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Contributions from Native Culture
~ Brennen Jones, 2017 WINDS Scholar
I am a Native American, a Navajo, a member
of the largest Native tribe in America. My
maternal clan is Bit’ahnii (folded arms), born
for Dzilgha’i Deeschii’nii (Red Streak Clan),
Kinlichii’nii (red house) are my grandfathers,
and Ta’neeszahnii (tangle) are my paternal
grandfathers). My great maternal
grandmothers were named for the many sheep
that they had and the area they herded sheep was called Sheep Manure Spring. My paternal grandfathers were well known for the cattle they raised and the area was called ‘The Place Where Cattle Were Corraled’. I am proud to acknowledge myself with my clans as well as originally from an area called Antelope Lookout, a place smack between both sides of my parent’s residence. Don’t ask me how that happened, but I can stand atop Antelope Lookout and stand towards the east and I will see my maternal grandparent’s house and look to the left and see my paternal grandparent’s house. To share my pride of both family, I had my recent graduation pictures taken on top of this lookout with the beauty of the mountains and the breathtaking scenery from there. As I have been taught, I have shared with you where I come from first so that relatives and people who do not know me will have a sense of connection to me and as a way to acknowledge my ancestors before me. Then my name comes next. My name is Brennen Jones and I have a traditional name as well which sacredly describes me, but it is only used for the purposes between myself and the protectors above.
With all this said, I now want to explain that what I just shared above, how I acknowledged myself, the pride I have of who I am and where I come from – that is what I believe is what I would say is a gift that Natives could share with others in the global community. In other words, I would encourage others to believe in themselves, to take pride in themselves, in their heritage, their language, their culture, and share it others so that they will also feel good about themselves and become a great person of their community. I think that people who know more about their history will have a better understanding of themselves and that will lead them to give back to their community and people. I know the hardship of what my grandparents went through back in the days where there were no modern conveniences, but they still survived and were proud of what they had. Today, my family on both sides can’t repeat what my grandparents accomplished with their animals. It would be too hard since now people have to go to work and the land isn’t as good as it used to be. Children have to go to school and get an education. And as a Native youth, I try hard to relearn the traditional ways of growing crops and relearning the language and participating in ceremonies. I have been participating in 4-H activities all my life, and I have raised animals and grown crops to take to the local fairs as a way to continue my Native ways. Many of my speeches have been about staying close to your traditional life and being proud of who you are. I encourage young people to be proud of themselves and to push themselves beyond their limits, even to places away from their comfort zone on the reservation. I have attended summer vet camps, Native Agricultural summits in Arkansas, and precollege camps (MedStart and NewStart) to gain experiences during high school.
In conclusion, I believe that any person who feels good about who they really are, these people will go on to do good for others and which will benefit their community, or their world. With all of this knowledge, I have it makes me think about where I come from and who I am, giving me that confidence to succeed in my education.