Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Food Run To Oljato

by John Aldrich

This article is part of a series describing the various food runs that the Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program conducts to eleven different locations around the Navajo Reservation. These locations are served in groups of two or three sites per trip. The articles will hopefully be of general interest but also serve as an orientation for prospective food run volunteers and for those who have signed up for a particular food run.

The Oljato food run is one of a pair, the other being Navajo Mountain. This food run set is the first of the spring and fall seasons and takes place about a month earlier than the remaining food runs. In the spring it occurs in late April and in the fall, late August. These are the most recent of the locations to be added to the areas we serve.

The first Oljato food run took place in the spring of 2003. It was initiated as a result of a generous grant from American Express who wanted to support an area in the Utah portion of the reservation. The following map* shows the Navajo Reservation with particular reference to the location of the food run at Oljato and the lodging base for this run which is Mexican Hat. You can click on the map to see a larger view.
For this food run we meet in the small town of Mexican Hat which is on the north side of the San Juan River just across from the northern boundary of the reservation. The San Juan Inn, with its scenic location on the bank of the river, serves as our lodging.
We meet in the late afternoon and start with an orientation followed by the ceremony that commences each of our food run sets. The motel has a restaurant where we eat as a group following the ceremony.

After breakfast the following morning we meet again for further orientation at 8:00 a.m. and then embark on the drive to Oljato which is roughly a half hour away. This is a highly scenic trip through the Monument Valley area.
And sometimes the convoy must pause for livestock along the roadside.
The Oljato food run is held at the Senior Center which was completed shortly after we began our visits here. It's a nice modern facility with a kitchen where the meal for the food run can be prepared. When we first arrive we pause for a group photo before proceeding with the various tasks necessary to make the food run happen.
The most demanding job physically is unloading all of the food boxes, gift boxes, home care products, and produce and then arranging them in our traditional Rainbow Circle. This job, of course, falls to the men in the volunteer group. The final result is an impressive display and one that the Elders enjoy seeing when they arrive.
As the preparatory work progresses both inside and outside, the Elders continue to arrive. Several volunteers are stationed at the door to greet them and provide assistance as needed.
Many of the volunteers on a particular food run have come to see their adopted Elder. These are always special moments, particularly when a volunteer meets their Elder for the first time. 
Once the preparations are finished and the formal part of the food run begins, all the volunteers gather as Linda and Wendy conduct the program.
Since most of the Elders do not speak English, everything must be translated. In Oljato, this is done by Bessie Holiday, our local coordinator who is also the director of the Senior Center.
A variety of things happen during the program, some are administrative while some are meant to delight the Elders. But the highlight for everyone is undoubtedly the giveaways. The Program brings many things to present to the Elders and individual volunteers do the same.

In return, many of the Elders present gifts to the program such as small rugs or craft items.
After the giveaways are complete, a prayer is offered and everyone shares a meal. Initially, all the Elders are served by the volunteers who then have a chance to eat before all the other family members take part.
Then it's time to load the Elders' vehicles.
As the loading takes place, many Elders like to come by and identify their own boxes. When they finally get back home they will spend many hours going through the boxes of food, gifts, and produce.
Another activity taking place at the conclusion of the food run is the opportunity for volunteers to purchase rugs and crafts from the Elders. Those who are "shoppers" enjoy this part of the day.
The food run to Oljato usually ends by around 2:00 in the afternoon. At that point volunteers are free to spend the rest of the day as they wish. Many take the opportunity to visit the Monument Valley Tribal Park which is only a few miles away. Another popular spot to visit is the historic Gouldings Trading Post which has an interesting museum devoted to the history of movie-making in the area.

The destination for the evening is Kayenta, roughly 30 miles further down the highway.

*This map is adapted from the wonderful Indian Country Map published by the Automobile Club of Southern California. Overlays have been created to show the borders of the Navajo Reservation as well as the food run sites (red) and lodging locations (turquoise) utilized by the food runs. Some of the road information is out of date (the roads to Navajo Mountain and the Big Mountain Food Run sites are now paved. Also, the reservation extends considerably further east into New Mexico than is shown on this map.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Rug(s) Of The Week - New Rugs From Dorothy Secody And Rose Sells

by John Aldrich

We have just added 5 beautiful little rugs from Dorothy Secody and her daughter Rose Sells. These are all pictorials and are based either on the Tree Of Life theme or Firedancers.

Dorothy usually weaves straightforward Tree Of Life patterns, but in this charming little rug, she combines the birds with two ceremonial baskets. This rug is #7781 in the catalog. It measures 14" x 15" and is priced at $120.

The remaining four rugs are from the loom of Dorothy's daughter Rose Sells. They all measure 12" x 16" and are priced at $145. The first two, #7778 and #7777, are Tree Of Life rugs.
 The last two, #7779 and #7780, depict Yei figures known as Firedancers.
All five of these rugs are nicely woven and reasonably priced. Their compact size makes them easy to place anywhere in the home.

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, July 14, 2013

Warehouse Food Delivery - 7/13/13

by John Aldrich

As a sign of progression in the cycle of events that characterize the year at ANE, the food for the fall food runs was delivered to the warehouse yesterday. Again, C.J. Robb coordinated the purchase at Walmart and Boyd Mitchell drove the big truck that was able to get everything to the warehouse in two trips instead of the usual three.

A small but stalwart group of volunteers turned out to help unload the truck, move the pallets, and stack the cases of food around the periphery of the warehouse. This photo, taken towards the end of the morning after most of the food was stacked in place, shows the group.

Oscar Merz, Sam Aloia, C.J. Robb, John Vickery, Rodger Williams, Jake, Jason Robb, Autumn Johnson, and Leroy Arellano were somehow still able to smile after moving tons of goods.

Here is Boyd with the truck which this time was an open bed hauler with what seemed like a bit more square footage than the enclosed trucks we are used to. Also seen here is Jake who is Sam's nephew.

Sam was the master of the pallet jack most of the morning. Responding to "Coach", he was constantly busy unloading and moving the pallets about the warehouse.

Sam is an assistant coach with the Granger High School football team. In the spring he brought a number of his fit charges to the warehouse which made the morning sail along for us older folks. Unfortunately, this time his players were already committed to help at a different volunteer event.

Nevertheless we did have three energetic young people to help with the lifting.

Jason is C.J.'s brother, Jake is Sam's nephew, and Autumn is a student at the Waterford School who has been a regular volunteer at the warehouse this summer. It would have been a much longer morning without these three.

I'd like to add a special tribute to Leroy who always seems to show up when help is needed the most.

Leroy often takes part in the food run to Sanders-Big Mountain-Teesto where he is known to an adoring and clamorous collection of Navajo youngsters as Magic Man.

And also deserving special recognition is our steady and dependable warehouse manager, C.J. Robb.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Weaving Winter Stories - Rug Show Theme For 2013

by Linda Myers

It’s a very warm summer day as my assistant, Wendy Sanborn, and I travel to the reservation.  As we head from Shiprock to Gallup, New Mexico, we stop at a small gas station trading post in Tohatchi.  We take a few minutes to look at the necklaces and rugs the Elders have traded for credit to buy food and gas.

There was a small selection of Pendleton blankets hanging on a wall. I loved a soft blue, brown and beige Pendleton that reminded me of aspen trees. I thought about how pretty the Elders’ rugs would be in these soft winter colors.

In late fall, when I was preparing for the Rug Show, I visited Doug Hollinger at the Park City Clothing Company.  As we talked, I noticed that he had the same beautiful Pendleton.  I bought it.  I decided to show the blanket to the Elders and ask them to weave winter rugs in these beautiful colors.

At the Rug Show in early November, I had a meeting with the weavers and told them that many people come to Park City to ski. I described how much snow falls in the winter and how everything is covered in white. I asked them to think about winter scenes of mountains. I pointed to a large picture of pine trees on the wall of the lodge at Deer Valley.  I suggested they think about snowflakes. We held up the Pendleton and showed the Elders the wintry colors.
By early January, the weavers began sending in their rugs.  Vina and Elvira Horseherder had taken brochures from the lodge that inspired their rugs of skiers speeding down mountains.
William Whitehair sent a beautiful snowflake rug into which he had woven silver threads that looked like crystal.
Helen Rose Lewis sent a cute little snowman rug.  The weavers sent many beautiful winter scenes.
We will be featuring two of our Elders’ rugs at the Rug Show auction.  Gloria Hardy has woven a unique elk rug which is bordered by a traditional snowflake design
Anita Jackson has woven a beautiful red snow flake rug, a design that she created after the loss of her daughter.
It is amazing to see the creativity and skill with which the weavers create new designs.  I am honored to have so much support from the Elders and their families as they create something new every year.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Elders Come To Main Street

by John Aldrich

For years now, Linda has hosted a group of Elders from the Big Mountain area for the Fourth of July in Park City. The core group are three sisters, May Shay, Elsie Shay, and Katie Furcap. Along with them come two of Katie's daughters, Darlene and Lena. Darlene provides the transportation for everyone and also brings her daughters Patrina and Diana (but since the girls did the driving, perhaps it's the other way around). This year we were missing May who had to stay home to tend her sheep. Darlene's son Truman also wasn't able to make the journey.

Typically they come prior to the Fourth and participate in the Park City Farmer's Market (here's a blog about this event several years ago) just prior to the holiday and then enjoy Park City's parade. Because of a family illness, however, they were delayed in leaving this year and didn't arrive until late on the Fourth.

But another high point of their visits in recent years has been their presence on Main Street during the holiday. Doug Hollinger, who is an ANE board member, along with his wife Margie, own the Park City Clothing Company. They have been gracious to turn the front porch of their store into an emporium for this group, as well as ANE, to sell rugs and jewelry.

When we visited at mid-day yesterday there was a steady stream of people stopping by to look at the wares, and sales were in progress as well.

Doug paused for a moment for a picture with Lena and Elsie:

While Patrina, Katie, Diana, and Darlene pose separately:

We extend special congratulations to Patrina who just graduated from high school and will be furthering her education at Arizona State.

A special treat for Elsie was a visit from Kamryn who spent several months volunteering to help fix the home of Elsie and May in the 1996. This was in the heat of the land dispute when many people came to the reservation to help the Navajos who were faced with the prospect of relocation from their traditional homelands.

Diana is obviously a well-connected young woman but paused long enough from her internet activities to flash one of her beautiful smiles.

Big Mountain is in the high desert area of northern Arizona. This region has experienced an extra hot summer with no rain thus far. During the time of their visit to Park City this group has enjoyed the experience of rain every evening.

These are special people who you still have a chance to meet as they will be back on Doug and Margie's porch again today from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. If you can't make it to Park City today, they will all be back for the rug show at Deer Valley November 8th-10th.

And thanks to Darlene, I have a new Navajo phrase to use. If you ever find yourself in front of my camera and hear me say "dah diniilghaazh", it might just bring a smile to your face. Not necessarily because you understand what I'm saying, but because you'll be amused at my attempt to pronounce it.