Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day #10 –Window Rock - Haskie Family Summer Camp

The 2010 Navajo Oral History group spent the day in Window Rock, Arizona, today (Tuesday, May 25). Window Rock is the capitol of the Navajo Nation and is home to most government offices, Tribal Headquarters, The Navajo Nation Museum and Library, shops and restaurants, etc.

When we got to town, we first visited the Window Rock Tribal Park to take pictures of the famous rock formation, and the Navajo Code Talker monument there. We posed for a group photo with all of us wearing our 2010 Navajo Oral History project shirts.

(Above three photos by Brianna Klapperich)

(above two photos by Jenn Westman)

The students kind of thought it was geeky for us all to be wearing the same shirts ... I like it because it makes the photo look nice. And, let's face it, we ARE all a little geeky, spending a couple nice summer weeks working hard doing an important project instead of goofing off or sitting in the sun working on our tans.

(above three photos by Michael Ruka)

We were allowed inside the Tribal Council chambers, the equivalent of the US Senate building, and heard an inspirational culture and government discussion from Harold Morgan, who has worked for the council for 27 years.

(above photo by Michael Ruka)

(above photo by Brianna Klapperich)

We brought boxed lunches from the Diné College cafeteria with us, and had a little picnic on the Window Rock Park grounds. About the same time, Robbie Christiano and Kelly Sharatt had a great discussion with Ed Bicenti, a man who has been involved in helping Grandmother Marjorie Thomas operate her fund raising walk since 2002.

Ed has a great heart and really would like to help make sure Grandmother's vision of building a nice facility for the youth of Chinle comes true. He was so pleased to hear that our group was creating a Living History feature about Grandmother Thomas, that he agreed to meet with them and share hundreds of photos and some video he has shot during the past year's walks. He hopes the student video project can help spark the planning for the next walk, and help put fundraising over the top so they can finally begin building.

Next, we visited the Navajo Times newspaper offices and conducted a thorough search of their archives, with the help of Helena Skow. We made digital copies of any article we could find that featured the elders included in this year's documentaries. The students found many great articles that should add nicely to their projects.

(above photo by Sawyer Derry)

We spent an hour at the Navajo Nation Library and Museum. While a few of the group members searched the Library archives for a few articles we couldn't find at the newspaper offices, others toured the museum exhibits.

(above photo by Robbie Christiano)

A few students had time to walk through the nearby Navajo Nation Zoo.

(above four photos by Sawyer Derry)


(above three photos by Brianna Klapperich)

(above photo by Michael Ruka)

We ended our time in Window Rock today with a visit to the combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell right at the main crossroads of town. During last year's Navajo Oral History program, WSU Student Andrew Neumann frequently played a song for us that was quite catchy-- but irritating-- that made us all find humor in a combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. I mentioned the song to the 2010 students and they soon all loved the idea of having at least one meal there.

Just so you don't feel left out, here's a link to the YouTube Video of that song. Be warned: it WILL stick in your head for days after hearing it only once.

We cruised the 45 minutes back to the Diné College campus in Tsaile, then changed clothes quick and drove out to the Brady summer camp high in the Lukachukai Mountains. Vernon and Miranda Haskie had planned for us to shear the family's sheep; partly for the experience, and partly to help with a chore that needed to be done.

(above photo by Miranda Haskie)

(above photo by Sawyer Derry)

They didn't count on three sheep jumping the fence and running off into the brush. Most of us took off after them and tried to outsmart them by surrounding them and forcing them back toward the corral. Well, we're pretty much city-folk without much experience, so you can guess how well that worked out.

(above five photos by Brianna Klapperich)

Eventually, after several miles of running around at about 8,200 feet of elevation, we succeeded in rounding up the three escapees and then proceeded to suck wind into our lungs for many minutes.

In the end, only two sheep were sheared, but the experience was fun, and the view from the top of the mountain was amazing.

(Ben shows off the minor wound he received while pouncing on and tackling a sheep. Awwwww.)

While the sheep fiasco was occurring, Marcus Lake, Revaline Nez, Michael Ruka and Jennifer Westman, stayed at the residence hall to prepare for their elder interview the next day. Michael and Jenn also helped Maarcus and Revaline practice using the digital SLR cameras.

(above photo of Marcus Lake and Jenn Westmann by Revaline Nez)

(above photo of Revaline Nez by Marcus Lake)

Another great day here on the Navajo Nation.

Thanks for reading and enjoying the photos.

-- Tom Grier

P.S.: We agreed on a nickname for Jenn Westman a couple days ago, but I forgot to post it: She is officially now Jennifer "Pippi" Westman, in reference to that literary great Pippi Longstocking. I guess it has something to do with the daily braids:

A variety of other beautiful photos from the day's activities:

(The next three photos are by Robbie Christiano)

(The next three photosare by Sawyer Derry)

(Next two photos are by Brianna Klapperich)

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