Thursday, February 4, 2016


My late maternal grandfather Alfred Yazzie Sr.
Photo courtesy of  Venaya Yazzie

This season of the American calendar is called January. But, for many of the Navajo, this season is expressed as 'yas nilth tees' - its the time when the 'snow is cooked by the sun.' For me this time reminds me of my late maternal grandfather. He left this earth two years ago now. I miss his presence in my life, and I always think of him everyday it seems.

I just wanted to share his smile with you. His birthday was this time of year on the 18th of January.

Rest in Peace Papa.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Navajo vs. Urban Outfitters

Navajo tribal wedding basket
Photo credit:

Since 2008 the Navajo Nation has been working to right the wrong that has been committed by the global Urban Outfitters - who use the term "Navajo" without permission in the selling of their products which included: underwear, alcohol flasks and such.

Although the term "Navajo" is used  in many areas of many communities it is a term that is forefront in the lives of the Navajo people. My Navajo government has done much to protect and preserve the tribal and cultural community of its people, yet they cannot always protect against theft and the blatant disrespect of issues such as this.

History has showed how the mainstream non-Navajo entities have taken advantage of the Navajo people, We have been prisoners of war at Fort Sumner, NM, we have been taken by force to the infamous Indian Boarding Schools, we have been called "savage," "drunks," "squaws," and many other distasteful terms, but through it all we continue Our vision of Life. The term "Navajo" is what the world knows Us as, but we know what we do have our own expression for who we are in our Indigenous tongue.

This issue between the tribe and the corporate Urban Outfitters is important because it concerns the implementation of Navajo tribal sovereignty and the demand for justice for the Navajo People in the 21st century. My people are highly educated and at times must use education as a weapon against tyranny - We as Indigenous, we as Navajo continue the "Indian Wars" via issues such as this current situation of use of our tribe's name. Some may laugh and label this lawsuit as frivolous, but be sure this fight we fight is so much more than what has floated to the top.

Please educate yourself on this current issue my Navajo people face, Our fight is your fight too, for its a cause about human dignity and human respect. Below is an excerpt from the article titled, Navajo Nation seeks millions from Urban Outfitters for using tribe's name.

According to the current Chicago Tribune article, 

"...The geometric prints popular in clothing often are inspired by Native American designs. Urban Outfitters said it started using the "Navajo" or "Navaho" name on its products and in marketing as early as July 2001, when the fashion trend was in full swing. Its subsidiaries followed suit, with the companies selling cuffs, necklaces, jackets, pants, a flask and panties, among other merchandise. The companies said they quit selling the products after hearing of the tribe's lawsuit. The Navajo Nation holds trademarks on the "Navajo" name for things like clothing, footwear and online retail sales..."

Just becuase its "trendy" does not open the gate for continued injustice and disrespect for an entire Indigenous culture. For more insight into this story visit the online article at:

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Yazzgrl Art Earrings by Venaya

EarART Earrings made by Venaya Yazzie 2016
EarART Earrings made by Venaya Yazzie 2016

EarART Earrings made by Venaya Yazzie 2016

Blessings in January! or I should share that the blessings are in 'Yasniltees', the season of 'frozen snow.'

I am happy to share my newest EarART earring designs with you. These are handpainted accent designs made on a wooden base. I really adore how they have come to life.

Please visit my Square store site.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Clothing of Navajo Matriarchs - New Mexico

Photograph of my maternal grandmother and her older sister
circa, 1945 New Mexico.
Photo courtesy of Jane Werito Yazzie

The history of most global tribal clothing usually concerns cultural traditions and cultural norms, for the Dine' (Navajo) people of the American southwest, women's garments concern a plethora of political and historical histories. The twentieth and twenty first century adaptations of Navajo women's clothing materialized via forced relocation, forced assimilation and continued colonization- cultural desert clothing therefore is a way of perpetuating survival.

The image I share with you belongs to my maternal grandmother's family photograph collection and depicts my family matriarchs, my grandmother(s) of the Manyhogans clan legacy from Dzilthnaoditle, or near Huerfano, New Mexico, USA.  I share this for the reason of discussion of the origins of this clothing style by Navajo women in the early 20th century era to the present.

As you can see the two women are 'adorned' in the standard "Navajo style" shirt and skirt made of Velveteen cloth. Their collared blouses and tiered-skirts are handmade articles by them and their mother (my great-grandmother). The Navajo-made silver and turquoise jewelry items are made by local silversmiths. This photograph was taken during the mid-1940s in New Mexico on the eastern region of the Navajo Nation reservation near Huerfano, NM.

This style of Navajo women's clothing was adapted by Navajo women in the Post-Long Walk era, (which began in 1864) through 1868 to the present, after the Navajo people were released from the American prison camps at Bosque Redondo, NM. (If you are not familiar with this history, please research the topic of the 'Navajo Long Walk.' A time in American history when Navajo were imprisoned at Fort Sumner, NM from 1864-1868 by the U.S. government.)

Before the Long Walk era, the Navajo primarily wore clothing which consisted of animal hides and furs, and then later wool-woven materials. At this time in history the Navajo women began weaving their own clothing via their dress called biil, or rug dresses which consisted of two rugs stitched together at the shoulders and sides to make a women's dress. But, after the Long Walk era the Navajo women- being exposed to Spaniard and Euro-American women's clothing styles, adapted their clothing style and began designing and creating the above posted garments. Also, during this time in the American southwest, the Manifest Destiny era was in full mode and more Pioneer settlers were roaming onto Navajoland. So Navajos were seeing real Euro-American Pioneer folks in person. My family still carries the oral history of seeing the first, "white people" in their whole life, this would be my great-great-great-great grandmother.

This history of desert southwest garments is important because the Indigenous people of the 21st century, as the Navajo and Pueblo, continue to create tribal clothing with real meaning and in recognition of the good and terrible events that have happened. It must be stated that most of everything modern yet tribally-minded Indigenous people design and create has real substance, real meaning which is closely connected to spiritual and historical well-being. Many of us still carry the act of prayer close to our lives, we do this so we can understand and deal with issues of historical memory and continued acts of genocide and historical trauma...

I share this with you because tribal clothing of the Indigenous people of the Americas always has a story, a legacy of ancestral knowledge and meaning - so when non-Indigenous, non-Navajo people take the styles of tribal clothing whether it be a velvet skirt or Pueblo manta, they do so with no thought of that item's history or intangible wealth, basically its own 'true' story.

The 21st century  has brought about a resurgence of Indigenous tribal identity for many younger generations Native people living on and off the reservations. We, as a whole, seem to recognize the need to hear and maintain our tribal origin stories, we understand that every big and small cultural item has a story, has a power - and that is how and why we strive and still survive.

Blessings in All Things.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Another example of 'Navajo' to sell product

Photo credit: website

Here is another example of how the non-Navajo/ non-Indigenous public is using the name 'Navajo' to sell their products. This company is not affiliated with the Navajo Nation tribe.

Below is their description of their business/ history:

How the story goes:

The original skirt was a gift to Sherry Lou while visiting a Navajo grandmother in Arizona. That skirt became the unique pattern and inspiration for the entire line of Navajo Velvets. Returning to her home in the rugged mountains of Southwest Oregon’s Illinois Valley, she replicated that original Navajo Skirt. Using her treadle sewing machine, Sherry Lou began satisfying the requests of friends and neighbors. Now after so many years later, several sewing machines worn out through more than 10,000 garments made, she still brings joy to the eyes and hearts of an ever growing clientele.
Each year Sherry Lou travels to Los Angeles and selects the fabric for each Navajo Velvet garment. She personally does the dying, design and cutting of each garment. Supervising each step in the process if not doing it herself, she demonstrates her love for the quality of each and every piece. Which by the way, must meet the expectations of her extremely critical eye, or it is not finished.
Everywhere, including the upscale stores and boutiques of Santa Fe, Vale and Aspen, the smart design and superb quality of Navajo Velvets continue to strike a heart felt chord in outdoor women throughout the West.
Navajo Velvet always draws the admiring eye and invites a loving caress.
We know you will enjoy the stylish comfort, freedom, and acceptance for every occasion... 
with Navajo Velvet!

Its interesting how they use the words 'Navajo grandmother' to try to gain acquaintance...... its deceptive as the statement asks us to assume that it is her 'Navajo grandmother,' which I highly doubt there is any Navajo heritage. If the such marketing tactics are too general than that leaves the viewer with many assumptions of authenticity. 

If you want to buy genuine-made Indigenous, Navajo garments, buy directly from the maker, that is if you believe in the term "authentic Navajo made."

Monday, January 4, 2016

Exposing El Past Saddleblanket companyPhoto

Copy and fake item by the El Paso Saddleblanket company
Photo credit El Paso Saddleblanket via Internet

I would like to educate the global community on a great deception that is currently still going on in the southwest. Its a great disrespect to Navajo rug weavers and the Navajo Nation.

Here is an image of a blatant copy, (sold for $260) of a fake Navajo rug which is being sold by the above mentioned Texas company. They have been stealing and therefore appropriating Navajo rug designs for many years now.

It is known throughout most of Navajoland that this company has sent and currently sends out people to scout out new Navajo rug designs of Navajo women weavers. They then photograph the rugs and thus steal the designs of Navajo women, they then re-create or misappropriate the cultural designs. In the process of the entire scam they then send the designs to either India or South American for weavers to copy. The company then markets the fake product to a global public to make a profit.

Here is an example of how this company markets their stolen Navajo designs in their foreign-made rugs they sell to the public:

6' X 9' Very Intricate Handwoven Wool Rugs
Attention Wholesalers and Collectors!! Buy now before it's gone!!!
We are pleased to present our selection of handwoven wool rugs. These fine quality rugs are made of 100% wool and imported from India.
Folks, this is a huge room-size rug! At a super low wholesale price! Looking at these rugs you can see why we say rugs are a solid art investment.

The rugs that Navajo woman weave are much more than just aesthetic 'designs'- for each rug contains intricate motifs that have connections to the spiritual. To be copying another persons cultural designs concerns that individuals rights of that tribal artist's Intellectual Property rights.

It is my hope that the Navajo Nation government leaders would take a stand in 2016 to remedy this problem. Please let them know of your concern also.

Navajo stand up against Urban Outfitters

Photo credit: Urban Outfitters website

I would like to say a few words on this lawsuit that continues into 2016.

Here I post a sample of the one such item (though there are several) of a flask sold buy this company. This particular item called a "Navajo" flask and is sold under this label. This company has produced other products such as underwear and various clothing items that not only appropriate the cultural imagery/ motifs of the Navajo Nation, but also use the term 'Navajo' to do so. 

In 2012 the Navajo tribe has sued the company to keep from using the term 'Navajo' in their products. Though many in American culture have made this lawsuit trivial, this topic is a serious issue. The Navajo Nation of people have been dealing with such issues since they (we) have been producing our tribal arts. This lawsuit in my opinion is a good move for the tribe, but also for other Indigenous tribal people in the Americas. This lawsuit tells those who are 'wannabes' and 'thieves,'  that the Indigenous cultural imagery and symbols and names are not for them or their use.

We Indigenous are stronger than ever in the 21st century, We will not be passive on issues of misappropriation or the theft of our cultural identity by American corporations.

I share the following article for your greater understanding.


Urban Outfitters and the Navajo Nation Are Still Locked in a Legal Battle

story via

Blue Bird Pinups 'empower' the People

Blue Bird Pinups, Dine' (Navajo) Models
Photo credit: Paper Rocket Productions via website

According to the website Blue Bird Pinups, "The Blue Bird Pinups are dedicated to making a difference. We come together to support you communities and see opportunities to make changes for our Native people"

I've never met the women in this organization, but I am posting their photograph and mission statement because I am inspired and believe in their vision of 'empowerment' of Navajo people.  Its always a good thing when Indigenous people support each other, especially through the Arts.

Visit their site at:

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

BB Beadwork by Yazzgrl Art

Original beadwork and design by Venaya Yazzie
Photo credit Yazzgrl Art 2015

Can you see the blue bird?