Thursday, October 14, 2010

Navajo Oral History Premiere at Diné College

Since students from both Diné College and Winona State University worked on the 2010 Navajo Oral History project together, it is fitting to celebrate and premiere the films together, and on both campuses. On Friday, Oct. 8, the documentaries were premiered at WSU in Minnesota, and on Monday, Oct. 11, a reception and premiere event was held at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona.

Six WSU students, a faculty member and two parents of a student flew to Albuquerque, New Mexico, then rented a van and drove to the Navajo Nation. Along the way they stopped at Canyon de Chelly National Monument to see the amazing Spider Rock in the canyon from one of the overlooks.

(Tom Grier, Sawyer Derry, Brianna Klapperich, Jenn Westman, Kelly Sharratt, Robbie Christiano, Al Ruka, Michael Ruka, Annie Ruka; photo by an unnamed tourist, amazingly from Galesville, Wis., who was at Spider Rock at the same time, and offered to take a group photo.)

On Monday, the WSU group drove to the Diné College main campus in Tsaile, Arizona, and again stopped at a couple of the overlook areas above the Canyon Del Muerto branch of Canyon de Chelly.

(Sawyer Derry and Robbie Christiano look down into Canyon Del Muerto)

(Michael Ruka at the Mummy Cave overlook of Canyon Del Muerto)

On the DC campus, the WSU group was a guest in Dr. Miranda Haskie's class on Native Americans in Society and learned quite a bit. The group then had lunch in the Diné College cafeteria or snack shop and bought some souvenirs at the DC Bookstore.

(Sawyer Derry, Michael Ruka, Kelly Sharratt, Robbie Christiano, Brianna Klapperich and Jenn Westman posing with the poster announcing the Navajo Oral History premiere event.)

(Dr. Miranda Haskie leads her Diné College class on Native Americans in Society.)

(WSU guests in Dr. Haskie's class)

(Brianna Klapperich with her Diné College cafeteria lunch)

In the afternoon, the group enjoyed a demonstration by Vernon Haskie, a museum-quality Navajo silversmith (and husband of Diné College faculty member, Miranda Haskie). Vernon and Miranda then led the group up to Buffalo Pass in the Chuska Mountains above Lukachukai, Arizona, for an amazing view of the Navajo Nation on both sides of the mountain.

In the evening, Dr. Haskie and Diné College hosted a reception and premiere at which the 2010 Navajo Oral history films were shown, and the students and elders present shared comments about their role in the productions. It was an emotional evening as the students beamed with pride as people watched their work, and the elders smiled as they saw the films about themselves for the first time.

Each elder received several copies of the films for themselves and their family. Additional copies will be archived at the Navajo Nation Museum, Navajo Nation Library, and at the libraries of Diné College and Winona State University.

On Tuesday morning, Oct. 12, the WSU group headed to the Albuquerque airport, through Window Rock, Arizona, and back home to Minnesota.

Plans are already in the works for the 2011 Navajo Oral History project which will take place over a two-week period in June 2011, again pairing students from Diné College and Winona State University in teams to interview Navajo elders and produce documentaries about their lives. Those interested in participating in the 2011 project should contact either Dr. Miranda Haskie at Diné College or Dr. Tom Grier at Winona State University.

(All photos by Tom Grier, unless otherwise noted.)

1 comment:

  1. By the way ... professionally duplicated copies of the DVD featuring the documentaries of all four elders are available for $20 each ... with the entire $20 from the sale going to a scholarship fund at Diné College. Those interested in purchasing a DVD should contact me, Tom Grier (