A new tradition takes root

In Southwestern Navajo, Easter means k’e

Navajo Times | Krista Allen
Miss Southwestern Navajo Jaden Williams, 16, greets elders during the 3rd annual Tółání Easter Celebration April 1 in Tolani Lake, Ariz.

‘AŁCHÍNÍ DAH NAHÁAZTÁANII-TÓŁÁNÍ, Ariz.

Sunday, April 1, marked the Christian holiday of Easter, summoning thoughts of dyed eggs, elaborate colors and chocolate bunnies.

Navajo Times | Krista Allen
Children race across a field to find eggs during the 3rd annual Tółání Easter Celebration in Tolani Lake, Ariz. The celebration was sponsored by former Miss Navajo Nation Alyson Shirley, Miss Southwestern Navajo Jaden Williams and their families.

But in Tolani Lake the holiday was about k’é.

“Yá’át’ééh, shimá,” said Alice Nebitsi Patrick, 80, as she greeted her 88-year-old mother by clan, Lula Mae Riggs. “Da’ eggs nábi’ninláá?”

Riggs smiled and replied, “Aoo’” and embraced her warmly.

Every year on Easter, the holiest of holidays that celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection, the communities of Birdsprings, Leupp, and Tolani Lake come together under one roof, explained Patrick. She is related to many of the people who attended the Easter celebration at Tółání Chapter House.

For the past two years, the event was hosted by former Miss Navajo Nation Alyson Jeri Shirley, 22, and her family. This year, Miss Southwestern Navajo, Jaden Williams, 16, joined the family.

“After Alyson became Miss Navajo she started this tradition,” Patrick said in Navajo. “A lot of people come, even out-of-towners beyond Piñon, Arizona. We like it. It gives people an opportunity to exercise and pick eggs.”


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Categories: Community

About Author

Krista Allen

Krista Allen is the Western Agency Bureau reporter for the Navajo Times. She covers the western half of the Navajo Nation, including Page, Tuba City, Kaibeto, Cameron, Tonalea and Shonto. She can be reached at kallen@navajotimes.com.