Thursday, April 12, 2012

Food Run Report - Navajo Mountain 3/29/12

by John Aldrich

When we line up the food run convoy there are too many vehicles to fit in the parking lot of the Wetherill Inn in Kayenta. So everyone moves to the parking lot at the shopping center for the traditional smudging that takes place before we depart for Navajo Mountain.

Although the town of Kayenta wouldn't count for much on the urban scale of America, it's one of the few towns of any size on the Navajo Reservation. When we leave here, we are truly heading for the hinterlands. Navajo Mountain is a very remote location, and it will take us 1 3/4 hours to get there - there is no place closer where we can stay.

But it's a beautiful and relaxing drive allowing time to reflect on experiences of the previous day and enjoy the beautiful scenery and the anticipation of the upcoming food run.

When we arrive at the chapter house at Navajo Mountain, yesterday's finely tuned group of volunteers knows exactly what to do and gets right to work.

A number of volunteers have come on this run to meet their Elders. Seasoned volunteer Gale Reeves got to meet her new Elder, Alice Billie. Alice is newly enrolled in the Program and this was her first food run.

Elder Arlene Reed actually has four sponsors who are friends in Salt Lake and have combined their resources to adopt her. They were all excited to meet Arlene for the first time.

There weren't quite as many volunteers as there were Elders, but at times it seemed that way. During the period of volunteer introductions, the Elders enjoy seeing who has come to meet them and to hear where they are from.

The feeling of warmth and gratitude that we always experience on this food run continued as a number of the local weavers presented rugs as donations to ANE. In return they all received a bundle of yarn and warp.

Nancy Greenwood received a rug from her Grandma Nancy Greymountain.

And Fred Littleboy presented Linda with a basket of jewelry to be distributed among the volunteers who had come to the food run.

There were a number of special giveaways. Marilyn Cowan, a talented quilter, presented ANE with 10 quilts to be given to Elders at Oljato and Navajo Mountain. Celone Dougi was very pleased to receive one of them.

A previous blog described how volunteers at the warehouse had prepared panne fabric to be given to the Elders for use in making blouses and skirts. Here is the fruition of all that work.

Another special giveaway came from Sheila McKinney, a long-time volunteer who now lives in Hawaii. The packets contain red sea salt which is used for ceremonial purposes by polynesian peoples.

A touching moment came during the morning when new volunteers Dottie and Bill Wikle met their Elder, Harry Nimrod. Dottie and Bill made the trip to Navajo Mountain from rural Virginia and brought with them a new pair of boots for Harry.

Della Greymountain is one of the older Elders at the Navajo Mountain food run. She was unable to attend the last food run in August 2011 because of hip surgery. We were pleased to see her back and looking well. She received a warm embrace from Celone Dougi.

Elders like to wear their best to the food runs. Morris Burns had a beautiful old silver and turquoise bracelet.

As things inside were winding down towards the end of the event, the men were busy outside loading Elders vehicles. Because of the precious and precarious nature of drinking water at Navajo Mountain, everyone receives a two cases of bottled water along with their Rainbow Boxes.

First-time volunteer Levi Lambson was proud to have his picture taken with Yodell Billah who served in the Pacific for several years during WW II.

Because of the incredible beauty of the Land around Navajo Mountain, I like to include at least one picture that provides a glimpse of this unique area. This is one of the canyons that drains off the east side of the mountain.


  1. Beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I enjoy reading your blog and the pictures tell quite a story. I am actually the person who sent the quilt that Celone Dougi received, it's one of two I made in memory of my daughter, Natalie. It's really gratifying to see the person who received it and to know that she will enjoy it. Thanks very much for that!