Images of Arizona

The Navajo Nation Fair celebrates the rich history of the Navajo people and their culture. For 54 years, the Fair has brought together Navajo people, other Native Americans and visitors in a social, entertaining and competitive atmosphere. Each year an overall theme sets the tone for the fair. The theme for 2000 is Naasko' Hozhoo'doo' - Beauty & Harmony from this Day Forward.

Window Rock, Arizona, hosts the annual weeklong fair at the beginning of September. Recognized as the world’s largest Native American Fair, events at the Navajo Nation Fair include: Indian professional rodeo, inter-tribal contest powwow, Navajo social song & dance contests, fry bread contests, a parade, the Miss Navajo Nation pageant, musical entertainment, a livestock show and sale, horticulture and commercial exhibit areas, crafts, and Native American food concessions.

Day 1

5 p.m. Junior Wooly Ride: Boys and girls wear full cowboy regalia as they ride a sheep like a bucking bronco. Riders in two age groups, 3-4 and 5-7, attempt to stay on the sheep for six seconds. Only a few manage to hold on for the full time. The judges award scores on the length of the ride as well as style. The riders compete for small cash jackpots and other prizes including ropes, spurs, jackets and carry bags. In addition to overall winners in each age group, prizes are awarded for the best-dressed cowboy and cowgirl. This fun event may also help prepare the kids for breaking horses on their ranches.

6 p.m. Pow Wow Gourd Dancing: Before the Pow Wow competitions begin, Gourd songs are played in honor of veterans. Two different types of drums are played: Southern drum (from areas in the Southwest including Arizona) and Northern drum (from areas in the North like Montana, Wyoming, and Canada). Participants also shake gourds which make a rattle sound. Men dance in red and blue shawls to represent the colors in the US flag. Women stand around the outskirts of the arena and sing by the drums.

7 p.m. Grand Entry & Pow Wow: Pow Wow participants promenade into the competition area as they drum and some sing. The Pow Wow is a gathering of all Indian Nations. All are invited and many attend. It used to be a ceremony to pray for the protection of warriors before they went into battle. Now, it is a place to see old friends and to make new ones. The Pow Wow consists of different parts. The MC announces each new part and tells the audience about historical and contemporary meanings. The MC speaks in Navajo and generally gives the description in English as well.

Jingle Dances are an example of a Pow Wow competition. The women’s jingle dance is a northern dance. The women wear traditional outfits that include 365 baubles, which resemble bells. Each represents one day in the year. There are two different jingle dances, regular straight and side. All jingle dances are part of a healing ceremony. The women’s traditional jingle dance is also from the North. The women dance on the sidelines as the men gather in the center of the arena. This dance used to be performed before men would go out into battle. It is a protection dance/prayer.

continued: day two >>


a trip to the fair / behind the scenes / the experience
photography / plan your adventure / interview / biography

jack dykinga / leroy dejolie / david muench


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