Most notable of 2012

By Shondiin Silversmith
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, December 13, 2012

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(Times photo - Donovan Quintero)

TOP: James Junes, left, and Ernest Tsosie III thank the audience after their performance at the Wingate Elementary School gym in Fort Wingate in March of 2008.

SECOND FROM TOP: Shannon Saltclah, left, offers consultation during her trip to Kenya. She was one of two pharmacists who volunteered.

W hile the Arts and Entertainment section of the Navajo Times newspaper typically includes artists and bands, it also featured a wide variety of education articles such as one person who taught the Navajo language online and stories such as youngsters standing in line for hours to get a copy of a new video game.

This write-up includes some of the top stories in no particular order – simply, the best of 2012 in the non-news, non-sports category.

James and Ernie celebrate 10th anniversary

April 13 marked James and Ernie's 10-year anniversary, and since they began they've traveled nationally, produced DVDs, starred in a handful of movies and are known in almost every Native American community in the U.S.

James Junes was looking to break into the stand-up comedy industry while Ernest Tsosie III looked for his chance to become an actor.

They met at a comedy competition and wandered the bumpy road of entertainment as solo acts for a year. But one night the comedy duo was born.

"When we decided to do it together we knew we were onto something," Junes said. "We didn't know what was going to happen, (but we said) all right, let's try it, let's do it, what do we got to lose?"

They had nothing to lose. They were at the bottom of the barrel and were used to it. They started small but eventually got big and celebrated 10 years this year.

Pharmacist volunteers in Kenya, finds a new appreciation for IHS

Teec Nos Pos, Ariz. native Shannon Saltclah volunteered for two weeks in August with International Medical Relief. The relief program offers short-term medical mission trips for those volunteers in Third World countries.

"We saw about 300 patients a day," she said, "and we probably filled about 600 to 900 prescriptions a day. We were pretty busy."

Although she had many patients, her colleagues noticed that she took the time to explain things to her patients.

"She was a pleasure to work with," said Lauren Simonds, who was the other pharmacist on the trip. "We noticed she counseled every one of her patients thoroughly about their medication. Even though we had so much to do she wanted to make sure they knew exactly when to take what at certain times of the day."

Student uses technology to sustain Diné language

Terry Teller became known as the student who used technology to help others learn the Navajo language.

The Lukachukai, Ariz. native, who is To'aheedliinii (Water Flows Together), born for Ma'ii Deeshgiizhinii (Coyote Pass), created an account on YouTube, going by the name of "daybreakwarrior", and tried to help his fellow people learn the language by uploading gospel lyric videos to his YouTube channel, where most of his recordings are in Navajo. He says he adds lyrics to help people learn and understand the language.

Although he's not fluent in Navajo, Teller is managing to help people learn and understand the language.

Teller said when he was younger he didn't understand Navajo, but he learned it by reading Diyin God Bizaad (the Bible). But to understand it, he had to define the meaning of each word.

Teller says the key to comprehending Navajo is to simply speak it.

Teens start skateboarding business

The opening of a new skate park in Fort Defiance, Ariz. led to two teenagers to start their own business called, Lucky Day Skate Company.

D'orr Greenwood and Keanu Day created the company, which offers custom-decorated skateboards, information on the latest competition events, and a community center for skateboarders, its owners say.

"We really wanted to start because we've seen how big the skate scene was getting," said Greenwood.

The best part, according to Greenwood, is that it keeps you active as skateboarders develop the lean, wiry physiques once common among American teens, but now increasingly rare and leading to diabetes.

Before the park was built local skaters were prevented from riding their boards in public places for the most part. The reasons often cited were safety concerns - liability for the landlord - and potential crime or property damage - rightly or wrongly, many people associate skateboarders with law-breaking and graffiti.

The Navajo Nation's Office of Diné Youth saw past these stereotypes, however, and a skate park was built along with a sports complex. Greenwood saw an opportunity to put something together to solidify the culture of skateboarding in a positive light.

'Skate and Bike Across Rez' becomes more than the ride

Youth participating in the event ended a six-day tour "Celebrate Life: Skate & Bike Across Rez" in Shiprock after it took them through Tuba City, Kayenta, Wheatfield's, Chinle and Lukachukai.

The group members educated the communities on suicide among LGBTQ/Native youth, which is where the significance of "Celebrate Life" comes from. was only able to fundraise a little over $100, but the event is only the beginning of their efforts.

RMSF infected dogs on Navajo land

Health officials were on high alert after traces of the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever were recently found on dogs roaming the Navajo Nation including Ganado, Pinon and Dilkon.

RMSF is a disease transmitted through three types of ticks, two of which are found on dogs and the other is known as the Rocky Mountain wood tick, found in the Rocky Mountain state's and southwestern Canada.

The disease is spread to humans through tick bites. Ticks are most active during the summer months.

In response, dog dip sites were established for at least 20 communities on the Navajo Nation, a project launched by the Navajo Nation Foreign Animal Disease Task Force, Navajo Housing Authority, Navajo Nation Epidemiology Center, and the Center of Disease Control.

Health officials gave a number of tips on how to avoid the disease.

Coordinator of Gallup's UFO Film Festival: 'UFOs are real…we can learn from them"

Travis Walton, whose life story of being abducted by aliens, was featured in the film, "Fire in the Sky". The film was shown at a UFO fest last October and brought out a large crowd.

Chuck Wade, event coordinator, said, "People think you're crazy for seeing UFOs. That is one of the big reasons for having this UFO conference is to get the word out that UFOs are real."

As a special treat to the UFO fest, Walton shared his story about being abducted in November 1975.

Locals wait in line for hours for copy of 'Halo 4'

It has been five years since the supposed conclusion of Halo 3, but recently hundreds of people waited in line for hours to get their hands on Halo 4.

Tuyson Charley of Thoreau, N.M. waited in line for three days before Halo 4 was released on Nov. 6.

Tribal members combat unspoken crisis of HIV on Navajo Nation

When Melvin Harrison's HIV test came back negative it gave him the push to take action within the Navajo community, by educating people about the disease as the founding executive director of the Navajo AIDS Network.

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