Saturday, May 19, 2012

Food Run Report - Big Mountain 5/9/12

by John Aldrich

It always feels good to return to Big Mountain, the site of the original food runs for ANE and by far the largest of our events. Since it is an outdoor run we are at the mercy of the elements, but they cooperated nicely this year. We had sun initially and then threatening clouds, but no rain or wind until we were on our way back to Winslow.

The Penske truck loaded with all the boxes left Winslow early, and, thanks to a number of local Navajos at Big Mountain, the truck had been unloaded by the time the rest of us arrived. The crew got right to work setting up the Rainbow Circle. The first job is setting out the rope that defines the arc of the circle and has markers where each of the boxes should be placed. Harry Begay does this with a practiced eye.

The result of this, plus a bit of lifting and carrying, is a neat presentation of food boxes, gift boxes, and produce.

It's a little hard to see here, but there are over 80 sets in the arc. The layout also anticipates the loading process at the end of the food run when Elders can easily drive their vehicles by to receive their things.

Another truck to be unloaded is the pickup belonging to Devoice and Marilyn Medford who drove from North Carolina with a large number of giveaways for the Elders.

At the ceremony  to initiate this food run, Devoice was honored with an ANE Pendelton blanket. She brought the blanket to Big Mountain so we could take a photograph on the Land.

Devoice and Marilyn spent months preparing for the food run. They knitted and crocheted, held fundraisers, solicited help from friends and fellow church members, and then drove for three days across the country to bring it all to the Elders.

Here is the tarp committee headed by Judy Keane. Since this food run is so big, the tarp is correspondingly large, and it was hard work for these ladies to get everything out and neatly arranged before the program began.

Here is a view once things are pretty much ready to go. We see the giveaway table in the foreground and a portion of the circle of Elders in the background. A corner of the tarp can be seen on the right.

While they await the start of the program, Grace Smith Yellowhammer, co-founder of ANE, visits with May Shay, one of the original Elders in the Big Mountain food run.

There were a number of quilts given away at this food run. Sam and Rena Yazzie were the happy recipients of one of them.

Preparing the meal for the hundreds in attendance at the gathering was a big job. Here are three of the four Robertson sisters who help host the food run and do much of the cooking. Rena, Ella, and Alice are joined by Sharon Prescott who headed the food committee of volunteers who also helped with this huge project.

The fourth Robertson sister, Mary, serves as translator and here is seen here sharing a moment with Wendy Sanborn.

One of the food options was mutton stew with hominy.

Given the number of Elders at this food run, it's no surprise that there is a large number of rugs and lots of jewelry available for volunteers to purchase at the end of the program. Louise Altsisi sets out her wares for display.

Smiles are abundant when Elders and their sponsors get to meet at a food run. Louise Helen Goh and Loretta Melvin are pleased to have some time together.

And smiles were found on the children's faces as well when they received tooth brushes and tooth paste from New York volunteer John del Campo.

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