Yá’át’ééh (Hello in Navajo).
November in the U.S. is known for many things – sweater weather, gaining an extra hour of sleep, spending time with family or football.
November is also nationally known as Native American Heritage Month – a month commemorating Native American culture by celebrating and educating others on Native food, dances and ceremonies. There are 562 federally recognized tribes and over 50 state recognized in North America. Every single tribe has their own culture, but powwows are a way for all Native people to celebrate together and gather among all nations.
I am half Native American, proudly from the Navajo nation. My culture has shaped me into the woman I am today. My mom was born and raised on the reservation and I’ve spent many summers and winters visiting.
As part of Native American Heritage month, the week of November 9 is a national campaign #RockyourMocs. It’s a fun way, as Native people, to celebrate our culture worldwide while recognizing our Tribal individuality.
Natives wear their moccasins – Native American footwear worn both in historical and modern times, to school or work. I am celebrating #RockYourMocs by wearing my favorite pair of moccasins to work during the week! I have many pairs of moccasins, some for powwows, some for my traditional wear in special events. I mainly wear moccasins during powwows, but it will be fun to wear them around Cisco!
There are so many reasons why I am proud to be Native American. My culture has defined who I am. It has given me a deep appreciation to live simply and celebrate life in its smallest moments, many of our songs, stories and poems recite this.
I learned to respect my ancestors for the opportunities they fought for and respect my elders for all their teachings. I’ve carried these cultural beliefs in all walks of my life, even at Cisco!
I love expressing myself through dancing. I am a woman’s fancy shawl dancer. It is the most athletic dance for Native women in the powwow circuit. Ladies wear their shawl over their shoulders as they mimic butterflies in flight. I’ve traveled across the US to participate and compete in powwows. I’ve been honored as head lady dancer, an honor where you are asked by a respected tribal member to lead all dances.
During my time here at Cisco, I have felt completely open to talking to others about my culture. I’ve expressed interest in starting a Native American network group and have received incredibly positive feedback and support. Many non-Natives have expressed interest in joining because they simply want to learn more about my culture, and that truly makes me feel welcomed.
This month, Cisco is partnering with organizations such as North Carolina State University, which has a strong Native American presence and student-led organizations, to spread the National campaign #RockYourMocs. North Carolina State University is hosting an event to learn more about traditional Native American clothing and opportunity to make your own pair of moccasins.
Later this month, Cisco is partnering with a Native American Sorority, Sigma Omicron Epsilon, to create and learn more about the historical significance of dreamcatchers in Native American culture.
#IChooseCisco because I am able to express myself here. Cisco encourages diversity and has made me feel welcome. There is a popular Navajo saying that expresses as we travel through life, we walk in beauty that is within and around us;
“With beauty before me, may I walk; with beauty behind me, may I walk; with beauty above me, may I walk; with beauty below me, may I walk; with beauty all around me, may I walk. Wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, I walk.”
Hágoónee (“okay”, or “alright then”) is used for parting. There is no word in Navajo for goodbye. So I’ll sign off this blog this way. If you are interested in learning more, feel free to comment below!
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