Sunday, October 27, 2013

Rug Show Training November 3rd

by John Aldrich

As part of the preparations for the rug show, we hold a training event at the warehouse on the Sunday evening prior to the show. The purpose is twofold. It's an opportunity for volunteers to learn the basics about Navajo textiles as well as a chance for a first glimpse of new rugs that will be on display at the show. Volunteers who will be working the floors at the show should feel much more comfortable discussing rugs with show patrons after this orientation.

This training is conducted by John Burrow who makes a special trip from his home in Oregon for the occasion.

John is uniquely qualified to lead this event - he is very knowledgeable about Navajo rugs having been a collector for years, and he is very passionate about ANE.

It's always exciting to see some of the new rugs that Linda has acquired during the fall food runs. There are typically a number of very unique designs, and having foreknowledge about them gives a rug show volunteer an extra edge in helping prospective rug purchasers find just the right weaving.

An additional benefit of this training event is the chance to meet and visit with other volunteers, and to heighten the social aspects of the occasion there will be a potluck meal as well.

So, whether you are a seasoned volunteer or someone experiencing their first show, please plan to attend.

The event will be held at the warehouse on Sunday November 3rd at 5:30 p.m. And don't forget to bring something to share at the food table.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Walk In Beauty - Fall 2013

 by Cindy Cook and Ray Coleman

The crispness of fall was in the air.  School had begun and many children on the Navajo reservation were desperately in need of a proper fitting pair of shoes.  Our schedule for the fall 2013 delivery of Walk In Beauty shoes happened to overlap with the Dilkon-Leupp-Birdsprings food run.  As a result, we were on the road and headed to the Navajo reservation at the same time as some of the individuals traveling to participate in that run.  Wendy Sanborn, the founder of Walk In Beauty, was one of those individuals.

Over 6 years ago, Wendy began putting shoes on school children on the Navajo reservation.  Her first delivery was to the Monument Valley Elementary school.  We were thrilled to discover that her travel schedule would allow her to participate in our delivery of shoes to Monument Valley. Here,Wendy and Walk In Beauty school coordinator, Patricia Bigman, sit with Monument Valley students who received a new pair of shoes.

 We enjoyed a balmy 46 degree morning in Many Farms.

At Leupp Boarding School we were greeted with a welcome sign on the board and a thank-you card signed by each of the students receiving shoes.

We rewarded our school coordinator at Tsaile, Josephine Yellow, with a bag of Blue Bird flour for being the first to submit her fall order for shoes.

One child was so used to wearing shoes that were too small that he automatically curled up his toes when he put on his new shoes.  He thought his new shoes were too big and had to be shown to flatten his toes.

Putting on his new socks, this boy simply said, “Aaaaaaahhhhhh.”

A special needs student received a pair of shoes with Velcro.  She was so proud that she could put on her own shoes - and did so multiple times.

“Just slip your foot in and it’ll work.”

One young boy’s only shoes were a pair of slippers.  When he put on his new shoes he said, “Dang, these shoes fits good.”  Then, looking at his slippers, he said, “I don’t need these anymore” and tossed them in the trash.

Even old and worn shoes are valued on the reservation.  A 2nd grade girl said, “I have to take my old shoes home because my mom might need them.”

Pointing to her old shoes, a kindergarten girl said, “These are broken.”
“My old sock has a hole.”

“I want to put on my new socks.”

  The following conversation occurred between two kindergarten students:
      “Mine’s cool.”
      “Mine’s cooler.”
      “Oooooh, I like yours.”
      “These guys are giving me new shoes ‘cause I’m growing.”

A 7th grade boy told us he had been wearing the same pair of shoes for 3 years and showed us that they were falling apart.

Here are a few of the student’s reactions to receiving their new socks and shoes:
  • A 1st grade girl left the room where she’d put on her new shoes.  A few minutes later she ran    back in and exclaimed, “I love my new shoes!”
  • Looking up from her new shoes, a 5th grade girl stated, “Feels good – looks good.”
  • Upon receiving her shoes, a 4th grade girl squealed, “Wahoo, I got new shoes!”
  • A 5th grade boy appeared excited and said, “YES!  I can wear these to P.E.”
  • Speaking to a friend, a 1st grade boy said, “Look, we both got black.”
  • A kindergarten girl asked, “Can we take these home and have them?”
  • Looking over the name tags on the shoes, a 4th grade boy happily said, “Hey, some of my cousins get shoes.”
  • A 1st grade boy proudly said, “I’m seven.  I can tie my own shoes.”
  • After looking inside her new shoes, a kindergarten girl turned to a friend and announced, “There are new socks in there!”
  • A 6th grade girl said, “They’re nice!  Are these my socks?”
With the fall delivery completed, the remaining inventory of shoes was prepared to be stored away until spring.

Questions about Walk In Beauty?  E-mail us

For more photos, click here.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Rug Show Is Coming Soon

by John Aldrich

The rug show is only two weeks away and the excitement is building for the event. Last evening we had our last volunteer meeting which was well-attended and served as the final springboard leading up to the show.

The meeting served to highlight a number of the events that will take place during the show. Wendy Sanborn, Assistant Director of ANE, has devoted an enormous amount of time overseeing the organization of the show which began almost a year ago.

Serving with her have been a group of four co-chairs who have worked on a particular day of the show. Each stood in turn to present the highlights of their day starting with Gina Zimmerer who is the chair for Thursday's events.

The other co-chairs are Robin Field-Williams for Friday, Kate Stephens for Saturday, and Carla Sydenham for Sunday.

Another key player in the team is Elinda McKenna who serves as volunteer coordinator.

I suspect that no one who hasn't actually done the job can truly grasp the enormity and complexity of the task that this involves. But Elinda's exceptional organizational skills serve her well in this capacity.

Several of the special events to be held during the show were featured during the meeting. On Friday evening at the gala opening there will be two auctions this year. The first will feature a silent auction of all the special Weaving Winter Stories theme rugs. We have roughly 40 of these rugs on hand now, and they always create a stir of interest when people see them.

Linda described the background of the theme and discussed several of the rugs.

Our weavers continue to submit these special rugs, and there could be even more by the time of the show. The silent auction will start at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and continue until 7:30 p.m. when the main auction will begin.

Pauline Blanchard has done a fine job organizing everything for the main auction on Friday evening. There are a host of appealing packages - perhaps the best lineup that we have ever offered. Pauline showed the Pendelton blanket that will be part of the auction. This is what Linda showed the weavers at last year's show to give them an idea of colors they might consider using in their special theme rugs.

Two of the theme rugs will be in the main auction this year including this beautiful Snowflake design by Anita Jackson.

The premier package features a Grand Canyon river trip for two. This was arranged by Fientje Allis and offered by Grand Canyon Expeditions. It has a value of $5300 and should garner lots of interest from the bidders. Just imagine yourself in this scene - - -

Among the other packages are such tempting items as a fly fishing trip on the Green River, 3 days and 2 nights at the Red Mountain Spa, and an air boat outing for 5 on the Great Salt Lake.

An important part of the meeting dealt with volunteers and helping everyone to understand their responsibilities and how the show works.

Elinda reported that we now have barely enough volunteers to cover all the shifts. Ideally, however, she would like to have 25 or 30 more. So, if you're thinking this might be a good opportunity, it's not too late to sign up. Volunteer information and sign up form can be had through this link. Or you can email Elinda for more information.

Another highlight for the show is the veterans' ceremony on Sunday morning. Howard Benally organizes this event and reported that our speaker this year will be Richard Yellowhammer, a veteran as well as husband of program co-founder Grace Smith Yellowhammer. It should be another moving occasion.

To learn more about the show and view the schedule of events, please visit the rug show page of our web site. We hope to see you there!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Shi Yazhi Pageant 2013

by John Aldrich

The Shi Yazhi Pageant has been part of our annual rug show since 2005. At first glance one might be tempted to think that this is simply another beauty pageant for young girls, but nothing could be further from the truth. This is an event of cultural celebration designed to be an opportunity for young urban Navajo girls to learn about and actually practice their culture.

Navajo families living in northern Utah are often distanced from their heritage, and the children grow up immersed in Anglo culture with little opportunity to learn about their own cultural identity. Eileen Quintana, who has been the moving force behind this event from the beginning, envisioned the Shi Yazhi pageant as a chance to change this.

To participate in the pageant each contestant must present herself in traditional Navajo dress, learn to introduce herself in the Navajo language using her clan lineage, and demonstrate a traditional Navajo skill. All of this requires a big commitment on the part of both the participant and her family.

The winner of the contest then reigns as our Shi Yazhi Princess for the ensuing year and represents the Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program at a variety of events. As symbols of her position, the Princess wears this crown and sash.

The first event on the road to this crown takes place several weeks prior to the rug show - in this case yesterday October 19th. All of the contestants appear at this time and are judged on the criteria mentioned above. From this initial field of contestants, three finalists are chosen who will appear on Saturday morning at the Rug Show when the final winner will be named.

At yesterday's event there were five contestants vying for the title, and this included two pairs of sisters.

The participants included Kolotita Mila and her younger sister Marlena on the left, Tiffany Grace Singer, and Monika Komar with her older sister Jasmine on the right.

In addition to the extensive preparations required to participate in all three phases of the judging, a good measure of courage is needed as well. Standing up before the judges and audience isn't easy, especially for the youngest girls. The two youngest were happy to have their older sisters at hand to give them some coaching when needed.

In the end, though, everyone was able to stand on their own.

A variety of talents were shown when it came time for the girls to demonstrate their traditional Navajo skill.

Kolotita and Marlena each had created a painting. The history of painting in Navajo culture is tied primarily to the art of sand painting used in traditional ceremonies. In this case, the girls created art with more personal meanings which they explained to the judges.

For her skill, Tiffany demonstrated the art of basket weaving. She described both the technical aspects of creating a traditional basket as well as the symbolism contained in the ceremonial basket design.

Monika performed a basket dance, counting her steps in Navajo.

Jasmine demonstrated how a Navajo infant is wrapped in a cradle board. We have seen this skill performed previously, but never with a real live baby.

The judges had a challenge choosing the three finalists after being presented with all this talent.

We are grateful to Shirlee Silversmith, Rose Yazzie, and Margie Upshaw Dobson for serving as judges. Rose clearly has experience with royalty since she serves as the American Indian Woman Scholar at the University of Utah.

As Shirlee addressed the contestants prior to announcing the winners, she pointed out that everyone who participated was, in fact, a winner. We applaud all of the contestants each of whom brought their individual talents and charm to the occasion, and we hope that the experience will serve to make each a better person as they grow in appreciation of their culture.

In the end, though, it had to come down to three, and as they were announced, they came and stood before the judges' table.

We look forward to seeing Tiffany, Jasmine, and Kolotita again at 10:00 on Saturday morning at the rug show when we find out who will serve as next year's Shi Yazhi Princess.

Here is a closing look at the cast of characters.

Join us at the show on November 9th for the final chapter in this wonderful event.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Food Run Report - Dilkon-Leupp-Birdsprings - Fall 2013

by Jean and Ted Lindstedt - Photos by Jane Wierengo

(note: These reminiscences of the food run have been submitted by Jean and Ted Lindstedt of Atlanta. Jean is one of the "Georgia Peaches" and attended her first food run a year ago. She adopted her Elders, Junior and Betty Ann Nez, at that time. Her husband, Ted, came along for his first food run this fall.)

Jean's Notes:

We left Atlanta on Monday the 23rd of September and headed for Phoenix. We arrived safely, rented a van, and drove a few hours north to Winslow.

On Tuesday we made the Wal-Mart run to buy supplies for the Elders.  I had received donations from wonderful family and friends, and this enabled me to buy snacks, batteries, scarves, and gloves as my giveaways to the elders.

Tuesday evening we met for the "Welcome" ceremony with Linda, Wendy,  CJ  and the other volunteers.  The theme this year was "symbols".  It was very interesting and heart warming to hear each volunteer tell what symbol had empowered their life.  It was such a wonderful group of volunteers who came from coast to coast, all with the same generous spirit of giving.  There was a heartfelt bond with everyone in the circle of the ceremony.

We left early Wednesday morning for Dilkon.  A few of the Elders were already there awaiting our arrival.  They seemed so glad to see us and it was wonderful to see them.  We had a great time visiting and watching their faces as they were getting their bags filled with giveaways.

On Thursday we left for Leupp.  Lola, the director, was busy making preparations for the day.  The mood was joyful as the elders started arriving.  Lola and her husband, Dean, sang "In the Sweet By and By".  It was such a harmonious and peaceful time shared by everyone in the room.   During the game activities, the 3 women chosen told of the importance of the horse as they were growing up.  The horse they feel was a gift to them and they hold them in the highest regard.

On Friday we traveled to Birdsprings.  My adopted elders, Junior and Betty Ann Nez,  arrived and it was so great seeing them, visiting and catching up on events of the past year.

I love how the Elders give the volunteers jewelry, rugs, or pottery to show their deep appreciation for our help with the food run.
The twinkle in their eyes says it all, as their bags are filled with giveaways and their boxes await them outside to help provide them with their needs for the upcoming winter.

The food run is an absolutely awesome experience.  It is such a connection between cultures and I feel so blessed to be a part of the program.

Ted's Notes:

First Day:  I didn't really know what to do or expect, but everyone was very understanding and helpful.  It was very humbling to see people with so little but who were so happy to see us there!
My first ceremony when we told about our symbol was very moving .

Everybody worked so well together, and their smiles made me realize how lucky I am to have what I have!

Second Day: Same as the first but I felt more at ease!  I was very moved when the Elders told what the "horse" meant to them.  I saw more of the land and what the floods had done to their roads!  Where we were sorry that the land was flooded, the Elders were happy. They had grass for their livestock and were seeing plants they had not seen for 40 years. Quite a different outlook!

Third Day:  I got to meet our Elders, Junior and Betty Ann Nez. This was a very humbling experience for me.  They were as happy to meet me, as I was them!  I could not believe the necklace they gave me. It was so humbling to me.

 I cannot wait to go back to help again!  Thanks to all for making me feel welcome.