Creative Rezilience & Community

The path is created by walking it.
I hear my late Nalí asdzaan (paternal grandmother) in my ear everyday saying, “you know what to do.” This message is now coupled with the reassurance of my parents, who remind me to trust my strength.

Opportunities have manifested from invitations to empowering events, messages from followers and friends.

This kind of faith in self, creativity & community has guided the journey of Grownup Navajo and carried us to our latest project. In a conversation earlier this year with the Executive Director of Rezilience Indigenous Arts Experience, Warren Montoya, I casually shared my desire to create a large scale puzzle incorporating my poetry with Diné bizaad (Navajo language). Without missing a beat, Warren invited Grownup Navajo to be a Program Partner at the 2nd Annual RezArtX festival.

I immediately agreed and began thinking about how to construct it. A quick realization was the impact powerful images would have on the piece. Having worked with and followed the art of Onyota’a:ka artist Monique Aura Bedard from British Columbia, I reached out to her hopeful she’d be open to the collaboration. With great excitement she agreed. Together we flushed out what this puzzle could look like and decided we wanted it to include both of our languages and concepts of respect for our earth mother.
In collaboration and sisterhood, we created a large-scale, 3D mural puzzle incorporating language and poetry. The installation, “Nahasdzaan Níhimá: From My Mother I Learned All I Know” will be approximately 8 feet long and 4.5 feet high and will include 24, 16-inch cardboard, cubed, puzzle pieces. The puzzle will encourage visitors of RezArtX to experience language, art and poetry in an dynamic hands-on way.

The concept of the puzzle is inspired by the ways in which we learn from the imminent matriarch in our lives Nahasdzaan Níhimá (Mother Earth) and the dził (mountains). We will launch this project at RezArtX our goal is to continue this project sharing more images, poems and phrases that our community can engage with and create.
As Grownup Navajo continues to grow and expand our focus of enciting community action through creative movement, art & culture, I am encouraged by the openness and power of K’é (kinship). How beautiful it is to be guided by the energy of people willing to trust and whole-heartedly collaborate. This project would not have been possible without the faith, encouragement & help of others. It is not often someone generously offers space for your creative play and it is rare for a sister you have never met in-person to be so giving of her own craft. I am incredibly thankful to both RezArtX and sister Aura, for their kindness in supporting this vision and cannot wait to see the public experience Aura and I’s project this Sunday, April 30 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Ahé’hee!


For more information in attending Rezilience visit For those interested in supporting this project please e-mail me at grownupnavajo@gmail.comIMG_0017


Published by Jaclyn Roessel

Jaclyn Roessel was born and raised on the Navajo Nation. She is founder of the blog Grownup Navajo. She co-founded the blog Presence 4.0, a Native style blog. She also co-founded the multi-media project schmooze: lady connected. Owner of the card company the Naaltsoos Project, Roessel is a philanthropist, American Indian advocate and museum professional.

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