by John Aldrich
With the Teesto food run we complete the sequence of eleven runs for the spring season. The first one at Oljato back in late March seems like a distant memory at this point. We were blessed with unusually fine weather this year with Birdspings being the only run significantly affected by adverse conditions. But every food run I have ever attended has been a success regardless of whether it was a beautiful day or one with challenges like wind, rain, or snow.
The day was sunny and a bit on the cool side. There was enough wind to create a little bite but not enough to kick up the sand and dust. At Teesto we are hosted by Anita Jackson and her family. Anita's family has built a hogan-shaped shade structure to shelter the food run. Overhead are blue tarps to shield us from the sun and/or elements. This results in a challenge for photography since it results in a blue light environment while the background outside is a sunny yellow. You may notice this color discrepancy in some of the photos even though those taken under the tarps are corrected for the blue light.
Anita's family spends a great deal of time on preparations for the food run including the cooking. Here is part of the family working in the kitchen.
Outside, the Rainbow Circle was getting organized. John and Kay Percival of Farmington, UT, have been dedicated volunteers for a number of years. Both are hard workers, but they have an additional asset for our organization - a big pickup truck. Here is John with his load of food boxes for Teesto.
Also getting organized was Kate Stephens with the medical supplies.
The tarp committee, under Judy Keane's guidance, paused for a picture as they prepared for this portion of the program.
The next photo shows the finished tarp with the shade structure in the background. It featured a new improvement this year , a half-wall around the north side to provide a wind break.
John Burrow was surprised by a special gift from Sarah Ann Morris who had made this beautiful shirt for him.
The featured hairstyle for this final food run belongs to none other than our little friend Emma. Beverly Benally who, along with her husband Howard, drives the Penske truck from Salt Lake, did up her hair every morning in a traditional Navajo bun.
Here is Anita after being honored with her ANE Pendelton blanket.
Anita along with many of her family members and other Elders are amused by something during the food run program.
Leroy Arellano, a volunteer from Salt Lake, has been taking part in the final week of food runs for many years. Leroy is a talented magician and has an avid following among the children at each food run. As soon as we arrive they start asking "Where's Magic Man?". Here's a group of transfixed youngsters watching one of his feats.
The Rainbow Circle of food boxes along with the Penske truck stand out against the landscape of the beautiful Teesto area.
The clipboard that contains all the information about the boxes and their recipients is often the source of a bit of friendly ribbing among the volunteers on the box crew. The person holding the clipboard is deemed to have the ultimate authority over the final loading of the Elders' vehicles. But Ed Keane isn't above sharing this responsibility with one of the Elder's grandchildren.
The final photo shows the final function of the day, loading the Elders' vehicles. This completes the circle of food runs and the reason we came all this way.
As you can see, we are assisted by some of the young Navajos at Teesto who are eager to help. Bridging the circle of broken trust starts right here and extends to all our interactions throughout our weeks on the reservation. Helping the Elders is only part of our mission - since we all return home improved from our experiences.