Navajo babies strut their stuff in Crownpoint

By Shine Salt
Navajo Times

CROWNPOINT, August 1, 2013

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O ne would think a baby competition would not be all that competitive, but there's more to it than you might imagine.

Sixteen competitors from 0 to 59 months were entered in the baby contest at the 26th annual Eastern Navajo Fair last Thursday, where they showcased their talents ranging from speaking Navajo, dancing powwow and roping a dummy cow.

"From what they are doing now, they will be the ones to carry on the traditions and they'll be proud of being who they are," said Harrison Begay Jr., Mr. Wingate High School 2012-2013 and a judge for the contest. "As they grow up they'll be able to speak their language and learn the background of their culture."

Each child went through preparation before the competition, like Noahana D. Halwood, who practiced the Navajo language for three months.

Halwood, from Chinle, competed in the 1- to 2-year-old division where her performance was corn-grinding and introducing herself in Navajo.

"She didn't know her clans or how to talk in Navajo and we told her, 'If you really want this, you need to learn how to speak in Navajo,'" said Vanna Benally, Noahana's mother. "My husband and I told her, 'Everybody's going to be telling you, What's your name and who are you?' and you need to respond in Navajo. She replied, 'Yeah, I can do it.'"

Halwood's siblings also helped their sister by introducing themselves in Navajo and saying their clans each day to her.

Benally said she hopes her daughters learn their tradition so they can pass it down to the younger generations.

"Where's your awoo'? Atsii'? Ajaa'," Jamie Johnson asked her daughter, Haniibah M. Johnson, who competed in the 1- to 2-year-old division. "What about your abid? Akee'? Agod?"

Haniibah pointed to her body parts and repeated what her mother said in Navajo. She then entertained the audience by pointing to animals that her father, Ike Johnson, was saying in Navajo.

"We go over her body parts often, but the last couple of days we've been drilling her with her body parts, just so she knows what she's doing," Jamie laughed.

Jamie said she entered Haniibah along with her 10-month-old twin daughters, Tahnihbaa and Tohbaa so they can have good people skills and to adjust being in front of people.

"I know in school they have you stand in front of the class and say stuff, so I'm getting them prepared for when they have to be in front of an audience," she said.

The Crownpoint baby competition was the first contest for Isaac and Tina Toledo's 6-month-old daughter, Savannah and 4-year-old son, Samuel Toledo.

"It was actually my wife's idea," Isaac laughed.

Tina said it started off with their daughter only having a dress and when the news spread to their family, Isaac's aunt contributed more clothes and the kids' grandmother added jewelry.

"We're very proud of our kids," Isaac said. "They're just little babies but we try to teach them to be someone in life as they get older."

Samuel was one of three male competitors in the competition and for his talent he rode his stuffed rocking bull named Bushwacker.

Samuel tapped his face to show he was in ready position and rode Bushwacker for 8 seconds. Once done, he got off his bull and threw his cowboy hat on the ground.

"Like anything in life, there's competition everywhere like rodeos, sports or anything. I just want my son to know that there are things you can accomplish at a young age," Isaac said. "Maybe build up his confidence with other things in life."

One of the guest speakers at the event was 2012-2013 Miss Navajo Nation Leandra A. Thomas, who thanked the audience for showing the right path for their children.

"Thank you for teaching what they're learning. It starts at that age… " Thomas said. "They begin to hear sounds and they begin to pick up the consonants and vowels. Everything that you're teaching them, they're starting at a young age."

Baby Contest Winners include:

  • 0-5 months
  • 1st place: Shayleen Kayren Enrico
  • 6-11 months
  • 1st place: Tohbaa G. Johnson
  • 2nd place: Tahnihbaa L Johnson
  • 3rd place: Loriana Halwood
  • 1-2 yrs
  • 1st place: Kyla Bitsie
  • 2nd place: Noahana D. Halwood
  • 3rd place: Haniibah M. Johnson
  • 4th place: Cambrielle Bahe
  • 5th place: DeMarcus Uentillie
  • 3-4 yrs
  • 1st place: Logan J. Pino
  • 2nd place: Samuel I. Toledo