Guest Column: A pause for renewal

By the Navajo Nation Board of Education

Every day people all over the world take it for granted that the sun will rise and shine all day long. Nature on the other hand takes time every few years to send a reminder that there must be a pause for renewal.

On Aug. 21, 2017, North America will experience that pause. A full solar eclipse will be seen across the northern states from Oregon, Montana, Wyoming and down into North and South Carolina.

The Navajo Nation is expected to experience about 70-75 percent solar eclipse.

Parents, schools and individual Navajo citizens have expressed concern on how schools should observe the upcoming solar eclipse. There are misconceptions, fear, confusion, amusement and awe.

There are questions of what our ancestors did to observe this natural phenomenon. Should we do the same? And why?

Our day requires schedules, timelines, and deadlines. We are conscious of a regimented timetable and we question whether we have time to observe the natural rhythms of nature.

But the upcoming solar eclipse is making us stop to ask how did our ancestors observe these kinds of events, and how shall we observe it?

In 2014, Navajo Nation Council delegates called for a recess during the partial solar eclipse in the fall session. All agreed to show respect to cultural values and to honor it.

Navajo protocol requires a pause in normal activity to observe the solar eclipse.

A solar eclipse brings out negativity, disease, suffering and misfortune. The eclipse gives time to cleanse the world. Therefore, it is important to abstain from food, drink, sleep, cooking and so on.

A show of reverence, respect, quiet and stillness is encouraged.

Prayers and songs can be sung during the duration of the eclipse to bring back the sun. The songs and prayers bring protection and hope for positive renewal.

It is, therefore, important to show respect by stillness and quiet.

Children should be taught to sit still, to refrain from arguing, crying and pouting. Adults should observe the same behavior. Proper respect is of greatest importance.

For schools, the Department of Diné Education encourages students to attend as usual. Schools will be in session. They should observe a period of respect in their classrooms. They should sit still and quietly until the eclipse passes.

Schools, on the other hand, should respect the wishes of parents and the community.

The Navajo Nation Board of Education and the superintendent of education, Tommy Lewis, requested that this statement on the solar eclipse be published.

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Categories: Guest Essay