Sunday, September 29, 2013

Diné College Guests in Winona

Several guests from the Navajo Nation came to Winona, Minn., in mid-September for the 2013 Navajo Oral History project premiere at Winona State University. At the event, the students who participated in the summer documentary journalism class showed the completed versions of their films focused on Navajo elders. 

Dr. Miranda Haskie, a professor of Social and Behavioral Science from Diné College, and her husband, Vernon, led the group that came to Winona for the reception and premiere. 

The guests arrived at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport on Wednesday, Sept, 11. WSU graduate student Robbie Christiano picked them up at the airport and took them to spend a few hours at the Mall of America before they drove south two hours to Winona. 

On Thursday morning, the students and faculty from the Navajo Nation were guests in Dr. Cindy Killion's Mass Communication Issues and Ethics course at WSU where they discussed media portrayal of American Indians and coverage of news and issues of importance to American Indians.

Later, the Diné College guests and WSU members of the Navajo Oral History Project served as the panel of experts for a news conference in Dr. Tom Grier's News Writing course. The panel discussed the Navajo Oral History Project and the films that were created, which were to be premiered the following evening on campus. 

The Guests from the Navajo Nation enjoyed lunch in The Smaug in WSU's Student Union building then stopped at the WSU Bookstore for some souvenir shopping.

In the late afternoon and evening, the Navajo visitors and lots of Navajo Oral History project students from this year and previous years, enjoyed a cookout and campfire at the home of Robbie Christiano, as guests of Robbie and his parents: Bob and Karen Christiano. This was a fun and casual time with lots of good food, conversation and laughter.

On Friday, Tom and Julie Grier led the group on a hike up Sugar Loaf, the famous rock formation that towers over the City of Winona, Minnesota.

(above three photos by Julie Grier)

(above photo by Michael Ruka)

The Great Dakota Gathering was happening in Winona that day, so the group stopped there for awhile before taking a quick drive to the Garvin Heights overlook for another lofty view of the "Island City."

(above photo by Michael Ruka)

In the evening, the whole group hosted the 2013 Navajo Oral History Project Premiere and Reception to view the student-produced films and to honor the students for their hard work.

WSU's Science Laboratory Center Auditorium was nearly full, with students, faculty, staff, community members, and friends and family of the student filmmakers in attendance. Also attending were several alumni of the program, who came to mark the fifth-year milestone of the project.

(above five photos by Julie Grier)

The films were, of course, excellent, and the students spoke from the heart about the process of meeting the Navajo elders, breaking down cultural barriers, and researching, recording, editing and producing the films that told the life stories of the elders. 

On Saturday morning, the Diné College group returned to the MSP Airport and back home to Arizona. The next day, the WSU group flew to the west to do it all over again, hosting a second premiere and reception event at Diné College on Monday evening. 

(Photos, unless otherwise noted, by Tom Grier.)

1 comment:

  1. Hello!

    I'm communications lead for the Whitewater Watershed Project, which includes Prairie Island and the site of the Great Dakota Gathering. I'm currently developing a GIS story map for the watershed and would like to include one of Tom's photos from this post. I will give photo credit to Tom Grier and include this blog address, and I can send you a concept of the story map site if you'd like to see it first.

    Thanks for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Nancy North
    Communications Lead, Whitewater Watershed Project