Monday, July 11, 2016

Tradition of Fruit

Apricot rituals
Photo by Venaya Yazzie

I can recall moments of my maternal grandmother and aunts canning fruit. These are images ingrained in my brain and have lead me to follow the images.

Last week my mother visited and she brought buckets of apricots with her. So with such an abundance of sweet fruit, I expressed that we should make some jam and can some of the fruit, thus the process of canning was re-ignited.

My aunt explained to me how to she and grandmother would begin the process. We first gathered the dusty glass Kerr jars and hunted the lids. The whole day was amazing, I loved the scent of cooking apricots on the stove. And as a visual artist I fell in love with the brilliant, beautiful orange hue of the apricots.

Fruits such as apricots, peaches, apples and pears are treasure items in the Navajo culture. Our oral history stories speak of such sweet fruits and in our many experiences we have the story of how such fruits were destroyed by the government at one time as means of tactical combat. In the era of the Navajo Long Walk, called Hweeldi (the time of sorrow), General Kit Carson ordered his soldiers to burn and destroy the peach and apple fields of the Navajos in Canyon De Chelly in Arizona. This was an act of evil and I despise his actions. He did such nonsense as a way of getting the Navajos to leave the canyon as he would force them to walk to Fort Sumner, NM where and internment camp awaited my ancestors.

This story is hard for me to share, but it must be told for it is also ingrained in my brain. It is a pure miracle that We as Dine', as Navajo have survived genocide and I believe this was made so by our collective prayers we uttered then and now. My Navajo people have a rich story embedded with deep cuts and rivers of sorrow, but we are resilient and in 2016 we are prosperous! WE have our 'beautyful' land and rivers, and our immense canyons and desert plains. We have our Navajo language and our stories of origin and survival and for that we are rich.

One would not ever think to relate fruits with the desert Navajo people, but we have such connections to them, some sour, but mostly a sweet heritage we treasure.

Desert rain

Monsoon rains
Photo by Venaya Yazzie

Desert rain. The utterance of that phrase is like the sweetest candy. Finally it seems the high-desert has been blessed by the nomadic clouds via monsoon rains in our arid lands in northwestern New Mexico.

I captured this moment in time as the rains arrived to the San Juan Valley. I am always inspired by the rain, and this has been so. I can remember the days of my childhood and how it rained so much more in the dry desert at Huerfano, NM. I can recall how all of us cousins would stand and run in the downpours of monsoon rain. We never ran from the rain or try to 'shelter' ourselves from it. Instead we'd open our mouths to the heavens, hold our hands out and welcome the rain. Those were beautiful moments of the early 1980s, when we as Navajo desert children actually played and explored the outdoors in nature. We had no use  of technology because we dialogued with each other and told stories of our imaginations, thus we 'loved' the land and had reverence for her.

Today I watch my little cousins and other relatives with cell phones and electronic devices in their hands, their brown eyes glued to tiny screens. I am sad for them, as they will never know the pure joy of the Land. They will never come to really see the beauty of the nature world around them.  I may sound a pessimist in this expression, but I really believe that era in which I was able to experience is forever in the past, technology has come to us as an 'evil doer' in my mind - for it has taken Our Navajo children and youth hostage...

As an adult I still truly love the land. I enjoy every moment I can spend outdoors and it is here that I find inspiration and solace. And, it is in the nature that I express and experience prayer. In Navajo we express the act of prayer as sodizin.

This way of being was instilled in my by my Dine' matriarchs. They taught us Werito-Yazzie children that prayer is everything. That prayer holds every that is good and it will bring life a 'balance.' So for me, prayer is my rain. I know when pray pours out of me and for my by others, my life will be richly blessed.  That is how it is.

Hozho Iina.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Navajo women's tools - for 'wellness'

Navajo women's tools.
Photo by Venaya Yazzie 2016

Adahodilzni-Reverance for Self Youth Conference- Shiprock NM

Venaya at Shiprock, NM 2016

This past week I was humbled and blessed to give the keynote address at the 10th Annual Adahodilzni - Reverance for Self - Youth Conference on the Navajo Nation in Shiprock, New Mexico.

I also was able to share and present my 'Navajo Jewelry Adornment' session to the Navajo youth on the first day of the conference I am pictured here with my signage made by the Wellness staff. Cute sign, but I see that the word 'jewelry' is spelled wrong.

As an educator and cultural educator I was so very humbled and very much happy to share the positive message o9f Navajo cultural pride and history with the Shiprock youth and with community members on the virtues of respect for themselves.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

My 1st post from 2013

Desert foot adornment, moccasins.
Photo by Venaya Yazzie2016

Today I share with you a new photo capture of my trek to Shiprock, New Mexico today.
I was honored to share my cultural knowledge with Navajo people at the 10th  Annual Adahodilzin -Reverence for Self Youth Conference.

I met new people and shared my story and experiences which I hope the youth will carry with them and share with their circle. 

I also wanted to share my very first posting on Indigenous Adornment for 2013. It doesn't seem like that long ago when I created this blog on behalf of the traditions of my beautyful Navajo and Pueblo desert dwellers in the southwest.

Here is the posting from 2013:

As highly cultural people many of our ways have been repressed via mainstream american acculturation but we have never been wholly assimilated. WE as a People have always carried on our ancestral ways of Personal Adornment. Adornment with jewelry items made by our family and artists in our community has allowed for us to overcome and continually survive. WE wear our wampum, abalone, armor that protects us and keeps us!

I am happy to see people of Indigenous background wearing their tribal items in the 21st century. Indigenous Adornment is our Survival: it is our pride, it is our happiness, it is our balance and always an homage to our ancestors.

As I head out the door to begin my day of good things, I always make sure I have on my turquoise. Its my protection, my grounding.

I send you blessings,

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Navajo tea gatherer

Navajo tea gatherer
Photo by Venaya Yazzie 2016

Its June according to the Euro-American calendar.

But, more importantly this season of the Diné year is expressed as T’áâchil, which refers to the beginnings of new plant grown, and or the growth of early plants both in the farmers garden and in the wild.

It is during this season that the Diné begin the gathering of wild plants growing in the diverse regions o the high desert and plain desert areas on and around the sovereign Navajoland. It is during this time that the women and Diné  herbalists gather the wild plants growing among them is dééThe most common growing plant is the 'Navajo tea' plant, one that is purely non-GMO and organic. This is a high desert medicinal plant which the Navajos use for many purposes to ingesting and in the dyeing of wool to use in their woven rugs.

Here I feature of pics of my másáaní as she has complete preparing of the wild 'Navajo tea' plant in tea bundles. This tea will be used throughout the year, but it usually consumed in the fall and winter months.


Monday, June 13, 2016

Everything I do and say is for my Indigenous people

Time travel
Photo credit: Venaya Yazzie 2016

Generations of desert ancestors trekked the dry lands to find protection and solace from the chaos of america's agenda. My Indigenous ancestors lived and struggled daily to survive for me, for us, the coming generations. This is the truth I understand now as an adult.

As a child growing up in american society I was not taught this history in school, I heard these truths from my family. Our oral history accounts of the Navajo Long Walk to For Sumner, New Mexico are embedded in the line of my feet. My Navajo ancestors, my Pueblo ancestors are the example of the government tried but failed to terminate my tribal people.

We are a resilient people. We are created in Creator God's image. We are not descendants of monkeys, we were made and formed in the image of one Creator God. This is the truth of our lives. As ancestors of our grandparents we survive, we thrive because we have our land, we have our language, we have our tribal ways, we have our family and extended family. We are rich from these intangible things, we are therefore strong.

I share this with you because I see how mainstream society is continuing to diminish the true history of my Indigenous people. The plight of my tribal people has been and continues to be over shadowed by events that are conjured up by groups that continue to terrorize and colonize by force, the lives of my Indigenous people.

Our Indigenous experience in the present and past  has nothing to do with what modern american culture has spitted out... we are not them, they are not us. That's how it is.

Everything I do and say is for my Indigenous people, for they are my heart and the reason for my resiliency. So I continue to pray and believe in act of prayer, for this a constant in my life, it is the legacy of my ancestors that blesses me.

Hozho naasha.

Still here - Indigenous

Still here.
Photo credit: Venaya Yazzie 2016

" We are the survivors
  We are the evidence
 of their crimes,
They don't want us as
   as reminder of what they did."

-John Trudell

Friday, June 10, 2016

Navajo POV

Dziłnaodiłthe - Doorway Mountain
Photo credit: Venaya Yazzie 2016

Did you know that the Diné, present-day 'Navajo' people live in New Mexico (and yes its in the US)?

Well, as a native- New Mexican and Diné/ Hopi woman I am rooted in this great state. My mother's family lineage is from the place named Huerfano Mesa and my maternal grandfather was raised in the Kimbetó (Chaco Canyon area). Truly I am a New Mexican through and through and very proud of my heritage.

Now, have you ever seen this mesa? If you live in the northwestern New Mexico community and surround area I'm sure you have. This iconic natural structure is a very important element of Diné culture, it is a part of our very identity. Yet, I have found that many younger generations of Diné have no clue of this mesa's existence. You may say"Well why should they? There are alot of mesas in the desert southwest." This is the 'holy grail' of Diné cosmology, its our Diné identity as a group, as Indigenous humans on the earth. To know this mesa, to know its reason for being, to know its history and to have reverence for its existence is the essence of being a Diné person.

This image is burned into the marrow of my bones. I love this mesa, it is my childhood, it talks of story of my maternal great grandparents Jim and Louise Werito, and therefore it is where my heart will always be.

This place is expressed, Dziłnaodiłthe by the Diné. It is the 'Doorway Mountain' where we as Diné entered this world. This sacred place is our identity as 'Five-Fingered" Diné people. This area is part of the Diné cultural landscape to many Navajo who live in this and surrounding communities. Just as the Monument Valley structures are prominent in the minds of the the Diné who live there, this mesa is encoded in our Eastern Diné DNA.

It is my hope that we as Diné return to our ancestral origin stories, they are our true identity and we should hope to know all these sacred sites because that will ensure we keep faith in who we are in this chaotic world

Ask your parents, grandparents, uncles and or aunts about this place. No matter how old you are as Diné, know our stories of origin it will only make you and our identity as a desert dweller Diné strong and resilient.

Bless the People.

Newest EarART Designs by Venaya Yazzie - Yazzgrl Art - New Mexico USA

EarART Designs by New Mexico USA artist Venaya Yazzie
Photo credit Venaya Yazzie 2016

Yazzgrl Art studio has been burning the midnight oil. As summer is at the front gate so are many summer art festivals and art shows.

Picture here are my newest EarART Designs earrings. I adore the historical photographs of my Indigenous ancestors, and I love the aesthetic designs of Navajo silverwork and turquoise and as a result I was inspired to make these rectangle wood earrings. These feature the desert southwest woman dressed in her Hopi-style regalia and women's hairstyle. She is featured in front of a close-up cyclical design of Navajo cluster work.

I really am very happy how these new earrings turned out. Now on to more new creations!

You can visit my Square store website at: