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2006/10/11

Pushing Education forward

A Navajo taco is a thing of pure evil. Simply, they taste fantastic. Dough stretched out and deep fried (many Native Americans make fry bread), then the fry bread is filled up either a very large hamburger patty or with taco mix. Very good to eat, and very toxic. I read somewhere that a single piece of fry bread has 1,000 calories. As a person who is losing a battle with his weight the last thing I need is to eat these things.
Regardless, it is very common for people to get together and hold a Navajo Taco sale to raise money for whatever is needed. Today these mothers and grand-mothers gathered to make their fry bread and sell it to raise money for one of the area pre-school programs.

Earlier in the morning I attended a ground-breaking ceremony for a new middle school that is being built on the west end of Gallup. The new middle school is the start of a process that will see our city go from one public high school to two. As is required here, a traditional Navajo blessing was perfromed with the singing of several native songs and the sprinkling of corn pollen.
Photographic access for these blessings is totally up to the individual medicine man performing the blessing. It also depends on the blessing being performed. A more public blessing like this is generally something that I am allowed to photograph. As always though I find the person performing the blessing as soon as I can and ask permission. In this case photographs were acceptable, but not audio recordings.

Gallup and the Navajo Nation are far behind the rest of the country in many things, and many people, realizing that education has to be a priority for things to get better, or at the very least for the area not to fall even farther behind, are pushing to makethings like new schools and programs happen. There are still many areas that people do not have running water, electricity or telephone service on the reservation, but as I drive around the reservation I am seeing openings of new school buildings and improvements to existing ones.
Peronally I see eduation as a double-edged blade. It will solve the problems in some ways. It will also take a terrible toll on the traditions and beliefs of the youth in this culture. Fewer and fewer children canspeak Navajo. They know video games and 'R'-rated moviesand cartoon characters. They don't know how to speak to their grand-parents in their own language.
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