Annual Navajo Festival of Arts and Culture
August 3, 2012
Public Festival August 4-5, 2012
Watch the Promotional Video
The Navajo Way of
Artists, musicians, dancers, and
cultural interpreters from the Navajo Nation will gather at the Museum
of Northern Arizona’s 63rd Annual Navajo Festival on Saturday and
Sunday, August 4 and 5 to share the Navajo way of being with over
4,000 Museum visitors.
The central philosophy in Diné life is hozho, or everything the
Navajo people think of as good—harmony, beauty, blessedness, and
balance. Navajo’s believe that creating art is one way to maintain
this perfect state and more than 80 art booths with juried fine arts
will fill the Museum’s historic grounds with arts that define their
Visitors will hear the Navajo language, see pots of clay being formed,
and watch weavers create detailed designs on traditional looms. There
are also opportunities to meet silversmiths, folk carvers, and
painters. They will enjoy the pageantry of Navajo social dances and
delight in centuries-old musical traditions. And they will be able to
sample traditional foods—red and green chili stew, roasted sweet corn,
and the ever-favorite Navajo tacos with frybread.
Heritage Program Manager Anne Doyle says, “When we bring in the big
tent, and the monsoon rains and cool air arrive, it’s time for Navajo
Festival. This year’s festival highlights include Sihasin
(See-ha-szin) with Janeda and Clayson Benally, James Bilagody, and
Radmilla Cody. We will also be hosting Masaai visitors from Kenya, who
will be here to learn more about the Navajo culture and our festival.”
MNA Director Dr. Robert Breunig adds, “With a population that has
surpassed 250,000, the Navajo Nation is the largest tribe in the U.S.,
covering nearly 27,000 square miles in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.
It borders Flagstaff, making it vitally important to the future of
this region that we work to bring about cultural exchange among
neighbors, Navajo and non-Navajos. And bringing about cultural
exchange is what most excites all of us who work at the Museum.”
“Traditional Navajo Exchange: Resiliency and Reciprocity” by
Tafoya’s presentation looks how Navajos adapted to the environment
using age old ideas and practices like sustainability, reciprocity,
and responsible stewardship. He is a University of Arizona American
Indian Studies graduate student working on his MA degree, with an
emphasis on Navajo male material culture, traditional and modern
Navajo economy, tribal government reform, and federal Indian law.
Tafoya is also Vice President of the Navajo Studies Conference Board.
He will be demonstrating arrow making and flintknapping throughout the
“Armed with Our Language, We Went to War: The Navajo Code Talkers”
by Dr. Laura Tohe
During WWII, a small group of Navajo men enlisted in the Marines with
a unique armor. They devised a code using the Diné (Navajo) language
to pass secret information without the enemy ever deciphering or
breaking the code. Tohe’s presentation discusses how the code was
devised and used, and why the young Marines enlisted in the military,
with with quotes from the Marines and personal photos from the Tohe
family. Tohe’s books include No Parole Today, Making Friends
with Water, and Sister Nations. Her most recent book
Tseyi, Deep in the Rock won the Glyph award for Best Poetry and
Best Book by Arizona Book Association. She is a Professor of English
with Distinction at Arizona State University and her current book
project is an oral history book on the Navajo Code Talkers.
In 6th World, a 15-minute science fiction film by Navajo film
director Nanobah Becker, Navajo astronaut Tazbah Redhouse is a pilot
on the first spaceship sent to colonize Mars. A mysterious dream the
night before her departure indicates there may be more to her mission
than she understands. Becker earned her MFA in directing from Columbia
University in 2006. Her shorts Flat and Conversion (official
selection, Sundance Film Festival) have screened around the world. Her
screenplay "Into the Ring" got her a Sundance Institute-Ford
Fellowship and she was awarded a Rockefeller Fellowship for her
screenplay "Full," which went on to the Tribeca All Access program.
Becker's producer credits include the award-winning Navajo language
short Shimásání (Tribeca and Sundance film festivals). She is a
native of Albuquerque and a graduate of Brown University.
Navajo Linguist Larry King is a cultural bright light who walks
visitors along a path of history and legend, highlighting the
resilience of the Navajo language and the way Navajos use humor to
cope with hardship in their lives. He will also share humorous
examples and fun stories about how new words and ideas are introduced
into the Diné culture.
Performances Under the Big
Navajo entertainer and singer James Bilagody will emcee the big tent
activities throughout the day. Bilagody has worked as a deejay at KGHR
Navajo Radio in Tuba City and KRCL in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Flagstaff brother and sister Jeneda and Clayson Benally of Blackfire
fame have created their own unique brand of music with bass and drums.
They’ve named their new group Sihasin, a Diné word that means to think
with hope and assurance. They grew up protesting the environmental
degradation and inhumane acts of cultural genocide against their
traditional way of life. Their music reflects hope for equality,
healthy and respectful communities, and social and environmental
Many of the young Pollen Trail Dancers have grown up while dancing at
MNA’s Navajo Festival. They will perform storytelling dances meant to
be performed in the warm season. Group leader Brent Chase accompanies
the dance troupe with his humor, insight, and Navajo flute playing.
The Sash Belt or Weaving Dance tells the story of Spider Woman’s
influence in weaving, the Basket Dance depicts the important role of
baskets in Navajo life, and the Bow and Arrow Dance honors the
warriors of old who have protected the Diné way of life.
Radmilla Cody will showcase songs from her newest CD, Shi Keyah—Songs
for the People. Sung in the traditional style of the Diné, these
new songs composed by Herman Cody honor Mother Earth, the homeland of
the people, and the veterans who served our country, as well as a
humorous look at life in Dinetah.
One-of-a-kind consigned art works from individual artists across the
Navajo Nation are an important part of the Navajo Festivals, allowing
artists who produce only a few items per year a chance to sell their
work. Distinctive art pieces including pottery, paintings, weavings,
and baskets will be on display and for sale in the consignment area.
Ethnobotany walks along the Rio de Flag Nature Trail will again be led
by Diné educator Theresa Boone Schuler from Flagstaff. These very
popular walking schoolrooms will reveal the traditional Navajo uses of
regional native plants. Schuler gained her knowledge from her father,
a noted Diné herbalist who urged her to pass on the knowledge of
traditional healing plants by teaching about identification and usage.
At Creative Corner, outside in the Museum’s courtyard, kids and
creative individuals will be able to make Navajo inspired take-home
crafts. This year, visitors will learn how to make rattles, rug
patterns, and woven book marks.
MNA’s Navajo Textiles Gallery is changed throughout the year from
MNA’s Navajo Textiles Collection. The emphasis in this gallery is on
the highly individualized expressions of this art form, allowing
visitors to share in the weaver’s view of the world. Storm Pattern
rugs are currently on display.
About the Navajo
The Navajo Nation is the largest tribe in the U.S., covering nearly
27,000 square miles in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. With a
population that has surpassed 250,000, this sovereign nation is
focused on health care, economic development, and employment to
benefit the Navajo people. Thousands of tourists each year are
attracted to its natural wonders at Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly,
and Chaco Canyon.
The 9th Annual Celebraciones de la Gente, October 27-28, 2012 is part of MNA's Heritage Program. Make
plans now to attend this upcoming festival!
MNA Contact WebMaster
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