Navajo pottery topic of workshop at Navajo Nation Museum

Participants will study traditional, contemporary pottery making

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - The Navajo Nation Museum and the Institute of Native American Studies of the University of Georgia have announced a workshop, "Mobilizing Navajo Communities Through Pottery Arts." The workshop is designed for six to eight Navajo participants, competitively selected, to study traditional and contemporary pottery making. Instructors will be the famed Navajo potters Sarah Natani, Alice Cling and Ida Sahmie. These potters will teach selected learners about pottery skills and show how they are related to Navajo life ways. The instructors will describe how they were brought to work with clay. All three teachers are dedicated to Navajo values, and to steadfast support of learners. It is hoped the learners will in turn go forth from the workshop to teach other members of the Navajo Nation what they have learned.

The workshop is slated for Aug. 6-11 and is funded by the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation. The public may observe the workshop activities at the museum.

In conjunction with the workshop, the Navajo Nation Museum will have an exhibit of Navajo pottery beginning Aug. 6 titled, "Re/Membering Diné Pottery." Pottery made by workshop participants and instructors will also be on display at this exhibit. Both events, the workshop and the exhibition, aim to help the Navajo Nation preserve and interpret the rich and unique Diné culture through the use of pottery.

The loss of Navajo knowledge, including the pottery arts has created "endangered cultural practices" threatened by cheaply produced, often imported, mass marketed commercial items. Navajo pottery making was practiced more often years ago and today only a limited number of communities across the vast Navajo Nation practice it.

With the continued celebration of Navajo ceremonies, it is essential that Navajo pottery making is carried on by a new generation, because the ceremonies require the use of traditional pots for many uses, including herbal offerings and traditional foods preparation.

For more information, contact Char Kruger at char@navajonationmuseum.org, (928) 810-8536) or Bob Hill at bobhill51@mac.com.

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