Native American Center - Native American Heritage Week

Native American Heritage Week

November 6-10, 2017

Monday, November 6th
Tanaya Winder
Finding Your Fire: Changing the Narrative
5:00 p.m.
Vallecito Room

Tanaya Winder is a writer, educator, and motivational speaker from the Southern Ute, Duckwater Shoshone, and Pyramid Lake Paiute Nations. She has a BA in English from Stanford University and an MFA in creative writing from the University of New Mexico. Her debut poetry collection Words Like Love was published by West End Press in 2015. Her second collection Why Storms Are Named After People and Bullets Remain Nameless is forthcoming. Tanaya founded Dream Warriors, an Indigenous artist management company. She guest lectures, teaches creative writing workshops, and speaks at high schools, universities, and communities internationally. Tanaya writes and teaches about different expressions of love (self love, intimate love, social love, community love, and universal love).

Tanya WinderUncovering your gifts and living your passion can be a difficult process when there are so many competing narratives of "what it means to be successful" or "happy.” The statistics about Indigenous people and our graduation and retention rates or alcoholism, suicide, and diabetes rates can be disarming and play into poverty porn. This is where the importance of changing the narrative by contributing our voices to these issues and the importance of higher education comes in. Learning more about the world and how you, your community, and your people function and operate within the world often helps you find the role you want to have in society. Creating your own definitions of success will allow you to step into the heartwork that was always destined for you. As you learn more about your path, your story will unfold before you and put your heart into it. This talk will share the importance of storytelling and how stepping into your story will lead you to finding your fire.

The Native American Center is also hosting breakfast with Tanaya on Tuesday, November 7th from 9:00am-10:30am in the NAC Conference Room. Please click here to RSVP online or email Gabrielle Allan.

Tuesday, November 7th
Brandon Francis
History of Indigenous Agriculture in the Four Corners
Noble 130

Brandon FrancisBrandon will present the prehistory of agricultural practices along the San Juan watershed and its importance to the tribal entities still dwelling near it.  He will address how the river influenced native cultures and the sacred importance of planting, the rise and fall of agriculture, and current efforts to revitalize and sustain indigenous agriculture. He will also display the produce he has personally grown in the region and explain its historical significance.

Brandon began his work with sustainable food systems at the Old Fort Lewis in Hesperus, Colorado where he completed an internship and apprenticeship in sustainable agriculture methods. After graduating with a B.A. in Environmental Studies, he joined the Farmer In Training (FIT) program at the Old Fort and is conducting a high elevation three sisters experiment with seed varieties endemic to the Southwest. He has also been working as a Research Laboratory Technician for NMSU Agricultural Science Center in Farmington, New Mexico, which began as part of his senior thesis for the Environmental Studies major. He initially was hired to build backyard gardens for participants on the Navajo Nation along the San Juan River as apart of a human study, to see the effect it would have on their behavior. As an employee of the Experiment Station, he helps conduct gardening workshops for a community gardening program called Yéego Gardening, in another effort to reconnect Diné people with agriculture. This led him to become deeply involved with the communities along the San Juan river and form lasting connections which endure today. During the Gold King Mine spill of 2015, he become involved in three ongoing studies regarding the continued monitoring of the health of San Juan and Animas rivers. Brandon says, “I am putting to use the skills I acquired at Fort Lewis College and loving every second of it.”

Wednesday, November 8th
Keepers of the Game Film Screening
Student Union, Vallecito Room

Keepers of the Game posterLacrosse was born in Akwesasne Mohawk Territory as a sacred game, traditionally reserved for men. Just off the reservation at Salmon River High in Fort Covington, NY an all-Native girls lacrosse team comes together, seeking to be the first Native women's team to bring home a Section Championship. But first, they will have to overcome their crosstown rivals, Massena High. As the season comes to a head, the team is faced with increasing ambivalence in their own community and the girls must prove that the game of lacrosse is their rightful inheritance. With more than just the championship on the line, the girls fight to blaze a new path for the next generation of Native women, while still honoring their people's tradition in a changing world.

Thursday, November 9th
Navajo Rug Weaving Demonstration
Center of Southwest Studies Gallery

12:00 p.m.
Navajo Weaving History & Demonstration summary:
A new perspective on Navajo weaving and traditional insights by Zefren Anderson

1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Navajo Weaving Demonstration
Navajo "Striped" Blanket weaving, Navajo Twill Weaving (By Zefren A., Aretta Begay, and Kevin Aspaas)

Please note: Observers are welcome to come and go as they please while the weaving demonstration is ongoing.

Zefren AndersonZefren Anderson grew up in Tó’koí (Rattlesnake) NM and now lives in Shiprock,NM and is one of five apprentices. His clans are Hashtł’ishnii, Hooghan Łání, Kinłichíi’nii, and Áshįįhí. He has been weaving most of his life but was only taught the basic mechanics and never went beyond weaving on small looms in simple two grey hills and diamonds. Recently after a few years of recreating older styles of Navajo clothing he wanted to learn what Navajos wore before contact. This curiosity led Zefren to Roy Kady and the other Apprentices as the primary source to learn more history of various styles including, twining, gaze, cinches, mats, fine twill fabric and other utilitarian weaving and eventually a chief blanket made in a way not since the 1700s. This knowledge includes the weaves and techniques of the ancestors of the southwest for the last 2000 years to create a narrative of an unbroken line of weaving from the distant past to present.

Dine beiina logoThe Navajo Rug Weaving Demonstration is made possible by Diné be’ iiná, Inc., a grassroots, nonprofit organization founded in 1991.  Diné be’ iiná, means the way that we, the people live. Their mission is to restore the balance between Navajo culture, life, and land. They seek to preserve, protect, and promote the Navajo way of life; to encourage the participation and cooperation of the Navajo people among themselves and with other people and organizations; and to engage in research, education, development, establishment and promotion of projects and activities which further these ends.

Friday, November 10th
Navajo Sovereignty: Understanding and Visons of the Dine' People
Dr. Lloyd Lee & Dr. Manley Begay Jr.
6:00 p.m.
CSWS Lyceum (Room 120)Navajo Sovereignty book cover
Dr. Lee of University of New Mexico and Dr. Begay  from Northern Arizona University will give a presentation on their new book, Navajo Sovereignty: Understanding and Visons of the Dine' People.  These central questions are asked and answered in the book: (1) what is Navajo sovereignty, (2) how do various Navajo institutions exercise sovereignty, (3) what challenges does Navajo sovereignty face in the coming generations, and (4) how did individual Diné envision sovereignty? This event is sponsored by American Indian Business Leaders (AIBL).
A student lunch with Dr. Lee and Dr. Begay will also be hosted in the NAC Conference Room at 12pm that day. If you would like to attend please contact Joshua Emerson at

Native American Heritage Week is sponsored by:

  • Native American Center
  • John and Sophie Ottens Foundation
  • Diversity Programming
  • Student Union Productions
  • Center of Southwest Studies
  • Diné be’ iiná, Inc.
  • Dick's Sporting Goods, Inc.
  • AIBL

For more information, please contact Gabrielle Allan at or at 970-247-7225.