Prairyerth's Living Treasures of North America Heritage Awards 2001.  Honoring the People of the Dineh at Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago

Prairyerth Celebrated Earth Day in 2001 by honoring those who live their lives honoring the Earth.  We gathered with others to listen to Navajo People tell their stories.  There was music, dancing, singing, drumming, ceremony, a Sacred Fire, movement meditation, vendors with beautifully crafted rugs, jewelry, pottery, and books. As with all Living Treasure Awards, all proceeds benefited the recipients or a non-profit of their choice.

The Navajo Code Talkers

For the Preservation of their Language and Service to their Country

During WWII the Japanese broke every code the US developed until warriors of the Navajo and other Southwest nations used their language to communicate safely to the troops in the Pacific.  This despite the US government’s attempt to eradicate native languages.  Their actions preserved their heritage with honor and dignity, passing a living tradition to future generations.


The Cly Family of “The Return of Navajo Boy”

Elsie Cly Begay and John Wayne Cly 

For Telling Their Story


The indomitable spirit of the Dineh People is exemplified by the multigenerational struggle of this Navajo family as told in their own words and lives in the amazing PBS documentary by Jeff Spitz.  We honor their courage and example to others as their story continues in Monument Valley against the effects of the uranium mining operation, and we celebrate the return of one taken from them as a child.


The Begay Family of Weavers

For Preserving their Traditions & 

Defending their Ancestral Land

Grandmother Sarah and her daughter, LaVerna, still practice the old ways.  When the Relocation Act passed in 1972, many families resisted but today, only these two families remain to prevent the Boyden and Peabody Coal Company from mining their ancestral home. They refuse to move. They continue to teach their traditions to their children, who raise their own sheep, shear them, clean and dye the wool, then weave rugs as their ancestors have done for hundreds of years.  They are also working with the Hopi people to bring about peaceful resolutions to the issues facing their peoples.