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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


January 10, 2004 - Issue 104


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Native American Female Artist of Year at Shonto

from Navajo-Hopi Observer

SHONTO – Jana, named Best Female Artist at this year’s Native American Music Awards, received a a warm welcome when she visited Shonto Preparatory School on Nov. 25.

Jana and studentStudents and faculty greeted her at the school gates and congratulated her on her latest achievement.

She presented her “Jana’s Kids” program to kindergarten through 12th-grade students, which involved a great deal of interaction and included a free CD of “Stairway to Heaven” to each participant.

Her educational, entertaining, and motivational program included music, dance, questions and answers. In an hour, Jana highlighted Native pride and identity while also discussing attendance and parental involvement.

Jana comes from Lumbee community, tribe of 50,000 members in North Carolina whom are not federally recognized. They are the second largest tribe east of the Mississippi River. Years ago, it was a capital crime to speak their native language.

Only a decade ago did they start to rewrite their language through oral tradition. Jana admits that she only knows a couple words in her language, but she can sing the National Anthem in her language. As she becomes a prominent figure in reinventing her native language, she is very much a traditional Lumbee.

Jana and dancersShe identifies herself as an “Urban Indian” which only means that she can live in two worlds. Her music, dance, and fashion are all influenced by her Native traditions and customs.

While at Shonto, she set a new record for autographing pictures for each student. All students attended and some parents came as well to enjoy the special interactive performance.

Her performance planted renewed energy by reviving school spirit. To the students, she is a survivor and a determined warrior who keeps her tradition alive and well. At home, she participates in tribal ceremonies and celebrations.

During her performance, the native flute could be heard and in her dance routine, she integrated the eagle dance. Not only was she dancing with her two background dancers, Caroline Leppeden and Tabatha Arocho, Shonto’s native dancers in full regalia joined her on the stage much to the enthusiastic crowd.

Kids at Jana's concertOne seventh-grade student, Scottie Nez, admitted to Jana that he does not attend classes consistently. However, he expressed a strong interest in mathematics. His math teacher confirmed this.

In exchange for a CD, Scottie and Jana made a pact that he would attend school the following week without missing a day. Jana asked his friends to call her if he doesn’t show up at school, especially math class.

During the week, the seventh graders kept tabs on him each day. Scottie kept his promise.

When Jana found out about Scottie’s progress she sent a note back to the school.

“Thank you so much for telling me about Scottie and how he attended his Math class everyday,” she wrote. “ I was very moved to hear that he not only went to class, but participated and performed very well in his studies. I just wanted to say how proud I am of Scottie, and that he lived up to his word when he promised to go to class every day. Scottie has set an example for all of the kids at Shonto Preparatory School.

“I had such a wonderful time when I visited the school. All the students at your school were very kind and respectful to me and I see them as the leaders of our future. Thank you again, for letting me know of this wonderful progress of Scottie.”

To see more photos of Jana’s visit and video clips of her presentation, visit

Shonto. AZ Map

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