Youth celebrated at Northern Navajo Fair
By Noel Lyn Smith
SHIPROCK, October 11, 2012
(Times photo – Paul Natonabah)
T he mixture of sounds from the midway was heard throughout the fairgrounds during Youth Day at the 101st annual Northern Navajo Nation Fair.
Unfazed by the noise was Adam Phillips, who was concentrating on eating a ham sandwich.
Phillips, 8, sat with his third-grade classmates from Mesa Elementary School in Shiprock after spending the Oct. 4 morning visiting the various booths and exhibits on display at the fair.
Also enjoying their sack lunches were Tessa Yonnie and Nicole Begay, both 8.
The highlight for Yonnie was visiting the rabbits at the 4H Club stalls while Begay enjoyed watching the carnival rides spin and tilt.
"Walking, eating and playing with my friends," Yonnie said about her experience.
Not far from the song-and-dance arena, where a bulk of the Youth Day activities took place, T'iis Nazbas Community School students were in line for their lunch.
There were 184 students along with teachers and staff from the school, located in Teec Nos Pos, Ariz.
"Every year we are a part of this Northern Navajo Youth Day," said Bertha Jacket, a Navajo culture teacher at the school.
For eighth grader Shawna Williams, the day was a little different than previous visits.
Williams recently won the title of Miss T'iis Nazbas and had on a woven white outfit and a green sash across her chest.
As she walked through the fairgrounds, people and other school princesses asked her to pose for photographs, creating a new experience for the 14-year-old.
"They stopped to ask me who I am, where I'm from and how I won," Williams said.
She made her way through the arts-and-crafts exhibits, watched presentations at the song-and-dance arena, and learned about the various tribal programs.
Among the shouts and screams at the midway stood Norma Harrison, whose 13 eighth-grade students from Dennehotso Boarding School were enjoying the fair.
The school bused 162 students from kindergarten to eighth grade from Dennehotso, Ariz. to the event.
Harrison explained that the older students were allowed to roam the fairground but they were instructed to check in from time to time with one of the teachers stationed throughout the area.
"They need to have that self-esteem to be out there on their own and when they need to check in with chaperones," Harrison said.
After checking in with Harrison, Dennehotso student Charity Hoshnic took some time to catch her breath after riding "The Zipper," "Spin Out," "Fire Ball," "Starship 2000" and "Gee Wizz. Each one are quick spinning and high flying carnival rides.
Hoshnic, 12, spent a good amount of time with her friends in the midway but they also watched the rodeo and looked at the horticulture displays.
They would have continued their exploration but "my friend saw a Yei Bi Chei and took off because she didn't have money," she said.
As the afternoon sun warmed the song-and-dance arena, children younger than 10-years-old gathered around Nick Moore, a motivational speaker from Waddell, Ariz., who spoke to them about developing strong self-esteem and the importance of exercise to develop a healthy body and mind.
"I am somebody," the students repeated after Moore, who uses exercise to influence children to believe in themselves and to stay away from violence, drugs and gangs.
Another motivational speaker that students heard from was Rhonda "Honey" Duvall, who shared her story about accomplishing her dream of becoming a singer after graduating high school in Salt Lake City.
Her second album, "Pure Gold," was released in May and she started Duvall Entertainment in 2011.
"When you have a dream, fulfill it," Duvall said.