Grownup Navajo

Native American culture & teachings through a modern lens

Tag: navajo; culture; American Indian

Shíkeyáh as Medicine

Sunday morning I said goodbye to my family after a delicious breakfast prepared by my mom. We ate and laughed as a late winter snow fell outside. My heart swells at all the scenes we took in together and remember the prayers we said for each other and ourselves before I left.

I know I carry these scenes and prayers with me until the next visit. Returning to Diné Bikeyáh (Navajoland) each time as though on a pilgrimage. Each trip is filled with such anticipation of being able to unload the angst and chaos of the city. Born in the vastness of a place which makes you feel like it belongs all to you while simultaneously allowing you to feel small enough to question your being, I recognize how much I am a part of the land and it is a part of me.

Though it means so much for me to be home, I forget how fast times passes when I am away. A recovering perfectionist, I want to not miss anything. I want to always be home and am often heartbroken at missing the simple things – the first snowfall, ceremonies of family friends or even the stories my Grandma tells in between her cup of coffee and dinner. While I can beat myself up for the moments missed I have to remember the faith and practices instilled in me.

Diné Bikeyáh is my medicine. Not just the place, my parents’ home, but the land. I crave the calm of the land as soon as I depart. While away in the desert I find echoes of home on my hikes, while on runs at dawn, each outing sustaining my spirit. It is the land which soothes me, makes me stronger, knows my weaknesses and strengths.

While driving with my Mom as the rain, snow and rain fell, we were graced by a family of gorgeous glowing blue birds. They fluttered by us sharing the same vistas of the Lukachukai Mountains as we made our trek. A moment of fleeting perfection that didn’t have to last long as it provided more than enough serenity. This recent trip was so much about self-care and focusing on restoring my balance. Traveling from the stillness to clamor I humbly look forward to my return to Shíkeyáh (my land).

The Angel(a) of My Life


My niece Angela is the love of my life, a vivacious toddler and my world revolves around her. I tell everyone I know how meeting her changed my life. I witnessed her entering the world and felt in an instant, between her first breath and cry, my heart grow. It grew exponentially, in such a rapid leap to accommodate for the love I birthed just for her. I am not a mother but I can’t imagine loving anyone more than I love her.

Angela has given me many gifts in the time I’ve known her. One of the first was her laugh. In Navajo culture we celebrate the first laugh of a baby as something special and important. This transition in life is significant as it is the first time a baby is able to wear turquoise. Angela laughed for me on my birthday, almost two years ago. This is such an honor and that she choose me, means the world to me. It is an important role as the person with whom the laugh is shared is suppose to host a dinner for the child and family as the first gesture of generosity. As the host, you are meant to give unselfishly to show the child, this is how we, are suppose to act here in this world. Angela’s first laugh ceremony will forever be a marker of my grownupness. As I understood for the first time my role in her life.

As she’s grown I am more cognizant of the examples I set. I think of the people who have shaped me and how I am stronger because of the things they have taught me and I realize, I want to be that person for her. So I live my life knowing the best thing I can do for her is to live fearlessly authentic. As a result, Angela will no doubt witness her auntie’s silliness, mistakes and hopefully, bravery. Today she turns two years old and I am grateful for the abundance her presence in my life has brought me. If I can be half the person she is now, I will be all the better for it.