The goal is to achieve a “transference of knowledge.” Those are the words of Dr. Christine Ami, who coordinates the Navajo Cultural Arts Program at Diné College. Through the classes in the program, the college hopes to offer students the opportunity to not only gain an understanding of traditional skills but be prepared to teach them. By becoming proficient in both areas, the students will achieve the college’s stated goal to “enhance and revitalize Navajo cultural art philosophies and practices.”
The program, which the college began planning in 2015, opens to students this semester. There are five emphasis areas: silversmithing, Navajo weaving, traditional painting, photography, and graphic arts. Beginning level classes are geared toward gaining or enhancing basic skills while upper-level classes offer more advanced practices. For example, beginning silversmith students learn traditional Navajo stamp work and basic soldering while upper-level students focus on casting, lapidary skills and more advanced soldering.
Degree tracks are also varied. Students pursuing the BA option also gain core academic classes that enable them to continue their education through higher degrees. Fine Arts classes are interwoven with the academic part of the program and graduating students will be credentialed as Fine Arts instructors. Graduates will complete 122 to 125 credit hours.
The Certificate option offers a more general Cultural Arts curriculum and requires twenty-four credit hours. There is also an option for dual credit, which allows second-semester high school freshmen and up to take classes through the program for credit. Faculty for NCAP include Dr. Wilson Aronilth, Tony Goldtooth and Teddy Draper, Jr.
More information on classes and the program can be found at www.navajoculturalartsprogram.org. For information on Diné College or to register to go to www.dinecollege.edu. The Navajo Cultural Arts Program can be found on the college’s website by following the link for Academics, then the link for the School of Arts, Humanities, and English.