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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Yazzgrl Art in L.A., Cali

Yazzgrl Art booth at the annual Autry Museum Indian Market in Los Angeles, CA
Photo by VJYAZZIE 2017

It's November so 'Rock Your Mocs!'

Go out and "Rock Your Mocs!"
Photo by VJYAZZIE 2017

The life of a 21st century Indigenous person of the America's (a.k.a. the US), is filled with a plethora of life experiences which include living a life in the status quo of America's urban and rural life and also dwelling within the Indigenous communities of reservation and close community life all across the 'Indin Country.'

November has been designated National Native American month, and has been adopted by many educational institutions and thus classrooms and as a result many are amidst celebrating the act of Indigenous adornment. One of these practices is the wearing of tribal footgear via the Indigenous moccasin.

Pictured here are my feet and my desert-style moccasins.  This image was taken as a "selfie" moment while I was visited the family home on the eastern region of the Navajo Nation in northwest New Mexico.  This style of desert moccasin is made with dyed cowhide leather and is fashioned with a thick and hardy leather sole.  Traditionally this type of moccasin was worn by all Navajo and Pueblo people, but now many of us wear sneakers or other fashion-heavy shoes.

This type of moccasin is unique only the the southwest desert Indigenous people which include: Pueblo and Navajo tribal people. Both men and women wear basically the same type of moccasin, but there are some differences in styles.  This style of moccasin pictured fits up to the mid-calf, and is a popular style worn by both men and women.  There are also ankle size moccasins and strictly women's only style of moccasins with deer skin hide that wrap around the calf.

The style of each moccasin is truly unique, and is not only aesthetically pleasing but also is utilitarian in nature. The longer moccasins were made and worn to protect the legs from brush and other plant life that could hurt the wearer.  The southwest Indigenous style of moccasins also concern the spiritual and cultural belief system of each tribal group.

So, on behalf of November as National Native American Heritage month I share this information as a means of celebration and education.  So, celebrate your Indigenous heritage and support and go out and "Rock Your Mocs!"

Blessings in ALL things.
posted 11-14-17
By Venaya Yazzie

Neo Southwest

Neo Southwest Earrings by Venaya Yazzie
Photo courtesy of VJYAZZIE 2017

These are my 'newest' Indi.Ear earring designs.  I really admire them.

The passion I carry for designing and creating modern Indigenous southwest jewelry items is 'rooted' in the vast and strong history of my Indigenous tribal identity.  This design was inspired by the ancient Hopi Pueblo "mosiac" style of jewelry-making. In this pair of earrings I have chosen to use the abalone shell as the main element of the earrings. The other included materials include: heishe shell beads, mother-of-pearl shell and desert turquoise.  The backing of the earrings is a wooded rectangular piece and the earrings are finished with sterling silver wire and french hook.

For the contemporary southwest Indigenous person, wearing cultural jewelry is much more than just "dressing," for it concerns the spiritual and also respect for the ways of our ancestors and the belief system.

I make these pieces in many ways as an homage to my desert People, the Dine' and the Hopi.

posted 11-14-17
By Venaya J. Yazzie

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

I am rooted in the high-desert southwestern Indigenous tribal people

My existence in the 21st century.

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My life as a Dine'/ Hopi woman is a truly sacred existence. Our lives as Indigenous people is a sacred existence. I am rooted in the high-desert southwestern Indigenous tribal people of what is called the 'American southwest.'  My hardy, resilient desert ancestors dwelled in the areas of what the colonizers called "New Mexico" and "Arizona."  I am the modern voice of my past ancestral history, it is a moving, living tribal voice that will never be silenced or halted.  My cultural history has already been spoken, and when I leave this earth, no one can stop that sacred story that has already lived, and will continue to exist in the canyons, valley and mesa tops of  Dinetah, Navajo land and in the land of the Hopi.

In the time of my ancestors, each individual lived a dangerous life full of wild animals, and wild lands. Yet they survived and were steadfast in their ways of 'knowing.' The southwest Indigenous Epistemology of Navajo and Hopi ancestors aided and protected them in their daily lives.  Though I'm sure there were roadblocks, and ever-present dangers, my People were steadfast and smart and they were triumphant every time.  How do I know this? Well, I am here on this earth, on this land. And, the fact that I was born, and survive and continue the legacy is who we won, how we continue our sacred stories.

In today's climate of modernity though, we the present ancestors live with new obstacles and dangers. Today, in this generation of Indigenous existence, we each guard and protect ourselves from technology and those unknown, faceless foes on the Internet.  In that 'unreal' space, there exist issues such as the fake, and stealing of personal identity, hacking and other such ill actions. So, we must be aware, be conscious, be weary, be on the 'look' for ourselves, and and behalf of our Indigenous relatives. We should all be our "Brother's Keepers" this is the legacy of our ancestral people, lets not lose this practice of empathy, for this is also our strength.

Too, we each must continue to be steadfast in protecting our Indigenous art and culture.  If there is one person who on non-Native, non-Indigenous who thinks to act upon one of us, they are acting upon ALL of  Us Indigenous! We, the new generation of Indigenous (american) tribal people are strong and not passive and not status quo, we are Warrior. We are the new voice of Indigenous in the 21st century.

Be on guard my Indigenously- Beautyful people, we are Creator's Chosen People - every breath, each step, each act, every laugh, in our inhale and exhale we are a sacred act. Truly.

Bless each other.

posted 10-31-17

Buy only Indigenous-made, legit Art

Genuine SW jewelry items made by Pueblo artesians of Santo Domingo Pueblo, USA

Fine Art, Mixed Media, Cultural art/crafts made only by Indigenous people is legit product.

Don't be fooled by those people outside of the Indigenous Nations who are making counterfeit items and then claiming and selling those products as "Native American" or "Made by Native America." These are only two examples of phrases used to sell fake "Indian," and Indigenous-made art.

The world or Indigenous art and the cultural crafts is under great attack in the year 2017.  There are a plethora of non-Native, non-Indigenous, non-Navajo entities who are blatantly copying our art esthetic in our visual and jewelry art.  The current countries that have made moves on this ill-practice of stealing and creating fake "Indian/ Native American Art" include: Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, China among others.

I have recently been in a conversation with a Dine' (Navajo) jeweler who understands this dilemma that the Navajo people, Navajo artesian, Navajo Nation as a whole is dealing with. This state of stealing and re-creating fake Navajo jewelry items is a sick practice by those who have appropriated my Navajo culture and innate artistic abilities to made counterfeit cultural items.

Please, please do not buy these fake items. Please report the sellers as it is illegal to sell fake "Indian or Native American" art. The Indian Arts and Craft Act of 1990 exists to protect Indigenous people. Here is an some information from the website:

"The Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-644) is a truth-in-advertising law that prohibits misrepresentation in marketing of Indian arts and crafts products within the United States. It is illegal to offer or display for sale, or sell any art or craft product in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian or Indian Tribe or Indian arts and crafts organization, resident within the United States. For a first time violation of the Act, an individual can face civil or criminal penalties up to a $250,000 fine or a 5-year prison term, or both. If a business violates the Act, it can face civil penalties or can be prosecuted and fined up to $1,000,000.
Under the Act, an Indian is defined as a member of any federally or officially State recognized Indian Tribe, or an individual certified as an Indian artisan by an Indian Tribe.
The law covers all Indian and Indian-style traditional and contemporary arts and crafts produced after 1935. The Act broadly applies to the marketing of arts and crafts by any person in the United States. Some traditional items frequently copied by non-Indians include Indian-style jewelry, pottery, baskets, carved stone fetishes, woven rugs, kachina dolls, and clothing.
All products must be marketed truthfully regarding the Indian heritage and tribal affiliation of the producers, so as not to mislead the consumer. It is illegal to market an art or craft item using the name of a tribe if a member, or certified Indian artisan, of that tribe did not actually create the art or craft item..."

Be vigilant, be smart when investing and purchasing Indigenous (aka, Native American, Indian art).
When you can buy directly from the seller/artist, and ask questions about the art piece especially when you are buying southwestern Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Pueblo jewelry.  Make sure it is sold as genuine.


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Neo-Indigenous Adornment

Here are some items that the neo-Indigenous person adorns with.  We are still here, we are steadfast, we are strong.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Venaya Speaks!

Fort Lewis College has hosted this event for many years now, and with it a plethora of visiting Indigenous speakers, artists, educators and performers.  This year I will be speaking and leading a workshop titled:

Decolonizing Their Feminism Via Indigenous Epistemology.

Here is info from their FLC site:

 Her workshop will be offered both at 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. in the La Plata Room and is called: "Decolonizing their Feminism via indigenous Epistemology." The conscious cultural awareness of the Desert Matriarch concerns the Epistemology of Navajo and Pueblo societies of women as intrinsic 'leaders' in their communities. We as 21st century women must re-ignite this concept in our modernity as an act of decolonizing, especially away from the alien Euro-American concept of feminism

Please visit my website  which features more information on my workshops and speaking services and engagements below.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Dine and the 'Creative-way'

Navajo art made by an young artist Benally from Arizona community
Photo by Venaya Yazzie 2017

As Dine', as modern Navajo people, we have been given vast gifts from Creator, Dyiin.  Many of us recognize this, but many do not.

I was born into a highly tactile-oriented family. A large group of my family and relatives are very creative and therefore "make" items. This is the legacy of the Navajo clan of the Manyhogans people. Our related animal is the Otter, and we are always ensure we "busy" with our hands, we are therefore not idle people.  Many of the Manyhogans people I know are artists, they consist of: painters, potters, silversmiths, weavers, basketmakers and seamstress' among others.

My own family practices many of these activities, its in our DNA passed down to us from our ancestors, from out desert patriarchs via grandfathers, nalis, uncles....and too, through our matriarchs such as our grandmothers, mothers, aunts, cousin-sisters.

I share this with you as I am inspired by the new generation of Navajo artists. During the annual Window Rock Navajo Nation Fair I was able to purchase some new acquisitions from a young Navjao woman painter. I cannot recall her first name, but her last name is Benally. She is from the Window Rock, AZ community an made the two mini paintings I share.  I really adore her "vision" in her colorful, fun depiction of Navajo women. I really believe we are a blessed people with grand visions of Beatuy in our bloodline.  We as Dine' create and perpetuate 'Beautyway' when we make art. This, I believe, is the grand plan of our Creator.

Blessings in all Art things!

posted 09-21-17
by Venaya Yazzie