Cedar ash adds to the flavor and color of blue corn cakes.
If you are feeling down, or not thinking clearly, there are songs you can sing to ease your mind.Long hair signifies the rain, pouring in dark streaks against the sky.
Navajo elders -- living links to a rich tradition -- have much to share, and share they did Thursday with Utah schoolchildren. Each year for a decade now, Navajo families have come north from southern Utah and Arizona, bringing with them their music, stories, dances and especially their colorful rugs.
This year, 35 elders, most of them weavers, are visiting as part of the nonprofit Adopt-A-Native-Elder program, which sponsors an annual rug show and jewelry sale. Several classes from McPolin Elementary School came to watch as the Navajo women and their daughters and granddaughters sat in a circle, carding and spinning and weaving, at the Snow Park Lodge in Deer Valley.
In addition, the Navajos took turns at a microphone talking about the work that sustains their families and introducing their children to the children from Summit County.
Christina Cowboy, 8, sang in Navajo about her beautiful homeland. Other children demonstrated their tribal language by reciting the months and the Pledge of Allegiance.
Navajo elders explained how, at some elementary schools, girls compete to earn a crown. They must demonstrate a modern talent as well as a traditional talent. Once she becomes a "princess," a little girl is encouraged to help her elders and learn from them.
Irwin Towne was the only man to take the microphone. He told the local children how he was raised and how he is raising his own four sons.
His grandmother has passed on to the next world now, Towne said. But when she was alive, she taught him how to behave when grown-ups spoke to him. "She told me to sit upright. Don't cross your arms or hands or even blink when someone is talking to you."
He told the children that every object the Navajos use has a story behind it. Elders can tell you a story about the jewelry they make, why they wear a skirt, about the colors of the corn, he said.
Towne tells his own children the old stories and passes on the advice of his grandparents and the ways of the Native American Church.
"I tell them to get up early in the morning and run." They should also pray in the mornings, "so we can be happy throughout the day."
McPolin students got to sample fry bread, learn the Navajo string games -- and any girls who had long hair were invited to have their hair brushed and styled in a traditional bun.
The Adopt-A-Native-American-Elder program helps support over 300 elders with twice-a-year food deliveries to their homes in remote parts of the Four Corners area, according to Linda Meyers, the program's founder. Elders keep all the proceeds when they sell their jewelry and rugs, she adds.
The Woven in Spirit Rug Show and Sale is open to the public Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Snow Park Lodge. At 11 a.m. Saturday, the Four Peak Children's Dancers will perform. At 3 p.m., grandmothers will demonstrate wool carding and weaving and tell stories. On Sunday, there will be a blessing ceremony for all veterans at 11 a.m. Admission is $5 or a canned food donation per person.