Fry Bread, Hail Storms, and the River

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Hike to a local spring close to Roberto’s home.
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Angie happened to be a zombie after our brains.

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Our brains do not cook as she planned. (It’s really just fry bread)

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I have a corny joke to tell.

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Roberto cleans out the corn with the wind.

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Roberto asks us to help take down an old clay oven.

Tom goes in for the devastating strike.

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Burning juniper branches to create ash for adding to corn soup

to make it more nutritious.

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Fun at Monument Valley.

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On the San Juan River:

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While getting a flat tire fixed…  One of the keys to enjoying life is to take every situation as an opportunity to look like a super model having fun.

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Hello, everybody! Jane here from IAM. This week I had the honor of writing the blogpost. Luckily I had a lot to write about from our busy week. After leaving the hostel in Hopi we made our way to the Black Mesa Water Coalition on the Navajo reservation in Pinon. This organization works to protect the water rights of the Native American people as well as many other community outreach programs. As coal companies move into the area, the issue of fresh water depletion and pollution is becoming increasingly prevalent. Under the guidance of Roberto (affectionately called Berto) we bundled Navajo tea to be given to area elders, took apart a bread oven, shelled corn, and learn how to cook a variety of traditional dishes. One of these dishes was blue corn mush. Part of the preparation for this dish is gathering juniper branches then burning them. The collected ashes are then added to a blue corn porridge. Roberto’s mother made my dream come true by teaching us how to make fry bread, a circle of dough fried to golden perfection. During our stay in Pinon we also got to enjoy two beautiful hikes. Roberto lead us around his familiy’s land to several springs. On that hike we also got the opportunity to eat prickly pear fruit right from the plant. We also learned the hard way that one should remove all the cactus spikes before eating it. The next day our guide and new friend Urvin lead us down Canyon de Chelly (pronounced Canyon de Shay). His family has lived in the canyon for generations so it was amazing having a guide who was truly connected to the land. Along the hike we also learned the uses for various plants we picked along the way. Need some calcium? Pick some juniper! Need some help lowering blood pressure? Pick some greenthread!

The next stop of our journey was Tim and Bellinda’s in the Hopi-Navajo partition land. There we slept in a giant dome and were enchanted by their three dogs. Soon after our arrival we were invited to participate in a sweat lodge, a sacred ceremony to the Navajo. There are many details that guide how one participates in the ceremony. Men and women are to go in separately. During the ceremony, you’re supposed to go into the sweat lodge four times. This represents the four directions. The first time you’re supposed to pray and think of yourself. The second round you’re supposed to wish good things on the others in the sweat lodge. Succeeding this round, think of your family and the last round think of the Earth. We all appreciated the reflection time and the privilege to participate in the ceremony. The next few days in Hard Rock we aided in projects around the chapter office and building a garden at the local school. Tim is the chapter president at Hard Rock so he was able to introduce us to many people.

Driving from Hard Rock to the San Juan River we stopped in Monument Valley to look at the rock formations. By the team we reached the river and set up camp we were all excited for the rafting trip to start. Our river guides, Marcus and Greg, assured us that we would be in good hands and playfully lied to while on the river. With high expectations we launched and commenced the three day trip. Weather was in our favor and a complete 360 from three days before. In Hard Rock we battled a hail storm and tornado-like wind but on the river we were treated to sunny skies. We made multiple stops along the river to look at pictographs and ruins. One ruin that we were able to walk into was the River House. Most of it remains intact from hundreds of years ago. It is also believed that this was the origin of the Snake Clan. Our meals were cooked for us by the five-star gourmet chefs who doubled as our river guides. Under the stars we would eat dinner and be serenaded to sleep by nearby coyotes. The second morning we hiked along the canyon, spotting more pictographs. It truly is remarkable how the history of the Southwest is painted upon it’s walls. Next we camped further down the river where we battled quicksand (some of us playfully hopping in) and had a bittersweet dinner, not wanting the trip to end. It can be agreed that everyone can use a few days on the river.

Now we find ourselves at Dine College where we’ll be assisting them with some community projects. We miss everyone at home and can’t wait to come back and share what we are learning.


Conner: Rest in peace Nikola Tesla!

Erich: Service.

Tim-Tom: Help!!!!!!!

Benji: Thank you to all the dragons out there.

Angie: I want to give a shout out to the Road Whale for swimming down those muddy roads with grace.

“We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

~Navajo saying