Thursday, May 30, 2013

Nita Nez - Della Toadlena Interviews - Buffalo Pass

On Thursday, May 30, two documentary journalism teams left the Diné College campus in Tsaile, Arizona, in the morning and headed in different directions to gather more interview material for the films they are working on about the lives of Navajo elders. This is -- as regular blog readers know -- part of the 2013 Navajo Oral History Project, a collaboration between Winona State University of Winona, Minnesota, and Diné College, of Tsaile, Arizona, the Tribal College of the Navajo Nation.

One team headed north to Rock Point, Arizona to meet with Nita Nez, a traditional Navajo rug weaver. There, they would interview Nita again, with the help of a translator, because Nita prefers to speak only in the Navajo language. They also got a demonstration of her creating another work of art at her loom.

Skylar Ogren videotaping B-Roll footage of Nita setting up a loom.

Whitney Harlos and Robbie Christiano try their hand at weaving.

Skylar Ogren and Whitney Harlos each bought a rug from Nita. Robbie Christiano also purchased the rug that was in process on her loom. As soon as it is done, it will be sent to Robbie.

(Above 11 photos by Whitney Harlos)

Here's the group that interviewed Nita Nez (left to right) Prof. Miranda Haskie, Nita Nez, Skylar Ogren, Whitney Harlos and Lyndzey Barney.
(photo by Revaline Nez)

Another group drove west to Chinle, Arizona, to meet again with Della Toadlena, who retired a few years ago from teaching English at Diné College.

The Della Toadlena documentary group (left to right): Elise Nelson, Lionel Harvey, Della Toadlena, Cara Mannino, Nik Strand and Jemmisa Tsinnijinnie.

The group also did a short secondary interview with Brent Toadlena, Della's son.

The remaining documentary teams stayed back on campus and met in groups to work more on their journalism projects about their specific elders.

(above four photos by Brett Gustafson)

When the two teams returned to campus, Prof. Tom Grier took most of the class on a short drive to Buffalo Pass, a beautiful overlook in the Chuska Mountains above Lukachukai, Arizona. From the overlook, visitors can see nearly 30 miles to the east, and get a nice view of the famous Shiprock formation about 19 miles away.

(above three photos by Brett Gustafson)

Today was quite windy, and the winds kicked up a lot of dust and sand, which made it harder to see the Shiprock. For reference, here are two images of Shiprock from a couple years ago, on a clear, non-windy day.

When the group got back to campus, it was time for dinner in the Diné College cafeteria, followed by a round of disc golf, then back to the dorms to work on transcriptions and editing.

Several groups have said that work on their documentary films is coming along well. It will still be awhile before they can be unveiled. 

There will be receptions this fall to premiere the student-produced films. One reception at WSU in Winona, Minnesota, is planned for Friday, Sept. 13. And another will be held at Diné College, in Tsaile, Arizona. Details on the receptions will be publicized here on this blog and in local media around both institutions. These events are free and open to the public.

1 comment:

  1. Great photos! Seeing the Buffalo Pass pics also brought an ominous flashback right in the oak brush by the picnic tables one night in late August 2013: I had a bigfoot encounter there, while photographing the rising moon.