TUBA CITY, Ariz. - The Haigo Hane'e' Winter Solstice Cultural Symposium, a forum for the exchange of scholarly research on indigenous language and cultural best practices, takes place Jan. 21. Highly qualified and locally respected Hopi and Navajo presenters will discuss both traditional and academic areas of cultural expertise.
The annual event for Tuba City Unified School District (TCUSD) employees is open to students, parents, grandparents and interested community members. The day-long event starts with a traditional breakfast at 7 a.m. in the Warrior Pavilion cafeteria and features four 90-minute workshop sessions throughout the day, one general assembly with a keynote speaker in the morning and closes with a final break out session that ends at 4 p.m.
The symposium supports the district's cultural initiatives and provides direct instruction to students, district educators and community members about cultural and language teaching and instructional practices for preserving language and cultural considerations in their classroom, at home, after high school, at university settings and abroad.
The workshop also provides a way to talk about recent Native research and thinking.
Adair Klopfenstein, director of Native studies at TCUSD, will serve as Master of Ceremonies and will introduce keynote speaker Raymond Jim Redhouse. Redhouse will focus his opening address on a Sense of Direction and a Sense of Belonging.
Breakout workshop sessions will start at 9 a.m. and take place in Tuba City High School's main classroom building with a traditional lunch provided at noon in Warrior Pavilion cafeteria.
Dr. Harold G. Begay, TCUSD superintendent, will also give a brief introduction about the objectives and goals of the symposium.
Topic areas and presenters include:
Demitrie Nizhoni, from the Dept of Dine' Education, will speak about the Navajo language;
Marvin Lalo, from Hopi First Mesa Village of Walpi, will speak about Hopi language and effective uses on a daily basis for student language needs;
Marie Salt, director of the Kayenta School District Cultural Center, will speak about raising a Dine' child and how to teach life wisdom and knowledge to help a child survive in the modern world;
Dr. Ancita Benally, director of language acquisition, will speak about Navajo language considerations;
Clark Tenakhongva, from Hotevilla Village, will speak on traditional Hopi songmaking, his career as a recording artist for Canyon Records, his prize winning wood work as an artist and the effects of music on those career choices;
Donald Wadsworth, from Shungopavy Village, will help participants understand more about the yearly Hopi ceremonial calendar and how Hopi traditional activities can affect a students attendance during the school year because of ceremonial activity; and
James Peshlakai, known for his Dine traditional practices, will speak of Dine's understanding of their worldly environment and cosmology effects.
More Hopi and Navajo presenters will be in attendance and a complete listing will be available on the morning of the symposium.
Klopfenstein said how we treat others and the quality of our relationships truly defines us and allows for harmony and happiness in one's life.
"It's our tribal culture and our tribal languages that truly set us apart from the rest of the world as a people and give our Native communities identity and uniqueness, this is the theme of our conference," he said. "As professional educators we have as much responsibility to teach Native language and culture across the curriculum as we do math and English and science for the sake of our students and our future generations."
Klopfenstein said widespread Native student cultural educational alienation, cultural underachievement, cultural demise and anomie need attention.
"To remedy less than desirable performance in one's profession, underperforming schools in Native American communities, one must first critically examine one's placement, one's thinking," Klopfenstein said. "Pointedly, this is what we will be doing here at this workshop. We must see that teaching and learning our thought processes must be accorded the highest respect, dignity and sanctity and our personal investment of all forms should reflect these inherent cultural tribal values.
Klopfenstein said he believes the attendees of the symposium will have a unique opportunity to gain knowledge that cannot be found in books or on the internet.
"These attendees will return to their homes and classrooms and will be able to teach others what they have learned," he said. "This type of education is a sacred process. This type of education is embedded in the vision and mission of our Tuba City Unified School District goals."
More information about attending the symposium is available from Adair Klopfenstein at (928) 283-1173.