Navajo Nation Teenagers not so Different from Tri-City Prep Students

By Anna Flurry

A fifteen-minute drive on the Navajo Reservation will give you a fairly accurate idea of what it’s like to visit a developing nation. Run-down shacks, stray dogs, and the occasional Hogan lined the highway. I couldn’t help but wonder if Many Farms High School and its students would seem as destitute.

As the car pulled up and we rushed to unpack my parents’ music equipment for their residency, I was pleasantly surprised to find a cheery red building trimmed with large, green and white triangles. “Many Farms High School,” it announced, “Home of the Lobos.” Still, I wasn’t sure whether to expect traditional Navajo-style dress or Abercrombie & Fitch.

First period began with a teacher introducing me to her Navajo language class. Seventeen faces glanced at me with mild interest, muttered hello. Typical new-girl stuff – except that I was the sole white kid in a school of 500 Navajos.

With that, the lesson continued, and I attempted to pronounce the 53 Diné – Navajo – consonants and vowels, which was not an easy task. However, I was surprised that the class was only at this stage of learning their own language. I would find out later that this is essentially the first generation to be allowed to speak Navajo in school since the Long Walk.

Throughout the rest of the day, I attended art, geometry, and computers. Without fail, every time a native Navajo speaker was the teacher, about a quarter to a half of the class was taught in the Diné language.

It seems that language is not the only cultural aspect that Navajo high school kids have lost. Clothes and styles are much more modern, as are household appliances, like cell phones and computers.

“I’m on YouTube half the time,” said Camille Crosby, a junior at Many Farms. Her friend, Cyriah Yazzie, a senior, added that Facebook was also a popular pastime.

For the most part, the lives of kids on “the Rez,” as it’s sometimes called, don’t seem too different on the surface. When asked about what a typical day would be like, Crosby summed it up in one word: “Normal.”

Only a few characteristics came out in the interviews that differed from those of non-Navajo kids. One example was the ceremonies performed.

“Our culture has all sorts of ceremonies for all different things,” said Crosby.

The “Enemy Way” ceremony was the favorite of another upperclassman, Leon Woody. This is essentially a healing ceremony for soldiers who return from war. It is used to keep them from being haunted by their memories.

“If you go to war, and you kill a lot of men, then you have to pay the medicine man to do the ceremony for the patient and give him money and livestock,” said Woody, explaining how the ceremony works. The “Enemy Way” lasts three days, and at the end, the soldier should be free of his or her “ghosts.”

Other than the ceremonies, there are other ways that Navajo teenagers spend their weekends. Crosby and Yazzie described one of their favorite activities: having a cookout.

“I have a cookout with my family every weekend,” said Yazzie. “We get together and play games, talk, and dance.”

Kids hang out around school during breaks. (Photo by: Anna Flurry)

When asked if they invited their friends to these events, Crosby and Yazzie said they didn’t.

“I just invite my nieces and nephews,” Crosby said.

The Navajo Reservation seemed remote, with nothing to do besides work and go to school. However, the students interviewed didn’t seem to think so.

“It’s actually pretty good,” said Yazzie. “In my spare time, I have more things to do. The city’s just too crowded.” She also noted, “It’s nice and calm [here], and you get to see stars.”

That doesn’t mean that high school kids aren’t willing to branch out. Crosby says she hopes to go to Japan some day, and Yazzie also hopes to travel, but they both agree that they will eventually return to the Navajo Nation.

I learned much from this trip. Despite its surface image as a poverty-stricken area, the kids who live on the Rez live similar lives to those of us on the outside. At the same time, though, they are very involved in their culture and families, and they are proud of their heritage.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first arrived, but now I know that the Diné high school students I met are a unique blend of cultures. As a mainstream American, I found myself envying their heritage. They are fully immersed in the trends of the world while maintaining strong connections to their culture and family.

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Soccer Defeats Tri City Christian for the First Time in Five Years

Caden Burch steals the ball to move it up the field. Photo by: Sabrina Flick

By Sabrina Flick

Tri City Prep soccer players traveled all the way down to Chandler, Arizona to battle it out with Tri City Christian. Playing on a rough field and against a more competitive team made the first half of the game challenging for both teams.

“Honestly, we played pretty bad, but due to the speed of the field and the heat it wasn’t terrible. We definitely should have had more goals, but it could have been worse as well. It’s hard playing against the refs as well as players. But hey, we did our best and came out on top so that’s all that matters in any game,” said Gavan Turner.

“This wasn’t our cleanest game. It was a little rough to be honest,  but we played with enough heart that we pulled out the win,” said Dallas Meade.

In the second half, Tri City knew they had to step it up in order to win. With the defense and the offense working harder, Tri City made more progress. After a long wait, Meade scored a goal.

Unfortunately for Tri City Prep, Tri City Christian slipped one into their goal. This was when Tri City Prep really kicked it into gear.

Within the last few minutes of the game, Meade scored another goal. Turner made a goal off of a penalty kick, but unfortunately it did not count because it was supposed to be an indirect kick.

In the end, the final score was 2 to 1. Tri City Prep pulling off yet another victory.

Tri City Soccer Continues to Own Even on Enemy Territory

Dallas Meade protects the ball on an attack on goal. Photo by Sabrina Flick

By Sabrina Flick

Tri City continues their undefeated journey. They played a chilly game against Camp Verde. In the first half, Camp Verde could hardly keep the ball in their offense’s possession. Tri City’s defense was once again extremely strong and the offense also stepped it up one notch from the last game.

“Well I thought we played really good and that we played with a lot of heart, but I’d say I was most impressed with our defense. [They] allowed us to control the game,” said Dallas Meade.

A large part of the game was filled with many corner kicks. During one of these kicks, Caden Burch, a defensive player, almost scored a goal.

Tri city had an extremely hard working defense which helped to keep the ball mostly in the offenses possession.  Nate Cunningham, serving as goalie, was very protective of the TCP goal.

“I think we played great…our offense and defense was on top of its game and took us to a great, smooth victory” said Dillon Stowell.

The official score ended up 7 to 1 in Tri City’s favor. Meade scored three, Catie Hoekstra scored two, and Stowell scored two. Their next game is October 21. They’ll travel to Phoenix to battle Tri City Christian. Good luck Panthers!

Fly

By Kevin Andreasky (Autobiographical Essay)

I tore through the crisp morning air carelessly, as if the bike beneath me made me weightless and invincible. My sister trudged robotically behind me, battling silently against the breeze. When at last we reached the bus stop, having beat back the elements she triumphantly threw herself down on an electrical box without saying so much as a word. But I was not like her. I welcomed the wind in my hair, the sweet smell of rain that still lingered in the air, and as she fell to her icy seat I broke away and flew up the nearby hill. I wasn’t just a kid on a bike waiting for the bus to arrive, I was a motocross superstar riding a tricked out dirt bike. I was the underdog racing around the final turn in first place.

Victory was so close I could taste it, but as I reached the crest of the hill and turned around to begin my descent I did not see the finish line, I did not see millions of adoring fans screaming my name. I saw my dog Fly in the middle of the street chasing cars as carelessly as I had been chasing dreams seconds ago. Suddenly a massive truck burst into view, like an enraged, rabid bull craving the blood of my cocky matador friend. Time skidded to a halt as the four wheeled, diesel powered, merchant of death charged. The yelp of terror pierced my ears and reverberated through my frail body, snapping time back at a breakneck pace. Chunks of fur peppered the road like fluffy balls of cotton, sprinkled about the severed leg. My sister scooped up our whimpering friend and held her close to her chest, coddling her and assuring her everything was going to be alright as she sprinted towards our house, tears streaming down her face. Knowing that I could get home faster than her, I began pedaling. The callous wind ripped through me like a barrage of bullets, never seen, only heard and felt. I willed my bike to go faster, my legs to push harder, myself to be better, but my backpack pulled down on me with all the weight of the world.

Memories of days gone by began cycling through my mind with every crank of the pedals. Suddenly I was young again and the world didn’t seem so cruel. Fly was a puppy, so small and helpless. I cuddled her in my arms as she wiggled and squirmed in an attempt to get away. She was a free spirit who did not relish being contained. The sun smiled down at me as I lay sprawled out on the inviting ground slowly running my hand through Fly’s freckled fur, her head rested on my chest. My fingers seemed to melt into her agile border-collie body as her wet nose gently brushed my chin. Friendly little clouds drifted lazily across the clear blue sky carried by the cool breeze. The smell of fresh cut grass enveloped me, its potent scent filling me with lethargy and pulled my eyelids closed. Each memory flowed into the next in one fluid motion and then Fly was dancing around my feet, beaming up at the tattered old ball in my hand. The second the ball left my hand she was off, bounding after the grimy little sphere with a smile on her face. Her powerful legs pounded against the ground, sending clouds of dust in to the crisp air. I wiped the slimy film off my hand as Fly turned around and began triumphantly trotting back with the ball held tightly in her mouth, dropping the ball at my feet and smiling up at me happily. Next, we were playing tag, the damp dirt clinging to shoes. I dodged right and left trying to get around her. I was laughing and she was barking playfully as I fell to the ground. She would pounce on me and lick my face, her smooth, moist tongue washing the streaks of dirt off my cheeks.

These pleasant memories were soon replaced with regret. I should’ve spent more time with her, should’ve played with her more and given her more attention. I rebuked myself for shoving past her when she ran up to greet me the day before. I chastised myself for scolding her when she got me muddy after each rain. I hated myself for shutting her out when all she wanted to do was love me. In my mind’s eye, I could see myself closing the door on her as she whined and looked up at me longingly. Her eyes haunted me. I seemed to get lost in their endless pools of blue and try as I might I couldn’t keep my head above water.

It seemed as if the wheels of my bike had deflated with my soul and no matter how hard I struggled, no matter how much ground I covered, I got nowhere. I skidded into the driveway, threw down my bike, and ran to my father pleading for help. My sister raced up the driveway with our fallen comrade draped across her shaking arms, stopping only when she reached my dad. Solemnly he took our dying friend in his massive arms and my sister ran inside the house, returning moments later with a piece of her softest, most treasured fabric. I was standing motionless and alone and time seemed to stand still as my sister lovingly swaddled Fly. My dad gently set her down and filled his arms with my sister and me instead. Icy rivers cut in to my rocklike face and left a bitter stain on my quivering lips. I tried to hold it together and be strong for my sister as I watched the life slowly drain from my friend’s eyes, but, being only seven, I failed. I failed my sister, I failed my friend, and with nowhere else to turn, I ran. My legs remained motionless, my body immobile, but I ran and ran and haven’t stopped since. I run aimlessly, always fighting against the wind, against myself, against others, against time. Regardless of my age or the circumstances at hand I am always pushing myself to escape the world, to escape reality, to escape the oppressive expectations of others, all in a feeble attempt to preserve my last remaining shreds of childhood. Struggling in vain to return to a time long since passed when I was free and life was simple.

Home

By Bethany Ford (Autobiographical Essay)

I thought things would be the same forever. Everyday had a new joy to be discovered. Kids always told me, If I had this toy, this new game, this many friends I would be happy. I never understood why they told me this. I was happy. Every day I woke up and saw my daddy’s face, and had breakfast with my mamma my heart would leap inside of me. My daddy always called me his only little princess, and because it was just me and my two year old brother this was true. Who needed stupid toys? I had a great family and a daddy who loved me. I felt like they would always be there for me, no matter what. Until that one day.

I could smell the spring flowers in the air. I crawled out of bed, and dragged myself into the kitchen to say good morning to my mom, but I couldn’t find her. I could always find her in the mornings. My daddy had already left for work, so I went into his office to try and find the note he always left me. I flipped through the papers and grasped the note. My body became as stone, and my heart smashed against the floor. I felt a bitter tear slide down my face as my eyes filled with water. They were getting a divorce.

I would have single parents for a shorter time than expected. A devastating six months had gone by when my dad came to pick me up from my first day of freshman year. His new girlfriend’s daughter, Sarah, was in the car. She was in my seat. I reluctantly climbed into theback as the two of them carried on their conversation. While I was staring out the window watching the cars go by Sarah asked him a startling question.

“So did you ask her yet? Did you ask her like I told you to?” Sarah inquired, with a grin from ear to ear.

I will never forget the look of shock on my dad’s face as he tried to figure out how to reply.

“Ask what, dad? What did you ask her?!” I asked, demanding a reply.

“Honey, I asked Vonda to marry me,” he finally responded, knowing full well that was not the way he wanted me to find out. I slid back into my seat, the only thing I could relate to were the cars speeding by my window. I had nothing to say.

Every other weekend I would go to visit my dad, his new wife and my new sister, while my little brother, Tyler, had to stay home with my mom.  For seven months we moved from house to house, I failed to see the reason why I should even unpack any more. Not long after his new marriage my dad enlisted into the Army National Guard, and was soon set to be deployed in Iraq. Prior to him leaving for his deployment Vonda announced that she was pregnant, with twin boys. Through all of this I trusted in my dad, I depended on his strength, and his strong will. What I didn’t realize at the time was that that “strength” was going to end up being in Iraq for more than a year. And I would not be able to go with him.

It was one of those years that people spend their whole lives trying to avoid. My life felt like a ball of yarn being unraveled by a cat awaiting the perfect moment to pounce on it. Everything I tried to make better only got worse. Someone always got hurt and more often thannot, it was me. At my sixteenth birthday party I remember all I could think about was how my daddy wasn’t there to celebrate it with me. Right before I was about to go on stage at my dance recital I peeked out the side curtain to see my daddy watching, as I did every year, accept this time what I saw only made me want to cry.  He missed a whole year of my life. My glue that held everything together was missing. I kept having dreams that he had come home and we were hiking through the mountains and going fishing like we did when I was younger. Then, I would wake up. I had to force myself to face reality, he was not there, and he wasn’t going to be there for quite some time. He was the man that could fix anything. The only problem was, he was not there to fix it.

I had no solid ground, no set place to live, and no family to come home to. I was alone. What a strange feeling, to be alone, no one there to hold you when you are scared or hurt. No one there to hug you when you had a bad day, no one there to tell you that they love you, and no one for you to love back. I was alone. No one should ever have to be alone.

I would be seventeen years old before I could wrap my arms around my daddy again. It would be that day, that glorious day, when we would begin to make our way down to the Tucson air force base and eagerly await for his arrival, that I could hold my daddy again.

The drive that day was torturous. Tucson never seemed so far away. As we arrived at the air force base we were ushered through a large gymnasium to a small parking lot out back. It was here that we sat waiting. I thought they would never arrive. The sun slowly started to hide itself as a warm breeze blew across my face. Suddenly, two large buses started pulling in the drive way, parking about fifty feet away from us. There seemed to be no movement. Then, as a small brass band begins playing, the buses crawl away, slowly revealing our nations defenders marching in formation into the semi-circle the families had formed. They had started reciting their captain’s motto as I searched the lines of soldiers. Finally, I found him, in the middle of the formation second from the right. The speaker released the soldiers to their families and I sprinted toward him, but the crowd moved too quickly. A split second and everything became a blur. I had never seen something so organized become a danger zone so quickly. People pushed and shoved. I lost sight of him. All I could see were people that I had never met before surrounding me. I didn’t know which way was up, but I kept searching I knew I would find him.

Suddenly, my name rang though out my whole body, it was almost unreal. That voice, that tender loving voice. How long it had been, my heart craved for a that voice, that voice to be the puzzle piece that fulfilled what had been lost for so long. My name flew out of his mouth so quickly my heart stopped beating. I whipped around. There he was in front of me. I ran and jumped into his arms. He grabbed me and held me closely to his heart. At that very moment I was home. For the first time, I was home.

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