feel lucky, honored too, but really, really lucky." This was
the response from a Tuba City High School student who is Hopi when
he was asked how he felt about being Indian.
Recognizing, understanding, celebrating
and renewing ties to culture and tradition was what this entire
past week was all about. Administrators felt it was so important
for their student population a memo was issued to endorse the week-long
cultural activities for all of Tuba City Districts seven schools.
What made this week even more special
is that other cultures were featured alongside American Indian activities.
Maori, Hawaiian, Hispanic, African American, and Anglo cultures
all had something to contribute.
Activities varied from traditional art
forms like moccasin making, to plant identification and use, construction
of traditional play forms made from mud to singing songs in native
languages. Discussions about constellations were given to primary
and middle school students. Wearing traditional clothing was heavily
encouraged as well as conversing in ones own first Native
Students were extremely receptive to the
special presentations this week as it took them out of their ordinary
activities to celebrate their "Indian-ness."
Norman Butler, a traditional Navajo Moccasin
Maker who lives in Tuba City was one of the featured presenters
at the TC Primary School. He learned his art form from his father.
He shared with students the process of
making traditional moccasins and talked to them about the meaning
of each section of the moccasin itself. He showed how one must scrape
all the hair off the cowhide before you can start on the bottom
sole of the shoe. Then the cowhide must be steamed to form it to
the foot. The top portion of the moccasin is made of dyed deerhide
that has been tanned with animal brains.
Butler also explained as he worked that
the moccasin has its own spiritual meaning. The toe section of the
moccasin represents the early morning dawn. The red deerhide leather
portion represents the sunset. The white deerhide wrap that goes
around the leg represents the Mother Earth and her protectiveness
as you walk.
As Butler sewed, he told the students
that even the way you stitch your leather will make a big difference
in how the shoe ends up. Large stitches will make a higher lip on
the shoe, while smaller stitches will make the cowhide sole lower
and softer to walk on.
The final day of activity included eating
traditional foods and inviting their parents to their individual
schools to assist, enjoy and support their week-long projects.