Grantee: Diné be’ iiná, Inc. (The Navajo Lifeway)
Location: Window Rock, Ariz.
Award: Mobilizing the Community Through the Arts
Discipline: Navajo Lifeways and the Arts: What Plants Can Teach Us
Diné be’ iiná, Inc. (The Navajo Lifeway) works in support of Diné producers and weavers, assisting sheep, goat, and fiber producers in the Navajo Nation with technical and educational information for sustaining economic self-sufficiency.
A cultural preservation project, Navajo Lifeway and the Arts: What Plants Can Teach US, incorporated media arts and cultural technology with fiber and shepherding arts, investigated fifteen plants and documented a web of interrelationships recovering stories, traditional practices and intergenerational sharing at the heart of the Navajo sheep culture. Activities included two Sheep Camp Retreats in the Carrizo Mountains in Arizona and the Chuska Mountains in New Mexico, both summer sheep grazing sites at higher elevations. The gatherings included nature walks through the mountain where plant biologist, Arnold Clifford, medicine man/herbalist Anderson Hoskie, and herbalist Louise Tso shared their knowledge in identifying plants with the Navajo names, stories and songs affiliated with the plant species. The Sheep Camp retreats also included afternoon workshops in Navajo weaving, hand spinning, hand carding, dyeing wool, rope braiding and wet/dry felting. Overall, the project supported cultural values in a contemporary world and cultivated traditional knowledge through community dialogue and active participation in cultural practices.