Workshop creates mother-daughter, father-son bond

By Shondiin Silversmith
Navajo Times

FORT DEFIANCE, Ariz., November 21, 2012

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A s a way to build a stronger connection in families, staff at Tsehootsooi Medical Center's Methamphetamine and Suicide Prevention Initiative Project, also known as MSPI, hosted workshops in weaving and traditional leather work allowing for bonds to grow

Geared toward a father-son or mother-daughter experience, the workshop was built as a way to create "Hozho" through families, school, and the community, according to Janet Deschinny, community involvement coordinator of the MSPI project.

Deschinny led the mother-daughter workshop, which focused on the art of weaving where participants worked alongside weaving instructor Josephina Wilson.

"I'm glad I can be there to show them how to weave," said Wilson. "It's a really good feeling to pass this on to students in our district."

"This is their little time together to work on something that hopefully they can be proud of," Wilson said.

Rose Goodluck-Jones, 72, of Fort Defiance brought her six-year-old granddaughter Adeezhi Morris to the workshop.

"Watching her do this brings back the memory of me and my grandma," Jones said about seeing her granddaughter weave. "I hope she continues."

Jones said the best part of the workshop was watching her granddaughter weave.

"It's teaching her a lot of patience. It helps her," she said.

Morris said she enjoyed the workshop because she was learned how to weave and chose red, purple, white and turquoise to make her rug.

"I like to make them because they're beautiful," Morris said about weaving.

She also enjoyed learning and spending time with her grandma.

"Hopefully at the end they will communicate better and have a stronger relationship," she added.

Linda Dahozy, of Window Rock, brought her 17-year-old daughter Chelsee Dahozy to the workshop.

She said, "It brings us closer. For me to be involved with her in something like this, I enjoyed it."

Linda said through the workshop her daughter had been able to open up to her more and has an idea of what she wants to do with her life.

"It opens up a better relationship," she said.

Chelsee said the workshop allowed her and her mother to communicate more.

"Other stuff we tried never really worked out," she said.

"The mothers and daughters here are teaching each other," said Deschinny about how a weaving workshop benefits their relationship. "It's rare that you will see a lot of young women and children waving. We're trying to revive it.

"Any parent that is out there and is willing and able to learn with their daughter or son need to really take advantage of it because it will improve your relationship with your child," she added.

Of the projects, community involvement coordinator for the project Matthew Tafoya said, it will "provide the tools needed to have a successful journey in life."

"We believe that the more traditional teachings people learn the better they cope with life and all of life's situations," said Tafoya about the teachings he presented during the workshop.

Since Johnny Slinky, of St. Michales, Ariz., became Lize's foster dad, he's been searching for a way for them to connect.

The workshop allowed the two to "communicate a lot more now. This really helped us find common ground," said Slinky, who also brought his grandson Shawndre Watchmen, 9.

Watchmen said he's enjoyed the time with his grandpa and he "learned something new about my culture. It's a good thing, I learned a lot about my culture from this."

Tafoya led the male sessions and taught the basics of traditional leather by also using the story about the Navajo twin warriors.

He used tools such as a leather buckskin hat, bow guard, arrow, and a leather pouch to teach about spirituality.

The bow guard is worn on the left side and has spiritual and physical protection. The side pouch is a place that holds the thoughts and plans. The hat provides spiritual protection from head to toe and the arrow provides physical protection.

"You wear yourself in these items. Traditionally it is a symbol of one's intelligence," said Tafoya about the tools they were creating. "It's a good project for the kids to work on."

Evans Bennallie, of Fort Defiance, brought his five-year-old son Tyler to the workshop.

"I thought it was very informative not just from a creative standpoint but a traditional standpoint. It allows growth with a sensitive side to our cultural beliefs. It allows my son to know more about his culture," Bennallie said.

Bennallie said he gained a better understanding about the meaning behind the tools and looks forward to sharing those stories with his son.

"We believe if you have the tools and traditional teachings teach you to cope with life," said Tafoya about how traditional teachings are important. "Every kid has their own journey."

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