White Shell Woman Workshop Oct. 26 in Farmington, N.M.

FARMINGTON, N.M. - Miss Navajo Council, Inc. will put on its sixth annual all-day workshop for Navajo girls and young women Oct. 26 in Farmington, N.M. to help empower girls for the future.

The workshop titled "Enduring Qualities of White Shell Woman Workshop" is intended for girls ages 8 through 24 years old. The workshop will include themes like image development, image of the White Shell Woman, bullying and domestic violence, Navajo language and singing and traditional Navajo food preparation among others.

Geraldine Gamble, a former Miss Navajo and current treasurer for the Miss Navajo Council, said empowering young women in the world they live in while also emphasizing tradition is an important focus of the day's events.

"We try to bring forth a series of both traditional Navajo topics and then also bringing it with contemporary thoughts and ideas of what's going on," Gamble said. "Some of the topics we talk about are the preservation of Mother Earth and also awareness of your environment - it's a little bit of traditional and modern teaching and learning that we want to share with these young ladies."

Sarah Luther, president of the Miss Navajo Council, said, "We want to enhance the traditional values in the lives of young people while also helping them to step out into the modern world with more self-confidence as they develop into young adults."

Luther encouraged family members of the girls to attend the workshop and said in the past they have had grandparents, fathers and other family members present.

Luther said students and their parents evaluated the prior years' workshops and those evaluations helped to define what may have been missing from their teachings and what should be included in the future.

"It is very successful and we have tried to extend these workshops beyond the traditional reservation life," Luther added.

The success of the workshops has brought requests to bring them to cities in more urban areas like Albuquerque and Salt Lake City and even places in Texas and Montana, though Luther said right now they are just focusing on the reservation.

"Our only challenge is facilities, a location large enough to accommodate all the students," Luther said.

She expects 200 to 300 students will sign up for the workshop.

The council is unique in that it is made up of former Miss Navajos from 1952 to the present. Their role in their communities is to exemplify the essence and characters of the First Woman, White Shell Woman and Changing Woman and to display leadership as good will ambassadors. Specifically, Miss Navajo Nation represents womanhood and fulfills the role of grandmother, mother, aunt and sister to the Navajo people and therefore she can speak as a leader, teacher, counselor, advisor or friend.

And it is those former Miss Navajos who run the workshops and volunteer their time to teach the next generation of young girls the skills and tradition they need for the future.

"I'm very proud of each one of them, they are giving back to their communities by helping the young people by giving their time and their energy," Luther said. "I applaud each one of them and I'm very proud of them."

Gamble added, "We get a year as Miss Navajo, we get a year to be the representative for our tribe and then now in later life, we are still giving back in whatever way we can. It's part of a way of life for us."

The Miss Navajo Council will put on a similar workshop for boys in February 2014.

More information about the workshop and the Miss Navajo Council is available at www.missnavajocouncil.org.

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