Now that she has her master's degree under her belt, Tuba City's Mary Sampson, hopes to release her third CD this year. After singing gospel music 30-plus years, she cut her first CD, "Gospel Melodies from Navajo Land," in 2003. The second, "Gospel Melodies from Navajo Land Vol. 2" followed in 2004.
"The second has more Navajo songs on it," she said. "KTNN anchor Paul Jones, usually gives it airplay sometime on Sunday morning with the old classics."
Sampson said she primarily relies on word of mouth to let folks know about her CDs.
"I actually give a lot of them away as part of a ministry to those I feel need uplifting," she said.
The first two CDs were released 200 at a time, but she said she hopes to cut a thousand for her third release.
"While living in Washington state, numerous Christian friends encouraged me to record," she said. "My husband, Gordon Sampson, who passed on in 1988, played the guitar and sang. He always wanted to make a recording but never did."
While doing social work within the Navajo Nation, Sampson said she came across a family that was having a problem with a daughter because the parents simply didn't know how to communicate with her. As a solution she said she developed flip charts and other visual objects they could use to get their point across,
"Our young people today are not really taught like we were," she said. "They'd rather watch TV or play a video game."
Sampson stressed the vital role her grandparents played in her life when she was young in terms of daily support as well as pointing out the consequences of her actions.
"That's why young people have become so defiant," she said. "They don't have the teachings that our ancestors gave us."
Sampson has a bachelor's degree in social work from Northern Arizona University.
"I worked on the Navajo Reservation for awhile," Sampson said. "But you just can't get good paying jobs unless you have a master's."
On May 13, she took care of that graduating from Arizona State UniversityWest with her master's in social work.
"I would like to get into the counseling field and work with all age groups but need get my license," she said. "I am actually pursing that now."
While in the state of Washington, Sampson said she was a social worker for 19 years working with six Indian tribes. After retuning to Arizona, she worked two years off and on for the Navajo Nation, then 1.5 years for the Yavapai Apache Tribe.
"I resigned that position to finish up my applied project for my master's, which was on foster care," she said. "With all the tribes I've worked with there was a lack of enough Indian foster homes.
"To my amazement, I found out you have to have a kind heart and strong love for children to provide foster care."
She said she originally thought the shortage of native foster care providers was because of the strict standards the state and Bureau of Indian Affairs imposed on them.
Sampson's mom was Zuni/Edgewater Clan, her dad Redbottom Clan.
She grew up in Moenave eight miles west of Tuba City near the famous Dinosaur Tracks. Sampson left the area in the early '60s, living both in Phoenix and Washington state but came back about eight years ago after all six of her kids moved back to Arizona. All but one lives in TC. She said she has been blessed with numerous grandkids and three great-grandchildren.
To track down one of Sampson's CDs, contact her via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at PO Box 2337, Tuba City, AZ 86045.