Make Your Holiday Special: Give Gifts From the Navajo Nation

By Linda Lancaster
   December is the month of celebrations. Celebrations bring light into the dark of winter. With lights and candles throughout the world, we continue to bring light into the dark. On the Navajo Reservation, thanks to electricity, holiday celebrations are everywhere. It is spiritual to see lights burning on the outside of hogans at night. To see luminaries on the sides of roads in Gallup and Albuquerque is a reminder of the many cultures and traditions of light in the South West.
   However, this has been a very dark year on the Navajo Reservation. Covid has taken many lives and stressed communities. Navajos have had the highest number of deaths per capita in the nation. Covid 19 challenges the Navajo culture. We can help them by investing in them.
   Full appreciation of any of their art forms is never fully achieved without knowledge of their origins. All of their crafts exhibit the soul of the undaunted Dine. As an appraiser of Navajo weaving, I know that history is exhibited in weaving. There are clan signs, direction symbols, religious symbols, greeting symbols and colors of various regions of the reservation. These designs are also visible in all the jewelry, pottery, and basketry. Everywhere, there are also representations of light.
   During this time of darkness and isolation, the Navajos have continued their evolution of silver smithing, pottery making, weaving and basketry. I am always astounded by the Navajo ability to transition from traditional to contemporary. They revere the old patterns and preserve them. They also try new designs and colors and often integrate the new into the old. This applies to all their art forms. The Navajos have an unshaken devotion in their heritage. But, it has been very difficult to obtain supplies to continue production. The following dealers have been able to continue the supply chain.
   In their time of extreme struggle, please support the Navajos by buying holiday gifts from the following reputable vendors. Jackson Clark can give you all the information on the artisans. The Toh-Atin Gallery which is owned by Jackson Clark can be reached by mail at P.O. Box 2229, Durango, Colorado 81302. There is an on line site that features all the inventory. Jackson has been helping the Navajo people his entire life as did his father and mother before him.
   The South West Indian Foundation has many affordable items and an extensive catalog on line. To help out, go to the South West Indian Foundation, 100 West Coal Avenue, Gallup, New Mexico 87301. You can also donate to buy food baskets and wood stoves. Their telephone number is 1-877-788-9962.
   The Heard Museum gift shop represents all native American tribes of the southwest and can also give information on the artisans. They are located at 2301 North Central Ave., Phoenix, Arizona 85004, 602-252-8840.
   Richardson’s has been buying Navajo artwork since 1916. Richardson’s (opened and selling Navajo wares since 1916) are located at 223 West Historic Highway #66, Gallup, New Mexico 87301. You can call them at 505-722-4762.
   Meri Keshmish from the Navajo Reservation.
   Helping the Navajos survive this time of Covid would be the best good thing you can do to help the Navajo through this difficult time.

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