Monday, October 29, 2012

Rug Show Training

by John Aldrich

The first "official" event for the rug show is a training opportunity for volunteers to learn more about Navajo weaving so they will be better prepared to help visitors at the show. This was held last night at the warehouse. John Burrow has generously flown in from Portland to conduct this training for many years. It a great chance for volunteers to not only learn more about weaving but to see a few of the rugs that will be offered for sale at the show.

Food is served, and it's a potluck affair with pizza "on the house".

Elinda McKenna , one of the hard-working volunteer coordinators, said a few words:

Linda also spoke for a minute and introduced John Burrow:

John then took over and made a fascinating presentation. John is very knowledgeable about Navajo weaving and discussed why it is such a unique art. He also reviewed the various regional styles

I always like John's advice to new volunteers who will be introducing rugs to show visitors. His point is that we don't need to feel pressure or feel like we are there to sell the rugs. This just isn't necessary because the "rugs will sell themselves".

This was the most unique rug of the evening for me, a Yei Tree of Life by Winona Joe:

Another beauty is this Mother Earth Father Sky in natural colors by Luana Tso:

Come and see these rugs along with the hundreds of others that will be at the show. Perhaps one will "sell itself" to you.

The show starts Friday evening, November 2nd, and runs through Sunday evening. Check out the schedule of events here.

Monday, October 22, 2012

New Night Sky Rugs

by John Aldrich

The recent fall food runs yielded many new rugs which will be on display and available for sale at the upcoming rug show. Four of these rugs are very special because they were woven in honor of this year's rug show theme, Weaving The Night Sky.

The first of these is Yei Bei Chei Dancers Under The Stars by Elizabeth Clah:

Alice Runninghawk has woven Night Skies Chief:

From the loom of Racquel Robertson we have Moon Over Shiprock:

And Marsha Rose created this ethereal design, Sacred Bird Flight In The Night Skies:

Altogether there are around forty rugs that have been woven around this night sky theme. They will be available to purchase when the show opens Friday evening, November 2nd, at our special opening event.

Typically the rugs woven for the special rug show themes sell very quickly, so please join us Friday evening so you can have your pick. This event is a fund raiser for ANE and the cost is $30 per person. If you can't make it then, join us Saturday or Sunday when the admission is $5.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Navajo Mountain

by John Aldrich

Navajo Mountain is not only a dominant geologic presence in the northern area of the Navajo Reservation  but also a sacred site to the Navajo people. Known as Naatsis'aan to the Dine', this landmark is readily identifiable due to its prominence on the skyline and its distinctive dome shape.

This is how it appeared at sunset on a recent night of camping on Cedar Mesa roughly 50 miles to the east. From appropriate vantage points across northern Arizona and southern Utah this same shape can be readily identified as it provides a sense of orientation to the landscape.

Although it's actually in Utah, one must drive many miles through Azizona before reentering Utah to get there. Because it is so remote , it was a refuge for a number of Navajo fleeing Kit Carson's troops during the Long Walk era in the 1860's.

Traveling around this part of the country, one can more easily feel at home when the unmistakeable shape of Naatsis'aan appears on the horizon.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Walk In Beauty - Fall 2012

by Cindy Cook and Ray Coleman

It was the first morning of the fall shoe delivery and the sun rose like a fire ball.

The truck was filled with nearly 500 pairs of new shoes.  We were eager to begin putting them on the children and looked forward to our time on The Land.
Our Coordinator at Canyon de Chelly Elementary is Patrick Tah.  His family is from the Canyon and he generously took us on a tour.

On his family’s home land is a stone Hogan over 200 years old that is still in use.  Patrick shared many stories and lessons he’d learned from his elders.  One was that the Holy Ones come in to the children to look in on us and see how we adults are doing.  It was a wonderful perspective to have as we crossed The Land and shared the company of so many children.
Mesa View Elementary was added to the program this fall.  We met with Parent Coordinator, Doris Davis, last spring and she agreed to coordinate the Walk In Beauty program for her students.
Schools on the reservation are working hard to improve the academic achievement of their students.  There was a great deal of staff restructuring and program enhancement going on during our visit.  At least 6 of the schools in the Walk In Beauty program had recently been assigned new principals.  The new principal at Tsaile Elementary, Mr. Elliott, had previously taught there and left a professorship at ASU to return.  He was familiar with ANE, having been a teacher during the time that the food runs were held at the elementary school.  He was very enthusiastic and supportive of Walk In Beauty and said, “Thank you for taking care of our kids.”   

Walk In Beauty received a certificate of appreciation.
Tsaile Coordinator, Josephine Yellow, and some of the students who received new shoes.
There is great need for a pair of supportive and proper fitting shoes.
With support from Coordinator, Colt Chischillie, students from Leupp Boarding School gave Walk In Beauty a thank-you card with their signatures.
Many Farms Public School Coordinators, Lorraine Begay and Sadie Hoswoot, work hard to identify students in the greatest need of new shoes.
At Rocky Ridge Boarding School, teacher Lavernda Whitehair, takes time away from her class to coordinate Walk In Beauty.
It is interesting to observe how the schools bridge the modern with tradition.  In one school lobby there was a sign that read, “Have you made your ancestors proud today?”  As we reflect on the generosity of our donors, we feel certain their ancestors would be proud.  With their continued support, children can look forward to receiving new shoes in the spring.
Questions about Walk In Beauty?  E-mail us at:

Click here for more photos.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Amasani At Trailside Elementary

by Kathy Osborne

(Note: We are delighted to welcome Kathy as the new director of the Amasani Program.)

ANE's Amasani Program held a Mini Rug Show, the evening of September 10th, at Trailside Elementary School in Park City.  Most of the students and parents who attended stayed the entire two hours and enjoyed a hands-on introduction to Navajo culture and way of life.  It was an evening that they will remember for a long time to come.

Wendy Sanborn greeted participants at the door and directed them to activities and displays.

Shirlee Silversmith showed visitors how to remove corn from the cob and grind it into meal.  Many children found that keeping the corn in place while grinding can be a tricky business.

Eileen Quintana demonstrated carding sheep's wool and spinning it into yarn. Students got a sense of the labor intensive process that goes into creating a Navajo rug. Rug making takes skill and patience.

Children love stories and a storyteller who punctuates the story with a drumbeat makes the story that much better.  Rodger Williams held his audience captive as he shared traditional Navajo stories.

Kathy Osborne, the new Amasani coordinator, introduced books that were written and illustrated by Navajo authors.  The books were available to buy.

The loom sat in the center of the auditorium.  There Beverly Benally showed “eager weavers” how to turn yarn into a piece of art.  One little girl returned again and again to the loom to weave just a little more.  With Beverly's guidance, nearly a third of a rug was completed.

Carla Sydenham, Linda Myers, and Sandy Sleeper helped parents and children pick a special memory of the evening to take home.  Rugs made by young Navajo weavers covered two tables.  Each rug had the name and age of the artist. Having had the chance to card, spin, and weave, many wanted to purchase a small rug to take home.  But, there were also beautiful pieces of beaded jewelry and cuddly stuffed-fleece animals calling “take me home” as well.  Linda, Carla, and Sandy assisted in the decision making process.

Stan Sydenham finalized sales, always with a smile.

Off behind the rug tables, Nancy Haga, a flute player and teacher from Park City, showed small fingers how to play wooden flutes. Children worked hard to coordinate fingers and breath to make the music their own.   Nancy's music brought a sense of the desert southwest to Trailside School. 

Amasani exists to promote understanding of and appreciation for Navajo culture.  This night the group wanted the children to participate in a service project for the Native Elders who would be visited on the next food run.  Bobbi Lees harnessed her inner teacher and provided colorful reusable sacks for participants to fill with “goodies": toothpaste, toothbrush, hand sanitizer, washcloth, chapstick, as well as a handmade greeting from a child.  Sandy Sleeper kept the assembly line moving and CJ boxed up the goodie bags and hauled them to the van. 

As families left, each child received a copy of a Navajo rug design to color at home.

Utahna Halona, Shirlee Silversmith's daughter, took many of the photos you seen in this blog.
Thank you for the great pictures.

To all those who volunteered to help with the Trailside Mini Rug Show, Thank You!  A special Thank You goes to Krista Ingles, a third grade teacher at Trailside, whose interest in and commitment to Navajo culture,  ANE, and expanding young minds, made the evening possible. The show was a memorable experience for all.