October 26, 2004
Procession in parade
The Navajo are a tribe of Native Americans that mainly live in the state of Arizona. From October 14 to October 17, there was a Navajo Fair in Tuba City, Arizona. Falun Gong practitioners were invited to set up a booth and participate in the parade. Practitioners worked together as one body and the result was greater than expected. The following is some sharing of experiences from several practitioners.
A. A Chinese Practitioner in Arizona: Clarifying the truth in Tuba City, Arizona
From October 14 to October 17, there was a Navajo fair in Tuba City, Arizona. Some Arizona Dafa practitioners had attended the Shiprock Navajo fair from September 30 to October 1, and found that the Navajo people were very positive toward Falun Dafa and gratefully accepted our flyers. They shared their experiences with our group, and most of us felt that the Navajo fair in Tuba City would be a good chance for us to introduce Falun Dafa and clarify the truth of the persecution in Northern Arizona. So we decided to go there to attend the parade on October 16, 2004. Some practitioners decided to go there to help local practitioners set up the booth on October 14, 2004.
On October 16, 2004, a group of practitioners from Phoenix, Arizona, drove to Tuba City and joined other practitioners from Los Angeles, Colorado, Utah, Sweden, and Arizona. We worked with other practitioners to prepare the float and the 10am parade. At 10am, the parade began. It was said that more than 100 floats were in the parade and tens of thousands of Navajo people watched it. Some of us held the Falun Dafa banner at the front of our contingent, and the others distributed flyers to the people. The parade took about 2 hours and we walked about 4 miles. We had drummers, fairy dancers, and a beautiful float on which some practitioners demonstrated the five sets of Falun Gong exercises in our troop. Our troop advanced slowly to the music "Falun Dafa is Good", and every rendition of the music "Falun Dafa is Good" and the drummers received loud applaud from the audience. People were very willing to accept our flyers, and even the leader of the Navajo was very happy to accept our flyers.
Native American of Navajo warmly welcome Falun Gong practitioners' procession
B. A Western Practitioner from Denver, Colorado: Bringing Dafa to the Navajo Western Fair in Tuba City, Arizona
On October 14-17, 2004, practitioners from five different states and one foreign country (California, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Sweden) put their coordinated efforts together to bring Dafa to the 2004 Western Navajo Fair in Tuba City, Arizona.
The Navajo and the many other Native American tribes in attendance welcomed us so warmly on every account that we were completely moved by their kindness and hospitality. A local Navajo practitioner there put many of us up in his home and also provided tents in his back yard. We began our coordination of practitioners from five states and one foreign country to support this event. Since Tuba City was in a fairly remote place, this meant a lot of driving time for everyone involved. Those from Los Angeles made plans to drive 8 hours overnight both there and back to save time and money. They brought 30 people for a waist drum team, Chinese dancing ladies and walkers. They also brought 20,000 flyers for the event.
Arizona set up the booth for the event from Thursday to Saturday. Everyone put forth a good effort and made true sacrifices to attend this event. The parade was quite a spectacle to see. Many locals had parked their cars and trucks facing the parade route. Some would sit in the vehicles and some brought chairs to sit in front of the vehicles. Those handing out flyers were very thorough and would make sure to get brochures even to those sitting in the vehicles. By the end of the parade we'd handed out 10,000 flyers.
At the judges' booth, I was handed a microphone and given the opportunity to announce our float. Everyone clapped and welcomed us warmly.
One Navajo family had followed a Chinese practitioner just coming from the Mainland all the way to the end of the parade because they wanted to learn the exercises. After the parade, two practitioners taught them the exercises right on the spot. The Navajo family made many excited comments like, "I feel spinning in my palms! I feel energy! This is just what I was looking for!"
The Navajo welcome Falun Gong
Practitioners practiced the exercises while waiting for their van. From a short distance away an old Navajo man watched us from his trailer. He was elderly and sat in a chair on the porch. We noticed that he began to imitate the group of practitioners while sitting in his chair. A practitioner took him a brochure, although I'm not sure he could read or speak English.
Practitioners from several states set up a booth at the Fair for three days. They made sure to prominently display the Falun symbol, as the many Native American tribes are very familiar with the srivatsa symbol. After WWII, they no longer used it in their art, so its use has since disappeared. They also set the booth up to invite people to learn to make small, paper lotus flowers.
The Native Americans were very curious about the booth and would sometimes wait at a distance and "think it over" before approaching. The first day a whole flock of children came to make lotus flowers. This was a great opportunity to share Falun Dafa with them. The children there were always curious and receptive.
We had a very interesting moment occurring at the booth as well. A Swedish practitioner had the chance to give a flyer to the Navajo President, Joe Shirley. Mr. Shirley took the time to seek out our booth and welcome us to the fair.
Navajo President, Mr. Joe Shirley, appreciates practitioners and has a group photo with them
The Hopi Fair was organized just a couple of miles away from the Navajo Fair. The practitioners noticed that no one was giving any presentations on the stage, so they asked if they could give a dance and exercise demonstration. One Hopi found their president, David, and he said, "Sure!" Then, they asked if they could teach the exercises there as well? Again, they said, "Sure!" The practitioners were surprised to find that many of the Hopis could easily cross their legs in full lotus.
Spreading Dafa at the Hopi Fair. Many people can easily sit in double cross-leg position
We then participated in the Navajo Fair and Pow Wow. The Pow Wow is a great dancing event. All Native American tribes are invited to dress in their ceremonial best and present a traditional dance representing their own people. The dances are performed in a large circle.
Our group was invited to be a part of the great processional before the Pow Wow began, Our Chinese lady dancers came to the area and performed a traditional dance to show respect to the guests. I spoke on the microphone and told the audience how honored we felt to be a part of their Pow Wow event. After the Chinese ladies finished, the Native Americans gave several loud shouts and said, "Can you do another dance?"
Performing Chinese traditional dancing at the Navajo Fair
Next, all the practitioners stepped into the arena. We played the Falun Dafa exercise demonstration and I narrated. After the demonstration, we were presented with a shawl full of money. I was stunned. I didn't know what to do with the money. I asked, "What does this tradition mean, and what is the money for?"
The Master of Ceremonies said, "This is to thank you for coming and for your travel expenses. Now, help me count it!" Apparently, they like to count the money to show the generosity of the gift.
We knew we couldn't accept the money. But, how should we turn them down politely? I asked, "Perhaps you have a local charity that we can give this money to?" They were very pleased with our response and said that the Pow Wow was being sponsored by a local charity. Then, John, from Los Angeles took the microphone and walked into the arena. He thanked everyone for the money and said we were so pleased to be here and to share and exchange cultures. He clearly stated that our practice is free and that we cannot accept money. So, we would be giving the money to their charity. This worked out perfectly. Then all the practitioners handed out brochures to those watching the Pow Wow.
After this, some practitioners stayed to talk with Harry, the local Navajo practitioner. He explained many parallels between the ancient Navajo belief and Falun Dafa. We also found out that when the Navajo hear us say, "Falun Dafa" that what they hear in their own native language is, "Milky Way." He also told me that the traditional Navajo greeting, "Ya'at'eeh" was a greeting that honored your original father and mother who gave birth to you in the cosmos and honored the mother earth who sustains us. We quickly realized that the ancient Navajo language and culture contains many deep spiritual understandings.
We hope for many more historical events for sharing Falun Dafa with the Native Americans and are so grateful to Master for arranging this activity so carefully to reach these precious sentient beings.