A Navajo Ceremonial

Historians feel that the Navajo moved from northwest Canada and interior Alaska to the Southwest only about 500 years ago. "Where the Two Came to Their Fathers," was an early traditional ritual performed by the Navajo before they raided other tribes to conquer new lands or acquire provisions. It later became a part of their rites to ward off sickness, and it was credited with curative powers. This exhibition features a fascinating group of screen prints by Maude Oakes, that faithfully illustrate and interpret the ancient legend.

The saga records the origins of the Navajo, and recounts the making of the earth and the individuals power to tap into the Original Source of Strength--it was believed that while an individual on his own might falter, by tapping into communal and universal wisdom, he could succeed.

The Navajo ritual nearly disappeared, until the early 1940s, Maude Oakes, a young American artist, met and became a confidant of Jeff King, a Navajo medicine man who had researched and re-enacted "Where the Two Came to Their Fathers." From the age of 10, King was fascinated by the tradition, and throughout his life continued to study its symbolic significance. His primary visual references were the cave wall drawings from the mountains located on the outskirts of Crown Point, New Mexico. Since he was one of only a few Navajo to remember the saga, and he was afraid that it would die with him, he passed the knowledge to Oakes, and guided her to faithfully represent the legend.