Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Amasani Report - March 2013

by C.J. Robb

The month of March has been a busy one for the Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program.  In addition to gearing up for the spring food runs, we have also been visiting schools in the Salt Lake Valley, teaching Navajo culture and customs as part of the Amasani program.  On the first of the month we visited the Montessori Community School and set up in their gym after school to visit with the kids and their parents.

The Montessori Community School has faithfully sponsored three Elders for more than eighteen years, and has made a real difference in their lives.

The Amasani Program was originally started to introduce traditional Navajo Culture to young children.  These children will be the last generation with the opportunity to interact with, and learn from these traditional Elders and their connection to mother earth.

Lupita Francis drove all the way to Salt Lake to teach corn grinding to the children.

Art Sleeper, Beverly Benally, Bobbi Coleman, and our Shiyazhi Princess teach the art of carding and weaving.  Art donates a rug to the rug show auction every year as part of a package that includes original pieces of art made by our gifted volunteers.

Carmen Nez, the mother of two Shiyazi Princesses taught the children how to tie a traditional hair bun.

Rodger Williams regularly takes time off work to sing traditional songs and tell traditional stories, just as he has done for his own children and grandchildren.

Carla Sydenham shows off some of ANE’s extensive collection of children’s rugs.  Many of these rugs were woven by children the same age or younger than the school children in attendance.  The Children’s rugs are for sale at the shows in order to allow the program to continue to support young weavers in hopes that this traditional art form will continue to be passed on.

On March Sixth we traveled to St. John the Baptist in Draper where volunteers Meredith and Tina worked with the kindergarten and first graders to collect food for the Elders.  They also packed and donated one hundred and eighty preschool bags that will be given to children on the upcoming spring food runs.

Here Linda shows the kindergarteners a traditional hogan, a style of dwelling many of our Elders still call home.

After a weaving demonstration by Beverly Benally, the kids are invited to test their knowledge by weaving yarn through their fingers.

Shirlee Silversmith brought her traditional grinding stone and cradle board to show to the kids.  Shirlee gave a beautiful explanation about the importance of corn to the Navajo people and brought the kids up to try their hand at corn grinding.

Here Beverly shows the kindergarten girls how to tie their hair into a bun just like the Navajo Grandmas.

 The Amasani program is a wonderful and truly meaningful part of ANE, and like everything we do, could not happen without dedicated volunteers.  Thank you to Lupita Francis, Carmen Nez, Rodger Williams, Bobbi Coleman, Beverly Benally, Andrea Berman, Cindy Cook, Carla and Stan Sydenham, Art and Sandy Sleeper, Shirley Silversmith, Masuda Medcalf, C.J. Robb and everyone else who makes what we do possible.

And a special thank you….

To the 4th graders at Upland Terrace who collect food for the food runs every year, here are some of their smiling representatives who got to deliver it all to the warehouse just in time for food packing!

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