Wednesday, August 26, 2015

ImagoMundi Publication

Me posing with the new book published with ImagoMundi, Italy.

Navajo artist Lyle Yazzie.@ Indigenous Fine Arts Market, Santa Fe, NM

Photo moment with my friend and Navajo artist Lyle Yazzie.

Indigenous Navajo Women's 'Adornment' at Indigenous Fine Arts Market, Santa Fe, NM

The new Miss Gallup Ceremonial Queen 2015-16
Miss Kahlaya Rose McKinney

This past week and into the weekend I was an artist participant in the 2nd annual Indigenous Fine Arts Market in Santa Fe, NM.  My dear friend who is the new Miss Gallup Ceremonial Queen 2015-16 Miss Kahlaya Rose McKinney visited my booth. She is a remarkable person and will do great things in her youth. She blessed the People she visits. 

I am proud of her as she always displays her Indigenous Navajo Women's 'Adornment' wherever she goes.

Traditional Regalia Fashion Show in Santa Fe, NM

Pueblo girl in tribal 'adornment.'
Photo by Venaya Yazzie

Male tribal Pueblo 'adornment.'
Photo by Venaya Yazzie

Apache man 'adorned' in tribal regalia.
Photo by Venaya Yazzie

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sacred river to the Desert People

Animas River, sacred river to the Indigenous of the Four Corners.
Photo by Venaya Yazzie 2015

We don't know what the future holds. As Indigenous peoples of the desert and mountain areas of the Four Corners community: the Navajo, Ute, Apache and Pueblo all have a strong connection, the water. The Animas River has always played a major role in the cultural lives of the above mentioned tribal people. 'Water is Life,' as the Navajo express. If we have no water, we cannot nourish our physical bodies and too, if there is no water we cannot nourish our spiritual being.

As a Navajo person dwelling in the community of the San Juan Valley I grew up with water as a constant in my life. The two rivers that flow through Farmington, New Mexico are the 'life blood' of the those that live there. It is true that all people need water, so please do not take offense when I say that water is about tribal ways. Water to the Indigenous desert person is about ritual and ceremony. Water is the life of the People and the waters of the Animas have deeply rooted cultural significance in our world.

The devastating effects of tainted toxic river water hurt many people in the communities of Durango, Aztec, Farmington, Upper Fruitland, Kirtland, Shiprock and beyond across the Utah areas of the San Juan River. And people whose business is about utilizing the Animas RIver took a deep loss in revenue as the contaminated waters were closed for about a week. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) was the government entity who 'accidently' released age-old gold mine tailings via toxic heavy metal-laden water into the Animas River. And now, our river is toxic.

But, for the Navajo the waters from the San Juan River, a tributary of the Animas River is their life. The Navajo have been very blessed to be farmers and raise livestock in the San Juan Valley, many continue running generation-old family farms. And, many of these Navajo families perpetuate a rich spiritual tradition of ceremony. So, the toll the contamination of the river reached deeper that tangibly not having access clean water for the crops or the livestock, this dilemma have deeply affected the spiritual ways of being for many Navajo individuals.

You see, water truly is life. When you talk about Navajo beliefs and epistemology water is the beginning, it is everything. Without water the ritual, the ceremony is incomplete, therefore 'unbalanced' and 'hozho' cannot be perpetuated and the People (Navajo) are incomplete.

I have heard many in the community say, "The Navajo need to stop crying about the water..." and I want to scold them for saying such a thing. Though we Navajo have assimlated to American culture in our dress, work, language, we still hold on the most sacred beliefs of our culture. Acknowledgement of water is one of these steadfast beliefs, we often express "To' ei 'iina'" which loosely translates to "Water is Life." And, because of this mantra we as Dine' (Navajo) have balance in our lives.

Blessings, Venaya.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

.Nature.Femme. Conceptual clothing designs

.Nature.Femme. Conceptual clothing designs
produced by Venaya Yazzie (Dine'/Hopi)
Model, C. Birdhead is pictured in the Aspen Forest.

Photo credit Venaya Yazzie 2015

I have been making plans and thus working at a slow pace in producing my own line of conceptual Art clothing. The project was inspired by my desert home in northwestern New Mexico on the Eastern Navajo Reservation. 

.Nature.Femme. is about Navajo ancestral memory and the need to recall and re-tell Navajo cultural landscapes that have been perpetuated via Navajo oral tradition.

Growing up in around the communities on the eastern Navajo reservation near Huerfano, NM I have always been fascinated with concepts of 'Indigenous Adornment.' My maternal grandmothers' and aunts were always a favorite sight as they were usually 'adorned' head to toe in post-Long Walk Navajo garb.

As a visual artist and poet, I have found much inspiration from my memories of my childhood full of Navajo matriarchs. I know this new series of conceptual clothing with be made to tell their histories, it is bahane'.

.in beauty.

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

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

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