“Tommy Lewis, superintendent of Diné Education on the Navajo Nation, is advising tribal schoolchildren to take shelter indoors Monday as the sky darkens during a rare solar eclipse. Taos Pueblo officials are asking schools to excuse tribal students for the day, so they won’t be encouraged to view the event with their classmates or watch recordings…For many tribal people, a total solar eclipse, when the moon blocks out light from the sun, is a time to remain inside, engaged in quiet personal reflection and renewal, rather than a time for festive gatherings and viewings with protective glasses and pinhole projectors.” B. Krasnow, The New Mexican
“A solar eclipse can bring out negativity, suffering and misfortune, and at the same time it cleans the world with positive energy,’ Lewis wrote to Navajo students, parents and educators earlier this month.
He is advising students to attend school Monday but to stay inside a building, and to abstain from food and drink, as well as other daily activities. ‘Show reverence and respect by being quiet and still,’ he said.
The cultural meanings of a solar eclipse and the traditions surrounding such an event vary for each American Indian tribe. Many are reluctant to discuss them. But some tribal government leaders in New Mexico are reaching out to schools and teachers, asking them to honor students’ preferences during Monday’s eclipse, which will occur during school hours.
Though, New Mexico won’t experience a total eclipse. In Santa Fe, for instance, the moon will cover about 80 percent of the sun at the peak of the event, around 11:45 a.m.
RaeNita Lujan, manager of the Indian Education Program at Taos Municipal Schools, said the Taos Pueblo governor is asking the district to allow Pueblo students to take the day off. There are 275 tribal members, from Taos Pueblo and other tribes, enrolled in the district, she said.
Lujan declined to discuss the pueblo’s traditions involving the eclipse, but said, ‘As Native people, we view the eclipse as a bad thing, not as this great phenomenon of ‘let’s go out and buy glasses and have a party.”
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