Stepping into the New Year

Turnout great for shoe game at museum

Adron Gardner | Navajo Times
A contestant from team Weekend Warriors tries to find a yucca ball in the shoes of team Same Colors during the New Years Eve Shoe Game at the Navajo Nation Museum Dec. 31 in Window Rock.


Timothy Kay and his sisters rang in the New Year like they do every year: as Team Golizhii during the annual Navajo Nation Museum Késhjéé tournament.

Team Golizhii (Skunk), who are from Jeddito, Arizona, have taken part in the tournament every year since the beginning, and this year they came in second out of eight teams.

“We like to play every year,” said Kay. “We learned it from our dad and mother. They played this every year and they told us stories about this.”

Since Golizhii placed second, they won five truckloads of firewood donated by Navajo Nation Forestry. The first place winners, Weekend Warriors of Dilkon, Arizona, won 45 bales of alfalfa hay donated by Navajo Agricultural Products Industry, and the third place winners, Lady Roadrunners from Red Mesa, Arizona, won $150.

“We sing loud, and we try to distract the other team as best as we can,” said Kay. The singing became competitive during one match. After Golizhii sang one song during their turn to hide the yucca ball, when it was the other team, Ball Ballerz’, turn to sing and hide the ball they sang the same song but louder in an attempt to “psyche (Golizhii) out.”

The teaching goes, the Keéshjéé is to be played only during the winter months and when it was first played, it was in a cave in the Lukachukai Mountains.

The purpose for the game was for the animals to decide if it would be night or day on earth forever. Each team had a turn to hide the yucca ball inside their lined up shoes for the other team to find, using yucca counters to keep score.

The team that hid the yucca ball would sing while the opposing team tried to guess where the yucca ball was placed. This went on until morning, when both teams realized neither would win, ultimately splitting Earth’s time between night and day.

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Categories: Culture

About Author

Arlyssa Becenti

Arlyssa Becenti reports on Navajo Nation Council, Business, Fort Defiance Agency, New Mexico State politics and Art/fashion. Her clans are Nát'oh dine'é Táchii'nii, Bit'ahnii, Kin łichii'nii, Kiyaa'áanii. She’s originally from Fort Defiance and has a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. Before working for the Navajo Times she was a reporter for the Gallup Independent. She can be reached at