January 22, 2024: Elder Wally Brown shares Navajo Traditional Teachings through digital stories to preserve Diné culture.

Navajo Traditional Teachings is dedicated to imparting cultural knowledge that remains unaltered by anthropological or archaeological interpretations. Their approach is rooted in an authentic understanding of the Diné language and the rich oral history passed down through generations. The motto of Navajo Traditional Teachings, ‘Without Identity, There is no Power’, underscores their commitment to respectful representations of Indigenous peoples. This mission is fulfilled through the sharing of Indigenous digital stories narrated by Elder Wally Brown. In this week’s mentoring circle, we will delve into this Indigenous educational platform to explore how Navajo traditional teachings are preserving Diné culture.

Wally Brown, a Navajo Historian, and his team are passionately dedicated to disseminating Diné culture. They travel across the Navajo Nation, sift through historical records, and conduct interviews with elders, all in an effort to gather and document as much information as possible. Once collected, this knowledge is shared responsibly. Navajo Traditional Teachings primarily disseminates Navajo culture through digital videos, accessible to everyone. They share these videos on social media, hoping that viewers will engage with Indigenous perspectives and spread them further, thereby helping to preserve and promote Diné culture. In the following video, Elder Wally explains the origin of the name ‘Navajo’

Navajo Traditional Teachings is a collaborative venture between Shane Brown, a member of the Navajo (Diné) Nation, and his father, Wally Brown, a respected Navajo historian. Their project began unexpectedly on a significant day – the day before the total eclipse of 2017. Shane asked Elder Wally, ‘Dad, what are the traditional beliefs about the eclipse?’ Capturing the response on video, Shane was inspired to create a Facebook page to share these teachings. The video quickly went viral, amassing tens of thousands of views within hours. Below, you can watch the viral video that sparked the inception of Navajo Traditional Teachings, in which Elder Wally discusses the eclipse’s significance to the Navajo people.

Elder Wally recognized the importance of making traditional teachings accessible. From his early years, he was immersed in the traditional ways of knowing and being of his people. His grandfather trained him as a medicine man, laying the foundation for his future role as a Navajo teacher. Elder Wally has dedicated the better part of his life to educating others about Diné culture, always striving to reach a wider audience and share more about his people. In the video below, Elder Wally delves into Diné and other Native American teachings on bullying. He recalls how, from a young age, Diné children are instructed against bullying, a lesson typically introduced around the age of three or four. Watch the video to learn more!

Navajo Traditional Teachings is more than just a resource; it’s a journey into understanding and respecting the profound spiritual and cultural dimensions of the Navajo people. Elder Wally imparts wisdom on what it means to embark on a journey towards self-improvement. He teaches about the ‘beauty way path,’ a concept anchored in the principles associated with the four cardinal directions, emphasizing that beauty resides both within us and in our surroundings. These principles, enshrined in the four cardinal directions, are akin to the blessing way teachings and translate in English to ‘the four corn-pollen footsteps’: child, youth, adult, elder. In the video below, Elder Wally Brown explores ‘the four corn-pollen path’.

Navajo Traditional Teachings stands as a vital portal to the rich heritage and wisdom of the Diné people. Through Elder Wally Brown’s engaging videos, viewers are offered a unique opportunity to delve into the depths of Navajo culture and philosophy. This platform not only preserves the invaluable oral traditions and teachings of the Navajo but also bridges the gap between generations. By subscribing and engaging with this content, one can gain a deeper appreciation of the Navajo way of life and the universal principles of harmony, respect, and personal growth that it embodies. In this final video, Elder Wally Brown shares insights into living harmoniously with all living beings, encapsulated in the phrase: ‘Walk in Beauty.’