The Miss Navajo Council (MNC) presents the first of two annual workshops Feb. 2 at the Henderson Fine Arts Center at San Juan College in Farmington, N.M.
The first workshop, entitled Hero Twins Workshop, is for Navajo boys and young men ages 8-24. Registration is from 8-9 a.m. the morning of the workshop. The workshop itself takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration is $10 for students and $15 for adults, and lunch is included.
Former Miss Navajos organize and teach all MNC workshops. Many former Miss Navajos have gone on to become doctors, teachers, nurses, professors, authors, filmmakers and mothers.
According to former Miss Navajo and Hero Twins Workshop organizer Vivian Arviso, this year's theme is Animals of Diné Land.
"On this year's agenda we have a young Navajo veterinarian, Dr. David Manuelito, as one of our keynote speakers," said Arviso. "We're also going to have Melissa Henry speak. She is a Navajo filmmaker who did films about a horse and a sheepdog. They're just really good films, and she's going to talk about the importance of animals in our culture. And of course Dr. Manuelito will probably talk about the feral dog problem, as well as being responsible for your pets as a pet owner."
Manuelito owns and operates Cedar Animal Medical Center in Gallup, N.M. Henry is from Red Ant Films and has made two animal-centric films, "Horse You See" and "Run Red Walk."
Arviso said this year the Navajo Nation Oil and Gas Company will sponsor the workshops. MNC has agreed to a four-year partnership with the company.
"They will be a good partner with us, which will allow us to strengthen our delivery of the workshop so that it may be possible that in the future we will be able to go into urban Navajo areas," Arviso said. "And that's always been a goal of the organization, and we're one step closer to that. This will hopefully allow us to be able to reach more students."
Additional sponsors of the MNC workshops include Ways of Life: IINA Curriculum, the Native American Center at San Juan College, and Miss Navajo Council, Inc.
Hero Twins Workshop topics include balance and harmony in math equations, Diné male puberty, making a ketoh, Diné animals, and Diné health awareness among others. There will also be a shoe game demonstration, raffles, prizes, and a full day of activities.
"The shoe game demonstration is at 11 a.m. with R.J. Redhouse and he'll do some story telling around the shoe games as well," said Arviso. "The math project that Damien Jones Sr. will do is going to show Diné balance and Diné harmony in math equations. We're anticipating 200 participants with their parents or grandparents, and most are clustered in the age range between 9 and 13."
Attendance at MNC workshops has increased over the years. The Hero Twins Workshop began in 2009.
"We definitely plan to do more for high school students, especially now that we have this sponsorship," Arviso said. "We want to work out of a workshop area for high school students and help them make career choices."
Arviso went on to say that eventually the group hopes to have multiple workshops taking place each year spread out all across Navajo lands, even reaching Phoenix and other urban areas. MNC is also looking to plan workshops to combat childhood obesity.
Master of Ceremonies Leonard Anthony will kick off the Hero Twins Workshop at 9 a.m. followed by Angie Barney Nez leading an opening prayer. Organizers Arviso and Sarah Luther will welcome all attendees after the prayer, and Michele Peterson will provide some positive and introductory remarks. Louis Denetsosie, interim CEO of the Navajo Nation Oil and Gas Corporation, will also attend.
Other speakers in the morning include Danyel Johnson from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation at 9:50 a.m. and Marilyn Help Hood to teach a Diné song about animals at 10:10 a.m.
Two raffle drawings will take place, one at 10 a.m. and one at 2:30 p.m. Lunch is at noon.
Additional afternoon topics include building a Navajo Twin Hero warrior code, Diné Hero Twin stories, healthy Diné cooking, the public health issue of the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, finding the center of the Diné universe, and Navajo Twin Hero code. The workshop and daylong activities will conclude with the presentation of certificates at 3:45 p.m. followed by Don Mose leading a closing prayer.
The second of the two workshops is called the White Shell Woman Workshop and is for Navajo girls and young women ages 8-24. The White Shell Woman Workshop, which began in 2007, will take place March 23 also at the Henderson Fine Arts Center at San Juan College in Farmington.
More information is available online at www.missnavajocouncil.org or by calling Geraldine Gamble at (928) 209-5993.