Adrian Herder of the Chíshsí clan of the Navajo Nation, explains his identity as a strand of DNA. The clans of his mother and father knit together to create a unique individual from familial characteristics. Family is obviously important to Adrian. He traveled home from Flagstaff where he is in school to host the Westies and share the history of the land that his family has inhabited and lived off of for generations. Time tried myths mingled with personal narratives from his childhood as he introduced us to his relatives, sharing poignant stories about their dedication to their individual life’s work.
Adrian is dedicated in his own right. Out of his high school graduating class of 55, only ten attended college or university, and only four or five are now on track to earn their degrees. Adrian is one of them, finishing his senior year at Northern Arizona University where he studies Wellness and Fitness. Though busy with schoolwork, he also guides tours at the picturesque Antelope Canyon, picks and sells local tea, and hosts college students over the weekend.
On our last morning with Adrian, we found a horny toad hiding under a desert shrub. According to legend, this creature fought off a thunderstorm threatening the earth, using its back as a shield to selflessly protect the place it loved. At our departure, Adrian emphasized the need to channel this warrior instinct toward modern environmental and social justice battles. Adrian himself embodies this spirit, generously educating us about his family and culture.
By: Sarah Dunn