Life's beauties, life's tragedies
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Condensed by Native Village
Tacheenie-Campoy learned early that life is both beautiful and
She spent her infancy and early childhood strapped to her mother's
back as her mother herded sheep and cows, gardened and tended her
family. They moved frequently to find food and water for their
animals. Sometimes they slept in tents, and other times
they lived in hogans, the traditional Navajo home.
"My mom didn't go to school. She didn't speak English. She was
completely immersed in the Navajo culture," said Tacheenie-Campoy,
59. Almost everything the family used was made at home: clothing,
moccasins for ceremonies. They hunted and grew their food.
When Glory was ordered to attend an American Indian boarding school, her parents were too frightened to
protest. "It was heartbreaking for me, as a child, to have to leave
my mother," she said.
She was 6 when she arrived at the Tuba City school. She remembers
the nights most, and sleeping on rows of cots with the other
children. "It was like a military bunker," she said. "You could
hear the children crying."
Everything was strange. She had to wear different clothing, eat new
foods and learn a new language. Speaking
Dinč/Navajo was forbidden.
these changes were minor compared to what eventually happened to Tacheenie-Campoy, who nearly died at the school.
On that awful day her peers, frightened by an enraged adult at the
school, fled up a flight of stairs and knocked her through the
railing to the basement below.
"It seemed like days before my mother, father and brother came to
visit me (in the hospital)," she said. "Parents and family weren't
allowed to visit their kids at boarding school. It was
heartbreaking and devastating for a child and parents to sever ties
at such a young age."
After that year ended, Glory was sent to Flagstaff. She lived in
a boardinghouse and attended public schools.
During her elementary years, she became passionate about art.
"It was the only thing I could really understand until I could learn
to read and write," she said
When high school ended, Glory attended the University of Michigan
and earned a degree in art and American Indian studies. She also met
her husband at UM, now-retired Pima County Judge Hector Campoy.
Glory's mother died in 2001 with her daughter
by her side. "Before she passed away, I told her she would be
remembered, and so I often talk about her," she said. "She was my
Tacheenie-Campoy paints, sketches, weaves, and makes paper. She has
shared her work and knowledge in the U. S. and Europe. Right now,
Glory is in an abstract period.
"Some people go with a certain medium, and I find that limiting.
Some people go with a certain style, and I get bored with that,"
"There's so much out there, it's overwhelming," she said. "It seems
everything I see influences what I do."
Her creations often reflect reservation life.
"My mother and father, aunt, uncle and grandfather have passed on
but left with me memories and knowledge of Dinč language and
culture," she said. "My grandfather was one of few elders who knew
the Horse Chant, and my father was a participant in the yeibichai
dance healing ceremony."
Keevin Lewis is from the Smithsonian's National Museum of the
He says Glory's work tells the stories of the land she loves
and what it produces in terms of family relations,
language and beliefs."
"In many tribal lifeways there is no word for art. I believe art for
many indigenous people came as an economic survival entity to very
harsh living conditions," Lewis said. "In Glory's situation, I
believe art became a personal means of expression of contemporary
social conditions and the world."
Tacheenie-Campoy created a series of abstract
botanicals inspired by her mother's knowledge of healing plants.
Another piece, titled "Umbilical Cord," is an abstract woodcut
print. Tacheenie-Campoy created it to honor the Dinč/Navajo
belief that "the Earth is our mother." After each birth,
Tacheenie-Campoy said, her own mother buried her newborn child's
umbilical cord, according to tradition.
"I interpret this practice as reconnecting or strengthening our
kinship bond with the Earth," she said.
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