers, and several family groups made up just the right number to get the job done.

Each food packing event starts with a Circle in which we dedicate ourselves to the service of the Elders who will receive the fruits of our efforts.

A basket of corn meal was passed around allowing every person an opportunity to make a small offering and prayer. We then got our marching orders from C.J. and got to work.

A bit more than half of the food boxes were packed last week, but there were still large supplies of the various food items stacked around the perimeter of the warehouse awaiting the "shoppers" to come by with their carts to fill the boxes.

New volunteers teamed up with experienced volunteers to learn the secrets of packing the boxes so that the tops could be folded down flat for taping.

Here, Jessica who is an expert now after having attended her first day of packing last week, showed Hennie how to fit everything into the boxes.

Other volunteers with prior experience at food box packing were able to start right out without help.

At the end of each cycle around the warehouse the labels for specific Elders are handed out to be taped to the boxes. Pat Eichinger was in charge of this job.

Then the boxes, each weighing around 35 pounds, were transferred to the taping table. Lamar Clark had a good workout by the end of the morning.

And the tapers, Fred and Tom here, went to work to complete each set of boxes.

Then the boxes were stacked by food run location, ready for loading when the time comes.

One of the perhaps less glamorous jobs is breaking down the boxes in which the food was delivered so that the cardboard will all fit into the dumpster for recycling. Ericka Norton seems to be enjoying this task.

'Round and 'round everyone went repeating this cycle until all of the boxes were packed:

Each food packing day has its unique aspects and special participants. Yesterday, new volunteer Margot Wholey was accompanied by a very special visitor. Luz Alicia Torres belongs to an indigenous tribe in Mexico that live in the Sonora region. There are only 800 members of this tribe and Margot is collaborating with Luz to produce a book about these unique people who still cling to their hunter-gatherer roots.

Margot herself is equally special, and we thank her for coming and bringing Luz. Margot caught on quickly to the box packing routine and rapidly advanced to solo cart operator status.

One of the family groups included our own C.J. Robb who is assistant director of ANE and warehouse manager. He is pictured here with his mother Paula, cousin Luke, and brother Jason who often helps out at the warehouse at critical times (how does he know?).

With the box packing completed, we're ready for the food runs to begin. The food run to Oljato and Navajo Mountain will take place in just over a week, with the remaining runs to follow a bit later. Volunteers who can join us and help transport everything to the reservation are still needed. Information and a driver's application are available at the Volunteer Activities Page of our web site.

Many thanks to everyone who helped us yesterday.

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Plea For Assistance

by John Aldrich

Many within our ANE family know, or will remember, Calvert Norton. Calvert and his wife Ericka, along with their three children, have been volunteers and supporters of our Program for many years. Daughter Calora was the second princess in the Shi Yazhi pageant program and was crowned at the rug show in 2006. This photo shows Calvert along with other members of his family when Calora was crowned. He is standing behind the princess.

More recently Calvert has been suffering with a significant health problem, ankylosing spondylitis. This is a chronic debilitating disease without effective cure by modern medicine. Calvert is turning to his cultural roots for help in dealing with his illness.

Here is his plea:

My name is Calvert Norton, My clan is the Redhouse people, born for the Red Bottom people, my paternal clan is the Edge of the Water people, and my maternal clan is the Tangle  people. I'm from Montezuma Creek, Utah. I currently reside in Lehi, Utah with my immediate family, my wife Ericka, our three children, Kirk, Calora, and Angelica.

I have a form of arthritis called Ankylosing Spondylitis, that I was diagnosed with a few years ago. It has affected my ankles, knees, hips, back, and elbow. This arthritis has limited my ability to run, fold my legs to sit or cross, stand a long period of time, and has slowed me down considerably. I manage my condition with modern medicine prescribe by my rheumatologist.

My belief is within my Navajo tradition, therefore I am seeking a healing ceremony to help heal my condition. A Navajo healing ceremony known as the Enemy Way (Nidaa). This ceremony will take place the week of the 11th of August. The week long ceremony is a huge task and financial expense which involves a Medicine man fee, ceremony materials, food,  sheep, and wood gathering to name few.

I ask for financial assistance to cover the expenses for this ceremony.

Thank you,

Calvert Norton

Although he alludes to the challenges and cost of staging an Enemy Way ceremony, the reality is that it can cost up to $6000 to put on an event of this complexity and scale.

Readers of this blog might be interested, as I was, in knowing more about this particular ceremony. Here is a link to a detailed description of the Enemy Way ceremony. Interestingly, it is written by a medicine man named Johnson Dennison. Johnson has worked with the Indian Health Service Hospital in Chinle to help provide traditional Navajo healing services to compliment the modern health care provided there. Johnson has spoken to our food run groups on a number of occasions in Chinle and will be remembered by those who heard him as a fascinating source of information about Navajo culture.

We extend our sympathies to Calvert and hope that his ceremony will be a comfort and blessing to both he and his family.

Those who wish to make a donation in support of Calvert's ceremony can do so via the Ceremony Fund of our web site. All proceeds of this fund over the next three weeks will be used on Calvert's behalf.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Announcing New Rug Show T-Shirts and Hats

by John Aldrich

The 25th anniversary of our annual rug show in Park City will be a very special event, and we are doing everything possible to honor our weavers. As part of this celebration we are offering specially designed T-shirts and hats. Rodger Williams designed a beautiful logo which has been embroidered onto each of the shirts and hats.

The T-shirts come in two styles with two colors, red and black. The women's shirt has a vee-cut neckline and the men's a round neck. The hats come in black and are a one-size-fits-all design.

Pricing of the shirts and hats also fits with our 25th anniversary theme - $25 for each. The small profit we will make on each sale will help defray the cost of staging the show. So help to support the show and at the same time acquire a unique shirt and/or hat. You may purchase these items through the Trading Post section of our web site or in person at the warehouse.

The sizing of the shirts is a little small, so we recommend that you order the next larger size than you ordinarily would buy.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Food Delivery

by John Aldrich

In pursuit of the goal to assist our Elders, the delivery of food, both in the form of food boxes as well as food certificates is central to our mission. As we get ready for the fall food runs, the first step in preparing to pack the Rainbow Food Boxes is to get the food to the warehouse. C.J. had worked out the order with a Walmart several miles away, and yesterday it was time to move it. Boyd Mitchell, who is practiced at this activity, rented a large Penske truck, and in the course of two round trips the food arrived at the warehouse and then had to be moved to designated spots around the periphery of the warehouse and unloaded from the pallets.

Waiting for the first truckload, some of us quickly realized that we had missed the memo about the proper attire for the day.

When the truck arrived, however, everyone forgot they thought they had signed up for a vacation to Hawaii and got to work.

Maneuvering the pallets off the truck is tricky, but Boyd is highly skilled at this and had no trouble .

Sam was our pallet jockey and is helped here by Lamar as they move canned food to its designated location at the perimeter of the warehouse.

Not to be outdone by the guys, Gene Berry rolled up her sleeves, donned her gloves, and worked just as hard as any of the rest of us.

Then it was on to peanut butter as Gene, Tony, John, and Jason formed a line to move the heavy packages off the pallet.

While C.J. and Lamar did the same with cans of corn.

Tony is working here on an inventory of the delivered food,

while C.J. checked his master list.

The second truckload was somewhat delayed by circumstances at Walmart, and some of the volunteers had to leave. Those that remained to the end paused for this final photo.

Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who came out to help with this big job. We're well on our way now with preparations for the upcoming food runs. The next major volunteer-intensive task will be packing the Rainbow Boxes. This will happen on two successive Saturdays, August 2nd and 9th. Details and time can be found on the Volunteer Activities page of our web site. We hope to see you then.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

New Rugs In Our Catalog

by John Aldrich

The month of June typically sees a large influx of new rugs into our catalog. During the spring food runs Linda acquires a number at each of the food run sites. This year the total comes to over a hundred rugs that have been added to the catalog. A small sample is featured here, but you are invited to peruse the online listings and see them all.

This beautiful rug by Marisa Begay is the largest (and most expensive) of our new rugs. Woven into a classic storm pattern design are a variety of objects of ceremonial significance to the Navajo People.

Rug #9149, Ceremonial Rug, by Marisa Begay.

Elizabeth Clah of Many Farms hosts our food run at that location and also weaves beautiful rugs. Her Women Of The Mountain pattern is her own unique creation and this version is woven in the distinctive colors for which Elizabeth in known.

Rug #9048, Women Of The Mountain, by Elizabeth Clah.

The Blue Canyon design is modern but not seen too often. Rena Robertson of Hardrock does a beautiful job with this style and often weaves special figures into the design such as the Yei head in this rug.

Rug #9147, Blue Canyon Yei, by Rena Robertson.

Mary Secody from the Many Farms area is a master weaver who provided us with this beautiful Chief pattern rug.

Rug #9049, Chiefs Rug, by Mary Secody.

Here is another Chiefs rug, this time by a male weaver, Alec Runninghawk of Dilkon. Although of Sioux heritage, Alec is married to a Navajo weaver and has mastered the technique and styles of Navajo weaving with great skill.

Rug #9125, Chiefs Rug, by Alec Runninghawk.

Hogans are frequently seen in pictorial rugs. In this unique rug by Eunice Manson, however, the hogans take on a somewhat more abstract quality when combined with an eye dazzler background.

Rug #9175, Hogans On The Mesa, by Eunice Manson.

Lest you get the impression that our catalog is filled with large and expensive rugs, we actually have many smaller rugs at excellent prices by a variety of weavers. Mary Lee of Many Farms usually provides Linda with a small assortment of beautiful little rugs,with prices as low as $65.

Rug #9138, Diamond Stars, by Mary Lee.

This is just a small sample of our new rugs. You are invited to enjoy our entire online catalog of over 240 rugs.

See this 2010 post for more information about the rug catalog.

Notes: Every effort has been made to photograph and present the rugs with as accurate rendition of color as possible. It's not possible, however, to be certain that your computer won't show some variance. Where two prices are listed in the catalog, the higher represents what the weaver hopes to receive and the lower, the minimum she will accept. As has always been the case at ANE all the proceeds of every rug sale go entirely to the weaver. Prices are set by the weaver, and since there is no "middleman" they are typically very reasonable.

And to see more of what's happening at ANE visit us on Facebook.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Walk In Beauty - Spring 2014

by Melyssa Holbrook

(Note: Melyssa is the new director of the Walk In Beauty Program)

It was a beautiful Spring morning as my friend (since the 6th grade) Patti and I headed south from Grantsville, Utah, to the Navajo Reservation.  We would be delivering brand new sneakers to 11 schools.  As the new coordinator for Walk In Beauty, I was filled with excitement and also a little anxiety about the unknown.  This position is a huge undertaking.  I really wanted to make sure that everything went smoothly.  Of course, nothing is ever perfect, but I did all that I could to make sure that each school was scheduled, times and places were predetermined with each school coordinator, shoes were labeled and packed, and children were anxiously awaiting their brand new pair of sneakers!

Our first morning would ease us into the 10 day trip as we only had 1 school scheduled for delivery. Each day after that would be 2 schools per day.  30 children at Monument Valley Elementary were excited to receive their own pair of brand new and proper fitting sneakers!  This is something that I think most of us take for granted.  Most of us have many shoes.  Most of us think nothing of buying ourselves a new pair of shoes . . just because.  It has never occurred to many of us that there are children, and adults, right here in our own country, that have never had a brand new pair of shoes, who wear shoes that are too tight, or 2 sizes too large for their feet, or shoes that are so worn, tattered and full of holes that their socks can NEVER stay clean because of all the dirt and debris that is constantly passing through.
The Navajo Reservation encompasses over 27,000 square miles, about the size of the state of West Virginia.  56% live below the poverty level.  Less than 24% complete the 9th grade.  40% have NO electricity.  The area is so vast and remote than many schools on the Navajo Reservation are boarding schools.  Students live at the school Monday thru Thursday and only go home on the weekends.  For families with many children, this is a mixed blessing.  The boarding schools keep their children safe, provide 3 meals a day, laundry services, and homework help.  But it is also very hard having your family separated for so often.

While delivering sneakers for Walk-In-Beauty, we see first-hand the hardships that many Navajos face.  We also see the pride and hard work that so many people are putting into the children and their future.  The children that are receiving our sneakers are appreciative of, and grateful for, this gift.  Not only do these sneakers provide physical comfort, they provide a needed benefit of self-esteem and self-worth.
One child, when entering the room and seeing all the sneakers laid out said “Are these all for us?”
A first grade girl said, “ These are the softest socks I have ever had!”
The excitement and joy in their eyes is enough thanks for Patti and I.  But the children thank us over and over, and a couple children even stop back into the room later on in morning while we are still fitting other children with their brand new sneakers to say Thank You again.

A BIG “Thank You” to Patricia Bigman for being such a huge help and coordinating a smooth delivery at Monument Valley Elementary School!

Day 2 brought us to Canyon de Chelly Elementary and Tsaile Public School where we matched 61 pair of sneakers with 61 smiling faces.
At Tsaile, a 2nd grade boy struggled to tie his sneakers.  After spending a few minutes showing him the “Bunny ears” method of shoe-lace tying, he was so happy to have done it himself.  “Thanks for showing me how to tie my shoes”, he said.  One girl ran back into the family coordinator room about a half hour after leaving wearing her shoes.  She was almost screaming … “I love these shoes!!!  I don’t ever want to take them off!””
These 2 boys were looking pretty proud in their new sneakers.
Delivery Day #3 found us at Many Farms and Pinon.

Apparently we had brought with us some of the softest socks known to man!  There were so many comments just about the socks . . .
“These socks are so cushy”
“These are the most comfortable socks I have ever worn!”
“Wow!  These socks are soft!”
“I love these socks!”

Of course, the sneakers get rave reviews as well …..
“I don’t ever want to get these sneakers dirty!”
“I’m going to save these for a special occasion”
“These sneakers are so comfortable, they might put my feet to sleep”
“These are awesome!  They massage my legs even!”
“I just hope they can make me run faster than the dogs”

Delivery Day #4 was a scavenger hunt just for Patti and I to find the schools!!!  Both Rocky Ridge and Black Mesa Schools are on dirt roads.  I think we drove over 100 miles on dirt roads that day!  But we didn’t mind at all!  The scenery is absolutely stunning.  Plus we saw herds of sheep. Some cows and horses may have been trying to stop us from our duties by blocking the road, and we even saw 2 pronghorn!  After getting a little dusty, we arrived to deliver 50 pair of sneakers to very deserving a happy children.
Delivery Day #5 we arrived at Dilkon and Seba Dalkai.  We were lucky enough to arrive at Seba Dalkai while they were having a fundraiser and selling Navajo Tacos!  YUM!!!!
So after getting all the children fitted into the right sized sneakers and getting the library put back in order from our rearranging, we enjoyed a delicious lunch outside in the sunshine!  Our trip had provided us with perfect weather, a little windy on some days, but sunny and warm.
Not only were these sneakers full of holes and falling apart … they were about 2 inches too long for the 5th grade boy that was wearing them.  Had said that he had been wearing them all school year, and that he had gotten them from his brother.  He was full of smiles when he left wearing his new sneakers.
Our last day was spent at Leupp and Little Singer.

A 1st grade girl, after trying on her sneakers said, “Do I get to keep these?”

A 3rd grade boy was so excited with his sneakers, he said “I want to run until I find gold or iron!”

One of the faculty at Little Singer gave us school t-shirts as a thank you for bringing sneakers to their students.  It was a nice surprise, since we were there to give, not receive.  The Navajo people are a very generous and kind-hearted people.  It's always so heartwarming to be a part of something so deserving and needed as the Walk-In-Beauty Program, and Adopt-A-Native-Elder.  At EVERY school, someone always thanked us for our generosity, the bus driver, security staff, receptionist, the principal ….   Good deeds make everyone feel good!
I look forward to seeing many more happy faces next Fall!
If you wish to contact to Walk-In-Beauty, please email me (Melyssa) at
Donations can be sent to:
Adopt-A-Native-Elder, PO Box 3401,  Park City, Utah  84060 or can be made through our web site.