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Monday, October 17, 2016

Masani's Loom - Beautyway

Masani's loom
Photo by Venaya Yazzie 2016

This capture of my maternal grandmother's weaving loom concerns the true 'beautyway' of my family. This weekend my grandmother finished this set up and thus began weaving. Together we will work in a collaboration on this rug. I cherish the moments when I can sit with her (and the cat) and just listen to the delicate sounds of her at her loom.

She is a master of mathematics when she is counting the strings of her loom, as she determines in her mind what kind of rug design the loom wants her to make. Its a 'beautyful' thing to be in her presence watching her in her happiness, her solace, her quiet strength at the loom. 

Form her I find myself, my identity as a Dine' woman, as a woman of the Manyhogans clan of eastern Navajoland. She is my strength and my muse. I love her to the moon.

Autumn blessings!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Ghąąjį́ - Happy Navajo New Year!

Golden aspen leaves
Photo by Venaya Yazzie 2016

Autumn is here!

This time of year the earth is 'adorned' with the beautyful colors of the season - and I am grateful for the experience. The Navajo name for this season is Aakei

The calendar name for this month is October which is ending the non-Navajo calendar year, but for my the Navajo people its a new beginning, a "new year" if you will. October season  is expressed as Ghąąjį́’ -which refers to a 'separating of the seasons.' This expression cannot be paralleled with American the global sense of time or place. This season is about welcoming the Navajo-ways of being or belief system (Epistemology) for the Diné, the Navajo people.

Today many of us are harvesting our crops which may include, corn, beans, squash and melons. So, across New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, which our reservation lands are situated, we also amidst celebration and thankfulness of our harvests.

I planted late this year so I am in the process of making a shelter for my corn and melons as the temperatures in the high-desert southwest have been already in the mid-30s nightly. As I mentioned I adore this season for all the reasons I listed above, but I also love this time of year for the pure enjoyment of the the diverse colors. The photo featured here is one I captured a week ago while trekking in southwestern Colorado, near Silverton. The trees are blooming with the rich colors of Autumn and are so wonderful to see and walk among. 

I hope this season finds you well and happy about each moment you are able to experience in the Nature.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The gull of non-Indigenous to justify their Cultural Appropriation of the Navajo Language

This is Cultural Appropriation

I am a Navajo person - my desert lineage is rooted in the American southwest. I am a Navajo woman of many generations of Dine' blood and clan lines from my matriarchs. I was raised to know the right ways to live a good life and to point out or speak out against injustice or ill-mannered intentions.

This posting concerns a non-Indigenous company from India, who are making so-called "dreamcatchers" which they describe as "pan-Indian." Basically they are copying the cultural item from the Ojibwe tribal people in the Americas and selling them as their own work inspired by their love and adoration of the culture.

My main concern though is the use of my Navajo language, or should I say the misuse of my sacred Navajo language expression of 'hozho.' This term is not one to be used in a way that is disrespectful or out of term. It is the medicine people of my tribe who use this expression to help my Dine' people heal. This company however is using the term 'hozho' to sell their products online. They are using the expression in a way that is disrespectful. They are not Navajo, and just because they found the term online does not give them full permission to use it in a wrong way.

This non-Navajo entity is trying to justify using my tribal language expression as okay. According to their website they state:

"The word Hozho has an independent meaning in the dictionary. It can be easily looked up on the Internet to find its roots in the Navajo thesaurus..."

This may be the case but it does not mean you can use the term loosely and for your own gain.  The Navajo language is a sacred language, as a Navajo I do not agree with this company using my language as a marketing 'tool' to sell their new age, wannabe products.

They posted this information yesterday and it can be reviewed at their site:

Honestly, if your trying to sell a product find an expression in your own language to sell your kitsch Hozho Dreamcatchers. 

Misuse of Indigenous Languages

Captures of the webiste hozhodreamcatchers .com

Recently I became aware of an outfit from Pune, India that makes and sells the trendy, new age, wannabe item: the dreamcatcher. The idea of this bothers me but what I am most disturbed by is their disrespectful use of my Dine' language, and expression of 'hozho' to sell their foul product(s).

I posted my discontent on their Instagram site HozhoDreamcatchers (.com)last evening  and when I checked back this morning they deleted it.

As 21st century Indigenous people WE collectively deal with so much negative stereotypes of our culture whether it be the Halloween "Indian Princess" costumes or the use of our image as mascots - but I have not seen the misuse of our Indigenous languages... until now.

This company from India is culturally misappropriating the Dine' (Navajo) term 'hozho.' This term is a Navajo expression - and is used in healing ceremonies. I am not happy with their use of the word to sell their products.

Indigenous Native languages are sacred - I believe they are tied directly to the soul or identity of the person, in this case the Navajo person. Just because its found on the Internet or in a book does not mean it should be mis-used or used by a non-Navajo person to sell their product.

Be vigilant my Indigenous - protect and fight for your culture and language.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

New site - Indigenous Adornment

A view of my new website header featuring Navajo model Crystal Birdhead
dressed in garments I designed and produced.
Photo credit Venaya Yazzie 2016

Happy September 29th - for we only have a couple more glorious days of the month left.  As you might guess I adore the month of September. For one it's my birthday month, but also the birth date of several of my family members including my maternal grandmother.

I wanted to share some news today concerning my ongoing research on 'indigenous adornment.'   Yesterday I launched my new website called "Indigenous Adornment." It is my hope that this site will continue to promote southwestern cultural adornment of the Dine' (Navajo) and Pueblo (Hopi) peoples of Arizona and New Mexico, USA.

As I have mentioned on several previous entry's this research I have been doing for the past five years or so has lead me to produce a book manuscript and hopefully soon a book. I am always inspired by my immediate desert matriarchs and patriarch as I continue on this great journey of my proposed book.

I have launched this new site with hopes that it will inspire others, educate the global community and bring awareness to the public about Indigenous southwestern tribal/cultural adornment practices. And further that it will perpetuate the tribal narrative of my family and tribal commuunity - and the importance of our identity in the 21st century, including our ways of adorning as acts of resiliency.

I hope you are blessed with love and laughter in your life - enjoy the rest of September!

Blessings in all things.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Good earrings all around

Earrings made by Hopi Pueblo artist M. Honyouti
Photo credit- Venaya Yazzie 2016

Wearing earrings made by Hopi artist M. Honyouti

Imagination is the key to successful art.

In my opinion - the more diverse experience a person has the more complex and interesting their art is. The number of southwestern desert artists is abundant and so there is a wonderful variety of art in the Americas.

Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to travel the desert homleands and thus have explored and found new artists. But, this time it was social media that I trekked and found a great Hopi artist who makes these 'nizhoni-ful' earrings. I have seem many earrings in my day and by far these are the most 'beautyful' and so very unique. I recently purchased these earrings from M. Honyouti who is an Arizona artist. He makes Hopi carvings and also these awesome earrings - his work is showcased online. ( His website is at )

With each art piece I purchase I find it like adding a new family member. These earrings are my new favorites, and I wear them with happiness. For me this is about 'adorning' oneself with the spirit of creativity and therefore an act of Indigenous Adornment. And too, its a birthday present for myself - today is my birthday!


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Water is Life

Capture from  National Native News email
Photo credit of Grand Canyon, AZ - Jonathan Zander

Today I post this capture of the news coming out of 'Indin' Country.' These stories are so very relevant in these chaotic times in America. My Indigenous people are still here and WE collectively are doing the best we can to survive and stomp out colonialist tactics.

Everyday we stand up for ourselves and other Indigenous nations in the Americas - as of now many of us are standing as 'Protectors' of ancestral Indigenous lands. The Dakota Sioux people at the Standing Rock reservation are currently holding up a campsite in North Dakota in defense of their land.

They stand as united voices or ALL human beings, only asking for the waters of the Missouri river to be protected from an oil pipeline.

The society WE dwell in America has chosen to forget Us Indigenous -for they failed in their genocide against us, we are so very strong in our spiritual ways, in our prayers, in our ceremony - we are the chosen people of Creator, only He can take us from this earth.

I wanted to share this expression with you on this blog because the message is so very important and is not being told on national media news. OUR Indigenous story is still strong because WE Indigenous still live.

Water is Life. Believe it!

-Blessings All Around-

Friday, September 16, 2016

Yazzgrl Art beadwork creations

Yazzgrl Art beadwork creations
Photo credit: Venaya Yazzie

Yazzgrl Art beadwork creations
Photo credit: Venaya Yazzie

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Dine' expression of corn

Cornfield blessings
Photo credit: Venaya Yazzie 2016

Naadaa. This is the Dine' expression of 'corn.'

For the desert southwest people, corn is everything. For many of us corn is a living entity. For the most part we look as the existence of corn as a blessing to us, and to our daily ways of being. We use the corn tassel or corn pollen for our prayerlife and to bless the children. We use the corn stalk leaves for rolling mountain tobacco, again for our prayers. And the corn itself is utilized in a plethora of different ways from consumption to the details of ceremonial life.

Corn along with water are very important to our lives. For, without water, we would not be able grow this 'beautyful' plant. In every aspect of our Indigenous desert lives, water is essential.

I feel it a very big blessing to be able to enter the garden and be among the corn and melons... I have grown these plants traditionally and from heirloom seeds that have been passed down from my great-grandmother and other of my relatives. I captured this 'beautyful' moment in time as I watered the garden. This moment for me was prayer in everyway.

In blessings.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Expressions of Adornment

Expression of Indigenous Adornment
Venaya Yazzie

When I first began my blog concerning Indigenous Adornment, I looked only to the imagery of the past - For I adored the look of my desert matriarchs dressed in their finest tribal attire. I soon realized though that Indigenous Adornment also concerned the contemporary native males and females.

I believe we as Indigenous people, both men and women, wear our tribal jewelry and regalia as a means of celebrating our identity as tribal people. We wear cultural feathers, or shells, and also gems and minerals such as turquoise and jet as a way of stating our presence in the 21st century. I was fortunate to have been brought up in this way, my Navajo matriarchs instilled in me - the spiritual connection that 'adornment' brings - we as Dine' have our ancient language to confirm this act. This is 'ni hi zaad' which has direct  and distinct expressions to this act of 'adorning' oneself in a tangible and spiritual way.

It is true though that we are not all like this though, for many of us Indigenous have assimilated fully to the American culture (society) so many of us do not wear our cultural adornments. This is okay too, for maybe they find other ways of celebrating their Indigenous identity.

The importance of material expression of cultural jewelry/ items is I think a very essential part of one's life in the modern world - we as Indigenous must keep a hold of our tribal people's ways to survive and strive. For me its about the perpetuation of of our unique identity, it is an act of being resilient.

hozho naasha.