Monday, August 30, 2010

The Land Is Beautiful

by John Aldrich

The food runs to Oljato and Navajo Mountain are recently completed. Normally this blog would focus on the events of the journey, but for now I would like to reflect on the beauty of the Land we passed through. Oljato and Navajo Mountain are in some of the most beautiful parts of the reservation. Although each has a distinctly different character, there's no denying that these two areas have a corner on beauty. The Navajo people revere the Land, and on this food run it was very easy to see why.

Summer rains are common throughout Arizona and Utah. Monsoonal moisture wells up from the south producing sometimes prodigious thunderstorms, the male rain of Navajo lore. In the weeks prior to the recent food runs there had been considerable precipitation which laid the groundwork for the proliferation of plants and flowers that we witnessed. We actually had fair and sunny weather during our time on the Land, but the seeds were there and had been stimulated in the days preceding our arrival.

The first two photos were not taken on the Land but rather between Moab and Monticello, a route that most volunteers traveling from northern Utah would utilize. The yellow sunflowers seen here were evident everywhere during our travels.

At this time of the year the range would most often be turning brown from the relentless summer sun.

Later along the road to Navajo Mountain there was a profusion of other wildflowers.

This view looks north towards the mountain. To the right of the highway a scar is evident. This is the new water pipeline which should be completed in a year and will bring a reliable supply to a community which has been at the mercy of a very unreliable water source.

The disturbed areas along the sides of the highway were fertile ground for an astounding display of flowers.

Here are paintbrush of intense red set against a mass of white primrose.

And here are gaillardia against a background of yellow. Although we have this plant in our garden, it was the first I had seen it in the wild.

These weren't isolated patches of flowers. The display went on continuously for miles and included other plants not pictured.

Our time with the Elders was the primary reward of this journey, but these roadside displays certainly added greatly to the overall experience.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Sheep Dog Trials

by John Aldrich

If you're looking for an event which combines supporting ANE together with witnessing an amazing display of canine training, plan on coming to the annual sheep dog trials known as the Soldier Hollow Classic over Labor Day weekend in the beautiful Heber Valley September 3-6.

The main event is a truly remarkable display of teamwork between the sheep dog and his/her trainer. Controlling the dog with a combination of whistles, gestures, and voice commands, the trainer guides the dog to herd a small flock of sheep through a challenging and far-ranging course which is laid out at the site of the 2002 Olympics cross country skiing events.

This has become an increasingly popular event with thousands attending over the four days it is held. In addition to the actual sheep dog trials there are a number of ancillary events which are quite entertaining such as the dog jumping contest. For more information about the event visit their website.

To make the event an even bigger attraction there are many vendors who take part. One of these is the Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program. Mark Peterson, the event organizer, has been very supportive of our Program, providing tent space in a good location. In turn, ANE provides demonstrations of Navajo weaving as well as offering for sale a large variety of rugs and jewelry. This is one those special events that help us to sell rugs from our catalog.

The tent attracts large numbers of visitors, and periodically throughout the day demonstrations are given by Navajo weavers who come from the rez for this event.

Here is Darlene Furcap standing in from of a selection of her rugs with Program rugs hanging on the wall in the background,

while her sister, Lena Cowby, demonstrates the art of Navajo weaving.

Everyone attending the trials is guaranteed a fascinating experience as well as a fine opportunity to support ANE. The event web site has a page dedicated to ANE which gives further information. If anyone is interested in volunteering to help staff the tent during the event, please contact Wendy Sanborn at 801-243-2295.