Southwest Children's  Literature

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Navajo: Visions and Voices Across the Mesa

Students' Voices

The students were asked to describe the theme of their poem. These themes were then consolidated into one class theme for each class. During the last two classes of the day, we realized we would actually need two different themes.

4th Period:

"Traditional ceremony and way of life is being disturbed by trash, machines, coal mines, and other aspects of alien, modern civilization. Still we keep our faith."

5th Period:

1. "The past is always with us. Memories and dreams once in your mind never fade away."

2. "Love and beauty are around us; we still have faith no matter what happens."

6th Period:

1. "As humans we cannot know or understand everything, and what we don't understand can be scary."

2. "We are all connected by nature and our tradition."

The students then partnered off and were asked to compose and illustrate a poem that followed their class theme (or in the case of two class themes, that chose one).

Poems and Artwork from 4th-period Class

Vinlena and Ernisha's drawing


Tradition is in our heart
The land is our mother
The sky is our father
Dine people are our brothers and sisters
Our hearts are like toy jacks
They can't stop jumping
Jumping with joy
To the sound of our traditional beats

The smell of the traditional medicines
That whisper around me
Chanting songs and blessing our selves
This is our ceremony, this our traditional
Our traditional ways of life
That we stay together and to be strong
Our lives smile at us from far above
We call ourselves

Daily light is our friend
Indians are our warriors
Navajo is what we are
Eagles are our protection

is what we are
Traditional love is what we have
Tradition is in our hearts

-Vinlena & Ernisha
-Chinle High School


Dillon's drawing


Strangers from the Horizon

Where the horizon ends
the sun sets
they came to invade
our way of life
there skin looks light
when the sun is high in the sky
darkness soon falls
moon light shines
take a look
the strangers glow
Strangers killed our Warriors
taking our woman & Children
the elders apart
with the plants & sand
forces to work on a farm
that doesn't grow
rain poor down on us
like god feels our pain
the spirits no longer watch over us
only some
can hear the spirits
those of us left
we fight or hide
hoping we go home
to our way of life
our home land is smaller
Bound lives on it
they take our children to schools
No longer to speak our language
War breaks out in another land
Strangers come for help
to fight a way
that they can't win
Not with out our language
we can win
we came back heros
no one must know

Dillon's drawing


Poem and Artwork from 6th-period Class


Sorrowful Question

Nearly tears of sorrow brim the eye,
Trying to hold down the pain,
Pain reflecting the almost newly life,
Hardly anything passes the mind,
Blank as a sheet of drawing paper,
Sketching out what would have been,
Empty as a heart can get,
Colder than ever,
Speechless to the unborn child,
Almost if a loved one had gone,
The unanswered question,
Why not now?
Why not me?
Why not happiness?
Why not love?
Palms so tender,
Feet so small,
Hair light as a feather,
Eyes similar to the father,
Face so beautiful just like the mother,
That would have been,
They never even asked for his answer,
What about his choice,
He is the one with the voice,
Within the womb,
Blankly I wonder the question,
Heart ripper out weakly,
The thought of nothing,
The chewing of the finger nails,
You can never ask so many questions,
Ask of life that will soonly come,
Cry with me to my fathers throne,
Lets make our wants and wishes known,
After all this,
Still one question lingers within me,
I devotedly want to know the answer,

Joanna's drawing