Annual Navajo song and dance set for Saturday

Noel Lyn Smith

FARMINGTON — The sounds of Navajo song and dance will fill the Farmington Indian Center park as the center's annual event takes place on Saturday.

Myra Newman, division manager for the Farmington Indian Center, prepares boxes of food on Thursday for the singing groups that will be performing at a song and dance program at the center this weekend.

The song and dance program is a social event that evolved from a Navajo healing ceremony in which dancers move in a clockwise rotation following the rhythm produced by the members of a drum group who sing in Navajo.

Myra Newman, the center's division manager, said the reason the center presents the program is to acknowledge the end of the fair season in the region, as well as share an aspect of Navajo culture.

"It's a community event we provide," Newman said.

Myra Newman, division manager for the Farmington Indian Center, shows the backdrop that will be used for photos of visitors to this weekend's song and dance program at the center.

This year, the event will receive help from students from Heights Middle School and Piedra Vista High School, she said.

Newman added the experience will build on the students' understanding about song and dance, and encourage communication between generations, since older Navajo tend to participate in the social activity.

Also attending will be Farmington American Indian Ambassador Anika JezNa Henderson, who has invited other titleholders to participate, Newman said.

The event is free and open to the public.

Registration starts at 10 a.m. at the Farmington Indian Center park, which is located next to the center at 100 W. Elm St., followed by the grand entry at noon.

Newman said up to 24 singing groups can register, and each group will receive a box of food for their participation in singing traditional songs for participants to dance to during the event.

She was packing boxes with items such as potatoes, beans, crackers and canned meat at the center today.

Prizes will be awarded to dancers, divided by age and for the categories of two-step dance and skip dance.

There is limited space for vendors to sell arts and crafts. Vendors will pay a $5 fee and must bring their own chairs and tables.

For more information about the fall Navajo song and dance program, contact the Farmington Indian Center at 505-327-6296.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.