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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


July 27, 2002 - Issue 66


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Single-parent Mom Inspires Youth Conference

by Jim Snyder Farmington Daily Times
credits: Chilies-Southwest Delight! by Virginia Stroud
SHIPROCK, NM - Elarina Nakai, a single-parent mother and domestic violence victim, got an idea three years ago to host a youth conference in Shiprock.

Her dream of educating children on life issues they need to know came true with her first Shiprock Youth Conference. It was held Thursday and Friday at Tse' Bi' Tai Middle School in Shiprock and was free to area youth.

Nakai, who is also a community involvement specialist with Social Services here, said she was inspired by the youths in the community to plan the event. The conference's theme, "Validating Shi Yazhi, Shi Awee," translates to validating how our kids feel. Nakai said it is a compliment to say it to a child.

More than 64 children showed up each day for classes at the school.

Wilber John Begay, a traditional medicine man, gave the opening invocation. The welcome address was given by Shiprock Police Capt. Randy John and Shiprock Criminal Investigations Capt. Douglas Joe. Russell Gould, with the Youth Opportunity Program was the host.

Miss Navajo, Jolyana Begay, and Shiprock Chapter President Duane "Chili" Yazzie also spoke.

Local professionals volunteered their time to talk on a variety of issues. Classes were given in traditional and cultural teaching, the legal system, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse and life skills.

Other classes included the ropes course, recreation, "You're OK just the way you are," and "Uncovering one's life and understanding reality."

Some of the children also went inside a sweat lodge, a spiritual part of Navajo culture.

A powwow to honor youths was held Thursday evening for the children to dance in. "Drums of Summer" and the "Long Walk Descendants," kept the beat going.

Local Navajo Nation departments who taught included the Department of Behavioral Health, the Shiprock Home for Women and Children, the Shiprock Boys and Girls Club and the Shiprock District Prosecutor's office. Also helping out was the Navajo Communities in Action for Wellness and the Teec Nos Pos, Ariz., and Shiprock chapters along with the Recovery Foundation of Tucson, Ariz., the Youth Opportunity Program and the Office of Din Youth.

To encourage the children to attend the conference, door prizes, including a 26-speed mountain bike, donated by the Wal-Mart store in Cortez, Colo., were given away Thursday.

Other sponsors included Performance Mazda, the Big Rock Trading Company, the Shiprock Trading Post, the Shiprock Taco Bell, the Shiprock City Market, the Shiprock General Store and R and R Traders of Waterflow.

The school allowed the use of their facility for the conference at no charge.

Information booths were also set up. They included Victim Advocacy Rights, Family Violence Prevention and Shiprock Criminal Investigations.

The conference offered the youths education on life skill topics they can use.

"It's a continuing education" for the youths, Gould said.

Shiprock, NM Map
Maps by Travel

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