Thursday, October 8, 2015

Rock your mocs

Navajo style moccasins in the autumn leaves.
Photo by Venaya J. Yazzie 2015
Across Indin' Country the expression 'Rock your mocs' can be heard by modern Indigenous people on both reservations and urban settings. The act of wearing your tradition, tribal moccasins has become a way of celebrating the identity of many generations of Indigenous people. This image I share with you as a way of making the statement tangible.

People, 'Rock your mocs!' Happy Autumn!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Navajo elder men singing

Navajo elder men singing.
Photo credit: Venaya J. Yazzie 2015

This time of year is amazing because of the land's physical change and the People's transition to the coming winter via songs, stories and ceremony.

While spending time at among the People in Shiprock, NM I found the experience  somewhat melancholy,  as I missed the presence of my maternal grandfather among the many Navajo elders at the Navajo Song and Dance arena. My 'papa' passed on from this life two years ago, his name was Alfred Padilla Yazzie, he was of the Waters Flow Together clan and was raised in the area of Chaco Canyon, NM on the eastern region of the Navajo Nation. He was a good Navajo singer and as a young man sang with his brothers and father during in the Navajo Yeibichei ceremonial life.

In the months before he left, my papa told many stories of his life.
Though this photo is not him, the man in the blue shirt reminded my of him, handsome and beautyful.


Navajo children 'adorned'

                     Navajo Song and Dance child participants.
                       Photo credit: Venaya J. Yazzie 2015
                           ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I took this photo during the annual Northern Navajo Nation Fair in Shiprock, NM this past weekend. These two Navajo children were a blessing to watch during my time spent at the Navajo Social Song and Dance event on the Navajo reservation.

They are dressed in full Navajo Indigenous Adornment form their head to their small feet! The little boy was so cute wearing his Navajo style men's headband,and his velvet shirt. He danced most all of the dances that happened that day and dance every time with this Navajo girl pictured here.

Seeing these two dance gives me hope for the cultural future of the Navajo people. When 'adorning' themselves with Navajo attire they most likely are taught the reasons and traditions of what they are wearing and why they are wearing such objects.  They bless the People.

Navajo 'Adornment' during Shiprock Fair 2015

Elder Navajo woman's hands adorned in turquoise.
Photo credit: Venaya J. Yazzie 2015

Navajo man's hands adorned in silver andturquoise.
Photo credit: Venaya J. Yazzie 2015

Navajo Song and Dance

Navajo Song and Dance in Shiprock, NM
Photo credit: Venaya J. Yazzie 2015

This past weekend the northern Navajo community in New Mexico celebrated their harvests and welcomed in the Navajo New Year, Ghaajii. The Navajo YeiBeChei danced too, for presence and for healing and strength.

Among the many events happening during the Northern Navajo Nation Fair in Shiprock, NM was the Navajo Song and Dance. This photo showcases the Dine' or Navajo people dressed in their finest cultural clothing and Navajo silverwork and turquoise jewelry adornments.

The Navajo Song and Dance is a social dance with has been adapted as a women's choice dance from the ceremonial rituals of the Enemyway. The woman chooses her partner to dance with and usually prefers Navajo males who are 'dressed to impress' - so if they want to dance they should dress appropriately. It is also a dance that includes all generations of Navajo people from children to the Navajo elders.

This is my favorite time of the year as many of the Navajo dances and ceremonial life take precedence across the sovereign Dine' Nation in the southwest.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

EarART designs: Earrings by Venaya

Venaya's earring designs inspired by her original paintings.
Photo credit Rodney Brown 2015

Venaya's EarART earrings

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Art and 'Indigenous Adornment'

Original art by Venaya Yazzie, Dine'/Hopi
Photo courtesy of Venaya Yazzie

In creating this blog I wanted to showcase the 'beauty' of contemporary and historical Indigenous Adornment of the tribal people of the southwest, specifically the Dine' (Navajo) and Pueblo people.

I grew up with a strong sense of 'adornment' in my life. My maternal great-grandmother and grandmother both believed in 'adorning' themselves and their family with turquoise. When someone in our family was not wearing turquoise my grandmother would question them, and then suggest that they were some. My great-grandmother Louise Werito had a great moral story on the 'adornment' of turquoise jewelry and would use it to teach us a lesson on going without some type of turquoise jewelry item. In the end of the story she said if we don't wear jewelry or 'adorn' our wrists specifically then we were kind of foolish like the jackrabbit out in the sagebrush, sitting silly with his "bare arms."

This type of Dine' oral history has become part of my life. I use such teachings to continue tradition and to educate people on the significance of 'dootlizhi' or turquoise in 21st century life. So as a visual artist I do my best to paint 'Indigenous Adornment' via my paintings, as a way or contribution of the legacy of the 'adorned' desert matriarch.

Yazzgrl Art: Venaya Yazzie

Mixed media art by VenayaYazzie, Dine'/ Hopi artist.
Photo courtesy of Venaya Yazzie
When I was a young girl my days were spent 'creating.' I was an adopted child of my maternal grandparents and they spoiled me, so I was able to have any art supplies I asked for. I think my grandmother just knew I was on that path of an artist, so she never questioned why I wanted art supplies and not dolls or toys. My rich and unique childhood shaped who I would become as an adult, but also who and what I wanted to say as an Indigenous women artist.

Today I am so very grateful for my art abilities, for my art tells volumes of my story, but also as a contemporary Indigenous artist. Behind the 2-D imagery and jewelry I create is an even bigger story of my People's Indigenous history which always concerns: trauma, healing, survival, struggle, cultural history, oral history, language...

I am an artist today to help in a humble way to 'bless the People' and inspire the Indigenous youth.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Well, its a marvelous night for a moondance with the stars up above in your eyes a fabulous night to make romance 'neath the cover of October skies and all the leaves on the trees are falling to the sound of the breezes that blow and i'm trying to please to the calling of your heartstrings that play soft and low...

-Van Morrison

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Dine' children Song and Dance participantsNava

Dine' children dancers at Window Rock, AZ
Photo by Venaya Yazzie 2015