Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Winter Stories Night 2012

by John Aldrich

As we gathered for the annual Winter Stories night at the warehouse on Sunday, we were again invited to imagine that we were in a large hogan, part of a large Navajo family, gathered for a traditional winter evening of story telling and sharing about culture. Rodger Williams was once more the organizer and emcee of the event.

And once more the warehouse was full with an appreciative audience that included many Navajo families with their children. There was an extensive array of food that included fry bread and mutton stew for those who wanted to enjoy the full cultural experience.

Rodger led off with a welcome and a song and then introduced Steve Todechine who talked about Navajo culture, told a coyote story, and then had the audience participate in string games, a winter tradition.

Next, Eileen Quintana spoke about the tools, or "weapons", of a woman. Eileen truly speaks from the heart, and it's always inspiring to hear her message.

Here she explains about the brush, made of native plants, that can be used for personal care as well as housekeeping. Then she displayed weaving tools, very powerful implements, since the product of their use can provide for the most important necessities of life, food and shelter.

Many families on the reservation owe their survival to the weaver in the family who supports them through the sale of the rugs she weaves.

Eileen is coordinator for the Title VII program in the Nebo school district and brought with her a group of students who performed a Yupik dance.

Then our new Shi Yazhi princess, Emma Loughlin, introduced herself.

Emma has great poise and self-assurance. She will surely be a fine representative for ANE throughout the year.

Last year we were introduced to Emerson Bill and his group of singers. They were very popular with the audience, so we were delighted that they returned.

The combination of stirring drumming and amazing vocalizations was a special treat that left everyone wishing for more.

The last speaker was Julius Chavez who spoke of the importance of corn in Navajo culture. His remarks were particularly addressed to the Navajo children in the audience. Julius has been dismayed to find that many young Navajos don't know the difference between corn meal and corn pollen.

Both are very important but have different ceremonial uses. Corn meal is used in the blessing of homes while corn pollen is used in the blessing of people.

The different colors of corn each have their own significance.

White corn signifies the young boy while the yellow corn signifies the young girl. Corn, and its use, is central to Navajo culture and ceremonial life. Julius's explanation of its role was both informative and inspiring.

Julius also spoke about the warehouse where we were gathered. He views it as the heart of the program, the place from which the many blessings of ANE extend out to the Elders. He likened the center of the warehouse to the center of a corn field - the focal point from which these blessings emanate.

After another song from Emerson's group, we disbursed with a great sense of enrichment.

No comments:

Post a Comment