Extended Lesson for the Navajos: Beauty, Brains, and Bravery!

March 22nd, 2013  |  Published in Culture, Education

O’siyo. In updating the ESL lesson plan for the Navajo Nation, there was a lot of new information to add!  Both Navajo men and women excel in nearly all professions and economic endeavors. Their brave spirits have taken them on many new paths.  Here are some updated photos and news for these wonderful people.

See the complete Navajo Lesson Plan with Answer Key Here.

The People: 

Miss Navajo Nation

The beautiful Leandra Thomas is Miss Navajo Nation 2013.  Photo- nhonews.com

The beautiful Leandra Thomas is Miss Navajo Nation 2013. Photo- nhonews.com

This prestigious contest has been in existence since 1952. “The contestants must fill the requirement of having knowledge of the Navajo culture and tradition. Unlike most beauty pageants throughout the world, the Miss Navajo Nation pageant is of beauty “within” one’s self.”- Miss Navajo Council-


Navajo physicist Fred Begay. Photo- physicscentral.

Navajo physicist Fred Begay. Photo- physicscentral.

Dr. Fred Begay (born 1932) is a Navajo nuclear physicist and a Korean War Veteran. Dr. Begay was profiled in the 1979 NOVA documentary, The Long Walk of Fred Young.


Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly. Photo Navajo President.org

“After serving as a Navajo Nation Council Delegate for sixteen years and four years as Vice President in the Shirley-Shelly Administration, Ben Shelly was sworn in as President of the Navajo Nation on January 11, 2011. President Shelly was born in Thoreau, New Mexico.” ~Navajo President.org~

Navajo Nation Vice President Rex Lee Jim. Photo Navajo-nsn.gov

“After serving as a ranking member on the Judiciary Committee and chairman of the Public Safety Committee within the 21st Navajo Nation Council, Delegate Rex Lee Jim was sworn in as Vice President of the Navajo Nation on January 11, 2011. Born and raised in Rock Point, a small farming and ranching community in northern Arizona.” ~Navajo President.org~

The beautiful First Lady Martha Shelly.

First Lady Martha Shelly is an advocate for young people, education, and a spokesperson against domestic violence.

Joe Shirley, Jr., former President of the Navajo Nation.

Art and Literature

Navajo- Hastiin Tłʼa, (1867–1937) Renown Navajo Medicine man and master weaver. Photo- Wikipedia

Navajo- Hastiin Tłʼa, (1867–1937) Renown Navajo Medicine man and master weaver. Photo- Wikipedia

“Many Indian cultures accepted – and in fact, celebrated – the fact the some people could fill both male and female roles in their society. One such individual was Hosteen Klah (also spelled Hastiin Klah) who became well-known as a Navajo weaver and as a Navajo singer (medicine man). Among the Navajo, weavers are usually female and hataalii (singers, chanters, or medicine men) are usually male. Hosteen Klah filled both of these roles.” -Native Roots-R. C. Gorman (1932–2005), painter and printmaker.Photo RC Gorman gallery.

Talented Navajo artist R.C. Gorman was born near Canyon de Chelly, Arizona and spent his life painting scenes that reflected Navajo culture.~RC Gorman Gallery~

Master Weaver Florence Riggs discusses weaving at the 2013 55th Annual Heard Museum Indian Fair and Market. Photo Weavinginbeauty

The 55th Annual Heard Museum Indian Fair and Market  theme for 2013 is  “Weaving Worlds with Wool” celebrates and highlights Navajo Rug Weavers and is Honoring Signature Artist Florence Riggs whose rug is the centerpiece of the event. 

Sherwin Bitsui (1975-) is a Navajo writer, and the recipient of several literary awards and grants. Photo- Bitsui website.



The first detachment of Navajo Communications Specialists upon completion of their basic training program in May, 1942.Photo- Navajo Code Talkers website.

Three World War II Veteran Navajo Code Talkers (From left to right – Bill Toledo, Peter McDonald, Sr. and George James, Jr.) were invited Guests of President Obama. Photo- Nativenewsnet.

Video:  Keith M. Little Navajo Code Talker

View this wonderful educational  video as the legendary Navajo Code Talker Keith M. Little speaks about his life growing up in his home and his important role  during WWII.

“After hearing about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor while in boarding school, Keith Little chose to enlist in the U.S. Marines. He went to Communications School and became one of the legendary Navajo Code Talkers, seeing action on Iwo Jima, Roi Namur, Saipan and other Pacific locations. Keith helps tell the important story of the Code Talkers through his role as president of the Navajo Code Talkers Foundation.” ~Project completed by- Shawn Tsosie, Jessica King, and Robbie Christiano.~


Music Artist Raymond Carlos Nakai. Photo- Nakai website

Raymond Carlos Nakai (April 16, 1946) is a Navajo musician with several Grammy awards for his music. “Inner Voices” was an award winner.

The beautiful Radmilla Cody (Robert Doyle : Canyon Records )

Radmilla Cody Navajo singer, received a 2013 Grammy nomination for her album Shi Keyah: Songs for the People-She is the first Native American to be nominated for a Grammy Award. This album contains many wonderful songs, but especially Navajo Warrior and the beautiful  Code Talker which Miss Cody sings  a cappella in both Navajo and English.

Raven Chacon is a Navajo composer whose music pieces range from classical chamber to solo deafening performances created by Chacon himself. Photo Canyon Music.

Raven Chacon is a Navajo composer whose music pieces range from classical chamber to solo deafening performances created by Chacon himself. Photo Canyon Music.

Navajo Rock Band Blackfire.Photo- newspaperock.

Navajo Rock Band Blackfire started nearly twenty years ago by three siblings, and is still popular. Photo: newspaperock.

Navajo Books

Code Talker- The First and Only Memoir by One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII By Chester Nez with JS Avila.

Warriors- Navajo Code Talkers [Paperback

Hosteen Klah- Navaho Medicine Man & Sand Painter By Franc Newcomb,

Songs From the Loom By Monty Roessel

There is no greater place than the land we know as Dine’tah. Our heritage is written in our clans, our ceremonies, and a collection of history that tells our past, yet our future in the bounty of prosperity.” ~President Ben Shelly~

Teachers will find free and Complete Lesson Plans with Answer Keys on the following U.S. tribes: Apache, Blackfeet, Cherokee, Choctaw, Crow, Iroquois, Kwakiutl, Mohawk (read about the fascinating “Sky Walkers”)  Navajo, Shawnee, Sioux, and Zuni.

Visit some of our readers’ favorite posts!   “Wado”~Many thanks.

 Legend of the Talking Feather (also known as The Talking Stick): Kanati and Asgaya Gigagei Bestow the Gift of The Talking Feather

There are many legends about how the Indians learned about the Talking Feather”. Here is one of them…

Long years ago, when gods walked this earth and the land beyond, Kanati and Asgaya Gigagei, were together enjoying the warm summer day. It was a day when the crickets chirrupted in the waving, green grass,when they noticed a figure moving towards them.

As the figure approached closer Kanati said “Look, that woman is crying, what could be the matter?” “I can not imagine why anyone would cry on such a glorious day.” Replied Asgaya Gigagei. “Let’s ask her.”

As the woman drew nearer, they could see her buckskin was decorated with beautiful designs and colors. She carried a bundle filled with leaves, sage, and colorful stones and feathers. They knew immediately this woman was a holy being.

Kanati asked her “Holy mother, why are you crying so?” The woman looked up in wonder, because she had been walking with her head down. “I’m crying because the men of my village are fighting constantly! Each thinks his ideas for leading the tribe is the best!” Kanati and Asgaya Gigagei glanced at one another, in perplexity. “Why, if there are so many good ideas for leading your tribe, why are the men fighting? And why aren’t you and the other members happy!” The poor woman shook her head sadly and replied, “Yes, you are right, the men do have very good ideas, but every man wants to speak his own ideas, and not listen to anyone else. They all shout and scream at one another so loudly, that it frightens the children who run and hide behind their mothers. The women are sad because their husbands come to the house upset and angry. Furthermore, the tribe is suffering, because no one can seem to make a decision.”  Just then a beautiful Eagle was soaring overhead, Kanati called out “Brother Eagle, may I have one of your feathers, there are poor humans in desperate need!”

Bother Eagle replied “Yes” and shook himself until a single iridescent, large feather fell to the ground. “Many thanks and Blessings on you” said Kanati. Kanati made secret signs and prayers over the Feather. Asgaya Gigagei helped him with the blessings. Kanati then said to the woman “This is the sacred Talking Father, it holds great power for the one who holds it. Go back to your people, hold this feather up in the air, all who see it will fall silent, and listen to what you have to say. Tell all who listen that from now on, who ever holds this feather, all present within the Circle Council must listen to his words. The feather must then be passed on to the next speaker.”

The woman thanked Kanati and Asgaya Gigagei and hurried back to her village where there was total chaos!. Everyone was talking at once, children were crying, men were screaming at each other. As soon as she held the feather over her head, all became quiet! No one could utter a sound! the holy woman proceeded to give the directions given to her by the gods. She then passed the feather to the first man. He called the Talking Circle together, and each man had his say as he held the feather. From that time on that tribe flourished because they now had direction, and each person could hear and understand what their peers said. The people worked together, to build a great nation. Along the way, they shared the wonders of the Talking Feather with other tribes they met. “And that my friends is the true story of  how the Talking Feather came to be!”