Phil Konstantin's "This Day in North American Indian History" 2004 American Indian Student Essay Contest




This is the elementary/junior school group. The subject for their essay was:

"What everyone needs to know about my tribe."

Brittney Reneé Phelps

Autumn Charges Strong


Lee Red Bird


All of the elementary/junior high school entries I received came from the Crow Agency Public School, in Crow Agency, Montana. There was no grade listed. These were all handwritten. In some cases, it was a bit difficult to read. I have done my best to interpret them correctly. I did some very minor editing, such as removing a word if it was written twice in a row, and it did not seem appropriate. I added a capital letter from time to time, too.

Otte Big Day  

We're Crow Apsaalooke. We still speak our native language. We go to Crow fair during the month of August. We have pow-wows and parades. My auntie makes beaded outfits for me. We go to handgames in the month of April. I buy clothes with per-cap which every Crow tribal member gets. I like the parades at Crow fair. We go to rodeos. We go to Native Days.


Brandy.ja Big Hair  

My tribe is the Crow. My tribe has Crow fair every summer. Crow Agency has rodeo. Crow Agency has handgames. At Crow fair we have parades. My family goes to the pow-wow. My family gets money.


Barbara Bull Chief  

Long ago the Apache wore animal skins for clothes or for tepee and different kinds of clothing and other material. They can walk many days without water. Men even wore their hair kind of different than other tribes. They collect wild berries or plants for food.


Amber Lynn Buffalo  

My tribe is very cool. We always talk Crow to each other. All the Crows get percapita. Every year we have a Crow fair which is very fun. We have our reservation. Which we have a parade here and there. Rodeos are the funnest times of the year. Our tribe has Crow music we listen to it on special occasions. And we have pow-wows every year. We have fun hand games too. Sometimes I go in the sweat lodge with my dad. And we are the Crow tribe for you.


Autumn Charges Strong


I am a member of the Crow tribe. Crow Fair is important to my tribe because it helps keep our tradition and language alive. We can ride horses and rodeo to have fun just like in the old days. They didn't have rodeos back then, at least I don't think they did. The Crow tribe speaks a different language than other tribes. We have a lot of different traditions. One is handgames. Some are only a few hours long. I went to one and it was until one in the morning! And I was in a handgame once. It went on and on until four in the morning and I was really really tired. I almost fell off the bleachers. I went to my camp after that and slept till day light. I woke up to see the parade the next day.


Emily Davis


My Tribe is the Crow Tribe. My Tribe has lots of different things. The things I want to talk about is Crow fair we have rodeos and pow-wows. We speak Crow we have hand games. Some games go on until 1:00 in the morning sometime. They learn different rides, three horses for each rider each time they go around they change to a different horse.


Beth Dawes  

What everyone needs to know about my tribe is that I'm a Crow. I play handgames. Every person gets per-cap. On the end of Crow fair they have parades they throw candy out. At pow-wows I dance with my sister Marta. I talk Crow everytime but not at school. When we go to the pow-wow I would dance. My clan is the big lodge clan and a child of the whistling water clan.


Larilyn Eastman  

What everyone needs to know about my tribe is that I am a Crow, I play handgames , every person gets per-cap, and we have pow-wow. In August we have parades and sometimes we have races. And we are proud of who we are. Because all the time we have family reunion the reason why we have family reunion is because so we can get together and sometimes we swim before we eat.


Chalan Mt  

My name is Chalan Mt and I am a Crow Indian. I love being Crow because I am proud of who I am. What mostly happens when you are a Crow is that you always get to go places you usually go to handgames, parades, Crow Fair, Crow School, and go swimming at the river when it is hot, go to the pow wow at night time. We celebrate the 4th of July and the way we dress when we are going to dance the way we sing is like other songs like rap and other music and me and my friends go horse riding with big ones small ones. I just love being Crow Indian.


Treanne Not Afraid  

I like my tribe. We have handgame in May. We have pow-wow. In Crow fair in August, we have pow-wow and parade in the morning. We walk around the arbor at night with my friends. Their names are Stormey, Margie. We get some money from our mom. We have clans in the Crow tribe. I am a Piegan. Some time I go in the sweat lodge with my mom and my aunties. I live on the reservation.


Brittney Reneé Phelps


Where Apsaalooke (Crow) and we still speak Apsaalooke. My name is Brittney Renee Phelps, and I am half black, half Apsaalooke. Some kids make fun of me because I'm black, but I don't care. We usually have Crow Fair every year, and I mean every year! Crow Fair is when Crow Indians camp for about three days. Crow Fair my favorite thing out of pow-wows, sundances, and other Indian things.

In April we have handgames. This is when there are two teams. The team takes turns hiding the bone and guessing which hand is hiding the bone. There is drumming and singing happening at the same time. Whenever you guess the correct hand, your team collects a stick. The games continues until one team collects all the sticks.

You should be proud of who you are (because most people say that). I would tell you about my dad's side of the family, but today I am going to talk about my mom's side. My mom is really good at beading. She even invented something for watches by beading! Even when my mom was little she was made fun of because of the color of her skin. She was light skinned unlike me.

That is what some people need to know about my tribe.


Mikey Plainfeather  

I am a member of the Crow tribe. These are some things we like to do. Most of the Crow bake frybread. The Crow have a big pow-wow it is called Crow fair. People all over the world come to see it. The Crow have hand games. Crow people get percap. It is like a paycheck.


Lee Red Bird



We are the Apsaalooke for Crow and we speak our own native language. We have Crow Fair and we have hand-games and we have dances, and we camp with our family, and there are rodeos. The Crow have different beliefs of doing things, like the sundance and going in the sweatlodge to get healing and to pray for good things for our families. Crows have clans that they belong to. Each Crow Tribal member gets a per-cap.


Clifford Takes The Horse  

We have Crow fair every year even if its raining or storming. Some families still do traditional bead work. We get to hunt without a hunting license. In Crow fair people set up tepees. In the summer there is alot of Crow people riding horses everywhere.


Thomas White Clay  

What everyone needs to know about my tribe is that we always have Indian relays, per-cap, parades and Crow fair. It is actually fun being an Indian. But most of all I love Crow Fair. It is really fun at Crow Fair.


A couple of people have asked me what is meant by "per-caps." Generally, "per-caps," or more correctly "per capitas," are tribal dividends paid to individual tribal members. This money can come from tribal business profits, trust fund dividends, land leases, oil leases, treaty payments, etc. Not all tribes have such income sources. Not all tribes pay them out, either. As far as I know, my tribe (Cherokee) does not give them out. The profits we get from leases, etc. are put back into tribal government services, such as health care.


This is the high school group. The subject for their essay was:

"How my tribe’s history guides my life."

Starlena Nez

Cistah Carson


Lashawna Kinlicheenie


Unless noted otherwise, all of the essays in this section come from the Greyhills Academy High School, in Tuba City, Arizona. They were written in a ninth grade English class. All of these essays appear to have been done using computers or a typewriter. I have posted them exactly as I found them.

Leroy Butler

Greyhills Academy High School, in Tuba City, Arizona


I first leaned about my culture when I was about seven years old. I watched my grandpa who is a medicine man and a roadman for the Native American Church. He sings the different songs for the many ceremonies that he performs for my family and relatives. From my past and also from my relatives I learned how my culture is very sacred and precious. For the next few paragraphs that I will be giving examples of how my culture and family members guide my life with the Navajo (Dine') culture.

My first example of my culture is the long walk. This helps me in not giving up in what I believe in all the Navajos (Dine') who went or had to go on the long walk did not want to give up all the land they had. So I believe that no one should ever give up in what they believe in or have. This is what has helped me throughout my 15 years of life. I have learned from this that I can do anything and should not give up my dreams.

My second example of my culture is when the Navajo (Dine') code talkers helped destroy the Chinese. Our language is not a thing to be ashamed of, but many kids still are. As for me, I am not, but it is very hard to learn the language they spoke. This is one part of my spirit I will never forget. I will never give up on learning my language and when I get older I will teach my children and others about our language.

My last example of my culture was my great-grandma. She was a real warrior she was alive during the Long Walk, but her family was not caught by the white men they knew where to hide from them. Her and her family members are true warriors. She learned many things from her dad and grandpa that helped her throughout her lifetime that helped her teach us also. She was also the publisher of at least five books that talked about her life during the long walk, and about her famous rug weaving. Not many people knew about my great-grandma, but she respected any one who ever came to her house and talked with her. She's one person who really took a toll to my life and showed me a lot about my culture.

These are the three major things that guide my life as I go on to become older. I always think about these things when I am about to leave my house to leave into the world. Many people just leave their house, but do not think about their past and the people who came before. So with this I am very proud to be a Navajo (Dine') that has had this kind of past and teachings to help me throughout my life.


Cistah Carson

Santa Fe Indian School, Jemez Springs, NM Runner-Up!


My name is Cistah Carson, and I am a 15-year-old student at the Santa Fe Indian School, in Santa Fe New Mexico. My tribe is Navajo, and being dine guides my life in many ways. I am not that old, but I have gone through what most people call a “rebellious stage”. I went thought it mostly during middle school, (being the normal average every day rebellious teenager). I just went around doing dumb things, thinking I was better then everyone. I never did what my parents wanted me to do; I would just sit around and argue. I was getting bad grades, because getting good grades just wasn’t “cool”, and I was looking forward to repeating my 8th grade year, but somehow I slipped by.

I started out my freshmen year of high school thinking I can slide by just like I did in middle school; I didn’t care that I wasn’t going to amount to anything. Then I got a “reality check,” from my mom, after all this time I didn’t think she even really cared. She was asking me way I was throwing my life away just to be “cool.” She began telling me stories of how hard my ancestors fought for me to be here today, going on the Long Walk in 1864, going through betrayal, and getting moved to several different locations, including away from the sacred mountains in Arizona and New Mexico. It made me really think. It made me think how hard their lives were and how easy mine was. It made me think about how hard they worked for me to be here today, and I was just flushing all that work and effort down the drain.

That is when I decided to turn my life around. I decided to start making my ancestors proud of me, I decide to show them that all their hard work was not for nothing it was for something. Well, I went from being a failing student to a B average honor student, and I work hard for it. I have learned that all things don’t just come to you, my ancestors never just sat around and waited for things to happen, they made it happen.


Dalanie Dennison

Greyhills Academy High School, in Tuba City, Arizona


As Native Americans every part of our history has an impact on our life. Mother earth, cradle board, Navajo blanket, Cane and Rain, has an important role even before birth.

The land is called mother earth and like our mother she nurtures us. Water which makes up 97% of our body comes from mother earth and father sky. The air which we breathe came from the wind god that brought the native people to life. Fire and light help to keep us warm and cook our food. These are elements of the Dine' way of life; they have rules set by the holy people, and also have their own prayers, and songs that must always be honored.

The first cradle board was made by the holy people, for changing woman. The cradle board is used to wrap the baby so he/she can have straight and firm limbs. It's also used to help the baby to grow into a strong person. When the baby is wrapped the mother can sing this will help the baby to learn love and greet with kinship.

The Navajo basket has seven parts and is part of the way of life. The white part of the basket represents light in the morning. The opening doorway is to your thinking and your thoughts. The white design represents the sacred mountains and the four directions. The red design is sunshine, to help grow in health, stability, mentally, physically, spiritually and in life. The black is for darkness, for black clouds represents rain and snow. The lace on the edge is our roots, ties our thinking-it represents human life sitting in holy circle with prayers. The center is emergence, for the first holy to come into the first world.

The Gish also the cane has four parts: prayers, songs, history and teachings. Changing woman made the first four clans from certain parts of her body; each clan was given a cane (Gish) to live by. The instruction was not to lose any of the canes. Today, the people have lost some of the canes and that's the reason for difficulties and hardship for the Navajo people.

The rain is respected like holy water, because its water, 97% of our body. It comes from the earth, sky, four seasons, and four main elements of earth (light, water, air, and pollen). Rain can be good and bad; it can cause destruction and create life, because it is both male and female.


Uriah Etsitty

Greyhills Academy High School, in Tuba City, Arizona


My tribes history guides our life by clans and tradition. The clans identifies our relation to one another. In our culture we have many clans that have stories that tell about our ancestors. Clans are given because we are a huge tribe and to know our relatives. Some of these clans give us our personalities and the way we live in our lives.

We make decisions of my tribe and it does effect our way of life in many ways. We listen to our families because it will get us through rough times in life. The tribal decisions are used in businesses, health and land use. Cleaning the pollution of the land is a community value which the tribe need to decide on as well. Also by the elders decisions and way of life and their valuable information.

Our grandparents help us by teaching the many things that they already experienced in life. They tell us who we are by culture and how we live. Our grandparents teach us what's right and what is wrong. They also tell us how to endure the hard things in life. Grandparents tell the traditional stories and tales or our ancestors. Our elders also tell us how to handle our culture and family.

I am proud of my tribes history because they knew who they were. They held on to their religion and fought for their treaty of the land. They survived the struggle through history and endured life. Our tribe also protect the sacred grounds. We don't like anybody who doesn't take anyone seriously by the society.

Without our history we wouldn't be living today. We wouldn't be respecting the any one like our elders, animals, plants and mother earth. The decisions we make we have to try to make them right, if we don't we must learn from our mistakes as the Navajo's once did. Without our traditions we would not know who we really are today. We need to learn from our past experiences to avoid trouble in the future.


Skylan Fowler

Greyhills Academy High School, in Tuba City, Arizona


My family and clan history is very important to me because they show who I really am. Without my clans and family I will not be recognized to other natives, because our clans show whom our relatives are. With our clans we will know who our brothers and sisters are. When we figure out who is related to each other that will create a strong bond, and will keep everyone together as one.

I make decisions in my life that are mainly based on my family and tribal values. I take good information from my family and use it to make my identity much stronger and so I can use the information to be recognized for who I am. My tradition shows me what I can't do and what I can do. It has boundaries that I can't go beyond. If I do, it will catch up with me in the future. Mostly just bad luck.

My grandparents lead me to a direction of success because they know more and have many years of experience. All grandparents are wise in their own ways. Some are rich in tradition, and some are rich in physical activities. Many grandparents keep your family together and do extra things to make things look professional.

I'm not satisfied with our Navajo history because if everything went in the right direction, the Natives would be in command of North America. Everything didn't go in the correct direction. We now are very low in population and we have to make a living on a couple of reservations. A couple of reservations is not enough for the Natives who were on the land of North America first.

Due to what happened in life of the Native Americans we will live in a life that does not revolve around our Native habitat. Sometimes we are not allowed to speak our own language in some places. Living in a white man's world makes a big impact on my life by restraining me to support my religion.


Lewis Hascon, III

Greyhills Academy High School, in Tuba City, Arizona


Why is my family/clan history important?     My family is important to me because they support and influence me on decisions or things I do. We have our own traditional ways to do things in our ceremonies. My family believes in Native American Church (NAC), while the rest of our family believes in the traditional ways that are different from what we believe in. I also have to know my four clans, so that I don't marry into my own clan system, which I know who my relatives are by the four clans system.

I make decisions in my life based on my family/tribal/community values?    Yes, I make decisions with my family to plan ceremonies or family activities and our whole family sometimes plan family activities, ceremonies for my grandma, and get together on certain days. For tribal values, it is voting for things we need. We have our own chapters and boundaries. We don't really have community values, due to lack of teaching and bilingual (languages). I mean we forget our elders. So we need to learn more of the family participation, tribal, and community values.

How do my elders/grandparents influence in who I am and how I lead my life?    They encouraged me to go to school, finish my education, to become a leader or something successful that will make them proud of who I am and they taught me our cultural values. My grandparents inspired me not to forget my clans and its system because I will continue to relate my elderly's teaching, and inconjunction with my understanding.

Am I proud of my tribe's history? Why?    Yes, I am proud of my tribe's history. We have a unique culture, tradition, and language. Our language was used in World War II (WWII) and the soldiers were called Codetalkers. We have a big population and reservation, which there are many of our own medicine men and women that we go to. We continue to strive in my generation to learn and to understand self-achievement.

What does that have to do with who I am or the decision I make in everyday life?    I am proud to be Native American, which is the Dine tribe, because I want to educate myself so one day I can come back and help my people. Based on the Legacy, we are the Holy people. You represent who you are everyday and our culture has a numerous values in culture, tradition and society.


Lashawna Kinlicheenie

Greyhills Academy High School, in Tuba City, Arizona



My tribe's history guides my life everyday because if it weren't for my people I wouldn't be going to school. My people did a lot for the United States. They were forced to leave their homes and send their children away to school. They sign a treaty to be more and more like a white man. They wouldn't be able to see their children until summer. Also they were being gathered to do a top secret mission during World War Two. Just knowing what my people did for our tribe makes me very proud.

My tribe's history guides me in these proud ways. The things my people did were honorable and the ways they have inspired me today are. My civil rights, my heritage, and my most of important begin who I am today. They have taught me many things about begin who I am.

My civil rights are more important. I just don't want to be told to leave a store or a place because I'm different and I have a second language. Everywhere we go people are equal and they should have the right to anything they want. My tribe made it happen for us.

When people look at you get this feeling they dislike you because you're Indian. But you're proud to be Indian. In the Navajo way are clans are very important because it identifies you or a person. Your clans are important too. This helps you find out who your relatives are.

Everyday I don't know what decision I am going to make. But it was my tribe's decision to be who they are. They are a legend, great nation, and honorable people. By using this great decision I have tried out for Miss Greyhills. I managed to get 1st runner up of 2003-2004. I am very happy to be a young Navajo.

I think everyone should be more grateful for what their people did for them and they should respect that. I just thank the Navajos for making history.


Jenell Nez

Greyhills Academy High School, in Tuba City, Arizona


In my Tribe (Navajo) we have 4 clans; our first clan is our mother's clan. Our second clan is our father's clan. Our third clan is our maternal grandfather's clan, and our fourth clan is our paternal grandfather's clan. Clans guide me as it helps me recognize relatives at school, in the community, and areas that I have interest in. The animal protectors also guide me as my strength and feeling of secure. (Protector Guardian) the stories behind all clans, behind Dine (Navajo) society portray as a family history, which is really important for self-identity, and to know where you come from. So, when I am in an unfamiliar place there maybe a relative present.

In Navajo belief, family unity is top priority, the belief that family ties and relationships must be expressed, meaning, husband and wives, grand folks, aunty, uncles, brother and uncles, cousins, etc must interact through oral tradition. Loss of communication can cause disputes, arguments and other conflicting problems, Dine (Navajo) belief teaches to have working relationships by venting disagreements and objectives to meet a resolving result. These experiences will help guide me.

Traditional knowledge will help me in my daily life, understanding my past and my future. It will help set goals in my future lessons from traditional teachings such as how to conduct myself, appropriate attitude, proper behavior and abiding by traditional standards of living. Even though the difficulty to honestly live a unique Dine lifestyle as my ancestors experienced, I must challenge myself to utilize these teachings as I am more a customed to a western-contemporary life style, present.

Understanding cultural diversity helps me develop respect for all the differences that are out there, the similarities, for example we have different age groups, there's different racial group, variety of interests, ability, capacity and potentials. The respect that I get out of this experience will allow me to have others respect me with honor. So it goes on saying, do on to others, as you want done on to you.

The way of life was so unique that only today, the scientific mind is finally coming up with proof, which my Dine ancestors already have knowledge of as they express them through their songs, prayers customs and rituals. Which will help me in my life's


Starlena Nez

Greyhills Academy High School, in Tuba City, ArizonaWinner!


My grandmother, uncles, aunts, and grandfathers are my elders and they influence my life in many ways. Their traditional beliefs have embraced my heart and mind giving me the strength of being who I am and what I believe.

My grandfather's mother was a part of The Long Walk and survived the harsh environment in Fort Sumner. I am proud of her for being mentally stable and physically strong, she also hung onto her cultural beliefs and that influences my life day to day. After her return to Coalmine Mesa, where we currently reside, she raised several children of her own, and one of them was my grandfather.

My grandfather, Hosteen Nez, was married to three sisters, and all three had many children. My grandmother was wife number three, and she had twelve children of whom only six are still living to this day. My grandfather died in his mid-seventy's in 1955. My grandmother raised her children by herself after the passing of my grandfather.

My grandmother Nettie also has a very rich cultural background and is a medicine woman who cures the sick and people who are having problems. She taught my aunts and uncles to practice the old culture: such as the clan system, traditional ceremonies, Navajo language, to respect Mother Earth, and to respect our environment so it can be passed on from generation to generation. This culture is currently stressed on my brothers, sisters, cousins and the generations before us including myself. I have learned a lot from my elders because there is much wisdom in what they say and do.

The clan system, for instance, identifies who we are and where we are coming from and also which clan we can inter-marry with. The clan system also teaches us that we have relatives, not only at home but everywhere around the Navajo reservation.

The elders have a great impact on how I am going to lead my life. They show me how to have a fulfilling life by self-discipline and taking responsibility for my actions. They encourage me to do well in school because they know that education plays a big role in success in today's society. Even though not all of my elders are educated they are successful by having a strong belief in our culture and that is one of the reasons I admire them. Education is a part of our cultural tradition and that keeps us from hurting certain sacred animals or places.

My grandparents, uncles and aunts are traditional healers. They know and practice songs and prayers that are learned orally from past generations. The songs and prayers are used to guide our culture and daily life. This has influenced my life in so many ways that I shall remember my family, cultural tradition, and self-esteem that I myself think I may live a healthy and long life.


N. Roderick

Greyhills Academy High School, in Tuba City, Arizona


My tribe's history will guide my life to know I am a member of that tribe and to prove that my tribe exists to the world. Without such a history or if something in my tribe's history hadn't happened, I would be different. I don't know if I'm proud of my tribe's history because some events are good and others are bad but it got us this far. My tribe's history is sort of ridiculous because the government sends us to New Mexico then tells us to come back and next they need our help for World War II, eighty years later. I don't like how my tribe's history is used around for government reasons and how the world sees us.

My tribe's history has changed us, though, and that is important. Not just our history but our culture, tradition, and language. Our language helped win World War II, to know yourself is to know your history, and to keep your culture alive and to keep the tradition going. For example, my clan is important because it tells who I am and where I come from. If you don't know your clan, you don't know where your family history. And another example, to keep our culture is to keep the tradition going. To keep the tradition going is to speak our language, which is most important to our tradition. Just because it was used in World War II doesn't mean it satisfies.

How my tribe's history guides my life is crucial because it is like saying how my history guides my life. Never go into the same trap twice. Your personal history is an obstacle you've completed and if you go through a similar one, you'll know what to do. Kind of like what the Greeks did, they studied personalities then put it in myths of what to do and what not to do. My tribe's history will guide my life.

My tribe's history will also guide my future like tomorrow. History isn't future but is can guide it for history is an unwritten record like an unwritten rule that everybody knows. Only the present will control the future with help from history. So my tribe will help me change my future. But history is history making it unchangeable.

What really guides my life are my grand parents. They really do because they know about my tribe's history then me including my culture, language, and tradition. Without them, I would probably know as much as a computer knows. They've practically been through it or heard stories from their grandparents. If I lived in a city with big buildings and I had my grandparents, I would probably know less than living on the homeland. This is because visual and experience will teach better than stories. Living the culture, the tradition, is better than to do something closely related or hearing about it. They guide my life this way.



Greyhills Academy High School, in Tuba City, Arizona


My name is Tovoniya. I am a native American. I'm 14 years old. I'm finally recognizing and learning about myself. I'm a "Noodai Dine'e Tachiinii" (Ute clan) born for the Ashiihi (Salt clan) maternal clan is Deeshchii'nii (Start of the red shreak people) paternal clan is Tachiinii (red running into the water) . My clan history is so important because, when a Navajo baby is born, he or she belongs to the clan of the mother. The clan name passes on through her to her children. When a young man marries it must be to someone completely outside of his clan. Even though people in his clan are not all blood-related, it is considered inappropriate to marry within one's own clan. This rule is strictly observed. Should it occur, it would be considered as "incest" of the Navajo people. Another reason my clan is important is I would be able to address myself to my "dine" people and want to be known as a Navajo.

I make most of my decisions based on my community its like we are big family, some of them had babies at a young age, are alcoholics, or dropped out of school, so eventually I've seen how their life turned out, and it isn't a pretty story. So basically I will not do the thing they have done, although they set their minds to what they wanted and turned the past around. That is why I make most decisions from my community.

My grandmother is 68 years old. She lectures me on my clan and to respect my elders, family and not to forget that I'm a Navajo. It's complicated for me to understand the Navajo language, but she keeps talking to me in the Navajo language and it is influencing me to never quit learning, because of who I am. The Navajo use our language for the United States freedom. Therefore it is important to keep our language alive for our culture.

Yes, I am proud of my tribe's history it all our language has helped us defend our country and for that we are safe living our lives making decisions and most of all we have freedom. My tribes history defend my country and I have freedom to do what I want to like I wanted to write this essay, I have the freedom to write it.



Greyhills Academy High School, in Tuba City, Arizona


Being a young Navajo boy makes me proud of whom I am. I have learned and heard stories from my great elders about my ancestors, who have experienced many tragic events, including The Long Walk. Just knowing that whatever sacrifice it took for my ancestors to have peace and freedom; it was walking an unbelievable walk for miles through whatever nature brought upon them. I will always have sympathy for my ancestors who walked The Long Walk.

Being a young Navajo boy, I maintain four clans; it represents who I am as a Navajo. Each of my clans comes with a history. By knowing your clans it tells you your relation toward other Navajos. It also indicates if you're allowed to have a serious relationship with the opposite sex. Basically my clans represent that I am Navajo.

Being a young Navajo boy, I try to communicate with life both traditionally and modern. My family is very traditional, so I attend many ceremonial events. My family speaks our Native language more than English. I understand my language flawless, but I cannot speak my language fluently, just yet. I often try to visit my grandparents both on my mother and father's side. They teach me the right and traditional way in life and to respect Mother Earth. They told me not to take things for granted.

Being a young Navajo boy, makes me proud not only because I am Native American, but because of my tribes history. Every dreadful event that took place in my tribe's history encourages me to achieve highly in everything I do. My tribe's history influences me in many ways. History is a nightmare which I am trying to awake. I feeling stronger mentally knowing that my people (ancestors) had life way difficult than the way I am living today.

Being a young Navajo boy, it has many sacred ways. I treasure what ever knowledge I have and will gain. I respect my ancestors, my elders, Mother Nature and my tribe's history, for that I cannot change. I will take my own Long Walk in which I walk in Beauty for the rest of my life as a proud Navajo boy.


Christine Wilson

Greyhills Academy High School, in Tuba City, Arizona


The Navajo culture forms binding glue that binds our people together as a people. The Navajo people, unlike so many Indian brothers, have been blessed to remain in our ancestral homeland. A great part of being Navajo for us is the land we live on. This land was given to us anciently by the Holy Ones who came here through the sky. The land they gave us and told us to protect lies between the four Sacred Mountains. And all of this land is ours today. The Holy Ones told us that as long as we lived within the four Sacred Mountains they would take care of us.

Our language was given to us by the Holy Ones and is very sacred to us. When they gave us their language they told us to take care of it and it would do many things for us. All answers are in the language. It will take care of us individually, as a family and as a people. Our language is something that is very special, and very powerful. It is a weapon against poverty, illness and sickness. Our language is so powerful that the Code Talkers won for the United States the Second World War in the Pacific. Words are very powerful. They can heal or hurt a home and family. The Holy Ones told us we must use great care in using the language they gave us. This is so important because the words we use can also hurt Mother Earth and the things that are upon it.

Our culture is kept alive through ceremony. We have many ceremonies for different things. Our ceremonies were given to us by the Holy Ones. Through our ceremonies we teach the important lessons we must know to stay alive as a people. The ceremony teaches us about history and our responsibilities as a human being inside the universe and our place in it. As human beings we are very powerful. We can hurt ourselves in this world, and we can also help with this world. It also teaches us about patience. Through ceremonies our language is kept alive. The ceremony is also the place where we talk with the Holy Ones and the Creator. They help us in many ways to bless the sick in body and mind. Ceremonies are also used to celebrate joyous occasions and they are also used to help us solve problems within Navajo society and within the family. During these counsels everyone must agree on what is best, or they will come together again until they can. Our Navajo music is a very important part of the ceremony and also has great power.

We have our immediate family, and we have our extended family. Our extended family is broken into clans, which were created by the Holy Ones. The four original clans are Towering House, Bitter water, Big water and One-who-walks-around. Today there are about 130 clans. When we meet another Navajo for the first time we tell each other from what clan we are from. We identify how we are human by the clans of our mother, father and ancestors. This is who we are. When we know our clan we will never be alone, for our ancestors will always be near us.

Every day the cycle is repeated. In each cycle there is a lesson to be learned. During the day when we fall, we stand back up and see what we can do differently the next day. Each dawn is a new start. If you are an alcoholic, if you are a drug abuser, if you did something in the past, early dawn is when you can start a new life again. There is a new renewal. This is how much Mother Earth and Father Sky love us. They give us the chance every morning to start our life new. The Creator answers our prayers in the early morning. We ask for their guidance and assistance to help us with whatever we do.

These teachings almost disappeared. Our young people have found it difficult to exist in both worlds and some feel like they don't fit in either world. But now, we as a people are wiser, and like a relative that has been sick, we are making our culture well again. Like a very old grandfather, it holds the knowledge to take care of the family, the Clan, the Navajo Nation and Mother Earth. We are very serious about what we are doing. We are gaining a greater respect for our old teachings. For they will take care of us individually and as a people.


I found all of the entries to be interesting. Leroy Butler did a nice job of integrating tribal history with his family's history. Cistah Carson did a good job on the essay and has taken some very positive steps in life. Dalanie Dennison included some very interesting cultural material. It should help people understand more about Navajo (Dine') traditions. Uriah Etsitty's essay shows a great deal of respect. Skylan Fowler had a very nicely designed coverpage (which you cannot see here). I liked the honest approach to the ways the indigenous people of this continent were treated by the conquering European cultures. Lewis Hascon, III had a unique approach to the project. It should be noted that perspective is very important ina person's life. Skylan talks about how few Navajos there are. Lewis talks about how many there are. Both points are valid. Lashawna Kinlicheenie's essay explains how a positive tribal identity can give you pride in yourself, even if others do not treat you well. Jenell Nez's point about cultural diversity is a good one. Starlena Nez, who won this competition, did a excellent job of adressing the topic of "How my tribe’s history guides my life." She tied events in her family and tribe's history to how she acts today. I had some difficulty in reading the name for the entry I listed as by N. Roderick. I liked the reference to the Greeks. Tovoniya's discussion of her clans relations will help non-Navajos understand more about this subject. William's essay had a poetic feel to it. I thought the best written essay was by Christine Wilson. Her entry did not win because, while it was very well written, I felt it was not specifically addressing the topic.

To paraphrase William, I hope they all walk in Beauty for the rest of their lives.



There were no entries in the college catagory.


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