Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Well-Deserved Honor For Boyd Mitchell

by John Aldrich

We gathered in Winslow today for the start of the second set of food runs of the spring season. A wonderful group of 24 volunteers has assembled from across the country and even Europe. Each food run begins with a ceremony, and over the last several years, Linda has been honoring special volunteers on these occasions with one of the limited edition ANE Pendleton blankets. The honoree this evening was Boyd Mitchell.

Those of us who have known Boyd over the years that he has been involved with the Program have watched the transformational effect that ANE has had, but in return, working with him has been transformational for many of us as well.

Boyd is a Navajo who let the connection with his culture slip away from him. Involvement with the Program has brought him back in touch with his heritage, and in turn this has provided inspiration for the rest of us to stay more closely in tune with who we really are.

Boyd has been a perfect example of the selfless volunteer. Always cheerful and ready to help at whatever task might be at hand. From rug show to food runs, he steps up to help in whatever way is needed.

No one could be more deserving of this honor.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Rug Of The Week - Two Greyhills by Delorcita Francis

by John Aldrich

This week we are featuring a Two Greyhills rug by Delorcita Francis. Delorcita is best known for her beautiful Teec Nos Pos rugs, and we featured two of them in a previous post. But she is a versatile weaver working in many different styles. For some reason our weavers don't send us many Greyhills rugs, so it's always a pleasure to add one to the catalog.

This rug exhibits all the elements of the classic Greyhills style but is not overly elaborate. Although you could never call one of these rugs "simple", this is as straightforward a Greyhills rug as you might hope to find. Would it be an elegant addition to your wall?

The rug is number 7562 in our catalog. It measures 35" x 52". The size, beauty, and execution of the rug easily justify the price of $950.

Here is Delorcita at our recent rug show where is is holding  Klagetoh pattern which sold at the show and is not in our current catalog.

To see more rugs, new and old, visit the Rug Catalog.

See this 2010 post for more information about the rug catalog.

Notes: Every effort has been made to photograph and present the rugs with as accurate rendition of color as possible. It's not possible, however, to be certain that your computer won't show some variance. Where two prices are listed in the catalog, the higher represents what the weaver hopes to receive and the lower, the minimum she will accept. As has always been the case at ANE all the proceeds of every rug sale go entirely to the weaver. Prices are set by the weaver, and since there is no "middleman" they are typically very reasonable.

And to see more of what's happening at ANE visit us on Facebook.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Walk In Beauty - Spring 2013

by Cindy Cook and Ray Coleman
In the early hours of morning we left Salt Lake City for the Navajo Reservation.  It was time for the spring delivery of Walk In Beauty shoes.  Our trips typically find us starting out toward Mexican Hat, Utah.  We’ve grown accustomed to making our first delivery at Monument Valley Elementary, but this time things would be different.

At this time of year, the 14 schools we presently serve are all enjoying spring break and conducting standardized testing – but all at different times.  In addition, the majority have two-hour reading blocks during which time we are not allowed to take the students out of class.  Couple this with the miles we cover (nearly 2,000), and the logistics can get a bit complicated.  The way things worked out, we would begin deliveries at Sanders Elementary (southeast portion of the reservation) and work backwards toward Monument Valley (northwest portion of the reservation).  With this as the plan, we headed toward Gallup, NM and felt ourselves easing back into being on The Land.

Another difference in this trip was that Cindy’s great-nephew, Kade, was joining us.  He too was out on spring break.  Since he helps purchase and prepare the shoes, we felt it was a good time to take him on a delivery.

For those of you who have traveled to the reservation, you know the weather is always a subject of conversation and often unpredictable.
Storm clouds were building as we drove the dirt road to Black Mesa Elementary.  Expecting rain, we were surprised to be greeted with snow flurries when we arrived at the school.
By the time we left, the sun was shining brightly.
In Chinle, AZ we experienced a modest dust storm.

Two months can pass from the time a student’s foot is measured to the time they receive their new shoes.  Many of our coordinators tell us how anxious and excited the students are and how they continually ask when their new shoes will arrive.
Upon receiving her shoes, one young girl said sweetly, “Finally, they came.  I’ve been waiting.”

At each school we are warmly greeted by staff members.  At one school, a maintenance man said, “Good to see you again.  Thank you for what you are doing for our kids.”  In the midst of another delivery, a 2nd grade teacher came in to thank us.  She said her students were so happy to receive their shoes.
Of the 406 pair of shoes delivered, many went to older students – most of whom do not wish to be photographed.  These two girls didn’t mind smiling for the camera.
Girl:  These new shoes are so comfortable!  Boy:  Yeah, mine are too!

While receiving her new shoes, a 3rd grade girl asked if her younger brother and sister had gotten their shoes.  We recognized that a few of the students to whom we were delivering shared an unusual last name.  Our school coordinator told us the students were from a family of 6 children who lived with their single mother in a traditional Hogan with no running water.  The concern this young girl showed for her siblings touched our hearts.

Here are a few of the student’s reactions to receiving their new socks and shoes:
* Jumping up and down a 2nd grade boy said, “These feel really good!”
* Pointing to her old shoes a kindergarten girl said, “These are so tight for me.”
* “I like these new socks,” said a 4th grade boy.  “Me too,” replied his female classmate.
* After putting on his new shoes a 4th grade boy said, “My feet feel better.”
* Looking surprised and pleased a 2nd grade boy said, “These are actually new!”
* Out in the hall a 4th grade girl exclaimed to other students, “Look, I got new shoes!”
* “Can I wear my new socks?” asked a 2nd grade boy.  “They are so soft inside.”
Special thanks go to ANE volunteer, Deb Conover, for working patiently with us to create new foot measurers for the program.  Copies of these were delivered to each school during our visit.

We are blessed with generous donors who make it possible for us to continue this work.  Our deepest gratitude is extended to all those who have given of their resources to make Walk In Beauty a viable program.

Questions about Walk In Beauty?  E-mail us at:  walkinbeauty@hotmail.com

To see additional photos from our trip, please click here.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Food Run Report - Navajo Mountain 3/28/13

by John Aldrich

Returning to Navajo Mountain is always a special treat. The beauty of the place and warmth of the people make this a unique food run. My personal theory is that after years of isolation resulting from remoteness and lack of a paved road, the residents opened up to us when we started our food runs there in 2008 after the road was finally paved. Whatever the reason, we feel very welcome when we arrive.

Our journey starts at the Wetherill Inn in Kayenta,

and we leave early since the drive takes nearly two hours. We grab a quick motel-style breakfast, preferably with a minimal amount of coffee (there's no stopping once we're on the road), and are off before 8:00 a.m.

In the caravan were Bob and Dar Stack in their Eurovan camper. When it was time to unload vehicles after our arrival, the van yielded an astounding number of boxes. Melyssa Holbrook, on the left, helped Dar unload.

Nancy Greenwood is a regular volunteer on the Navajo Mountain food run, and this gives her a chance to see her Elder, Nancy Greymountain.

Wendy Sanborn and her group of volunteers always create a beautiful presentation for the ANE program giveaways.

There is quite a variety of items represented here, and it represents the culmination of hours of volunteer effort back at the warehouse. In her remarks, Wendy always pays tribute to those who serve the food runs in this way but are unable to be present on the Land.

When the Elders come to the food runs they wear their best, and when it comes to jewelry, many have gorgeous necklaces, bracelets, and belts. Here is Kee Yazzie Clitso's finery.

When they see this jewelry, some people think that the wearers must be well-off. But for many Navajos, their jewelry represents a significant part of their "net worth". The silver and turquoise have special meaning to these people, and it's not worn simply to show off.

One of the "games" we play at the food runs honors the oldest Elders. Someone gets to wear the infamous birthday hat and lead us in a round of "Happy Birthday". Then Linda starts down through the years and when someone's age matches a particular number, they get a box of Cracker Jacks. Edna Atene Fuller responded to being 96 years old.

When it's time for Elders to present their giveaways to us, there is always a great outpouring at Navajo Mountain. Some gifts are made to the Program and some donated for the Elders' sponsors. In this case Alice Billie gave her sponsor, Gale Reeves, a beautiful necklace and matching earrings.

Morris Burns had necklaces to give to the assembled volunteers.

At the conclusion of the Elders' giveaways, Fay Sombero rose to express her gratitude to those who had made the journey to help the people of Navajo Mountain as well as her thanks for the Program itself.

Then it was time for the Program and the volunteers to present their giveaways to the Elders. Dru Dury is ready to pass out "trash" bags to each Elder in the Program. We always kid Linda that it would be more appropriate to call them "gift" bags.

One of the more colorful giveaways is the fabric that we present to the women at each food run. Here Beaulah Clitso chooses her color. This fabric represents many hours of work at the warehouse before it is finally given away to the Elders for use in making skirts and blouses.

During the giveaways, this handshake illustrates what is transpiring, people of very different backgrounds have come together with a feeling of gratitude and respect for each other.

During a quiet moment between the giveaways and the meal, Linda spends some time with Helen Smallcanyon explaining what each of her giveaways is. Helen is impaired in both vision and cognition, so this shows the love and thoughtfulness Linda has for these people.

It was a pleasant surprise to see members of the Blake family at the food run. The Blakes are from Navajo Mountain but were living in Salt Lake last year when they began volunteering at the warehouse. They moved back last fall, so we hadn't seem them since last summer. Tasheena poses here with Linda.

After everyone is fed and all the Elders' vehicles are loaded we have a closing circle before heading out on our separate ways home. As Linda is fond of pointing out, each circle is unique and no two will ever be the same. But for three days we were all part of the same family.

Because Navajo Mountain is such a uniquely beautiful place, I like to close with something that illustrates this. During the food run Ella Yazzie (another native of Navajo Mountain who lived in Salt Lake and volunteered at the warehouse for a time), offered to take us on a short outing to Lost Mesa nearby.

With Navajo Mountain as a backdrop, this mesa top was covered with extensive walls. In the foreground is a prehistoric kiva. The other walls are of cruder construction, and I'm guessing are more recent. Perhaps they were built during the Long Walk era of the 1860's when many Navajos fled to the Navajo Mountain area when trying to escape Kit Carson's roundup.

We look forward to our return to Navajo Mountain in August.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Food Run Report - Oljato 3/27/13

by John Aldrich

Our first food runs of the year took place last week with our visits to Oljato and Navajo Mountain. Oljato is often a windy place, and with lots of sand to blow about, it can sometimes be a challenge to be outdoors there. Last year, though, we had perfect weather, and the same held true this year. Let's hope this is a trend that will continue.

The day prior to the food run we met at the San Juan Inn in Mexican Hat in the late afternoon. It's a happy time of rejoining old friends and meeting new ones.

The temperature was ideal, and it was a pleasure to once more be in this setting overlooking the San Juan River.

Following a brief orientation, we had our food run ceremony. The theme for the spring season is the Eagle and each participant had a chance to share something about this majestic bird that holds so much significance to Native Americans.

Also at the ceremony Linda continued the recent tradition of honoring special volunteers with the gift of an ANE Pendleton blanket. Julie and Jeff Williams who have been an important part of the Program for 23 years were recipients of this honor.

Sheila McKinney and Dick Aldrich were also honored.

The following morning, food run day, we gathered again on the patio of the motel for specific instructions about the upcoming event. This is our eleventh year of taking food and giveaways to the Elders at Oljato.

There was a chill in the air at this point, but it warmed up rapidly to a most pleasant 70 degrees later in the morning.

There isn't enough room in the parking lot of the motel to line up our vehicles for smudging, so we drive a short distance toward Monument Valley and pull over along the roadside to accomplish this ritual.

Then, it's on to the Oljato Senior Center where we pause for a group photo before going about setting up for the food run.

There were 31 volunteers, most of whom were veterans of prior food runs. But we were pleased to have two couples from the Salt Lake area and a couple from the Netherlands as our new volunteers. Overall this was a most congenial group, and it was a pleasure to work together. There were more than enough hands to accomplish the necessary tasks, so no one felt over burdened.

The official "greeters" at the door were Fientje Allis, Virginia Aldrich, and Tineke Pols. Tineke, a cousin of Fientje's, came with her husband, Piet, from Holland.

The outside work of setting up the Rainbow Circle of food boxes and giveaways was carried out efficiently by an ample amount of male muscle power. Since the boxes are heavy, about 35 pounds apiece, it's nice to have plenty of help.

When the formal portion of the food run program got underway, Linda honored our local coordinator, Bessie Holiday, who has helped us at Oljato since our first visit there in April of 2003.

Watching intently were several of the Elders.

The Elders are always impressed when people travel from abroad to visit them. During the volunteer introductions, Piet and Tineke received a very warm welcome.

The food runs to Oljato and Navajo Mountain are the only locations we visit that are in the Utah portion of the Navajo Reservation. We receive generous support from American Express for these two runs. Each of the female Elders received a gift box containing fabric and other useful household items.

When it was time for giveaways from the Elders, Ruth Holiday honored new volunteers Tiffiny Gregory and Melyssa Holbrook with necklaces.

Most of the food and giveaways we take to the reservation represents direct support, things they can use immediately in their daily lives. But another important giveaway is yarn. Navajo weavers have traditionally supported their families through the output of their looms. We try to keep this tradition alive.

Bessie Black chooses from among the variety of color schemes that are offered to all of the weavers.

When all the giveaways are complete, both from the Program and individual volunteers, each Elder has quite a collection of items. Tom Atene sits here with his portion.

For the meal at Oljato we had Navajo tacos. Edith Tahe usually supervises the food preparation and typically has several people helping her. This time she only had the help of one other person. She was embarrassed with this piece of dough for fry bread because of the hole.

Nancy Greenwood and Sheila McKinney each received a rug from Betty Blackwater. Sheila is Betty's sponsor.

When the meal is over, we start loading the Elders' vehicles. This overview shows the Senior Center with volunteers carrying boxes to one of the trucks.

John Holiday is one of the older Elders at Oljato and is quite well known as a medicine man and person of local importance. Wendy bids him farewell as the food run comes to a conclusion.

We then had the remainder of the afternoon to do as we pleased before finding our way to Kayenta where we spend the night before moving on to Navajo Mountain.