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Navajo Relocation and Cultural Change: Three Generations Speak Wednesday, December 6th, 2000.

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Presentation on theme: "Navajo Relocation and Cultural Change: Three Generations Speak Wednesday, December 6th, 2000."— Presentation transcript:


2 Navajo Relocation and Cultural Change: Three Generations Speak Wednesday, December 6th, 2000

3 The story of the Hathatlies and Bedonies u Emily Benedek, Beyond the Four Corners of the World: A Navajo Woman’s Journey (New York: Knopf, 1995) u Suggestive of other stories still occurring on Big Mountain

4 Bessie Hathatlie u Born 1930 u Whole life on her clan’s land near Coal Mine Mesa u 130 years in the clan; ancestors buried here; umbilical cords buried u Eviction notices every year since 1979 u Illegal to conduct repairs; sheep confiscated u She says: “No way am I going to leave this place. This is where I was born; this is where I’m going to die.”

5 Ella Badonie u Born 1952, one of Bessie’s 11 children; eldest daughter u 1952-1958: on the reservation u 1958-1961: Boarding school in Tuba City u 1961-1970: Lived 7 months a year with Mormon family in California u “I always felt more connected to my mother’s land. I would come home in the summers and tend the sheep and that’s when I felt that I was most truly myself. I never doubted that I was a Navajo.”

6 More Ella Badonie u 1970. Met and married Dennis Badonie, a Christian Navajo schoolteacher u 1970-1974: Lived near Dennis’ parents in Flagstaff u 1974-1979: Returned to mother’s clan land, built hogan. Three children. Ella taught preschool. Nell born in 1976.

7 Moving away u 1979: received first eviction notice u 1979-1985: refused to move u 1985-1989: Feared they would be forcibly relocated: moved to trailer in Tuba City u 1989- Finally gave in and bought a house in Flagstaff

8 Ella’s worries u This is where I feel strong. When I’m in Flagstaff I don’t feel so strong, and sometimes I’m weak; and I come here, and I take in all this fresh air and I feel good. I go to the corral with my mom, and we laugh, and that’s healing for me. But I’m not going to ask my brothers and sisters for forgiveness... When I have my ceremonies... they don’t come in and say anything to me. Maybe they are mad that I ‘sold out’, or ashamed, or they don’t know how to approach me or something... I am worried my children will not be able to raise their children with the sheep, with the corn, summer dances, the winter recitations of the animal stories. How much of the Navajo ways will they retain?”

9 Nell u Born in 1976 u Since 1989, has lived in Flagstaff u Likes Flagstaff better than Tuba City u “In Tuba City, it was just Navajo, and that can get boring,” she said. “Here, I made lost of friends: “Yeah, I got lots, a lot of Spanish friends, and two white friends, and one Indian friend.”

10 Big Plans u “All those foreign places I want to go. I love different places. When I’m in the twelfth grade, I want to go somewhere to go to school, somewhere far away. But my mom won’t let me. She says, ‘It’s too far.’ And then she says she’s going to come with me. My dad said the same thing. I want to go to Italy. Maybe I’ll go to school – you know, where you can get a good education is, um, Japan, because the kids there are more advanced. I want to go there. I know how to speak French, Spanish, and a little bit of Navajo.”

11 Nell on Bessie u “Grandma says she won’t leave. The government is threatening to come and take her away. I don’t know. My mom moved away and she survived, right? I just think she would have a hard time adapting to life anywhere else. I think she should come and live with us. It is so uncomfortable there in that hogan – she can’t repair it, and it is literally falling apart around her. Here in Flagstaff it is nice and clean, and comfortable. There are lots of things to do here; I would take her to the movies.”

12 More Nell on Bessie u “I think I understand why my grandmother wants to stay on the land, but I really think she should reconsider. I guess I see things differently from her. Because I think that wherever she goes, God will be with her. She doesn’t understand that. It isn’t just in that place that God blesses her. She can go wherever, and take with her the blessings of God. So it seems to me this is a pretty big mistake for her.”

13 Epilogue u 1998: Benadek returned to Coal Mine Mesa u Found Nell (aged 22): v had finsihed u of Az v Had started law school v was taking Navajo language courses

14 What Nell wants to do u “In college I saw how my people really has suffered through the years. I want to be a lawyer because I want to fight for my people’s rights to hold on to their land. My grandmother is connected to the land – you know, my own umbilical cord was buried there too. So I I will always be connected there... It is women like my grandmother who inspire me. I was on the way to losing my culture. My grandmother helped me find it again.”

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