Culture Feature: Navajo Shoe Game
Winter: the Season of hot chocolate and warm sweaters. It also happens that winter is the season of the Navajo Shoe Game. The Shoe Game is a game that is not played after early spring and not before November. The Shoe Game is when a small yucca plant is uprooted, the leaves are torn off, and the yucca root is fashioned into a ball. The yucca ball is then taken and hidden inside of a boot buried in the sand by one of the two teams. The opposing team will then send one member up to discover which boot the yucca ball is hidden in. This is done by striking the boots with a stick of a pinon pine and by asking the other team questions. Each team has a limit of three guesses. If one team guesses right the first time they will receive ten yucca leaves, if they guess it on the second time they will receive eight leaves, and if they guess it the final time they will receive four leaves. If the root is not discovered the team that hid the ball of yucca will re-hide it. The Shoe Game is typically played all night until sunrise.
The Navajo play the Shoe Game in remembrance of one of their legends. According to legend, night creatures and day creatures did not understand the importance of cycles in the universe. Each group either wanted it to be all day or all night. Because of this the first Shoe Game was played. The two groups of animals took turns hiding a yucca ball in four boots that were almost completely buried under the sand. A member from each group was send up to guess which boot the yucca ball was concealed in. Both groups played all night until the first rays of sunlight came up from the east. Neither of the teams had won and the animals learned that all seasons and cycles mattered.
AMBUSH-“How did the Balloon Rally start?”
BL- “Balloon Rally started in 1981 and was started somewhat as um a challenge between some balloonists here in Gallup and in Farmington. Farmington was claiming they had the best place to fly and we believed we did. So 36 years later we’re still running it and um they aren’t. It was just a friendly competition that stayed for a while.”
AMBUSH-“How has the Rally grown in the past 36 years?”
BL-“Well it started as probably only I think it was twelve balloons and today we average 120-140 balloons. It has grown significantly in the past 36 years in balloons and in pilots. It has grown as well in spectators. This year we had people from Hawaii, Ohio, Kansas City, and many other places.”
AMBUSH-“How does the Balloon Rally rate in Balloon Rallies across the United States number wise?”
BL-“We are the second largest in North America. The only other Balloon Rally that’s larger than ours is the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, NM.”
AMBUSH-“How many balloons flew this year?”
AMBUSH-“How would it be possible for high school students to volunteer to help with the Balloon Rally?”
BL-“We would love all the volunteers we could get. In particular we need help with balloon crews. Oftentimes pilots bring a crew but sometimes they are unable to. We need four people to get up each balloon and oftentimes you get a ride in the balloon. It’s a great opportunity to get some sun and get up in the air and see what happens. We hold balloon trainings that are not mandatory. We have volunteer signups that are on our website and you can email us closer to the event for more information when we are looking to sign people up as volunteers.”