Old Style Navajo Concho Belt by John Yazzie

Georgiana Kennedy Simpson of Twin Rocks Trading Post of Bluff, UT describes this Navajo Concho Belt.

Geogiana (Jana) Simpson knows her stuff.  Her dad, about to turn 100 years old, is a trader who is still going strong in Gallup, NM., where Jana grew up.  Like the Navajo artists, she learned her trade while she was growing up.

Thank you, Jana, for beinging so many innovations to Twin Rocks, and recognizing beauty!

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The Most Beautiful Place on Earth

Come to Twin Rocks Trading Posts and visit Arches National Park

Arches National Park is one of the natural treasures near Twin Rocks.

The First Morning

“This is the most beautiful place on earth.

“There are many such places.  Every man, every woman carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, actual or visionary.  A houseboat in Kashmir, a view down Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, a gray gothic farmhouse two stories high at the end of a red dog road in the Allegheny Mountains, a cabin on the shore of a blue lake in spruce and fir country, a greasy alley near the Hoboken waterfront, or even possibly, for those of a less demanding sensibility, the world to be seen from a comfortable apartment in the tender, velvety smog of Manhattan, Chicago, Paris, Tokyo, Rio or Rome — there’s no limit to the human capacity for the homing sentiment.  Theologians, sky pilots, astronauts have even felt the appeal of home calling to them from above, in the cold black outback of interstellar space.

“For myself, I’ll take Moab, Utah.  I don’t mean the town itself, of course, but the country which surrounds it — the Canyonlands. The slick-rock desert.  The red dust and the burnt cliffs and the lonely sky — all that which lies beyond the end of the roads.”

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The above was written by Edward Abbey, and it is from his book about our red rock country, Desert Solitaire.  His use of words is incomparable.  The perfect description of how we feel about this, the part of the land we carry in our hearts.  The part that grabs travelers as they pass through.

Come to Twin Rocks in Bluff, UT and discover the art that emerges from this magical place.  You will be captivated and amazed. But you won’t be surprised. Art that comes from land with this sort of beauty is breathtaking, purely imagined, and the inspiration is clear.

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Miss Navajo is Much More than a Sexy Bathingsuit

Miss Navajo Nation will carry on the tradition of Beauty and Pride in Womanhood

New Miss Navajo Nation, 2012 – 2013

We at Twin Rocks are proud of the young women who are our treasured neighbors, artists and storytellers.  We’ve published photos of Miss Navajo over the years, and we’d like to share with you a different cultural perspective on Beauty.

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Welcome (ya’at’eeh)  This, from:  www.missnavajonaton.com:

In keeping with Navajo culture and tradition, 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 she fulfills the role of ‘grandmother, mother, aunt, and sister’ to the Navajo people. And so, she can speak as a leader, teacher, counselor, advisor and friend.’

In March 1999, the Branch Chiefs of the Navajo government agreed that the tone of the fundamental principles of the Navajo government should be the preservation of the Navajo culture. It shall be the mission of the Office of Miss Navajo Nation to encourage every Navajo to assist in the preservation of Navajo culture, and Miss Navajo Nation will represent the importance of Navajo women with respect and honor.    From the Current Miss Navajo, Leandra Thomas:

“My name is Leandra Thomas. I am Naakaii Dine (Mexican/Spanish people) born for Tsi’naajinii (Black streak people). My maternal grandparents are Kiiya’aanii (Towering house people), and my paternal grandparents are Honagha’nii (Ones who walk around). I come from a small community called Steamboat Canyon, Arizona. I received my bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University in elementary education. I am pursing my master’s degree in bilingual multicultural education, also from NAU.

“I have two loving parents, Anderson and Bernice Thomas. I’m the youngest of four, with three older brothers Andy, Arlo, and Leander. The teachings that are instilled within me come from my family, grandparents, relatives, and our livestock. (Yes, she said livestock — we can certainly learn from other animals.)

“As an educator and a student, I feel the students are the ones who will be carrying on our Dine teachings. Our elders are the ones who share the stories, and from them we learn about our Navajo culture and language. Therefore, throughout the year, my focus is on our youth and our elders. Together, our Navajo Nation is able to reach great heights, and together we are able to walk in beauty.”

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Together… That’s how we all walk in Beauty.  Thank you, Leandra, an extraordinary young woman.  You make us all proud.

Kokopelli… The Shocking Truth!

Kokopelli, the fertility god of the southwest and also an ancient trickster

Kokopelli, Wooing Women of the Southwest

Kokopelli was a frisky and fruitful guy.  As a matter of fact, you could say that he was the Johnny Appleseed of the Southwest.

His trade route was large.  He played his music and spread his seed from Southern Utah to Mexico. To the Navajo, Kokopelli is called “Water Sprinkler”, and he is a symbol of fertility in both the natural and human sense.

To the Hopi he is the symbol of the Flute clan, and he adorns pottery, baskets, and Katsinas. And, he is always surrounded by humor. This funny-looking being, with his back hunched, carrying seeds, was somehow able to enchant women into loving him and mesmerize men out of their most prized possessions.

Many women considered it to be an honor to be chosen as his “dreamtime companion” when he stayed in a village until he moved on. If you’d had trouble having a baby, Kokopelli would take care of that. He fathered children left and right.

The Hopi people believe Kokopelli gets his energy and heat from the very center of the earth. And, coming from the center of the earth, he brings love and fertility to all plants and animals.

Kokopelli has the spirit of the Trickster. This hunchbacked flute player is sometimes called the Casanova of the Cliff Dwellers.

His image was cleaned up hundreds of years ago by Catholic priests as they arrived in the Southwest. But, he is still here, etched in petroglyphs, playing his flute for everyone to enjoy.

We believe that Kokopelli is with us still, just beyond our reach but inside our dreams, and that he will continue his journey and trade route into the future.

Oh, magical southwest… We love you.

Mary Holiday Black, Legendary Basket Weaver, visits Twin Rocks

VIDEO: Legendary Mary Holiday Black shares meaning of water vessel with Twin Rocks Trading Post

Mary Holiday Black, Legendary Master Basket Weaver visits Twin Rocks Trading Post, Bluff, UT

Mary Holiday Black, Legendary Master Basket Weaver

Above, watch the video of Mary Holiday Black, legendary Navajo Basket Weaver, speaking with our queen of Twin Rocks, Priscilla.  She’s talking with Priscilla about the ceremonial meaning of the vessel and the weaving of it .  Big stuff and the conversation of two delightful women.

Okay, the video is longer than the media gurus say it should be, but you are watching an artist here, a Navajo icon, a glory and a wonder.

“One of the reasons we want to keep basket-making going among our people,” Mary says, “is because baskets are important when a person gets healed, to bring rain, for weddings, the Fire Dance, the Seven-Day Ceremony.”

Mary Black is largely responsible for the preservation and renaissance of the art of Navajo basketry. She  truly is a legend in her own time.

Mary received the Utah Governor’s 1995 Folk Art Award and, in September of 1996, she received a $10,000 National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts.  It was presented to her in Washington D.C. by First Lady Hillary Clinton.

The matriarch of a large and talented family of basket weavers, Mary Holiday Black has preserved the tradition of Navajo basketry.  And, she has revolutionized it with her daring creativity. Recognized by experts as the nation’s preeminent Navajo basket weaver, Mary’s pieces are highly valued collector’s items.

Her story is worth telling.  In 1960 there were only about a dozen active basket makers on the Navajo reservation.  Most women had turned to the more profitable art of rug weaving.  One of those basket weavers was Mary Black. Taught to weave by an elderly relative when she was 11, Mary has spent over half of a century creating baskets for sacred ceremonial purposes as well as the art world.

She shares her knowledge with anyone willing to learn. Nine of Mary’s eleven children have followed in her footsteps, becoming world-class weavers in their own right. Each ceremonial basket has a story. ‘There are many basket stories,” Mary says. “If we stop making the baskets, we lose the stories.”

And, each ceremonial basket has a song that accompanies it. Mary knows the songs and other tribal lore because her parents, Teddy and Betty Holiday, were medicine people. Strict tribal taboos dictating how and when ceremonial baskets can be woven contribute to their scarcity. Mary has successfully challenged some of the taboos, arguing in favor of preserving cultural history through basketry. (Here we cheer for Mary!)

Mary was one of the first people to consider weaving baskets with imaginative designs targeted toward the Indian art collector’s market. Many of her baskets depict traditional beliefs, stories or legends.  Some are inspired by Navajo sandpaintings.

Working daily, a basket may take up to four months to complete. (Unimaginable and inspiring in our hurry-hurry world.) Mary’s hands often ache from the strain of weaving because she keeps constant pressure on a basket’s sides so they will curve upward when it’s finished. ‘These days my hands get tired, and I have to light a fire and pray for energy,” she has said. ‘They are not as quick as when I was a child!”

Mary Holiday Black is indeed a treasure, and we are honored to count her as a friend.  We at Twin Rocks are honored to offer her baskets and help keep the fusion of Navajo tradition and cutting edge art alive.