Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Rug Show 2012 - The Main Event II

by John Aldrich

The final blog segment about our recent rug show deals with Sunday, the last day of the event. There are two special activities on this day that typically draw large crowds, the Veterans Ceremony and the Pow Wow.

The day starts on a solemn and moving note with the Veterans Ceremony. Howard Benally and his wife Beverly do a superb job organizing the event. This year we had hoped to have Samuel Tsosie as our guest speaker. He is one of the elite Navajo Code Talkers as well as an Elder in our program. Unfortunately, for health reasons, he was unable to attend, but his daughter and granddaughter ably filled in for him.

In this photo the audience pauses for a moment of reflection during the presentation of the colors.

Rhonda Duvall has sung the national anthem in Navajo at the ceremony for a number of years now. Her powerful voice moves everyone. She also presented a short program of songs on Saturday afternoon.

Howard Benally presented a special quilt to Loretta Tsosie, Samuel's daughter. It had been made in honor of a WWII flyman whose service was described in this letter.

Also honored at the ceremony was Jan Watts who has been part of the Intertribal Color Guard that participates in the event. Jan died early in the year.

At the conclusion of the ceremony and prayers, Elders and other well-wishers greet the veterans in the audience who have been honored. Frances Bahe is passing around a basket of donated necklaces.

The last photo from the ceremony shows those who helped organize and/or participated in the event. From the left they include Richard and Grace Yellowhammer, Loretta Tsosie and her daughter who is holding a photograph of her grandfather Samuel, and Howard and Beverly Benally.

One of the biggest jobs associated with the show is coordinating all the volunteers. Over the course of 5 days around 200 volunteers are typically involved. This task starts months before the show and involves countless hours of work. Elinda McKenna, seen in the back, worked with Mac Lund to accomplish this enormous job. Shannon Gordon and Sheri Lund were also a big help during the show.

Elders attending the show often have a number of family members with them. Ruth Benally from Big Mountain is surrounded by her daughters Irene, Vina, and Elvira while granddaughter Lucinda gets a playful glance from her grandmother.

One of the most beautiful rugs at the show was this masterpiece by Darlene Furcap. It sold just before the end of the show.

The pow wow on Sunday afternoon brings in a crowd eager to see Native American dancing. Harry James has staged this event for us for many years. He warms up the audience with stories, singing, and demonstrations of Navajo culture.

Dancers participate by demonstrating a variety of styles typical of pow wow events. The colorful costumes add to the excitement.

Perhaps most popular with the audience are the hoop dancers. Carl Moore and his two sons have been impressing the crowd for years. Their combination of energy and coordination is extraordinary.

At the conclusion of the pow wow members of the audience join the performers for a final dance and mingling of cultures.

It's only fitting to end this review of the 2012 rug show with a final picture of those whose endless hours of planning and work made this all possible - Robin Field-Williams, Wendy Sanborn, Linda Myers, Kate Stephens, Gina Zimmerer, and Carla Sydenham.

And many thanks to all the volunteers who helped with the show and all the attendees whose interest in ANE and purchases at the show made it another successful year so that our Elders have additional resources to help them through the winter.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Rug Show 2012 - The Main Event I

by John Aldrich

Starting with the Friday night gala, the rug show is open to the public for the duration of the weekend. The opening event serves as a fund-raiser for ANE to help cover the expenses of staging the show, and the auction is the centerpiece of the evening. Equally important, though, is introducing to the public the exciting collection of rugs, jewelry, and crafts that are available for sale. These sales accomplish the essential roll of the show which is to return money to the reservation to assist the Elders and their families through the upcoming winter months.

We had an excellent turnout for Friday evening, and patrons had a chance to savor the delicious h'ors d'ouerves in addition to shopping and attending the auction.

The crowd got busy shopping right away. The Weaving The Night Sky theme rugs sold almost immediately after the show opened. There was also lots of interest at the craft table where many unique items were offered.

Auction packages were on display to pique the interest of prospective bidders.

And to help set an appropriate mood, native flute music was offered by the talented duo of Nancy Haga and Gary Hansen. Nancy had a particularly beautiful instrument with inlaid stones.

Before the auction started, the organizers were honored with rugs donated by the Elders. Art Sleeper was the main organizer of the event while Pauline Blanchard and Sharon Lewis provided able assistance.

Our auctioneer, Richard O'Keefe, once more led a rapid-paced, entertaining, and successful event.

Many were amused when this young lad played an active roll bidding with the encouragement of his family.

On Saturday the initial event of the day was to be the crowning of our new Shi Yazhi princess. Unfortunately, this had to be postponed because her family needed to out of town. However, Eileen Quintana, one of the co-chairs of this event, still provided a very informative program about the history of the event. Here she interviews her granddaughter Tasheena who was our princess several years ago.

In an area set off near the entrance, all the donations for the Elders are collected. Between everything the school children had brought and food donated as an admission, there was quite a large amount of things that needed to be taken to Elders' vehicles. Fortunately for Fred Palmer and Harry Begay, a group of high school boys showed up to help with this job.

On the show floor, Floretta Machen assists two women learn how they can make a donation of wool to one of the weavers at the show. These bundles provide enough wool to make a rug 2' x 3' in size.

One of the younger visitors to the show, this little boy has a stuffed horse made from Blue Bird Flour sacks.

In the early afternoon on both Satuday and Sunday, the weavers demonstrate their unique skills. Here, the practiced hands of Anna Jackson move with an effortless grace across her loom. It is mesmerizing to watch how a lifetime of weaving leads to movements that are second nature to Anna.

The end result is hopefully the sale of a rug. Elsie Benale stands here with a couple who will be very pleased with this storm pattern rug they have purchased.

The late afternnoon entertainment on Saturday is the popular Navajo Grandma Idol Contest. This year contestants were asked to sing about meeting a man with a one-eyed Ford. They had only a few minutes to think this over before getting up to sing.

Darlene Furcap was one of the first to perform and is accompanied here by Jay Tavare. The hat that each singer wore no doubt added to their inspiration.

In the end, Vina Horseherder was determined the winner through audience applause. The runners up were Anita Jackson and May Shay. There were appropriate prizes for each.

Elders wear their best to the rug show. Frances Bahe's dress is very traditional and embellished with silver and turquoise.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Rug Show 2012 - Behind The Scenes II

by John Aldrich

The main activity that takes place at the rug show before it opens to the public is a series of programs for school children. The purpose is to share knowledge about the Navajo way of life and promote understanding between cultures. Linda started this tradition in the early years of the show when she realized that young children in Park City knew nothing about their Native American neighbors and sometimes were even afraid of Indians. They come in classes that range from elementary to high school. Some of the classes have adopted an Elder through our Amasani Program, and many of the classes bring gifts of food or clothing.

During the sessions, students have an opportunity to see a variety of activities unique to the Navajo way of life. Foremost among these is weaving.

Children can see weavers working on rugs in progress and can also watch demonstrations of the skills needed to prepare yarn for weaving. Here Carol Blackhorse is spinning wool.

Students were quite impressed to see what a 9 year-old Navajo weaver was able to produce. Israel Whitehair was attending his second rug show. Last year he brought his very first rug and has made wonderful progress since then.

Students could also try their own hand at weaving under the guidance of Dianna Toya.

A number of classes that had adopted an Elder brought gifts for them such as this group presenting to Grandma Ruth Benally.

Other classes brought something for each of the Grandmas.

Classes that brought something for their Grandma often got a rug in return such as this group with Helen Rose Lewis.

One of the demonstrations that always makes quite an impressions was string games. This is a winter-time activity for Navajo children. Grace Smith Yellowhammer, William Whitehair, and Patrina Toya show their creations.

Once the show opens to the public on Friday evening, there isn't much that takes place behind the scenes. At lunch, though, there is time for a few more activities that are out of sight to the public. One day there was a raffle in which Lena Cowboy won this beautiful quilt made by Gina Zimmerer.

Mary Lou Gleason is pleased with the stuffed sheep that she won.

Another day Santa visited and brought each Elder a Christmas stocking.

The final photo shows the warmth that flows between volunteers and Elders at the show. This is the spirit of the Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rug Show 2012 - Behind The Scenes I

by John Aldrich

Planning for the rug show is an enormous task and begins as soon as the previous show is over. Throughout the year the rug show chair people meet frequently and work tirelessly to see that the next show will be a success. There are also a number of meetings for all potential volunteers so they can learn what's planned for the upcoming event and see where they might fit in.

One of the earliest events for all volunteers is Craft Day held in June. This is when the ornaments are created for the Elders' Winter Assistance Program. The sale of these ornaments at the show provides needed food and firewood to help see the Elders through the winter.

Just prior to the show we hold a rug training event at which John Burrow presents information that will be useful to volunteers working the rug sales areas. John provides an overview of Navajo weaving as well as a glimpse of some of the rugs that will be at the show.

Although the show didn't officially open to the public until November 2nd, we went to work on October 31st to hang the rugs and otherwise prepare for the show. When we arrived for setup the Snowpark Lodge at Deer Valley was already bedecked with a banner for the show.

Some 50 to 60 volunteers worked at various jobs preparing the lodge for the show. This is one of the groups helping to hang rugs.

While another group worked to set up the large area devoted to crafts.

We were honored to have three international visitors this year, two from France and one from South Africa, and they helped Gina Zimmerer decorate the tree with the Christmas ornaments.

This is what the first room looked like by the end of the day.

The rugs woven in connection with this year's theme, Weaving The Night Sky, appear on the far wall while the table in the foreground is devoted to hand woven rugs.

The principal activity that takes place on Thursday and Friday before the show opens is a series of programs for school children. However, there are a number of other events that take place as well. Thursday afternoon is typically the time for some lighthearted entertainment. Every year a game with a different theme takes place and provides smiles as well as prizes for the Elders.

This year Elders were chosen by an escort and became "movie stars" for the afternoon. Here is Helen Rose Lewis who is escorted by Jay Tavare. She will get to keep the outfit as well as the bag of prizes.

And here, Mary Lou Gleason walks the runway in her new attire.

Janet Dalton is the organizer of this event and poses here with some of her celebrities.

Thursday evening, the Elders and their families along with many ANE volunteers attend a dinner at the Grub Steak Restaurant. The venue and the meal are generously donated by Hans Fuegi, the owner.

The occasion serves as an opportunity to honor many of the people who have supported ANE throughout the year and helped to make the rug show a success. The committee of chair people for the rug show, Carla Sydenham, Gina Zimmerer, Robin Field-Williams, Kate Stephens, and Wendy Sanborn, each received a rug woven especially for them by Gloria Hardy.

The Ward family was among the other volunteers who were honored. Dave is ANE's treasurer and the family plays a huge, but unseen, roll in the show. They work in the "back room" processing sales from the show and seeing that each of the Elders gets compensated for what they have sold. They are typically up until the wee hours so that Elders will have their checks the next morning.

Also honored were our international guests. They pose here with Jay Tavare who spearheads the Spirit Volunteer program of which they are a part. Dominique Samy and Sandrine Lahaye traveled from France (Dominique for the second year in a row), while Tracey Parker came all the way from South Africa.

At the end of the evening, sisters Vina and Elvira Horseherder relax as they sport the new hats that they acquired in the afternoon.