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The Journey . . .

    Ya'at'eeh
('Good Day' in Navajo)

by Maricia Mlynek

     

Updated on Wednesday*:

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Like Louis and Clark, we have continued our journey into new territories and in search of new discoveries. Today, we were in the Navajo Nation, which covers over 27,000 miles in the states of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. The Dine’ Bike’yah (Navajoland) is larger than 10 of the 50 states in America.

We visited the Four Corners Navajo Tribal Park. It is the only place in the U.S. where four states intersect at one point. Standing in the center means I could be four places at once. I have felt that way and been driven to try and achieve that before, but today I literally stood in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado--all at once.

In the Four Corners Park, the Navajo vendors sell handmade jewelry, crafts and traditional Navajo foods. There is also a demonstration center with Navajo artisans. I was blessed to meet and talk with two lovely ladies of 100% Navajo lineage.

Navajo Jewelry

Renita D. Kady, retired after working 32 years for government schools on the reservation, is the proud mother of four and a grandmother of nine (six boys and three girls). She speaks and sings the Navajo language. She is active in her community and plays piano for her church. The day we met, she was volunteering to run a stand for her children in the 4 Corners Monument. It was a privilege to meet and talk with such a wonderful lady and artisan. Her hand-strung necklaces were beautiful. It seems talent and skill runs throughout her family. We were enchanted by her son’s sand painting and silver smithing. Even her grandchildren do paintings on stones. Renita and her family express the Navajo traditions and talents in their art.

Lyn Elwood

My second meeting was with another artisan, Lyn Elwood. She has been sand painting for 27 years. Her husband Melvin was her teacher. He was raised by his grandparents and grew up helping his grandfather, a medicine man, do ceremonies in the Navajo language and culture. Melvin taught Lyn the stories of their people through the sand paintings. Her work is exquisite. Each painting represents an array of ceremonies, sacred songs and stories. She teaches visitors about the Navajo through her paintings. Lyn shared with me two headings that most Navajo ceremonies are placed under.

Renita D. Kelly

1. Precautionary and protective--such as the “Blessing Way,” which is designed to ensure health, propriety and well being.

2. Cures of evil or illness--such as the “Enemy Way,” which is designed through prayers for the patient to be cured, resting him to harmony with all creation and again he may “Walk in Beauty.” This is the way of the Navajo.

It was amazing how much I learned just by speaking with these two ladies--two strangers that became friends, and in their kindness, I saw the Navajo way--truly a walk in beauty.

This Week's Editorial:

By Helen Morris:

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