Students at Navajo Preparatory School are learning how to balance the western world with their cultural traditions. On Friday, November 4th, current and former students, community members, and local and state lawmakers were invited to a special dedication of Navajo Preps Hogan a place where students can come and gather for everything, from homework to celebrating and learning more about their culture. You’re watching the Local News Network brought to you by CMIT Solutions and ServiceMaster Restore. I’m Hayley Upsell.
We did a walk through of our Hogan. There were several areas that water damage, several areas that, you know, it just wasn’t well. And we saw it was sickly, it did look a little sickly. And one of our staff members, Carol Tom, helped us from her perspective and her cultural understanding was that during this, and again, that was the time when Covid was really taking effect. And there was, you know, it was a lot of good, you know, a lot of things that were going on with that. And so she said, “Maybe our Hogan represents what we’re going through now”. And so this is the time forward, this is meaning now is the time to redress ourselves and the spiritual armor that we have, redress and reaffirm our identity,
With the pandemic affecting every part of life. Rebuilding the Hogan became more than just a necessity based on the condition of the building, but a way to symbolize coming back out of the pandemic. Finding funding for the construction was a priority, State Representative Anthony Allison was able to help get funding from the state level to get the project off the ground. Representative Allison was unable to attend the dedication but his son and Navajo Prep alumnus Cade Allison delivered the keynote address on Representative Allison’s behalf.
Despite the hardships of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, I’m happy to see the completion of the new Hogan and the campuses return back to prosperity. I’ve always support the initiatives at Navajo preparatory school, rebuilding a new Hogan is one of those initiatives.
The Hogan is the traditional place for the Dine people, and the newly constructed Hogan has become a new home away from home for the students attending Navajo Preparatory School. One of the biggest challenges in reconstructing the Hogan was figuring out if it should be more modern or more traditional.
So we did send out surveys, I know people kind of got sick of me in that month span sending out emails and surveys and whatnot. But we got a wide spectrum of what our students want, what our staff want and expect from our Hogan. And so some really want a real traditional Hogan, dirt floor, you know, real, you know, it was nice, it would’ve been nice. Others really want a modern brick building, AC, how do we meet in the middle? And so we took what we understand as our indigenous knowledge, as the now way of thinking. And this is what we’ve brought together, and this is the best of both, of all worlds, of the two worlds that we have. Being as and living in this modern world.
The marriage of modern and tradition was on display during the ceremony. Overhead, electrolytes and glass painted windows allows attendees to see the whole event comfortably. But the wood fired stove in the center kept everyone warm on the cool fall afternoon. Students and teachers talked about using the space as a study place with laptops, phones, and other aspects of modern technology, but also as a place of learning about culture and tradition. The very way the Hogan is constructed is meant as a teaching moment for the Dine.
A Hogan is not just a home, it is an institution of knowledge. One of the teachings that I learned is that the Hogan is an educational tool in itself. The door facing east is significant to the sun rising beginning each new day. At infancy, we crawl through the doorway to begin life, as we move clockwise the southeast quadrant of the Hogan symbolizes the learning phases of childhood. The Southwest quadrant symbolizes our progression into them adulthood using our teachings from childhood. The Northwest quadrant is where we enter adulthood and start to teach others what life has taught us. The final quadrant, the northeast quadrant, is entering into old age, enjoying what life has taught us and sharing life’s teachings with others. Eventually, we complete the cycle of life and we crawl out of the Hogan the same way we came in.
The modern part of this Hogan, it has windows that has a door. The cultural values has is a blanket to cover the door and also it has lights inside, and you know, we’re tryina embody that physical spirit of both of these modern but also the cultural aspects of it. Because this is our new world that we’re living in, we’re living in a modern world.
A reoccurring theme throughout the whole event was the idea of creating and cultivating a home for students, current and former, teachers, staff, and community members. The materials, the planning, and the use of the building are meant to keep the Hogan as a home on campus for years to come.
And what this new Hogan, the new nuances, the new renovation, the new whatever you want to call it, we still have that foundational piece of Navajo culture, our way of life, our way of being, our language. But when you’re a part of the Navajo Prep family you begin to build that relationship with what it means to be Navajo, to be the…
To learn more about Navajo Preparatory School visit their new website at navajoprep.com. Thank you for watching this edition of The Local News Network. I’m Hayley Upsell.