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Reporter’s Notebook | The spirit to endure, Hózhó náhásdlíí’

The echoes of 2020 never stopped. Its sad and tragic sonnet reverberated all through 2021 despite the urge to fight nature’s pandemic with prayer and sheer stubborn human will.

One can compare the past year to mud: its ruts, stickiness that won’t let a four-wheel-drive go. Due to necessity, the mud could not hold back human will.

While a precipitous COVID-19 has been mutating to continue meeting its demands, people decided to fight back — vaccinated or not. The whole year, to me, has been about re-attaining a sort of normalcy that once existed in 2019.

Whether based on fact or not, we are more educated about this virus. This year, we have seen it in our families, in us, a call to reacquaint ourselves with our parents and grandparents, whom we could not see since March 2020.

Others fought back for the normalcy to eat at any restaurant that was brave enough to reopen its doors — 2021 has been about reestablishing a sense of normalcy.

I compared the traffic on the roads to 2020 this year, and it astonished me every time to see a stark difference. At times, it seemed easy to forget we, the human race, are still in a pandemic that took 1,583 of our Diné relatives to date.

Globally, according to the World Health Organization, more than 5.3 million people have lost their lives to the novel coronavirus and its variants. But those sobering numbers don’t seem to keep people from fighting for normalcy.

The human spirit wants to endure, and the human spirit also needs restaurants and coffee.

We can’t blame ourselves for wanting to live. Isolation and a lack of intimacy continue to take their tolls on our minds. Our spirits tire of the beatings.

Sure, science says an incurable virus can take us at any moment that lingers in the dark corner just beyond our sight. But our will to live is too strong to continue containing it.

And we will ourselves to be happy because our prayers almost demand for it.

Happiness is normalcy. Even before COVID-19, other tragedies attempted to take it away from us. But the human will, backed by prayer and torn hearts, healed over and thickened to become dragon skin, tearing through the pains and sorrows to tell it, “Enough is enough.”

This year, 2021 has been about human will reigniting, taking back happiness.

We, the Diné, are no exception to wanting and willing and praying for normalcy, for happiness. We are here still. We have been through our own fair share of atrocities. Our origin stories are filled with them.

They are also filled with the will to get back up and fight back against the monsters. We have been victorious, it seems. Although, it seems we had to destroy and sacrifice three worlds before moving into our current world.

With teachings like, “T’áá hwó ají t’éego,” and the protections from Sis Naajiní, Tsoodził, Dook’o’oosłííd, Dibé Nstaa, Dził Ná’oodiłii, Dził Ch’óol’į́’į́’, we, the Diné, turn to the east with Tá’dídíín and ask for strength and courage.

Perhaps most of 2020 was all about praying with our Tá’dídíín and 2021 was all about answering those prayers through action. Nizhónígo dóó yá’át’ééhgo ‘ádaa’áhojílyą́ągo’, tá’dídíín dóó nihisin dóó hózhǫ́ǫ́jígo nitsídzíkeesgo, bee ádiihodziisilgo éí k’ad bee ájít’éhgo, ákót’éego shį́į́, “Hózhó náhásdlíí’,” wolyé.

So, Hózhó náhásdlíí’ it is. I think 2021 has been about deciding what we want — what we’ve always strived for. Even with all the sobering tragedies unfolding all around us, we’ve decided for ourselves we want our normalcy back. However much we might agree or disagree with what that is, more importantly, it is for our happiness.

Whatever 2022 brings, we know the last two years have probably been the most challenging. We have lost so many sacred songs, prayers, ceremonies, and stories with the loss of our Diné who were still preparing to pass them on. With our renewed will to fight, maybe the future is secure once again.

With that, I leave with you a small prayer that I’ve said for myself, that I’ve shared with friends who were experiencing their hardships. May it work for you. May it help you sift through the sorrows and angers that COVID-19 has brought. May it help you seek Hózhó náhásdlíí’.

Hxá’a’aahdę́ę́’,

Shádi’ááhdę́ę́’,

E’é’aahdę́ę́’,

Náhookǫsdę́ę́’,

Sis Naajinídę́ę́’,

Tsoodziłdę́ę́’

Dook’o’oosłíídę́ę́’,

Dibé ntsaadę́ę́’,

Dził Ná’oodiłiidę́ę́’,

Dził Ch’óol’į́’į́’dę́ę́’,

hózhǫ́n ndáhóódoodleeł.

Nłtsą́ bi’áád dóó Nłtsą́ bi’ką’,

ahxéhee’ nhxaanóót’áázh.

Neestxįįn diłhił

Neestxįįn dootł’izh

Neestxįįn łitso

Neestxįįn łigai

Neestxįįn noodǫ́ǫ́z

Neestxįįn łikizh

Neestxįįn disxǫs,

shánłdííndoo, nihxánłdííndoo,

sǫ’ ‘áłk’iditxą́ągo

sǫ’ ‘adzoogai.

Yádiłhił hanaa ‘adzoogai, ‘ałk’iditxą́ągo,

shánłdííndoo, nihxánłdííndoo,

nizhónígo dóó yá’át’ééhgo,

tá’dídíín bee nhxidziildoo náán.


About The Author

Donovan Quintero

"Dii, Diné bi Naaltsoos wolyéhíígíí, ninaaltsoos át'é. Nihi cheii dóó nihi másání ádaaní: Nihi Diné Bizaad bił ninhi't'eelyá áádóó t'áá háadida nihizaad nihił ch'aawóle'lágo. Nihi bee haz'áanii at'é, nihisin at'é, nihi hózhǫ́ǫ́jí at'é, nihi 'ach'ą́ą́h naagééh at'é. Dilkǫǫho saad bee yájíłti', k'ídahoneezláo saad bee yájíłti', ą́ą́ chánahgo saad bee yájíłti', diits'a'go saad bee yájíłti', nabik'íyájíłti' baa yájíłti', bich'į' yájíłti', hach'į' yándaałti', diné k'ehgo bik'izhdiitįįh. This is the belief I do my best to follow when I am writing Diné-related stories and photographing our events, games and news. Ahxéhee', shik'éí dóó shidine'é." - Donovan Quintero is an award-winning Diné journalist, who is based in Window Rock, Arizona. He can be contacted at dq@navajotimes.com.

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