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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


August 9, 2003 - Issue 93


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Salina Bookshelf's Books

As promised, here are some of the books offered by Salina Bookshelf, Inc. To see the complete list of books, and to order, visit their site.

Little Prankster Girl
Author: Martha Blue
Illustrator: Keith Smith

Little Prankster Girl coverNo one but Grandmother believes that Little Prankster Girl is mature enough to be taught to weave. Mother thinks she plays too many tricks, Younger Sister says she isn’t smart enough, and Baby is too young to give her any support. Determined to learn anyway, Little Prankster Girl “borrows” some of her mother’s weaving supplies and practices weaving while she is out herding her family’s flock.

This warmhearted story follows Little Prankster Girl through an exasperating but funny trial of her childhood. Readers will identify with Little Prankster Girl’s struggle to win recognition from her family, and will gain courage to make their own bids for greater independence.

Martha Blue:
Martha Blue was a lawyer in Navajo country for nearly 30 years. She is the author of six other books, including Indian Trader: The Life and Times of J. L. Hubbell. She also finds artistic expression as a painter. Martha Blue has served on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations in the Four Corners area, and has received awards from the Arizona Center for the Book, the Navajo Studies Conference, the Maricopa County Bar Association, and Westerners International.

Keith Smith:
Born on September 24, 1964 in Tuba City, Arizona on the Navajo (Diné) reservation, Keith began painting at a young age. In the early 80’s, he worked at various jobs and continued with his education. He received a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts from Northern Arizona University, with emphasis on painting. After completing his studies, Keith moved back to the Navajo Reservation, where he taught art at Greyhill Academy High School. From Tuba City, Keith attended various art shows promoting his artistic style throughout the southwest. Keith is presently teaching art with a Dine' Community College and he eventually would like to establish his own art studio in Tuba City.

Today, Keith’s work is sold through various shows and galleries. He also does work on commission. His pieces have been shown locally and regionally and have been included in galleries, museums, and private collections. Many of his paintings have won awards, among them an honorable mention for a watercolor at the Heard Museum Indian Fair and Market, 2001; a first place ribbon for a watercolor painting, 2000; and a first place ribbon for an oil painting, 1999, at the Museum of Northern Arizona Navajo Show. Additionally, he was chosen as the poster artist for the 2001 Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial Pow-Wow poster, and in 2002 he received the SWAIA fellowship.

Father's Boots: Azhé'é Bikénidoots'osii
Author: Baje Whitethorne Sr.

Father's Boots: Azhé'é Bikénidoots'osii coverEvery winter, the brothers Tall Leo, Big Leo, and Little Leonard go to their Grandmother Sally’s hogan for the winter holidays. None of the brothers look forward to the visits: Grandmother Sally always tells long, boring stories about the Holy People. This year, however, it is different. Father is away working for the railroad, and he might not be home for the holidays. Feeling in a serious mood, the brothers retell one of Grandmother Sally’s stories. By sharing the story amongst themselves, the brothers grow closer to one another and come to a deeper understanding of their culture. A touching story, Father’s Boots is a necessary read for children feeling out-of-touch with their background.

Baje Whitethorne, Sr.
Baje Whitethorne, Sr., is a member of the Reed clan. Originally from Shonto, Arizona, he is the author of Sunspainters: Eclipse of the Navajo Sun, Father’s Boots: Azhé’é Bikénidoots’osii, and the illustrator of native American legends including Monster Birds, Monster Slayer and Sika and the Raven. His watercolor paintings appear at the Heard Museum, The Smithsonian Museum, The Field Museum, the Gallup Indian Ceremonial, and the Museum of Northern Arizona. In 1998 he was named by the Arizona Library Association as an Outstanding Contributor to Children’s Literature.

Author: Marjorie Thomas
Illustrator: Patrick S. Begay

Bidii coverBidii is the story of a young boy named “Bidii” or “Greedy,” who loves showing off in front of his friends. While his family works to get their sheep to the annual sheep dip, however, he learns that he should not be so greedy and that he should refrain from shamelessly showing off in front of others. A humorous story with a valuable lesson, Bidii remains a favorite in the classroom.

Marjorie Thomas
Marjorie Thomas holds a BA in Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University, an MA in Educational Leadership from the University of New Mexico, and an honorary doctorate from Diné College. She has served as a teacher, bilingual coordinator, and principal in schools on the Navajo Nation and has worked with curriculum and school reform for over 30 years. She was a founding member of the Diné bi Olta Association and President of the Diné Language Teachers' Association. She currently serves as a member of the Chinle Unified School District Governing Board and as the Summer Institute Director of the Learn in Beauty Project at Northern Arizona University.

Marjorie often describes her own education at the Ganado Mission where her mother, Naanibaa Gorman, worked as a health care worker and translator. "When I went to the boarding school we were punished for speaking Navajo. I made up my mind not to have something that was mine taken away from me."

Marjorie Thomas continues to use her language as a storyteller and as an advocate for youth. She is known as "Grandma Thomas" to the youth of the Navajo Nation. She has led many marches from Chinle to Window Rock to support the construction of the Central Navajo Youth Facility. On the marches and at events throughout the Navajo Nation, her donkey song has been heard as a rallying cry to youth and to community members of all ages. She reminds all students and teachers on the Navajo Nation, "We can't lose our language. We need to believe in it and use it."

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  

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