FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Artists, musicians, dancers, and cultural interpreters from the Navajo Nation will gather at the Museum of Northern Arizona's (MNA) 63rd Annual Navajo Festival Aug. 4-5 to share the Navajo way of being with over 4,000 museum visitors.
The central philosophy in Diné life is hozho, or everything the Navajo people think of as good - harmony, beauty, blessedness, and balance. Navajo's believe that creating art is one way to maintain this perfect state and more than 80 art booths with juried fine arts will fill the Museum's historic grounds with arts that define their culture.
Visitors will hear the Navajo language, see pots of clay being formed, and watch weavers create detailed designs on traditional looms. There are also opportunities to meet silversmiths, folk carvers, and painters. They will enjoy the pageantry of Navajo social dances and delight in centuries-old musical traditions. And they will be able to sample traditional foods - red and green chili stew, roasted sweet corn, and the ever-favorite Navajo tacos with frybread.
"When we bring in the big tent, and the monsoon rains and cool air arrive, it's time for Navajo Festival. This year's festival highlights include Sihasin (See-ha-szin) with Janeda and Clayson Benally, James Bilagody, and Radmilla Cody. We will also be hosting Masaai visitors from Kenya, who will be here to learn more about the Navajo culture and our festival," said Heritage Program Manager Anne Doyle.
"With a population that has surpassed 250,000, the Navajo Nation is the largest tribe in the U.S., covering nearly 27,000 square miles in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. It borders Flagstaff, making it vitally important to the future of this region that we work to bring about cultural exchange among neighbors, Navajo and non-Navajos. And bringing about cultural exchange is what most excites all of us who work at the museum," said MNA Director Robert Breunig.
Many of the young Pollen Trail Dancers have grown up while dancing at MNA's Navajo Festival. They will perform storytelling dances meant to be performed in the warm season. Group leader Brent Chase accompanies the dance troupe with his humor, insight, and Navajo flute playing. The Sash Belt or Weaving Dance tells the story of Spider Woman's influence in weaving, the Basket Dance depicts the important role of baskets in Navajo life, and the Bow and Arrow Dance honors the warriors of old who have protected the Diné way of life.
Radmilla Cody will showcase songs from her newest CD, Shi Keyah - Songs for the People. Sung in the traditional style of the Diné, these new songs composed by Herman Cody honor Mother Earth, the homeland of the people, and the veterans who served our country, as well as a humorous look at life in Dinetah.
One-of-a-kind consigned art works from individual artists across the Navajo Nation are an important part of the Navajo Festivals, allowing artists who produce only a few items per year a chance to sell their work. Distinctive art pieces including pottery, paintings, weavings, and baskets will be on display and for sale in the consignment area.
Ethnobotany walks along the Rio de Flag Nature Trail will again be led by Diné educator Theresa Boone Schuler from Flagstaff. These very popular walking schoolrooms will reveal the traditional Navajo uses of regional native plants. Schuler gained her knowledge from her father, a noted Diné herbalist who urged her to pass on the knowledge of traditional healing plants by teaching about identification and usage.
At Creative Corner, outside in the museum's courtyard, kids and creative individuals will be able to make Navajo inspired take-home crafts. This year, visitors will learn how to make rattles, rug patterns, and woven book marks.
MNA's Navajo Textiles Gallery is changed throughout the year from MNA's Navajo Textiles Collection. The emphasis in this gallery is on the highly individualized expressions of this art form, allowing visitors to share in the weaver's view of the world. Storm Pattern rugs are currently on display.
For more information, go to musnaz.org or call (928) 774-5213.