The shield as metaphor … and art project

Pink shield dominates Peyton in background

Navajo Times | Pauly Denetclaw
Peyton Young, 6, from Gallup, poses with her completed Navajo shield that she made during the “Shielding Our Culture” workshop on July 6.


Children and parents got their hands sticky and covered in paint as they decorated replica Navajo shields made of cardboard during “Shielding Our Culture,” a summer youth cultural and art workshop held last Thursday at the Navajo Nation Museum.

Half a dozen tables were covered with bottles of paint, containers of beads, feathers, different colored glitter and construction paper for youth to use to decorate their projects. “I just want them to learn their history,” said Clarenda Begay, the Navajo Nation Museum curator.

This is part of the museum’s annual summer youth programming to engage children and young people in activities that support cultural preservation.

Last week, the children and parents learned about the Navajo shield, its history, Navajo name and how it was made. “Why we’re doing shields is because, in a metaphoric way, these are some of the things we should be doing now to protect our culture,” Begay said. “Talking our language, singing our own songs, telling our stories, and even craft-making is a shield for us.”

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Categories: Culture