Wednesday, July 22, 2015

TEDxPhoenix 2010 Jolyana Bitsui - What it means to be a Navajo woman

This is a great 20 minutes of TED talk you can spend today.
Please follow this link and you'll be sure to be inspired!


Jolyana Bitsui - What it means to be a Navajo woman

Powwow 'adornment.'

Powwow 'adornment.'
Photo by Venaya Yazzie
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2015

I took a 'selfie' while participating in the powwow grand entry this past weekend in Dulce, New Mexico on the Jicarilla Apache Indian Reservation.

This annual community celebration is a favorite on my list of summer powwows, and it did not disappoint. I was able to wear my favorite Jingle Dress and beadwork.

Dine' Women's Cultural Adornment

Dine' Women's Cultural Adornment at Dulce, NM Powwow
Photo by Venaya Yazzie
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2015

This past weekend I was able to attend and dance at the annual Jicarilla Days Celebration Powwow in Dulce, New Mexico.

As a dancer participant and as an observer I had a great opportunity to take some photographs and to talk with spectators. As I danced in the Inter-tribal dances, I befriended a Dine' (Navajo) woman who was dressed head to toe in her cultural adornment regalia. Her attire was striking and she stood out as she was the only Dine' wearing her traditional clothing among the pan-Indian dress of the powwow dancers.

I befriended her and learned she was a mother for Sweetwater, NM community. I asked her about her clothing and expressed it was good to she her dressed up in the Navajo way, or as I said, "Nizhoni'go ha'di'tee." In the Navajo way this expression concerns the physical act of wearing 'turquoise' adornment. She danced the both days of the powwow among the powwow people.

She wore a traditional wool woven dress called a 'biil,' and Navajo-style footwear called 'ke'tsal' made of cowhide and deer buckskin moccasins, and she carried a Pendleton women's shawl on her left arm. She dripped in an array of various turquoise jewelry pieces included a full-turquoise and silver belt. She wore her hair in a traditional Navajo women's 'tsii yaal' or hair bundle.

It was good to see such desert women's Indigenous Adornment. She made me proud to be a desert woman, her dress showed the beauty, dignity and strength of the Navajo woman. She blessed the People.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Thursday, July 9, 2015

My Dine' masani's hands full of story

My Dine' masani's hands full of story
Photo credit  Venaya Yazzie
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2015

An Indigenous grandmother's hands are strong and full of the most amazing stories on this earth. I photographed my maternal grandmother's hands this week, and each image blesses me.

Vintage shell earrings

Mother-of-Pearl earrings with turquoise additions.
Photo credit Venaya Yazzie ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2015

Jewelry adornments made from natural shell have been utilized by Southwestern Indigenous People for hundreds of years. Though the desert people do not live by water, the nearest source is the Pacific Ocean. For the Navajo and the Pueblo people, shell products are embedded not only in the Indigenous Adornment culture, but also play a vital role in the origin stories, including those of creation.

These earrings were acquired by me from a antique shop. The 'white shell' or mother of pearl shell teardrops are a 'vintage' shell. The shop keeper told me they are from the 1960s. I added the turquoise pieces later. They are beautiful and one of my many favorites to adorn.

Navajo-made sterling silver earrings

Navajo-made sterling silver earrings.
Photo credit Venaya YAzzie ALLRIGHTSRESERVED 2015

New acquisition.
These earrings are basic, but carry exquisite design. Made from tufa-casting technique, these are made with sterling silver by a Navajo silversmith in Window Rock AZ.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Navajo girl 'adorned'

Photo collage of a Navajo girl
Photo credit kohuhuoke
I share this image (s) of this Navajo girl dressed in post-Long Walk traditional attire. She wears the typical collared-shirt with long sleeves, tiered skirt, deer and cow hide moccasins and of course her turquoise jewelry adornments. She's perfect! Beauty-ful desert 'Indigenous Adornment."

'Relatives' in Mongolia

Mongolian women 'adorned' in traditional garments
Photo credit Tibet Travel via Instagram

I found this image of a Mongolian woman via a person I follow on Instagram. There are many reasons why I adore this photograph.

First, I see many of my own Navajo relatives in this woman, her facial features are pheno-typically like those I see in the desert southwest. In fact she reminds me of one of my good friends' oldest daughter.  Secondly, I admire her clothing she wears, it seems most of what she is wearing is made of fur and possibly reindeer skin. But above all, she is 'adorned' in beautiful turquoise earrings. And, she seems to be wearing some red ochre color on her cheeks. This kind of of application parallels what Navajos do also, as a way of protection from the sunrays, but we call it 'chii.' 

Many Navajo claim not affiliation with the Mongolian or the people of Tibet and other Asian cultures, but I have an open mind and therefore have found a plethora of cultural parallels that exist, especially in the area of traditional adornment practices.

But, please take this image for what it is, a look at the cultural and tribal ways of adornment, of creating beauty.