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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


January 12, 2002 - Issue 53


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Navajo Hour

credits: art by Ray Swanson
Grandmother GardeningIn the early morning hours, somewhere near Grand Falls Mills North Winslow, Arizona, in Kaibeto, Gray Mountain, and Lechee on the Navajo Rez, an old Sanii (grandmother) would turn on the Philco radio and find KCLS in the wind.

Borden Milk he would say, turn the can around and cut out the coupon on the back, they were worth a penny a piece. Be sure and save them, Borden Milk, the best canned milk in Navajoland; they used to pay for the hour slot. Some people sound good on the radio, their voice carries far, and when they speak you can listen to them all day, they have a voice that lifts you up. He spoke English well and Navajo even better, he could switch back and forth with ease, it was the voice from a Navajo college student at Arizona State College by the name of Daniel Deschinney. He would come on the air and say, Yahtehee Binaa (Good Morning) Time for Mary Salt to get up, someone needs to go to the Shonto Trading Post and wake her up, go ahead and bang on the door, she might yell around, but tell her her boy friend, Chee Wilson from Leupp said, Get Up Lazy Bones and he would laugh. His voice had a special quality. He would talk about the immunizations for children, the news from the Navajo Tribal Council at Window Rock, the news on the Navajo Hopi land dispute and he would mention the Hualapais from near the Grand Canyon, the folks down in Parker from the Colorado River Tribe, the news from Second Mesa and translate the state and local news into Navajo to let those old Saniis what was going on beyond the horizon. There would be a few Navajo jokes. He was young, with a new wife back then.

There were two tall Navajo boys by the name of Jackson, attending the Flag Bordertown dorm, they played first string, one of them Leonard was high scorer in the state basketball tournament playing the monster sized school Phoenix Union, he said they were from Cow Springs, some called it Red Lake, though there was never any water there all year long, just when it rained, it is on the northside of the road halfway between Tuba City and Kayenta, he would say. He would talk about the scores from Tuba City and how the games turned out. He would mention the song requests for different people, saying this is for Pearl going to school at the Flagstaff Beauty College from Sharlene at Cameron store, near Gray Mountain on Highway 89, playing a little Waylon Jennings. He spun tales and talked about little things, like the road conditions on the back road between Tuba and Kaibeto, that the sand had covered the road so the road had moved west a little bit.

Navajo Hour was the voice of Navajoland back in those days. He would speak about the upcoming ceremonies and squaw dance notices way out there by Dilcon, you follow the gravel road to Selba Delkai to the second dip then turn East two miles then turn right at the house with the red roof, Kee Mikes Bighan, his place that is where it is at. Then he would talk about the Navajo School Clothing program, about who in each community a person had to see. Then he would talk about the tourists, that over by Skeleton Mesa there was wagon seen with four white horses with New Mexico plates, the wagon had rubber wheels and one of the girls was seen at the armory at the Flag Pow Wow grounds, dancing to Buck Owens, when you see the horse drawn wagon be sure to say hello to Shirleta. Yeeeeeee!!!, he would say.

In 1968 when the snow came and it was four to six feet high and people and live stock were trapped way out in the middle of nowhere he was their lifeline, telling them the National Guard was flying in food and hay by helicopters, telling them to lay blankets outside their hogans on the snow and food would be dropped to them. During the heavy rains when the roads would be washed out he told families to check on each other, and that people in the area would be there to help them. He was the calm voice who like to laugh speaking through the small Philco.

Yes, way out in the boon docks, out by Sand Springs, Shonto, and Cedar Ridge, the coffee brewed, the potatoes were peeled, biscuits made, corn meal mush boiled and people chopped wood and hauled water to the sound of Daniel Deschinney and his Navajo Hour. It is morning, the sky is still dark but on the East there is a band of light, and I can hear his voice calling out ... Yahtehee Bina ... Good Morning ...

Navajo Indian Reservation

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Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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