Sunday, February 3, 2013

Ma'ii Comes To The Warehouse

by John Aldrich

It was a week ago today when we were scheduled to have our annual Winter Stories event at the warehouse. At about 3:00, two hours before starting time, it began to snow. Ma'ii was trying to trick us into staying home. By 5:00 there was heavy snow on the roads and no sign of a snow plow. Those of us who got there early speculated that no one was likely to show up given the conditions which were only getting worse. Some folks had to come all the way from Spanish Fork, 50 miles distant.

But people started trickling in, and they kept coming and coming. We ended up with a full house - over 125 - and most everyone brought something to contribute to the food table so we had quite a feast.

Ma'ii is the Navajo word for Coyote who is the subject of many traditional winter stories. He's a trickster, and sometimes a fool, but stories about him usually contain a useful life-lesson. In this case we learned not to be easily put off by the weather because there is a fine reward for persevering.

Rodger Williams is the organizer and master of ceremonies for this event. Every year he puts together an entertaining and instructive evening.

He always encourages us to transport ourselves mentally to the reservation and imagine that we are in a hogan listening to our elders share their wisdom.

If we were in a real hogan, though, we probably wouldn't have the opportunity to enjoy a drum group like we had this particular evening.

Southern War Pony has participated in other ANE events and again offered us stirring and energizing performances during the evening.

Eileen Quintana was the first to speak about cultural topics. Eileen's messages are always heartfelt and sincere. She encouraged us to honor our families and heritage regardless of our background.

She also brought with her a number of her students from the Nebo School District who performed an Inuit song and dance.

Harry James is another crowd favorite. He presents the pow wow at the annual rug show and often sings at Winter Stories. Harry showed us how modern technology has crept in to benefit traditional singers. Harry wanted to sing us a song that he wasn't totally familiar with. After several false starts, he consulted with his IPod to remind him of the proper words.

Another perennial favorite is Lacee Harris, a local Ute, and an engaging story teller. He related a number of Ma'ii stories.

This view shows some of the crowd during Lacee's presentation.

Coyote is the object of stories in many native cultures. Kate Maxwell Stephens, a dedicated ANE volunteer, represented the Comanche Nation and related a spellbinding story.

Another number from the drum group came next and kept our juices flowing.

Our Shi Yazhi princess, Star Nez, introduced herself and told a story.

At age six Star has as much poise and confidence with a microphone as any of our princesses have ever had, yet she still appreciated having her mother Carma close by her side.

Steve Todechiini made his debut at Winter Stories last year and returned for another engagement. He spoke about the clan system within Navajo culture as well as a variety of other topics.

Everyone loves Julius Chavez whose message is typically directed at the younger members of the audience. He told us how a variety of pitfalls and temptations in life have their place in our learning process. We just need to avoid these weaknesses and stay on the correct path.

And finally another song from Southern War Pony gave us the courage to face the weather and return home.

Safely back in our own "hogans" we could reflect on another great evening. Thank you, Rodger.

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