Wednesday, October 22, 2014

It's A New Day

by John Aldrich

The warehouse has undergone a major and pleasing transformation over the past few weeks. The front offices have been completely repainted, refreshed and redecorated. Caroline Murdock, our administrative coordinator, took advantage of the relatively quiet time during the recent food runs to accomplish all of this with the help of Martha Black. For those who are familiar with the warehouse, you will find the new atmosphere to be friendly, welcoming, attractive, and well organized.

A major change is a new opening in the wall upon entering the front door. This will allow the office staff to immediately welcome and interact with people arriving at the warehouse.

Also greeting visitors is this rug especially woven to honor the Program.

In the spirit of renewal and a new beginning, Navajo medicine man Rex Harvey performed a special ceremony two days ago. Here is the warehouse set up for this event:

The room was filled with the pungent odor of cedar smoke:

All in attendance felt a strong sense of healing and renewal.

We invite everyone to come by the warehouse and see the changes as well as join in the new spirit that pervades the space.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Rug Show Is Coming Soon

by John Aldrich

In just three weeks our annual rug show and sale will begin. We're excited to be offering the 25th anniversary of this event and to use the occasion to honor those weavers who have made it all possible. Many of the Elders attending the show have a part of the event since its inception. At last year's show we took a photograph of all our weavers and have used this as the centerpiece for our poster this year.
The poster itself can be seen here.

For a special theme this year, weavers were given the opportunity to create a rug showing themselves at their loom weaving. Most found this to be quite a challenge. These special rugs will be offered for sale at the opening of the show on Friday evening November 7th.

During the live auction that evening two of these rugs will be offered. The first, woven by Rena Robertson, shows herself at her loom.

The second, also woven by Rena, honors her mother who was one of the original group of weavers who came to the show 25 years ago. It shows her standing by her loom on which is depicted her final rug which was uncompleted when she died. The rug was completed by another family member and will also be auctioned that night.

There will be many other enticing packages in the live auction as well. Richard O'Keefe will once more be our auctioneer, and he conducts a very entertaining and fast-paced event.

Many other special events will occur during the show which will include the annual Shi Yazhi Princess Pageant, weaving demonstrations, the popular Navajo Grandma Idol Contest, the moving Veterans Ceremony, and the closing Pow Wow featuring many Native dancers. A complete list of events and times can be found on the rug show page of our web site.

The Adopt-A-Native-Elder rug show is perhaps the largest event of its kind in the country. There will be hundreds of rugs available for purchase as well as a large selection of jewelry and other crafts. At the show you have the opportunity to meet with and purchase directly from the artists who create these beautiful objects. The Snow Park Lodge at Deer Valley is transformed during the event into a dazzling display of Navajo culture.

 A special logo was designed for this 25th year celebration by Rodger Williams.

This is available  embroidered on special edition tee shirts and hats which can be purchased through our web site.

All are cordially invited to attend the show which will take place from Friday evening November 7th through Sunday afternoon November 9th.

We also encourage anyone interested to consider volunteering at the show. This can be a very rewarding experience offering the opportunity to help our Elders as well as learn about Navajo culture. The rug show page of our site provides more information as well as the link to our simple online application process for becoming a volunteer.

Whether you come as a volunteer or spectator, we look forward to seeing you at the show!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Walk In Beauty - Fall 2014

by Melyssa Holbrook

I don’t know who you are ….

I don’t know where you came from ….

But THANK YOU!!!!!

These were words spoken by a Navajo P.E. teacher as my mother and I were setting up in the gymnasium at Little Singer Elementary school. We had the sneakers displayed on a corner of the bleachers.  We had just fitted five 2nd graders with their new sneakers.  They were so excited, they had gone directly over to the P.E. teachers office to show him what they had gotten.  They were giggling and wiggling and could not stand still.  The teacher engaged them in their silliness and played along in their innocent and pure excitement.   After the children went back to class, the teacher walked towards the middle of the gym and announced loudly and sincerely “I don’t know who you are, I don’t know where you came from, but Thank You!”

At Rough Rock, a new school that was brought into the Walk In Beauty Program this season, another school employee watched us from a doorway.  After seeing the happy, smiling faces of her students, she slowly approached us to say “I am not a parent.  But thank you so much for doing what you do.  It is needed.”

Heartfelt and genuine words of thanks were spoken often by the adults at the schools we delivered to during this Fall delivery;  the custodian at Many Farms, as he helped us in bringing the many bags of sneakers into the building, and then again as we left, still needing help with 4 large totes of sneakers that we bring to each school as extras,  to ensure that we have plenty of options in case the sneakers we have brought specifically for each child do not fit once we arrive;  the bus driver/special education teacher at Cottonwood Day School had juice and donuts waiting for us when we arrived, as well as 2 student helpers to bring the children to us in groups by grade level;  and parents visiting at Dilkon School as they passed by children trying on new sneakers, stopped to ask who we were and how much we were selling our sneakers for …shocked that the sneakers were free and that we were giving them away, grateful for the quality sneakers.  “Do you have any in my size?” one father said with a huge grin.

As pleasing as it is to hear the adults express their appreciation for the sneakers, nothing compares to the excitement of the children as they walk into the room and see the sneakers we have laid out, each with an individual name tag, the smile and the anticipation in their faces and the look of joy on their face when we hand them the sneakers that have their name on the tag. 

The children are a bit embarrassed to take of their socks in front of us, but we have also brought them all new socks to go with their new sneakers.  As they take off their old socks, we can see that many have holes and are so bare thin that there is not much material between their skin and the shoe.  As one boy struggles to pull his new sock on over his hot and sweaty foot, he quietly tells me “These socks are cold”.  “Cold?” I say.  “Yes, my other ones were very hot” he says.  Two 3rd grade girls love the pink camouflage socks that we brought for them.

There are many heartfelt moments throughout the trip.  Two of the moments that stand out for both my mother and I are these:
·        After we had finished our delivery at Tsaile school (about 30 miles east of Canyon de Chelly), we were done at the schools for the day.  We decided to do a little sightseeing.  We drove Navajo Rt 13 past Lukachukai, over the pass towards New Mexico.  It is a gorgeous road!!!  There are miles of red rock, lots of cliffs and mesas, and then into the forest with tall trees, pines, cones and moss.  After this scenic side trip, we were driving back through Tsaile as buses were dropping off kids at their long dirt driveways.  We saw two sisters that we had given sneakers to hours earlier.  They were half running, half skipping down their driveway towards their mother, swinging from their hands were their old sneakers.  It is a very sweet snapshot in my mind.
·        At Dilkon, a 1st grade girl whispered to my mother, “Thanks for the sneakers.  My dad was waiting to get me a new pair when he sells our cow.

It is a very uplifting and yet humbling experience to help others.  On this trip we delivered 275 sneakers (and socks) to 10 schools.  We drove over 1700 miles.  Traveling on the Navajo Reservation is not always simple.  Roads are not always marked.  Roads are not always paved.  Maps do not always accurately depict reservation roads.  And the roads often times are scattered with hazards; sheep, cows, horses, even areas where the road has been washed away!  It is an adventure.  And it is gorgeous!

I am already thinking about the Spring delivery …….