“There are several Sacred Mountains of great knowledge and the foundation of all life sources, my child, that define the universe of the Navajo People, one is Dibe Nitsaa (Big Mountain Sheep) and also called the La Plata Mountains by the non-Navajos. It is good you decided to go to this place to get your education at the place called Fort Lewis College.”- My grandparents
I remember in my youth, living at the summer and winter pastoral camp, moving with the seasons across the landscape following the sheep and looking for the horses, and attending traditional Navajo ceremonies. This childhood allowed an insight into a world that no longer exists today for the orthodox Navajo traditionalists. Seeing the archaeological ruins of the Anasazi in the landscape also made me curious about whom the Anasazi were. Later, I saw the changing world around me. I then decided to go to college as a “non-trad” (non-traditional –older) student. I was focused, knowing I wanted my degrees in Anthropology and Southwest Studies from Fort Lewis College. My days attending school at Fort Lewis College were the happiest days of my life and my happiest moment was walking up on graduation day to receive my diploma.
Fort Lewis College is situated on the slopes of one of the Navajos’ Sacred Mountains, and this was one of the main considerations in my decision to obtain Anthropology and Southwest Studies degrees from Fort Lewis College. The college program and professors were a good fit for what I wanted. The experience of obtaining a college education at Fort Lewis College was just what I had hoped for and empowers me to this day. Working for the Navajo Nation (my tribe) as a tribal archaeologist gives me satisfaction. This allows me to have a voice in the interpretation of Navajo people’s history and cultural resources. It also allows me to have a better understanding of Navajo people’s world, and there is pride in that. The future of the Navajo people depends on educated Navajos with knowledge of their cultural heritage and cultural resources of the past, which is going to be an important component to the present and future wellbeing of the Navajos. Fort Lewis College allowed a mindset of being in the Navajo’s homeland and being able to earn a college education in a special place. “Nizhoni” (Beautiful)