NCAC Emerging Artisan 2019/20 (Silversmith)
My name is Kalandrea Billah. I’m Red Bottom Clan born for Deer Spring Clan. My maternal clan is The One Who Walks Around and my paternal clan is The Towering House. I’m from Cedar Ridge, Arizona. This is my first semester here at Diné College. I'm in the Navajo Cultural Arts Certificate Program, emphasizing in the area of Navajo Silversmithing.
I didn't know exactly what to expect as I started out this program, which I am completing with my mother-in-law, Nona. I was mildly intimidated given that we were commuting all the way from the Western Agency. We came into to submit our applications and register for classes. We didn't know if we made it in time to get on the list for housing but we didn't care. "Sign us up and we will figure out housing later" was our general philosophy. 🤣 Risky attitude but totally worth it.
Already we find ourself 8 weeks into the program - just like that - 1/4 of the way through. I'd like to say that this has been one of the best experiences that I’ve had in my life. As we approach midterms week and our final meeting for the NCA197: Navajo Arts Material and Resource with Brent Toadlena, I can't necessarily begin to comprehend the impact that this class has had on me and all the things that I have learned.
The very first day of class we took a field trip out to the Chuska mountain where we gathered Alder Bark 🌳. After gather some bark, we ventured to Canyon De Chelly for Mountain Mahogany🌲. Before even before left to find bark, I knew this class was different. We learned gáál sin (journey song) as Mr. Toadlena explained that we were going to embark on a journey of learning about processing of natural materials. Its a sacred process filled with hard work and options for shortcuts along the way. No short cuts this time around 🤣 Not only were we told stories about the plants🍃, but we learned how they were used to make red dyes for a deer hide 🦌. Why a deer hide?, you might ask? We would be using the dyes and hides to make small pairs of moccasins - yup, your read that right! Old school.
I really enjoyed this class and my instructor. There was a lot of good information and I feel that I was able to appreciate and value the many lessons that I was taught. I had a great time in this class. Thank you a great 8 weeks, Brent and classmates!