Thursday, November 14, 2013

Rug Show School Programs Produce A Volunteer

by John Aldrich

On Thursday and Friday, prior to the rug show opening to the public, we have a series of programs for school children. Over 600 students from a variety of schools attended these sessions this year. The purpose is to provide an opportunity for young people to become acquainted with Navajo culture and people.

The ages of the students range from pre-school to high school with most being in the earlier grades.

I have often wondered what sort of impact this experience might have on these youngsters, especially the youngest ones.

That question was answered in a clear way when I met Isabella Canada at this year's show.

Isabella started coming to our school programs when she was in first grade at her Montessori school and has been to every rug show since. Now a freshman at Park City High School, she came for the first time as a volunteer, working shifts both Saturday and Sunday.

When she was in third grade she received the gift of a necklace from Ruth Benally. She wore this necklace this year and was happy to have a chance to get reacquainted with Ruth.

Isabella spent most of her time working at the station where show guests can buy bundles of yarn to give to weavers of their choice. Since there was a chair handy, this provided a perch for Isabella to get a glimpse of the action at the pow wow.

We hope to see this wonderful young woman at many more shows and hope that many other students at the school programs will follow in her footsteps.


In a subsequent email exchange with Isabella, I learned that she was attending the Colby School in 2008 when she gave Ruth a rug she had made which resulted in Ruth giving Isabella the necklace she was wearing in the photo above.

Looking back at photos from the 2008 rug show I identified her in the following picture:

This was taken just after she had presented her gift to Ruth.

What an unexpected continuum this photograph has added to the story.


  1. Wonderful news! It is interesting to hear the impact of the school programs and the benefits will unfold as the children become adults involved with ANE, valuable assets to assisting the elders. As well as to hear of Isabella attending rug shows, it is great to see her wearing the jewellery with pride. At the start of this piece I thought she was Navajo!

  2. I am so proud to say Isabella is my daughter, her passion for the Navajo and what the rug show produces to help sustain their lives has truly impacted her. Thank you for letting her be a part of something so amazing.

  3. I am a parent of one of Isabella's friends as well as a friend of hers. She is an amazing young woman full of compassion and passion. The Navajo rug show has impacted our community in such a positive way. I hope that what we give in return has as much of an impact on the lives of the Navajo people who we have met.