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Navajo puppeteer Pete Sands ‘captures the imagination’ in Phoenix

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PHOENIX – Last weekend, the Grand Marionette Theater of Arizona hosted a Navajo language and cultural experience with puppeteers pete sands (other).

Sands’ performance drew a diverse crowd, which Jeffrey Lazos Ferns, interim executive director of the Arizona Puppet Theater, said reflected a shared interest in language preservation.

“Pete Sands’ love of his community, language and culture was transferred and translated into his writing,” said Ferns local news online. “The number of viewers from all walks of life in the community proves that the show has captured not only the imagination, but the community’s needs and desires for language preservation.”

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Sands’ puppet show journey began in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.In that year, he was recognized time magazine As one of its “Keepers of the Year,” created the Utah Navajo Health System’s COVID-19 relief effort to provide food, firewood, and water to thousands of people on the Navajo reservation.

Sands created a puppet show with a puppet in 2020, hoping he’ll make it fun for kids to learn about Navajo culture and language. As Navajo Nation has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, school children have had extremely limited learning. While working on COVID-19 relief during the pandemic, he saw barriers between generations in Navajo reservation families and wanted to change that.

Since the Navajo language does not have the word for “puppet,” Sands named his show “Navajo Highway.” Navajo Highways depicts a Navajo puppet family as children learn about their culture through language. He was inspired by a trip to Manhattan while working on the production of “Sesame Street.”

“When I saw how the puppets came to life and how the adults learned with the kids, I thought I could make this at home,” says Pete Sands local news online.

So he started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a TV show called “Navajo Highways” to showcase what the Navajo family — Sadie, Ash, Grandma Sally and Uncle Al — learn from each other.

“Kids are learning Navajo and adults can learn it too,” Sands said Navajo Highway.

He’s not the only talent on the show, though. He uses others, including young men and a Navajo teacher who voices Grandma Sally and also hosts the show. Together, they show others what life is like on the Navajo Indian Reservation, the largest Indian reservation in the United States at more than 27,000 square miles.

Greater Arizona Puppet Theater The theater hosts a variety of performances, but there aren’t many Aboriginal-themed puppet shows. Puppetry has a long history of storytelling among many groups of people around the world.

“We look forward to hosting him and the Navajo Highway again at the Grand Marionette Theater in Arizona,” Ferns said of Pete Sands.

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about the author

author: Darren Thompsone-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Darren Thompson (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) is a reporter for Native News Online based in the Twin Cities, Minnesota. Thompson has covered political unrest, tribal sovereignty and Indigenous issues for Indigenous Peoples Television Network, Rural India Today, Indigenous News Online, Powwows.com and Unicorn Riot. He has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Voice of America on a variety of Indigenous issues in the international conversation. He holds a BA in Criminology and Legal Studies from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.




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