Jo’ Jini’ – “That’s what I heard.”
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – The first new exhibit at the Navajo Nation Museum for 2016, is set to open on January 14. ‘Jo’ Jini’ – If These Objects Could Talk’ is the name of the exhibit and was inspired by medicine men who share traditional Navajo teachings and usually end with the words, ‘Jo’ Jini.’
The mission of the Navajo Nation Museum is for a living and lively place for the Dine’ to foster positive self-identity based on cultural teachings that are passed on by elders. Museum Curator, Clarenda Begay explained that rather than describing the purpose or origin of each piece in the exhibit, she wants the objects to tell their own stories.
“Often times in ceremonies, the medicine man will start talking and share his teachings and oral stories and then end with, ‘Jini,’” Begay described. “This is how we share our cultural teachings and pass them on from one generation to another, through oral stories.”
The exhibit will feature 60 different contemporary objects that were donated by 25 different donors such as the Navajo artists themselves, and from doctors and teachers who want to share their pieces with the viewers. It will include jewelry, folk art, pottery, historical items and contemporary pieces. One such donated piece includes a flag that was flown at Fort Sumner, New Mexico.
“We don’t just accept anything and everything,” Begay noted. “Our scope of collections has to be unique and pertain to the Navajo Nation historically and geographically. Sometimes the Navajo people will donate their pieces because they want us to keep them in perpetuity and part of the Navajo Nation collection.”
Since she began working for the Navajo Nation Museum in 1991, Begay said the Navajo Nation Museum was primarily housed with historical Navajo pieces. She soon realized there was a missing link in the collection, which did not include contemporary Navajo art and objects.
“A lot of our pieces in the Navajo Nation Museum were historical,” she commented. “My goal as a curator is to have a kiosk in the lobby so viewers can see and learn more about all of our collections.”
Navajo Nation Museum Director, Manuelito Wheeler is excited for the new year and hopes to continue to educate visitors on Dine’ culture.
“In honor of a new year, we want to invite the public to our very first 2016 exhibit at the Navajo Nation Museum,” Wheeler stated. “We look forward to sharing many new great exhibits, activities, workshops and events with the Navajo people and visitors. We hope the Navajo Nation Museum will enrich your knowledge and appreciation for the Dine’ people.”
To learn more about the Jo’ Jini Exhibit and the Navajo Nation Museum, contact them at (928) 871-7941 or visit the Navajo Nation Museum Facebook page.