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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


July 26, 2003 - Issue 92


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Native American Blessing Opens World's Largest Rodeo

by Valerie Gritton - The Farmington Daily Times

Rodeo CowboyFARMINGTON — A large crowd attended the pre-rodeo Native American ceremonial blessing of the National High School Finals Rodeo arenas Monday at McGee Park.

The blessings were performed by Clinton Jim, a member of the Diné College Board of Regents.

The blessings performed were to honor mother earth, father sky and the air that is all around. Jim and students from Navajo Prep also performed a "Travelers Song" to commemorate all the families and contestants who came from many distances to compete in the rodeo.

During the ceremony Jim's children, Yolanda Nez, Winston Jim and William Jim blessed the four cardinal points of the arena using corn pollen.

Audience members included families from near and far, who experienced the traditional Native American ceremony for the first time.

"I think it's really nice they do something like that before the rodeo," said Lynda Bulani from Saskatchewan, Canada. "I would hope it has some meaning to some of these kids."

Jim said the blessing was good for the high school contestants, who must remember to respect one another.

"We're all here as humans and we've got to get along," he said.

The ceremony also called to the Native American spiritual leaders to tell them a large gathering was taking place at McGee Park, and that is from where the prayers were coming.

Jim also called for the rain which so many people had been receiving on the East Coast.

Local audience members appreciated the reverence out-of-town spectators displayed during the blessings.

"I was really surprised people waited until they left the grounds to sit back down and put their hats on," said Stephanie Benally of Fruitland.

Benally and her family arrived at McGee Park early so they could witness the traditional blessing.

"When we came last year we hadn't heard about the (blessing) and this year we knew about it and made sure to come and watch," Benally said.

Jim said the blessings were to demonstrate the Diné push to keep their culture and traditions alive.

"One thing about this rodeo here, it seems like the city (of Farmington) has invited more people to be involved," Jim said.

Members of the Jicarilla Apache and Southern Ute tribes also took part in the early morning ceremony.

Jim said he arrived at the arenas at 6:30 a.m. to begin the ceremony. The actual blessing began at 8:30 a.m. and included a brief explanation of the Diné culture.

Jim said students will also sing the United States National Anthem in the Diné language during Friday's evening rodeo opening.

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