Little, 79, sat watching older people stroll, shuffle and wheel
past into the City of Flagstaff Recreation Adult Center while she
chatted with her sister in her van and daintily stepped out onto
was wearing a white blouse, which was covered with tiny pink flowers,
comfy looking slacks and sporting a metal cane.
through the eyes of this 30-year-old Navajo Times reporter, the
tiny frail, petite Navajo woman looked like she needed assistance
inside the building. But she quickened her pace up the stairs with
her cane leading the way.
surprised reporter had mistaken the strength and agility of Maybelle.
Adult Center caters to the senior citizens, children's programs,
adult classes, social activities and meals primarily prepared for
ages 60 and over. In order to get a nutritious meal at noon all
seniors have to donate $2 and anyone under the required age has
to pay $5. The center is open Monday through Friday and closed on
who is Tsenjikini (Cliff Dwellers People Clan) and born for Kinyaa'aanii
(Towering House Clan), glanced at the reporter with a twinkle in
her eyes and asked where she was from and who her family is.
the reply Naakai Dine'e (Mexican Clan) and born for Tl'aashchi'I
(The Red Bottom People Clan), Maybelle slowly shook her head, implying
that she didn't know her family.
said, "I'm going to be 80 years old next year, so I want to
concentrate on other things. I work as a cultural connection with
the NAU campus. In May, I told them I'm going to resign. I'm going
to stay with them until they find someone to take my place."
is a resident elder at Northern Arizona University. She has an elementary
and middle school level bilingual education, which emphasizes the
Navajo language, writing the Navajo language and traditional ethnobothany.
is a lecturer for the university.
can present the Anglo side and the Navajo culture side together,"
she said. "I write a lot about myself and the Navajo stories
from both English to Navajo."
handed her visitor a sample of her writings and teachings.
said, "You can have that. I wrote those. It has many beautiful
top page had the traditional Navajo prayer written in Navajo. The
pages following included the legend of the emergence, a Navajo perspective
in Western society, the status of men and women according to the
Diné culture, a Diné perspective on sacredness, sacred
fields of the Holy Ones, environmental justice and the oral Diné
history past to present.
going to put all my writing together and put it in a binder,"
she said. "I ant to fix it for the colleges and for educational
purposes that the teachers can use. Each of my kids is getting a
binder while I'm still around. I'm going to finish what I started.
the Navajo kids don't speak Navajo," she said. "I want
them to learn from this. I want them to stay in school. It's terrible
to see them walking around aimless. Don't be aimless, aim for higher."
became clear that Maybelle is a very determined, feisty Navajo woman.
She said that it's never too late to go back to school. She was
55 years old when she went back to school after her husband died.
thought to myself, I better go back to school and I did," she
said. "I glad I did because I'm glad I do what I do. I can
produce my writing and sell it. I'm going to do that for the rest
of my life.