In 1864, many Navajo were exiled and taken as savages to camps. This event was known as Hwéeldi, “The Long Walk”. But not all went. Some hid. I remember when I showed the test prints to my grandmother’s at our family reunion. Grandma Betty Donald held the 14″ print in her hands and was very calm. A little sad. I don’t know if this is the right word to use but most of all, she was reverent looking at that small print.
I told her I was planning on making the framed print about the size of a door and to hang it in our living room. She was shocked! I told her I love this part of Navajoland.
She then proceeded to talk about her grandparents and their families who lived in the Northern Arizona region in the 1800’s. She began to tell me and those who were listening, that many hid inside the canyons from the troops in the 1860’s. These men in uniform were rounding up Navajo men, women and kids and taking them far away from the Mother Land.
She had a couple tears because she couldn’t imagine a family being torn apart. I was very happy to have listened to her memories of what she was told long ago. I think that is the beauty of understanding our language.
Grandma Donald then mentioned that a few things that kept the families in harmony and in balance was performing The Beauty Way ceremony.
I could then only give the image the title “Beauty Way”.
Here are some image’s from the field when I took the original photograph.
The following photo’s were taken from my Blackberry back then….
(Matt at Hidden Light/The Framing Department in Flagstaff, AZ) The print was framed using Roma Mouldings from Italy. We also decided to hand wrap the 8 ply matting with exquisite linen and certainly, used the best glass on earth to help preserve and protect the image.
Overall, I was happy to see this complete image go from A to Z all in AZ. I took the original exposure from my Tachahara 4×5 and I used Ilford Delta 100 film.
The Beauty Way is a ceremony to induce harmony and balance in all aspects of life. My hope is to preserve these special places and their stories for generations to come.