Navajo Shoe Game Featured at Balloon Event

Navajo Shoe Game Featured at the  Third Annual Monument Valley Hot Air Balloon Event

Monument Valley Hot Air Balloon Event Navajo Shoe Game

Winter on the Navajo Nation is a time when healing through laughter begins.
In fact, it is also a time to listen and learn about the emergence of the Navajo people. Winter is when many traditional oral Navajo stories are told that embody the spirit and wisdom of various animals and birds. According to traditional Navajo elders, animals and birds played a very significant role in early Navajo history and still do today.
It is said that animals such as the coyote, bear and owl were put upon Mother Earth to educate, heal and provide guidance for the Navajo people. Navajo legend says that in early Navajo history, animals and birds communicated with each other.

And virtually every animal and bird has a purpose and role in traditional Navajo culture.
Traditional Navajo elders note that similar to human beings, the animals and birds in early Navajo history began to disagree with each other. One point of discussion was whether or not it should always be day or night. Hence, the animals and birds decided to play a game to determine which it would be. It is said that neither the day or night creatures won; therefore, we now have day and night.
Today, that game is still played during the winter season and is it called a traditional Navajo shoe game, which continues to have lot of spiritual significance. In fact, many of the Navajo shoe game songs that are sung today are the same songs that specific animals and birds sung during the original shoe game that was first held in the beginning of time.
Depending on what part of the reservation it is held, each Navajo shoe game may differ. However, laughter is a central part of all Navajo shoe games. Moreover, there are various traditional Navajo stories that talk about humor and how it helps to heal the sick.
The Navajo shoe game was initially called a moccasin game and held in conjunction with a specific ceremony such as a five-day Evil Way Ceremony. Over time, it has slowly changed through the years. Case in point, most people today use cowboy boots or shoes in place of moccasins. What continues is the use of a yucca ball and 102 yucca stems.
Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department Director Martin L. Begaye said, “We’re very excited that a traditional Navajo shoe game will be added to the Third Annual Monument Valley Balloon Event. This is a traditional Navajo social game that is very popular among the Navajo people especially our Navajo elders. It is very important that the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department work closely with the Navajo people and receive their support and participation on such activities as this great annual event.”
The Third Annual Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park Hot Air Balloon Event will be held on January 11-13, 2013 at Monument Valley.
Begay added, “This is the only hot air balloon event in the world that will include a traditional Navajo shoe game. The event will have a little bit of everything for people of all ages.”
Other events that are being held in conjunction with the annual hot air balloon event is an art and writing contest for the youth and an array of prizes that will be awarded. The deadline for the writing and art contest is December 14, 2013. The annual event will also feature 20 hot air balloon pilots from throughout the country and a hot air balloon night glow.
You can obtain additional information at

Media Contact: Roberta John
Senior Economic Development Specialist
Navajo Nation Parks & Recreation Department
(928) 871-6647
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