Category Archives: Navajo

Diné Flmmaker and Actors Worked Together on a ‘Spec Commercial’

“A spec is a ‘made-up’ commercial that filmmakers use to showcase their talent and potential. That is exactly what Diné filmmaker Christopher Nataanii Cegielski did when he created his New Balance spec called ‘For Any Run.’ A. Chavez, ICT

Colleen Biakeddy, who played the grandma, Cegielski and Micah Chee who portrays the grandson.

Excerpt: Behind the scenes: ‘Grandma! Sheep is running away’ Allyah Chavez, ICT

“The video is a product of the Commercial Directors Diversity Program, an organization that provides guidance, exposure and tools for minority directors who hope to work in the industry. Cegielski, 28, was selected out of more than 300 applicants to participate as a fellow of the program, the first Indigenous filmmaker. So over the course of six months, he attended workshops, shadowed industry employees and created mentorships. His final project: ‘For Any Run.’

For Cegielski, the story began with an idea of a Diné grandmother who chased her sheep and did flips. He worked for three months researching brands, writing scripts, putting together pitch decks, choosing a cast and even budgeting. In total, his one-minute commercial cost approximately $16,000.

In the initial phases the commercial advertised an ASICS shoe instead of New Balance. After further research, Cegielski observed that the tone of the ASICS brand was geared towards ‘serious’ athletes. He saw that New Balance had a more “playful” tone — and that it fit in line with his light-hearted and fun vision.

‘I had to think about everything the right way,’ Cegielski said. With this in mind, he says his goal was to create something that Indian Country could watch.

The commercial was shot in mid-August in Pinion, Arizona, where a large crew made up of actors, producers, directors and cameramen worked together. Photo by A. Banks.

‘For far too long there has been non-Native people making Native material,’ Cegielski said. “It’s always about oppression… I just wanted to change that.’

The commercial led him to meeting Diné actors Colleen Biakeddy, who played the grandma, and Micah Chee who portrays the grandson. In true Diné fashion, the trio discovered they all belong to the Ta’chii’nii, or Red Running Into Waterclan, after they met in person. The commercial was shot in mid-August over two days.

This was Biakeddy’s first acting role. But the fifty-year-old is not new to sheep herding. Her day starts with checking on her cattle near Big Mountain in Arizona, some 53 miles south of Kayenta…The role for her was important because of how it represents Diné grandmothers. She appreciated the attention to detail, noting that grandmothers in her community ‘really do’ cover their feet using tennis shoes, or whatever it takes to get work done…In case you wondered, Biakeddy did not do her own stunts (though she notes she had to do a somersault in her casting audition).

Her stunt double was Conrad Weitzel, a parkour athlete from Phoenix…The spec has now been seen throughout Indian Country, largely motivated by social media. The video on Instagram alone has been viewed more than 10,000 times since last Friday.”

Category: Culture, Films, Navajo

Navajo Beef Program: Helping Local Navajo Families

“The Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise (NNGE) in conjunction with Labatt Food Service and Navajo Nation Leadership is celebrating… The program now features 23 local Navajo ranching families raising high quality beef. Since its launch November 2012, the program has grown in revenue for local Navajo ranchers, product distributed and customer base and by the end of 2016 is projected to produce $2.3 Million in revenue.” NativeNewsonlineNavajo Nation Gaming Enterprise's Navajo Beef program expands. - Photolabattfood.com

Excerpt: $2.3 Million Navajo Beef Program Benefits 23 Local Families-NativeNews

“We are proud to partner with local ranchers and improve their quality of life in conjunction with Labatt and our Navajo Nation leadership team, stated Derrick Watchman, CEO of NNGE.

Derrick Watchman, CEO of NNGE

Derrick Watchman, CEO of NNGE

The Navajo Beef Program is part of our larger commitment to Buy Navajo and allows our properties to better showcase world-class Navajo cuisine to the world while generating much needed revenue and jobs for the Navajo people. We would like to thank the Navajo Nation Council – including Council Delegate Lorenzo Curley – for their efforts to make this visionary program a reality.

The program involves local Navajo Ranchers like Travis Platero and family. The Platero family lives on the H-P Ranch in Haystack, NM, where producing premium quality livestock is a way of life… A proud cattleman, Travis looks forward to growing the family’s cattle business and teaching his kids many of the skills his dad taught him.

Twin Arrows

Twin Arrows

Navajo Beef is featured at the award-winning Zenith Steakhouse at Twin Arrows Resort in Flagstaff as well as available at Fire Rock Navajo Casino, Northern Edge Navajo Casino and Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort’s four other dining venues…

Through the Navajo Beef Program ranchers – at Padres Mesa Ranch in Chambers Ariz., 14R in the New Lands area and Turquoise Grazers in Window Rock, Ariz. – uphold traditional practices to produce premium, quality beef that is always tender and full of flavor. Navajo Certified Beef is Choice grade or better and aged 21 days.

Labatt Food Service, the tenth largest food distributor in the country, ensures the quality of the beef, that local Navajo ranchers receive fair payment and that the entire animal is used.”

“The success of this program allows the ranchers to improve their lives and increase the quality of life in their communities.” ~Al Silva~ Chief Operating Officer of Labatt Food Service.

Category: Navajo

Navajo Code Talkers: Redskins’ Name = Honor

O’siyo.Four Navajo Code Talkers who received honors at the recent football game between the Redskins and 49ers, wore Redskins jackets, and did not seem disturbed by the team’s name. Roy Hawthorne, 87, who was one of the men honored stated that he would endorse the name if he was asked.

Roy Hawthorne of the famed Navajo Nation Code Talkers. Photo-Evan Vucci : AP

Roy Hawthorne of the famed Navajo Nation Code Talkers. Photo-Evan Vucci : AP

Excerpt: Navajo Code Talker Says Redskins Name Is Not Derogatory By F. Fonseca & M. Brown USNews

“Roy Hawthorne, 87, of Lupton, Ariz., was one of four Code Talkers honored for their service in World War II during the Monday night game against the San Francisco 49ers. Hawthorne, vice president of the Navajo Code Talkers Association, said the group’s trip was paid for by the Redskins. The four men met briefly with team owner Dan Snyder but did not discuss the name, Hawthorne said. 

Still, he said he would endorse the name if asked, and the televised appearance in which three of the Native Americans wore Redskins jackets spoke for itself. Snyder has called the team name and mascot a “badge of honor.” The name dates to the team’s first years in Boston in the 1930s, and has survived numerous outside efforts to change it. The team has been in the Washington, D.C., area since 1937. Tony Wyllie, Redskins senior vice president said there was no truth to suggestions that the Code Talkers were used to bolster the team’s resistance to a new name.

The Washington Redskins honored Navajo Code Talkers. Photo- Marine Corps Times.

The Washington Redskins honored Navajo Code Talkers. Photo- Marine Corps Times.

They’re American heroes, and they deserved recognition, he said.

Also attending Monday’s game were Code Talker president Peter MacDonald Sr., George Willie Sr. and George James Sr.

The Navajo Code Talkers used codes derived from their native language to shield military communications from interception by Japanese troops. Hawthorne said there are now about 30 surviving Code Talkers.

The trip to Washington was the second this month for Hawthorne, who last week joined other Code Talkers to receive Congressional Gold Medals for the role they played in World War I and World War II.

Navajo Code Talkers WW II. Photo- California Indian Education.

Navajo Code Talkers WW II. Photo- California Indian Education.

The Navajo are perhaps the best known of the Code Talkers, but the Defense Department says the program began in 1918 and at its peak included more than 400 Native Americans who used 33 dialects to make their codes indecipherable.” 

“Strong words outlast the paper they are written upon. ” ~Joseph Bruchac~ From Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two.

We revere the Code Talkers, and are grateful for their essential role in American military operations during World Wars I and II. Their great accomplishments coupled with the soldiers from other Native tribes  have helped protect  “all” people in the United States.

Category: Navajo