Monday, May 30, 2011

Food Run Report - Big Mountain 5/11/11

by John Aldrich

Big Mountain is the Big One. With over 80 Elders, this food run dwarfs the rest. Elders typically arrive with several family members so that makes a large crowd already. Then add 45 volunteers and other hangers-on and suddenly you have around 300 people. This event has been hosted by the Robertson family at Hardrock for many years, and their generosity and hard work in staging the run is greatly appreciated by ANE.

In recent years, the Penske truck with all the boxes has left Winslow well ahead of the rest of us. On our arrival at the Robertsons, the box crew was elated by this sight.

Howard Benally, who drove the truck, had rounded up enough local help to get it completely unloaded. Of course there was still plenty of work remaining to be done, but this got the day off to a great start.

And what could be a better next step than to pause for a cinnamon roll? Alice Robertson, a member of the host family, makes these for a living.

The following photograph shows the layout of the food run. The Elders sit in a large circle with the tarp in the center. At the top the volunteers are lined up to be introduced.

It was a cool day, so most of the Elders were bundled up in jackets and blankets. But there was little wind and the sky was dramatic. In other words, close to perfect.

Here are the volunteers lined up for introductions.

Mary Robertson-Begay, in addition to being one of the hosts, serves as translator.

Alex Robertson, our host, received the ANE Pendelton blanket.

During the giveaway portion of the program, new volunteer Keith Karren hands out ten pound bags of Blue Bird four. This is in addition to the 20 pound bags that Elders receive with their Rainbow Food Box sets.

A number of volunteers on this run were sponsors of Big Mountain Elders. Here are Oregon volunteers, Ron and Shelia Borden with their Elders, Donald and Lorraine Wesley, and their family.

Tandra Goodwin and Steve McGeeny of Tuscon visited with Harry Horseherder, Steve's Elder.

The tarp is shown here.

With the Elders sitting close by, many have already eyed special items they would like to claim. So when the signal is given to start, there is a mad scramble from the sidelines.

Following the program, giveaways, and meal, Elders and other local Navajos present their arts and crafts for sale. Given the scale of this food run, there are many choices.

Salt Lake volunteers Lynn Decker and Pauline Blanchard pose here with their Elder, Faye Begay, and her beautiful storm pattern rug.

Young Emma, whom we met in the Sanders blog, appears destined to be a serious shopper.

My featured hairstyle for this day belongs to Mae Tso.

While the ladies were shopping, the box crew was busy loading Elders' vehicles.

After loading Louise Helen Goh's truck Leroy Arellano bids her farewell.

Following the food run, the return drive to Winslow takes roughly 1 1/2 hours. We do not return in a convoy so we are free to spend as much time as we like along the way. It's a time to peacefully reflect on the beauty of the day and the blessings each of us received.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Food Run Report - Sanders 5/10/11

by John Aldrich

I've been home from the food runs for almost a week now and am starting to feel as though I'm getting on top of the roughly 3000 images I brought home. So it's time to pick up the blog thread at Sanders, the first in the final week of runs.

Sanders is located in an area of the reservation referred to as the New Lands. It's situated not far off Interstate 40 a bit west of Gallup. New Lands refers to the fact that many Navajos who were involved in the Navajo-Hopi land dispute in the 1980's ended up being relocated here. So many of these people are actually from the Big Mountain and Coal Mine Mesa areas of the reservation.

The group photo at Sanders is my favorite because it's the only one we take where an uncluttered view of the Land serves as the background.

As you can see, we were graced with another beautiful day - a bit cool but not windy.

Ella White was the moving force behind getting ANE to stage a food run in this area, and the run is held on her family's land utilizing a shade house for cover. On our arrival there is always a pot of coffee brewing on a fire outside, and this time, the fire also served for making fry bread.

Sanders is a relatively small food run, so it didn't take long for the box crew to get the Rainbow Food Boxes lined up. Here's a portion of them.

While this photo shows the box crew for the final week of food runs.

The medical committee was reconstituted this week by Lynn Clark, Cindy Devers, and Shelia Borden. Kate Stephens remains the constant.

Inside the shade house Mark Roginske has a chance to meet his new Elder, Sam Danny, while Howard Benally serves as translator.

The shade house is not a large structure which is no doubt why this is a relatively small food run. This view shows most of the interior. The "kitchen" is right behind me.

Ella is seen here receiving her ANE Pendelton blanket - once again donated by Wendy's parents.

In keeping with one of my sub-themes in these blogs, here's another hair style.

And while we're on the subject of attire, how about this for color coordination?

Every group of food run volunteers is unique in one way or another. Whenever younger people are part of the mix, they often become a focus of attention, both by the Elders as well as the other volunteers. This week we were blessed with the presence of two delightful sisters, Emma and Chloe Campbell-Kelsch.

They mixed readily and easily with the local Navajo children their age.

Here, Emma is amused by something during the program portion of the day.

The Sanders food run location is graced by one "facility" which stands out against the background of the Land.

During the final box loading Leroy Arellano, Steve McGeeny, and Luis Pi-Sunyer pause with Mary Badoni.

And Bessie Shepherd waits appreciatively as her boxes are loaded into her car.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Food Run Report - Pinon 5/7/11

by John Aldrich

The Pinon food run is one of my favorites. After working at inside locations that are cramped and/or dark at Many Farms and Tsaile, we are finally outside in the fresh air and sun. It's also a small run which is nice. We are at Jane Benale's homeland which is actually much closer to Forest Lake than it is to Pinon. This is a very remote location on the flank of Black Mesa and on the edge of the Hopi reservation. The following photo shows the layout of the food run.

A walk around the area revealed several things of interest. Heating for the Benales involves both wood and coal thanks to their proximity to the Black Mesa coal mines. Here's a supply of both in back of the house.

During the severe winter of the previous year, local residents would sit in line for many hours at the coal mine to pick up their load.

The Benales also have a very old hogan nearby which is always fun to photograph.

The Rainbow Circle for the food boxes is laid out using a rope marked off with the location for each set. Fred Palmer secures the rope on the ground as Mac Lund rolls it out.

Here is the completed Rainbow Circle with the tarp in the foreground.

Jane Benale was honored with the ANE Pendelton blanket at this food run. The Elders seem very impressed when the creation of the blanket is described and enjoy seeing the name of their food run featured.

During each food run program the volunteers are introduced to the Elders. There are many expressions of surprise and gratitude when they learn that people have traveled from as far away as Florida and Vermont to meet and serve them.

At the conclusion of the run, when Elders have a chance to sell their rugs and jewelry, Janet and Dave Reffert purchased this nice Klagetoh pattern from Mary Bitsui

Lorraine Black is an occasional guest at Pinon. Lorraine belongs to a family of famous basket makers and sometimes brings a few of her masterpieces to sell.

This basket was purchased for roughly half what it would have cost at a trading post.

Malcolm Benale had just finished a book about the years of the Navajo-Hopi land dispute which severely affected thousands of Navajos on this area of the reservation. He autographed copies and sold all that he brought.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Food Run Report - Tsaile 5/6/11

by John Aldrich

The wind is having its way with us again in Winslow, but reports for the remainder of the week look encouraging - in particular, the food run days have no wind warnings at present. The volunteers for this week's runs arrived yesterday providing a whole new set of names and faces to learn and remember.

But let's return to last week and have a look at the food run to Tsaile. This event is different from all the others in that it occurs in the evening. For many years we went to the elementary school but now use a building at Dine College. It's a spacious place, so it's easy to set up and move around.

The centerpiece of the campus at Dine College is an octagonal building encased in glass. It's quite striking from a distance and is seen here with some of our food run boxes in the foreground.

A division of labor is created at each food run to carry out the various tasks that must be completed. As noted in previous blogs, we serve a meal at each food run, and hence, have a food committee. For the food runs based out of Chinle, this job has been very capably handled by Laree White-Engle in recent years.

Here is Laree with her committee. From left to right are Linda Lux, Joanne Knoeble, Laree, Jan Parmenter, Janet Reffert, and Patti Palmer.

Each food run site provides a different set of challenges - the principle one at Tsaile being that there is no kitchen. As a result Laree plans on using electric cookers along with serving cold dishes like pasta salad. Despite whatever handicaps are presented the committee always comes through with a delicious meal. Elders and their families also bring food to supplement what we provide.

The tarp event was mentioned in the last blog about Many Farms. Elinda McKenna heads this group of ladies seen below, Cyndi Schwandt, Barbara Bull, Glenda Harwood, Margaret-Elaine Jinno, Elinda, and Alice Sikorsky.

Elinda makes a point of allowing the Elders who must rely on wheelchairs, canes, and walkers to have a head start in making their selections.

At Tsaile this year there was room to enroll one new Elder. Here Rodger Williams is helping her with the necessary paperwork.

Another important group is the medical committee. Here are Mary Ward, Barbara Tanner-Torres, and Kate Maxwell Stephens. Kate is driving the medical van to all of the current series of food runs.

The job of this committee is to assess the health needs of individual Elders. The Program provides a variety of home care products, and this group, mostly nurses, interviews the Elders to determine their needs. ANE does not provide or arrange for any medical care, but by helping with these supplies, eases the financial burden on the families.

In keeping with the previous blogs in this series, here is Frank Kedelty, coordinator at Tsaile, with his Pendelton blanket.

ANE encourages all of our Elders who are weavers to remain active at this art which lies at the heart of Navajo culture. There is a yarn giveaway at each food run, and here we see several of the Tsaile weavers with their yarn bundles.

During the portion of the program where Navajos can give to the Program if they wish, Randall Alan who helped manage the parking at the college facility, gave this gift to Mac Lund who was responsible for organizing all the unloading and loading of food and gift boxes.

Mac and his wife Sheri have been a part of ANE for years and have sponsored an Elder at Tsaile, Mary Chee. They were distressed to find that Mary had recently broken her arm. Mary helps support herself through her weaving, so we pray for a speedy recovery from this injury.

Finally, I was asked to take a picture of this lovely trio who, without any prior planning, ended up being very color-coordinated.