Sharing indigenous culture

Native art festival revives cultural thinking, ways of expression

Navajo Times | Krista Allen
Dancing with hoops with the four sacred colors in Apache culture, a young dance group performs along with singers during the Native American Festival of Art and Culture at DoubleTree Hotel on Dec. 16 in Flagstaff.


Maintaining and renewing Indigenous cultures begins with one, said Evelyn M. Begay. “It begins with individuals,” explained Begay, a traditional clothing designer from Sanders, Arizona.

“Whatever tribe you belong to, you have to have that true self-identity about who you are.”

That is Begay’s greatest teaching to her children and grandchildren: It begins with one. The same goes for how a Diné woman dresses and carries herself, according to Begay, whose late mother, Margaret Murphy, taught that her that power comes with proper grooming and traditional dress.

“I was always taught that, as a Navajo woman, you should dress (traditionally),” Begay said. “Have a skirt, have jewelry – dress that way to promote yourself in a positive way, to be proud of who you are, and to be proud to be a Navajo woman.”

Begay said many Diné women do not wear traditional outfits for everyday purposes. And when there is an opportunity, she urges them to start wearing their traditional outfits. “They’ll say, ‘I don’t want to look like a grandma.’ But that’s not what it is,” Begay said. “It’s about being a Navajo woman, being proud of who you are and showing your identity.” Based on her mother’s teachings, Begay, along with her youngest daughter, now designs clothes that follow what she believes is how a Diné woman should dress.

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Categories: Culture

About Author

Krista Allen

Krista Allen is a former reporter for The Navajo Times who is now a freelance writer.