Dine College



“Remember sheep provided for us, it once was a central part of our being a Navajo.”
-Roy Kady

Tsaile, Ariz.—Aretta Begay can tell you why—to the Navajo people—that, sheep is life. Sheep provides a way of life, but it also gave the Navajo people a way to clothe themselves, eat, work, and take care of the land.

For those reasons, Begay said she is excited about the 20th Annual Sheep is Life Celebration being held at Diné College Campus beginning Friday through Saturday, June 17-19. The Sheep is Life Celebration is hosted by the Land Grant Office of Diné College and sponsored by Diné be’ iiná , a grassroots, nonprofit organization founded in 1991. 

“Diné be’ iiná, means the way that we, the people live,” said Begay. “The Sheep is Life Celebration promotes a sustainable livelihood through the Navajo Way of Life. Traditionally, this has been sheep, wool, and weaving and whatever comes from that.”

The event will have several workshops and events for the whole family, said Roy Kady, a much revered and respected Navajo male-weaver. Both Begay and Kady hail from Teec Nos Pos and have invested much time, heart and soul into the Sheep is Life Celebration.

Among the various workshops taking place is the Navajo Round Rug event. The Navajo Round Rug is different from a regular rug and takes more patients, with a lot of thought put into it. Round Rugs are known to originate in the late 60s and is still being woven today. Participants spent one day learning how to weave a small rug in one day.

Round Rug presenter Antonio Chiquito (Torreon/Tinian, NM) has been weaving since he was a child.

“I love to weave. My fascination with the old ways are high so I love to learn as much as I can to better myself and to show who I am.”

The Sheep is Life event will allow participants to re-connect with the Navajo language, roots, culture through experiencing the presentation through sensory activities and re-immersion of sheep camp living.

“Anything that was historically practices is still being practiced. Some struggle with that reconnection, the re-immersion, and the live sheep being present, but we’ll bring to life the culture. I hope the people think back to their ancestors and what it was like in a sheep camp setting.”

Other activities include “Sheep to Loom” workshop, Navajo-Churro sheep show and wool show, Dine Lifeways and weaving activities, and wool and sheep clinics for the youth.

DBI is a grassroots, non-profit organization is to “restore the balance between Navajo culture, life, and land. We seek to preserve, protect, and promote the Navajo way of life; to encourage the participation and cooperation of the Navajo people among themselves and with other people and organizations; and to engage in research, education, development, establishment and promotion of projects and activities which further these ends.”

For information: info@navajolifeway.org or (505) 406-7428 / (928) 724-6947.