Navajo jewelry serves cause
July 10, 2012
Over the Fourth of July weekend, those ambling down Main Street may have noticed the gleaming turquoise and brightly beaded jewelry on stands in front of Park City Clothing Company. Every year, owner Doug Hollinger, along with his wife and co-owner, invite the Adopt-A-Native-Elder program to sell their goods in front of their store.
"It’s an incredible program," Hollinger said. " You really see where this money goes. It goes to the elders the program is meant to help."
The Adopt-A-Native-Elder program is a nonprofit started on the Navajo Nation in Southern Utah that helps Navajo elders living in the most rural stretches of reservations afford groceries or clothes by selling crafts and jewelry. Park City local Linda Myers first brought the program to Park City in her own Main Street store, creating shows where elders could be introduced to the community. Her store has since closed, but she has kept the community involved with the Adopt-A-Native-Elder program.
"We meet people from all over the country on this one weekend and they learn about the elders and their needs," Myers said about the Fourth of July tradition. "We get donations because people take this information home and decide they want to do something. For us, it has so many effects. This is more than selling a bracelet."
Patrina Toya was patiently standing as people mingled into the crowded space to look at the jewelry. A rug that took two months for her grandmother, Katie Furcap, to make hung behind her. Each piece of jewelry took several days to carefully weave and string together.
"It started out small," Toya translated for her grandmother. "Linda was young when it began. She brought us up here for the first time Getting older, she needed more help, and with the program she found that. It did help her. It helps us with food and medical supplies."
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Although opening another business in front of his own may seem counterintuitive at first glance, Hollinger said he couldn’t imagine not having the program come up every year. As a sitting board member for the nonprofit, Hollinger made his first trip to the reservation this year, delivering supplies to the people he’d been helping for years.
"This hits home for me," Hollinger said. "There are people living out in the middle of nowhere, in mud and wood huts with no running water, plumbing or electricity. This is a way to give back to an organization we believe in."
For more information about Adopt-A-Native-Elder, visit http://www.anelder.org or contact Linda Myers at 435-649-0535.