to focus on Navajo culture and traditions
Miss Navajo Council, Inc. presents its White Shell Woman Workshop
March 23 at the Henderson Fine Arts Center at San Juan College in
workshop is for Navajo girls and young women ages 8-24. On-site
registration is from 8-9 a.m. the morning of the workshop. The workshop
takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration is $10 for students
and $15 for adults and lunch is included.
Former Miss Navajos organize and teach all Miss Navajo Council
workshops. Many former Miss Navajos have gone on to join the military
or to become doctors, teachers, nurses, professors, authors, educators,
filmmakers and mothers.
"In Navajo tradition the women are usually the teacher,
they are responsible for not only their own family, but the whole
community," said Sarah Luther, president of the Miss Navajo
Council. "A number of us believe in that still. We wanted to
hold a workshop where we could enhance what our grandmothers taught
us throughout the years. We wanted to capture not only the oral
traditions, but also how to apply it in today's society."
Attendance at the annual White Shell Woman Workshop, which started
in 2007, has increased every year since its inception.
"Originally it was to help girls who wanted to enter pageants,
to develop their skills, build their confidence and to encourage
them to go into the world," Luther said. "They had to
know that they had the potential to meet any goals and desires they
may have in life."
Luther, a former Miss Navajo herself, estimates the first White
Shell Woman Workshop drew less than 40 attendees. Today, they average
more than 300 students and nearly 100 adults.
Luther said the Navajo Nation Oil and Gas Company is now the
main sponsor of the workshops. This will increase the budget for
the workshops, allow for more advertising and allow the workshops
to accept more participants.
Additional sponsors of the Miss Navajo Council workshops include
Ways of Life: IINA Curriculum, the Native American Center at San
Juan College, and Miss Navajo Council, Inc. San Juan College got
involved in 2009.
when San Juan College and the Native American Center became our
co-sponsor," said Luther. "Michelle Peterson [from San
Juan College] told us, 'come use my facility and I will help you
as far as cost for the facility.' And that helped us a lot because
we have always operated on limited funds, most of our funding came
through our membership."
According to Luther, she and her fellow Miss Navajo Council
members are trying to help young people connect with their identities
so they can become mature, well rounded, responsible and outstanding
citizens when they become adults.
The White Shell Woman Workshop's primary focus is the cultural
teachings of the Navajo people. Instructors, educators and speakers
at the workshops stress language, the culture, and the traditional
aspects of the Navajo person.
"We incorporate teachings such as: how to prepare for college,
taking care of the environment, using the Native philosophy as well
as modern concepts and mixing them together and how to use both
in conjunction with one another," Luther said. "For example,
we have a math teacher who uses his Navajo philosophy to teach math
so students can have more interest in the educational side of their
lives. We also teach them proper nutrition, how to take care of
their health, and how to prepare nutritious meals for themselves
and their families."
Other topics at this year's White Shell Woman Workshop include
Kinaalda, singing, environment, cooking, financial literacy, injury
prevention and image development. A tribal judge will also be on
hand as a keynote speaker.
Originally, the workshops took place in the summer months, but
members of the Miss Navajo Council decided to move them to winter.
"Many of the participants wanted to hear more about the
oral traditions and some of the stories that are told in the wintertime,"
Luther explained. "We wanted to be able to help them understand
that, and then help them to be really proud of who they are through
self identity with their traditional heritage."
Luther went on to say that eventually the group hopes to have
multiple workshops taking place each year spread out all across
Navajo lands, even reaching Phoenix, Salt Lake City and other urban
areas. The Miss Navajo Council is also looking to plan workshops
to combat childhood obesity.
"It's exciting to be able to transform these young people
to become responsible adults, and that's our main goal," said
Luther. "We focus on literacy, we touch on language, some of
the oral traditional stories, we touch on etiquette, leadership,
public speaking, and everything that you can imagine to make a person
a successful and responsible individual."
More information about the White Shell Woman Workshop and other
Miss Navajo Council sponsored events are available online at www.missnavajocouncil.org
or by calling Geraldine Gamble at (928) 209-5993.
Navajo Council, Inc.
Welcome to the Official Miss Navajo Council, Inc. website. This
site is dedicated to all the former Miss Navajos. The role of Miss
Navajo Nation is to exemplify the essence and characters of First
Woman, White Shell Woman and Changing Woman and to display leadership
as the Goodwill Ambassador. Miss Navajo Nation represents womanhood
and fulfills the role of "grandmother, mother, aunt, and sister"
to the Navajo people and therefore she can speak as a leader, teacher,
counselor, advisor and friend. In March 1999, the Branch Chiefs
of the Navajo government agreed that one of the fundamental principles
of the Navajo government should be the preservation of Navajo culture.