Saturday, November 21, 2009

Demonstrating Navajo Culture

by John Aldrich
There are many aspects to the annual rug show, and some of them are not apparent to the typical show visitor. The school demonstration programs are one such activity. Organized by Kathleen Mercer, grade-school classes are invited to the show on Thursday and Friday before the show is open to the public. Up to 200 students at a time come for three separate programs in which the Elders and their families demonstrate a variety of aspects of Navajo culture for the children. In addition to watching, students also have a chance to actually try their hand at a variety of things such as weaving, corn grinding, learning a few words of Navajo, and having their hair tied in a traditional Navajo hair bun.

Here students gather around Elders at their looms.  The small loom in the center is used to give interested children a chance to try weaving.

Anna Jackson of Teesto is at her loom providing a chance to see actual rugs being created.

Leonard Holiday of Oljato shows a traditional ceremonial basket and explains its meaning and significance.

Robin Field-Williams is holding a model hogan with its roof removed. This gives students an opportunity to see what a traditional Navajo home is like.

Following a demonstration of corn grinding this young man has a chance to try it himself under the direction of Marty Whitehair.

Girls with longer hair can have it put up in a hair bun by Delorcita Francis of Round Rock.

At the conclusion of the programs children are treated to Navajo fry bread made by Mary Lou Gleason of Teesto.

In addition to being a unique educational and culturally enriching opportunity, the kids have a lot of fun.


  1. Fantastic pictures. For those of us unable to attend these are wonderful to see what goes on and determined to get there one day!