Navajo Cultural Arts Certificate Student, Moccasin Maker
although with new practices: Each graduate was only allowed two guests due to CDC restrictions, temperatures were taken and vaccination cards checked before we were allowed onto campus grounds.
As the 2021 Diné College Commencement Exercise was being carried out, my mind started reflecting on how I got here - ready to accept a certificate in Navajo Cultural Arts and sharing this experience with two of the most important people in my life who were seated next to me.
Despite all of the new measures, for me, this year was even more different that the rest - this year I was a student. You see, I have already completed course requirements at the graduate level. With my Master's Degree I teach mathematics here at Diné College. But this certificate really meant something to me personally because every aspect about NCAP was one hundred percent Navajo. The courses (content and materials), the educators, the personnel, and the location, all Navajo
Thinking about today's epic graduation, during the taming of a pandemic, I realized that I walked across the same stage as many of my students. I also thought about all my Navajo cultural arts educators in moccasin making and silverwork. Here at Diné College, our cultural arts teachers are often grandparent or even great-grandparents, all with decades of knowledge and wisdom from years before them. And now they continue to share their artistry through me. I was fortunate to have such patient people teach me the importance of understanding the connection between the pieces I’m making to Navajo origin stories, ceremonies, songs, and prayers.
Returning to my seat, where my family waited for me after I received my Navajo Cultural Arts Certificate, I thought about the lesson in Dzil Biyiin (Mountain Song) where it talked about a personal decision you make to embark on a journey that may require perseverance, strength, endurance, and purpose. The journey is like the thought of going to a mountain, traveling to the mountain, reaching the mountain, climbing the mountain, reaching the top of the mountain, and descending down the mountain. And just about every stage of your journey may have obstacles, and to resolve them may require critical thinking and decision making. Even when you reach the top of the mountain (Bikaa’ Ha’seya’), you have to decide what your plans are for the future, what are your hopes, dreams, and expected accomplishments. My journey was to complete the NCAP Program.