Navajo Traditional Teachings came about when Navajo families in and around the reservation noticed Navajo Culture was disappearing faster than they could do anything about it. These families got together and decided to do what they could to preserve the stories and way of life they had been taught since they were young.
After decades of operating a cultural center these families grew weary, because they were not able to reach as many people as they originally thought they could. The cultural center was sold and the families went their separate ways.
Navajo Historian, Wally Brown, and his son Shane, left the cultural center model and took the Traditional Teachings to the world via the internet and social media. Wally also travels and speaks to different groups of people around the country who are interested in Navajo Traditional Teachings.
Teaching on the internet has allowed Wally and Shane to reach more people than they ever thought possible. Thousands of followers on youtube, hundreds of thousands of followers on facebook and millions of video viewers keep them busy coming up with different video topics and ideas.
People from all over world reach out to them and want to know more about their Native American roots. Many people think all Native American tribes are the same. There are similarities between the different tribes but there are more differences in most cases.
Wally and Shane have come up with a few ways for people to connect to their native roots. Encouraging those with Native roots to be proud of those roots is a big part of what they do. They also understand that not everyone can trace their geneology to their native ancestry.
Some people are rigid and will deny anyone without “proof” of their heritage. Since Navajo Traditional Teachings is a private organization they do not place a burden of proof on anyone’s genetics. Instead they invite all to learn about Native culture and develop a connection to their ancestors.
The Story Pouch, is one way they do this. It allows people that connection and helps them with their story moving forward. The Staff is another way to connect to history and move forward. These are just a few ways they are helping people connect. They are constantly working on other ways to help people connect to their Native Ancestry look for more interesting ways in the future.
At the end of the day, their mission is to preserve, by sharing. They respectfully share their culture with anyone who is interested and will continue to do so. Because their language and culture is quickly disappearing it is vital that they share it. Some things have already been lost, somethings will be lost despite their best efforts, but they will do all they can to preserve the story and help others do the same.