She said it was an extreme pleasure and honor to be at the conference and that she felt she was now obligated to motivate and help inspire others who were also on the education road. She expressed the hope that her ability to overcome obstacles during her quest for higher academic achievement might help someone along the way.
Chief also gave a portion of her speech in the Maori language to honor current TC District Superintendent Dr. Hector Tahu who himself is a full-blooded Maori from New Zealand, but has lived in Tuba City for about 26 years.
Her Maori oral presentation visibly moved the audience. Those present said it was extremely inspiring to hear her appreciation and recognition in the value of native language for tribal members.
Chief also recognized her parents who sat in the Warrior Pavilion crowd and said that their Navajo teachings were evidenced by her success and were constantly reflected in her own academic achievements.
She said that when she first went to college that the change from the Navajo reservation where she was raised was so different that she almost quit and came back home. Chief was raised in the Coppermine/Gap area without electricity and running water with Navajo as her first language.
She said that the culture shock of college and the distance of being so far away from home was almost too much.
Since her parents did not have a phone, she was out of contact with them for long periods of time. She said she had to imagine and remember the things that they said to encourage her and try to be strong for them as well as herself.
Chief also stressed the need for natives to speak their native language to their children all the time and to use their native language for praise and encouragement and not to reprimand.
“Without a full knowledge of our language we will lose our knowledge of our history, tradition and people,” she said. “It’s so important to carry this language tradition on for not just ourselves but for our people.”
Chief will take her oral and written exams for her doctorate in December at the U of A.
At the end of her keynote presentation by the entire attending staff and administrators gave her standing ovation.
Presenters for the TC District symposium were extremely varied to provide the maximum amount of exposure to new techniques and new ways to motivate students in learning.
Some of the presenters included: Peggy Scott, First People’s Universe; Milton Cheep, Prototype of Dine Philosophy, Interpretation of Colors-Perspectives on Dine Bazaar; Tuba City High School Students, Native Works/Traditional Pottery Making; Tuba City High School students. Power Poetry; Mary Jo Ark. An Ancient Civilization for Mind, Body and Cosmic Connection; Harry Many goats, Basic Dine Principles for Learning; Phil Tree, Intricate Design of our Natural World; Dr. Noreen Sakiestewa and Monica J. Kane, Iota Tsatsayom Mopeqwya Program: A Journey to Incorporate Culturally Responsive Education in Hopi Schools; Yemisi Agbebi, Fostering a Worldwide Cultural View as a step toward Improving Social Skills among Native Students; Thomas Hatathlie, Working Two Worlds: Indigenous Healing and Orthodox Medicine; Cheryl Jackson, The Most Powerful Enriched Teaching Practices for ALL students: Lessons from Brain Research; Marvin Lalo, Hopi Words and Grammar; Dawa Taylor, Hopi Footprints: Using Archaelogy in Student Curriculum; Doris Tso and Marilyn Atcitty, Best Practices for Teaching Visual Math with Native American Students; Constance Benally and Rosemary Clairmont, Teaching Outside the Box; Delma Glasgow and JHS Science Staff, Teaching Scientific Cultural Lessons and Capturing the Jr. High Student’s Attention; Dr. Harold Begay, The Cultural and Neurological Correlates for Giftedness: Implications for New Directions in Enriched Classroom Teaching and Cross-Cultural Gifted Education; Linda Fisher, Louise Kensley, Lee Tsingine, Dr. Harold Begay, The Hawaii Native Language Immersion; Karin Jones, Native Authors; Clark Tenakhongva and Sidney Poolheco, The Hopi Art of Traditional Songmaking; and Sherry Jacobs and Sara Adson, SIRS Grade Logic.
For more information on the TC District annual Cultural Symposium, call Dr. Harold G. Begay at 928-283-1210 or the Tuba City District Office of Public Relations at 928-283-1072.