Miss Navajo 2017-2018, Office of Miss Navajo Nation
workshop as well! My moccasins were an inch too long due to wear and tear (probably from the rainy and muddy days) and the wrappings were hanging by a tread! With help from former NCAPer and awesome workshop leader, Sam, the repair (surgery) was successful! I cut half an inch off the sole and restitched the back half. The stitching naturally came back to me and it was like I never stopped making moccasins. This experience helped to jump start my critical thinking about the holistic components of moccasin making - so that's what I have for you today!
crucial so that your moccasins seems don't have scalloped, wavy edges. This spacing is created through your diligent perception. So take time to rest your eyes. It pays of in the end. Your posture is also something that you have to pay attention to. Much like weaving, if your posture is poor, that laziness reflects in your work and back pain. Now mind you, this is just with the assemblage process. If you hunt, butcher and tan for your own buckskin - that's going to add a whole list of other physical demands as well.
Sam Slater also explained this connection between identity and moccasin making rather pointedly after the UNM workshop: "My identity as an individual is so tied to this art, it was such a humbling experience to teach it once again. Over four days of sharing and living moccasin stories, I know each of these participants all have their own moccasin story to tell, a story they stitched themselves". In short, as my yáázh Wilson Aronilth says, if you do not know who you are, you can never truly be happy. Knowing you are a moccasin maker for cultural artisans like Sam brings happiness and grounding in our Diné cultural identity.
of critical consciousness for your students, but often feel you’re missing the tools. These sacred shoes of survival are those tools. That’s all I have to say now, that these kélchí and their beautiful makers are such powerful tools for our people. I’m grateful for all they continue to teach me." In my opinion - becoming a moccasin maker is like getting your Ph.D. is Critical Theory and Application.
those who are no longer with us. It is in this way that moccasin making comfortably connects Sam and I. My aunt was known for making moccasins with a unique double stitch. Sam found out about this stitch from his NCAC Moccasin Instructor, Harry Walters, and started to experiment on his own. The double stitch calms the scallops of the sole and as Sam worked on mastering this stitch, in a way he smoothed my soul, pushing memories of my bizhi to the forefront. It must be a Round Rock thing!
Thank you to NAS UNM and Sam for inviting me! Keep up the great work! And to our blog readers - if you want to give moccasin making a try - NCAP is hosting a mini moc workshop hosted by Aaron Begay, along with other cultural arts emphasis workshops during the 2018 Navajo Cultural Arts Week. Contact Christine or Sheryl to reserve your spot - They fill up quickly.
Next week's blog is by Johnnie on the holistic components of weaving --- so stay tuned!!
Johnnie Bia, Jr.
As I look into the Diné holistic components of Navajo silversmithing, I reached out to Master Silversmith, Leonard Gene and Emerging Silversmith, Waycee Harvey for some guidance. Leonard is Tó'aheedli'inii, born for Bit’ahnii, his maternal grandfathers are Ashii'hi, and his paternal grandfathers are Hashk'a'a i Hadzohí. He is originally from Rock Point, AZ. Waycee is Tachinii, born for Kinyaa'áanii, his maternal grandfathers are Todichinii, and paternal grandfathers are Tlaashchii. He is originally from Many Farms, AZ. He is apart of the 2017-2018 NCAP cohort and learning silversmithing from Don Denetdeal and Wilson Aronilth, Jr. I also took advantage of revisiting previous blogs written by former NCAPers, Delia Wauneka and Carlon Ami, to understand how the process of silversmithing makes us holistically unique.
frame, scribe, saw blades, files, acetylene tank, pliers, and creativity. This was the shopping list that was given to Waycee when he first started learning how to silversmith. From that basic tool kit, a silversmith can build up their supplies depending on the specialization they select (or I could also say the specialization that selects them). Specializations can include everything from stamping, overlay, in-lay, lapidary work, sand casting, tufa casting, and so forth.
feeling to the silversmith too - particularly when you finish a project to your liking. Delia also explored this elation in her blog "Wauneka's Meldown." On a NCAP trip to Meltdown Studios, Delia challenged herself to learn different techniques like chemical and electric etching. She also desperately wanted to learn how to make her own beads. It was somewhat of an emotional roller coaster: "I watched as Lauren did her demonstration, yet I struggled with this project and I decided to put it aside. Later on the day, I confronted my own self-doubts and challenged myself to finish one bead. You know what… I did it! I am so proud that now I can say, 'I made my own bead'". Delia explained that her self doubts were over come by her persistence. This is what Leonard must have meant when he reminded me that when you complete a project, it uplifts your spirit and makes you respect yourself for what you have done.
toughness you have to have. Carlon also wrote of this toughness in his blog "Just Take It Apart and Put It Back Together": "Don't let convention limit you. If you can reasonably imagine it, you might be able to build it. If it doesn't work out, you can always melt it down later for casting material." At the end of the process, there is a sense of satisfaction for completing the puzzle and having your ideas all come together. But the mental challenges don't stop there. When your done buffing and publishing, Leonard explained, there is a motivation released that inspires you to make improvements on the next project.
gives you another level of respect about what our culture means. With this understanding, you can have prayers done every now and then to help your work along and to keep you strong so you can continue your work with positive motivations. You can also sing songs while you’re working. It helps to stay connected with our traditional culture and values.
After speaking with Leonard and Waycee, reconnecting with Carlon and Delia's blogs, and sitting in on some of the NCAP silversmithing classes, I can begin to understand how silver work helps an individual’s holistic well-being. There are physical demands when working with silver, sacred stones and minerals but you get energy, stamina, and motivation from them as well. Silversmithing is an emotional journey, bringing joy to you and others when your work is completed, even amidst the self-doubt and frustration during the process. This cultural art helps your mind to focus on the positive, which in turn, helps maintain creativity within your work. Ultimately, silversmithing as a Diné individual evokes a spiritual feeling through the stories and history of how Navajo people have always had silver and the sacred stones. Silversmithing has many benefits for a person who wants to learn. It will give you as much as you want to give to it.
And with that said...
Grant Manager, Navajo Cultural Arts Program
Currently, I am working along side Crystal from Office of Miss Navajo Nation and Johnnie from the Diné College Psychology Program on this unique Navajo Cultural Arts Holistic Well-Being Blog Series. While Crystal and Johnnie are focusing on specific emphasis areas and their relationship to the cultural arts, I'll be posting on NCAP's perspectives of holistic well-being as well as ways for artisans to self reflect on how they can utilize a holistic approach in their own work. This week I'll be looking at our NCAP Logo and how it dialogues with Crystal's platform and Johnnie's research.
The NCAP logo was collaboratively created by graphic artist, Corey Begay, and the NCAP staff. We contacted Corey because of his work with Salina Bookshelf, Inc. and the reputation he created through his mural projects in Flagstaff. We were in search of a logo that embodied our mission - to enhance and revitalize traditional Navajo cultural arts practices while promoting intergenerational teachings. We wanted something recognizable that also emphasized the cultural arts specializations offered in our Certificate Program: weaving, silversmithing, moccasin making, and basketry. Corey was up for the challenge and sent us a few sketches. We selected one of his ideas that interwove elements of beauty and protection. His ideas meshed so well with our own that we could see the potential of the Program through his sketches. From that draft, Corey consulted Diné individuals and the NCAP staff brought in suggestions from the Center of Diné Studies' faculty members. This is what was created!
Within the elements of the logo exists a ring of colors. These colors are not meant as a kitschy approach to culture nor is it a Panindian understanding of wellness. They are Diné philosophies encapsulated within our sacred stones - yoolgai, dootl'izhii, diichilí, dóó bááshzhinii. The NCAP understands them as the ontological (yoolgai - white shell), epistemological (dootl'izhii - turquoise), methodological (diichilí - abolone shell), and ethical (bááshzhinii - black jet) approaches to surviving this world in a balanced manner. These stones are at the base of the Diné holistic well-being framework presented by Crystal. When we work with these stones, we pull to us the physical health, emotional health, mental health, and spiritual health from which they stem. And when we work on our holistic well-being, we call upon these stones for guidance. This is how the relationship between the stones and well-being are reciprocal.
If you enjoyed this quick read today or for more information about the cultural arts and Diné holistic well-being, don't forget to.....
-Visit Miss Navajo Nation's website and her next 5K run in Tuba City
-Check-in with the NCAP blog - Next week's blog is on silversmithing!
-Apply for the 2018/2019 Navajo Cultural Arts Certificate Program :)
Johnnie Bia, Jr.
Ya’at’eeh. My name is Johnnie E. Bia Jr. My clans are Totshonii (Big Water) clan, born for Ma’iideeshgizhnii (Coyote Pass) clan, my maternal grandfathers are Hoonaghanii (One Who Walks Around) clan, my paternal grandfathers are Todichinii (Bitter Water) clan. I am originally from Dilkon, AZ, but I grew up at Canyon De Chelly. At Diné College, I am a Psychology BA student as well as as a Peer Mentor to Freshmen and Transfer students. As a part of my Internship for my Field Work Experience Course, I am working with Miss Navajo Nation 2017/18, Crystal Littleben to research the connections between Diné Holistic Well-being teachings and the Navajo cultural arts. This means that I am exploring how cultural arts help Diné people to improve themselves on physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels. This week I am focused on how Native American Church Peyote Ceremonial Fans help and heal an individual from a holistic perspective. To do so, I reached out to some friends and fan makers, Troy Uentillie and Jess Williams, in addition to my own experience making fans to help me better understand and explain this connection.
But in addition to the monetary costs, the fan makers see this caution and awareness as it applies to our everyday - we have to be aware of our surroundings and the people we have around us. We can’t just trust anybody with the fan that we make because we put a part of ourselves into it. In this manner, and perhaps more importantly than the monetary costs, fan making teaches the maker to take care of themselves when we are working with feathers and beads. We have to eat the right kind of foods, and we have to take a break and move around from time to time. Otherwise it can get to our back and shoulders if we tend to sit there for long periods of time. That tension comes out in our work.
Working on feathers and beads also helps to occupy and train the mind to the control your creative powers as you learn how to work with different colors and supplies to make these fans beautiful. But aesthetics aren't the only thing because you are putting your time and effort into something more powerful than looks. Instead of being somewhere else and getting into other things that are not good for you, the fan makers find themselves creating a tool for prayer. Fan making also helps you to be organized and maintain cleanliness with our supplies and feathers. Most of the time working with feathers and beads can get messy but with diligence, you learn to keep your work area and things in order. Otherwise, you will be misplacing things all the time, creating a chaos of the mind.
Another significant thing about working on fans is having the motivation to do the bead work and feather work. A person has to be feeling up to it and wanting to work on these things. They cannot be forcing themselves to do work on these things. If you force it, it will not turn out they right way. On the other hand, fan making allows for the maker to find happiness when they are complete with their projects, especially when the rightful owner sees it. The owner's happiness only builds to the makers own sense of happiness from how the fan turned out.
In a spiritual sense, these NAC ceremonial fans are not just something to mess around with - they all have a spirit within them. A person has to know protocols and stories when working with feathers from certain birds. Some of these birds have their own way and their feathers are living. No one truly knows what kind of power they have. For this reason, it is always helpful to ask someone such as a Roadmen, Medicine Men, Elders, and other people who know specifics about these ceremonial items. These NAC fans will be used around ceremonial settings and the fan maker must keep that in mind while making them. While there is a sense of pride when you are able to pray and utilize
If you are interested - NCAP and the OMNN will be co-sponsoring a Feather Tying Workshop this summer as part of our Summer Weekend Workshop Series led by Troy Uentillie - so stay tuned! For more information about Diné Holistic Well-being, please visit Miss Navajo Nation Crystal Littleben’s website, her blog "Leading with Fire: Navajo Cultural Arts and Holistic Well-Being," and the NCAP blog!
Miss Navajo 2017-2018, Office of Miss Navajo Nation
I graduated with at B.A. in Psychology from of Northern Arizona University with a minor in Native American Studies. After my reign, I do plan to return to NCAP as the Project Coordinator to continue my work, educating our Navajo people about our cultural arts and language. But in the meantime - during my reign - I have been afforded the opportunity to bring my personal, professional, and educational experiences to the forefront through my pageant platform - improving the holistic well-being of Navajo communities through Navajo cultural arts, stories, and language. Before addressing some of my current and future reign projects, I wanted to take a moment to explain my understanding of Diné holistic well-being.
Preparing for the Miss Navajo Nation Pageant tested my abilities to follow this model and now I am implementing it as a pathway to holistic well-being for my reign. Starting in the east with our physical well-being, the Office of Miss Navajo Nation is building momentum as we continue working with and improving our emotional well-being in the south, mental well-being in the west, and spiritual well-being in the north.
The Miss Navajo 5K series shares their mission - that running can strengthen our Indigenous communities - and emphasizes that running can better themselves from physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual perspectives. The Diné women’s puberty ceremony, for example, challenges our young women to run towards the east every morning as an act of physical endurance, emotional balance, mental strength, and spiritual connection. The participants of the Miss Navajo 5K series are asked to face these same challenges during their runs. Even in the manner that the runs have been planned out took into account the holistic geography. Beginning in an Eastern location (Sanders), the runs will follow circular path around the Navajo Nation (Dilkon, Tuba City, Shiprock, Tsaile, and Fort Defiance). Following this model, younger generations can experience how our well-being is interconnected within this framework and helps us remain in balance with ourselves and the physical and spiritual worlds.
I first became aware of these components as I picked up the art of silversmithing when I joined NCAP. Taking workshops and classes, I had to connect to my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual self in order to learn and practice with traditional stones, wool, tools, and designs. I found that when one was out of balance, I had difficulties concentrating, my designs wouldn't come quickly, and my work was rough and required extra filing. Some of my stressors included school pressures, family struggles, personal challenges, and even worrying about my puppies. Once I stopped avoiding my stressors and addressed those issues head on with the purpose of finding a solution, my work was directly impacted in a positive fashion. I gained confidence not only as silversmith but also as a Diné woman. While I understand that these pieces can be created without the cultural connections, I am seeking to better understand and support a holistic approach to the cultural arts.
In collaboration with the NCAP, the OMNN has created this Navajo Cultural Arts Holistic Well-Being Blog Series to showcase the importance of my platform. Over the next 6 weeks, we plan to release a blog that addresses one cultural arts emphasis and its holistic components each week. With help from the Diné College Psychology Bachelor of Arts Program, I have gained a PSY B.A. intern, Mr. Johnnie Bia, who has expressed an interest in learning more about Navajo Holistic Healing and the application of holistic healing in efforts that promote well-being. Mr. Bia will also be able to showcase the knowledge he learns through his hands on research by attending events hosted by Miss Navajo Nation and the NCAP. As a deliverable, Mr. Bia will share his experiences and newfound research through this Navajo Cultural Arts Holistic Well-Being Blog Series.
This summer, as our crops are growing, I will be conducting a Summer Weekend Workshop Series across the Navajo Nation with the NCAP to lead my community through holistic well-being model with cultural arts. More information will become available for these community-based workshops - Stay tuned!
NCAP Intern - Student Affairs Project for Success Internship Program
Upon my first day with NCAP I met the program assistant Sheryl, who was very nice and also very busy. Despite her schedule, she set aside time to make me feel welcomed. When she introduced herself, I found out that she started with NCAP as an intern too! Sheryl let me know about the in's and out's of the Program as well as the current major project we were working on. It just so happened that the time I had joined the NCAP team was during the last week of preparations for the “Celebrating Cultural Arts Teaching: Silversmithing with Wilson Aronilth Jr.” exhibit opening. I have never had the opportunity to be apart of a big event like the exhibit before. It’s a different experience to be the person “behind the scenes”.
Now that the Navajo Cultural Arts Exhibit is in full swing, I’m learning about silversmithing. Which seems funny for me because my brother is a silversmith. Prior to the exhibit I wasn’t curious enough to ask my brother about it. Now I want to know more and, as part of my job, I have too! Here is where I am working out the kinks to my people skills. Everyday I practice my public speaking because, as part of the exhibit, I get the opportunity to give tours to visitors. My supervisor, Christine walked me through how to engage with visitors and gave me the backstories to each artisan’s work. She made it look so easy - the stories just rolled off her tongue. My confidence and body language didn't come off as natural the first time around but I have seen progression in myself and I intend to keep it that way.
I’m enjoying my internship with NCAP. I work with a great team and I’m honored to be apart of something that has so much cultural value behind it. I’m positive I will take away many skills that will have major benefits as a student, and in my future profession. I’m looking forward to upcoming events that NCAP has in store and completing the rest of my internship.
PS - The "Celebrating Cultural Arts Teaching: Silversmithing with Wilson" Exhibit just got extended to April 13th!!! Stop by for a tour and an application for our 4th Navajo Cultural Arts Certificate Cohort. Just ask for Jazzmine!
Sue V. Begay
Hi blog readers! Do you remember me?! My name is Sue V. Begay an Emerging Navajo Artist from Dennehotso, AZ-Navajo Nation-USA. I am a proud member of the Navajo Nation. My clans are the Hashtl’ishnii clan born for the Kinyaa’aanii, my grandfathers are the Tabaaha and paternal grandfathers are the Kinlichii’nii. You may remember me from the 2017/18 Navajo Cultural Arts Certificate Cohort – I was learning the cultural art of Moccasin Making and enhancing my skills in Weaving. Last year, my moccasins “White Shell Woman” took home the Board of Regents’ Choice Award at the 2017 Navajo Cultural Arts Exhibit.
I am now in the NCAP Apprenticeship Program and under the guidance of Master Weaver TahNibaa Naataanii. The Apprenticeship Program is for NCAC graduates like myself who want to continue their learning in a more specialized fashion. During the application process, we submit interest to work one-on-one with a mentor.
This is my fifth week in the apprenticeship. I can honestly say that my learning about weaving has grown tremendously since day one when I met with TahNibaa and her mother Sara. That day we spent getting to know each other – our strengths (and my weaknesses). It’s a good thing I know when to ask questions – because I sure had a lot of them! My first lesson was on terminology. I didn’t know what some of the rug weaving terms were and I got a quick lesson that first day. The vocabulary words that I learned are the “S” and the “Z” twists, rolags, skein, fine weight, medium weight, and heavy weight.
With TahNibaa’s assistance, I ordered my a Niddy Noddy, drop spindle, and carding tool for myself. If you are going to do things right – you need to have your own tools, she stresses. This way I can practice at home the proper way of handling my spindle. With the tools ready, I learned how to do the “Navajo three ply,” which is also called the “chain”. I learned how to do the “Andean wrap” on my hand. And with those first meetings under my belt, I was sent off with more homework – to use those techniques to make the edge cords of one of my rugs.
Things that I learned are going to help with my future rugs. Proper warping and how to “dress a rug” have been just a few of the techniques that I have learned. All this new knowledge, I just soak up the information like the wool soaks up the water. I can only get better and I plan to work hard at the skills that were introduced to me.
NCAPERS (Alumni and Current), if you are (1) a NCAC graduate or will be by Summer 2018 and (2) are interested in the being an apprentice, you should check out the NCAP website for the Apprenticeship Program. The application period for the Apprenticeship Program has just opened and will close April 20th!
A Posting by Zefren Anderson, Emerging Artisan
Hello! I’m Zefren Anderson from the 2017-2018 Navajo Cultural Arts Program (NCAP) cohort at Diné College. I’m a weaver and this year I am emphasizing not only in my own craft of weaving but also in sliversmithing.
As part of our Materials and Resource class, Mark Deschinny of Church Rock came to Tsaile to teach us how to make weaving tools. With the prowess and mobility of an olden days Honaghaahnii trader, Mr. Deschinny is a weaving toolmaker to the People of the southwest
(more at www.geocities.ws/deschinny/Looms_and_Supplies). Although we were off to a late start, I maintained an open mind – wondering if Mr. Deshchinny’s teachings would coincide with, be contrary to or be entirely new to my own.
All teachings are valid to the clans that hold them, and it’s an interesting exchange of ideas when clans share teachings. I have been taught within the family traditions of the Hashtlishniis - if it works use it, if broke, fix it and if it can’t be used, repurpose and reuse. Many of our family tools are remnants of bigger whole tools. For example, old split battens finding new life as needles, sticks and finishing tools. I’ve found that many clans don’t do this, so I’ve not had much success making tools for weavers when they asked how they were made. The same goes for the many stories of the oral traditions of each clan along with the anthropological knowledge of the tool use, design and origin. In my own research of recreating pre 1868 Navajo Weavings, I’ve come to find the stories and museums were the best places to learn how to create the tools. They are different from the tools we use today, but they are they are both part of a long story of living and surviving.
Mr. Deschinny arrived with tools and goals. Two big totes full of various woods, examples pieces, and a few power tools created a complete woodshop for our cohort. The goals were simple:
We shared personal introductions and he let us in on the story of how he came to support his family from tool making. He also shared that his family’s history included the creation of a comprehensive dye chart for education. His family takes great care in tool making, using local sustainable wood, natural finishes, and a philosophy to avoid abuse of our natural resources like wood. Use of fire and darkening of the grain is prohibited. After some safety training, we set off to create our projects.
Bee’adzoo’í can be made from gamble oak or in our case juniper. In the olden days, a whole branch is carved and sanded until it resembles a five fingered Bee’adzoo’í. But now we can use a saw to create multiple combs from one branch. Most modern Bee’adzoo’í are prized for evenness, aesthetic beauty and even the heaviness that creates tight hard weavings prized by collectors all over the world. I created my comb in the manner of my Shinaliadzaanbima. The comb manipulates the weft texture first then, it sets lightly into the warps. It is cut out exactly in the manner of one’s hand with their fingers outstretched set ¾” into the wood. The tips expose warp and keep weft tight. The area near the joints of the comb will stretch the weft and hide warp and a rounded pick at the opposite end of the comb.
Why do we care so much about the weft? …. In the old story of the 1st weaving a problem arose on the weft spacing and warp due to tension irregularities created by changes in humidity. It allowed weaving resume outside a regular source of water and the weaver could adapt technique to the environment.
Bee’K’initl’ish can be made from any hardwood. For our workshop we used Red oak. Steaming or wet earth bending can create the characteristic bend of a stable batten, Mr. Deshchinny uses weight as the wood cures. Tips are usually sanded up as the weavers prefer this shape. A state of mind and manual finesse coupled with a belt sander will produce great results for Bee’K’initl’ish. During this step, the NCAP Cohort members sanded and shaped their combs. Not surprising…their created tools showed the particular personalities of their creators.
The finally sanding took the longest as we went from tool to tool, queuing on the saw and sanders while sharing stories and teachings. The Bee’K’initl’ish was created after all the tools required to warp up a weaving, is was found using for quick weaving in solid colors, passing long bundles of string between the wraps but when the humidity went down the batten would leave uneven spaces in the weaving as the air dried. Another tool needed to be made
Bee’adizi can be made from anything culturally appropriate -clay, metal, wood or even concrete. In class, pieces were cut from a spilt juniper branch so everyone had enough time to complete one. Bee’adizi has changed over the last few years, as even more weavers are less dependent on Navajo Churro and Wool and more on brown sheep Company wool. Now weavers have one spindle where in the past there were several each suited to a particular task or fiber, even in the oral stories there are 5 spindles working yucca, cedar, cotton and wool. I wanted a general-purpose abalone spindle for a pre 1840s Biiheeh project. It needed to be light, fast, short and balanced manually. Using the curve of the spilt branch as a guide I shaped the whorl while Mr. Deshchinny leveled and drilled the hole.
By the end of class I had a perfect spindle for my future projects and I’m grateful for this whole day experience. I’m sure most of the NCAP cohort members also enjoyed themselves and got more from workshop than what they expected.
I’m looking forward to the next workshop -- Traditional Dye and spinning.
A posting by NCAP Apprentice, Sam Slater
One of the requirements of a natural environment is that it must be creative. There has to be constant creation going on around the student. Each morning when I would arrive to the Draper’s studio, I would take a survey of the room and examine everything they had been working on since I left. I could see gradual progress on stones and pieces that would guide me in my learning and propel me to get to work. I studied each piece as it developed and took note of any changes and how I could implement those adaptations in my own work.
Such a natural environment promotes self-learning. One of the songs Wilson taught us describes in incredible beauty how all of the materials we use come to teach us. Their origin is in a divine nature that we can learn from. In this way no one can really say they taught themselves how to do anything, when it was in fact the materials guiding them the entire time. This is how I felt in my experimentation working with the Drapers. Through Teddy, I was exposed to an immense variety of natural materials at different stages of completion that, together, formed a step by step guide for me to follow.
This reminded me of when I was teaching a moccasin making class, and a student asked me if I could make the moccasin pattern, cut out the leather, and mark where to stitch for her. I told her things don’t work like that. I explained how there is a give and take with the materials—you are constantly responding to one another. Those marking might be useless after just stitching one inch due to the way the leather behaves and how you respond to it.
This is how it was with the stones and silver I used. The only way I could learn is from doing it and feeling the materials in my own hands. Working with someone like Teddy Draper is what encouraged me to take those steps to really communicate with the materials in a way that ensured I could keep learning from them. While this may seem like a hands off approach, his subtle guidance is what allowed to go to the source of our knowledge and skills. There’s no other way than to just do it, and there is no better place than Teddy Draper’s studio, and for my time with him this summer I am grateful.
A Posting by Michelle Salabiye
Emerging Artisan, Moccasin Maker, NCAC Cohort 2016/17
Ya’at’eeh shik’ei doo shidine’e! Shi ei Michelle J. Salabiye yinishe. Maiideeshgizhnii nishli, Naakai Dine’e bashishchiin, Tsi’ naajinii dashicheii, Todich’ii’nii dashinali. I was raised in a small modest Rez town known as Nazlini, Arizona. I have a baby Maii named Noah Johnson, whom I lovingly call my son. I am an Emerging Artisan in the Navajo Cultural Arts Certificate Program and majoring in General Science here at Dine College. I also work with Aramark here on Tsaile campus. My emphasis of choice is moccasin making. Or perhaps better explained by our NCAC instructor - Moccasin Making chose me!
I am honored to be instructed by the famous and humble Mr. Harry Walters, who instilled the Navajo principles and stories behind the moccasin. Mr. Walters also provided historical insights as he was an Archaeologist and who also developed the Museum and the Archive building here in Dine College. It’s safe to say we learn a handsome amount of Navajo stories, philosophies and historical background. We couldn’t have had a better instructor!