Post by Vera Marie
I just love a story with a happy ending, don’t you?
On December 12, I wrote about my visit to the Keshmish Festival at Window Rock, which was held the first weekend in December at the Navajo Nation Museum. In passing, I said:
A young girl came by who wanted to buy the Tahoma book for school, but could not afford it. I gave her information to pass on to her school so they might purchase it for their library.
A fan of Quincy Tahoma, who has bought copies of Quincy Tahoma: The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist for herself and as a gift, wrote to us and said she wanted to give a copy of the book to that school. Although I had not written down the name of the young woman who was interested in the book, I did remember her school was Navajo Preparatory. I looked it up on line and found out the 20-year-old school was located in Farmington, New Mexico. Although students stay in residence at Navajo Prep, this is a far cry from the boarding schools of Tahoma’s childhood and before. Whereas those students were prepared for “practical skills” like cooking and shoemaking, about 95% of each graduating class of Navajo Prep goes on to college.
I wrote to the school librarian and explained the wishes of the would-be donor.
Unfortunately, this all happened just before Christmas, so I did not hear back until a week into the new year. The answer from Ms. Sategna, the librarian, was YES! Not only was she delighted to have a copy of the book, but when she got my note, she put a notice up asking who the student was that attended Keshmish and saw the Tahoma book. Very soon the young woman appeared, and they had a long conversation about her interest in the book.
Our donor, who by coincidence, raises sheep–just as many Navajo do–promptly paid for a book through Paypal, and I sent it off to Navajo Preparatory School. She plans to donate another book to another Western Indian tribal school in the near future.
For privacy reasons, the librarian is not giving out the name of the young woman who started this story rolling, but I am hoping that she may contact us some time and let us know how she likes the book, and how it may influence her education.
One more coincidence–you may know that Charnell and I grew up in Ohio. Well guess where the librarian is from? Right! She hails from Ohio, although she has lived on the Navajo reservation for most of her adult life.
I’m going to let our donor, who also wants to remain anonymous, have the last word:
“Perhaps other people will use this idea to put these books in schools as inspiration for the children. It is my biggest hope that this student does communicate with you and you can encourage her in her art.”
Quincy Tahoma loved children and frequently helped children learn to draw and paint. We know that he would appreciate knowing that his life and paintings might inspire young artists.
We know that the former librarian of Santa Fe Indian School bought a book for that school, and a teacher bought one for another school on the Navajo reservation. Would you like to join this effort and donate a book to a Native American school? Let us know.