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MCS & The Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program

On Thursday, November 5th our Lower Elementary, 3rd Year students will have the opportunity to learn about the Navajo way of life at the Deer Valley Navajo Rug Show. For more than fifteen years, the Montessori Community School has sponsored our Navajo grandmothers through the Adopt-a-Native-Elder Program.


Grandmother Elvira Horseherder speaks to our students and tells them the meaning of the rug pattern she wove for them and our school.

The Program supports traditional Elders who live in the cultural and spiritual traditions of The Dine’ People. Most live in remote portions of the Dine’s (Navajo) reservation. As they have become elderly, it is difficult for them to support themselves on the Land in their traditional ways. The program provides food, simple medicines, clothing, firewood, fabric, and yarns to help these Elders live on the Land in their traditional lifestyle.

Our MCS community adopted Navajo grandmothers, Grandmother Emma Bahe, and Grandmother Elvira Horseherder. Each fall, Grandmother Elvira attends the rug show and spends some time with the children. She is a wonderful woman with a generous spirit and the children love the interaction with her. Though Grandmother Emma’s health keeps her from making the long journey to the annual Rug Show, she sends her love through the rugs she weaves, which we are able to see on our trip.

Grandmother Elvira Horseherder


Grandmother Emma Bahe

Our students, along with students from several other schools, are given the opportunity to watch a presentation given by Elvira and other elders on various aspects of the Navajo culture (i.e. hogans, weaving, corn grinding, etc.). In recent years, a few of our students have had the opportunity to try out the looms or have their hair tied up Navajo style (for those with long hair).   The elders travel hundreds of miles to the Rug Show and we are very grateful to have the rare opportunity to experience a first-hand glimpse of the Navajo way of life.

MCS students getting their hair tied in the traditional Navajo way.

We will be collecting dried and canned food, VISA gift cards, tools, toiletries, clothing, lightly used children’s coats, gloves, hats, backpacks, and school supplies (a more detailed list of items can be found clipped to the sign in the MCS lobby) to give to the Navajo elders. Watch for collection bins outside your student’s classroom.



Our students will deliver the donations to the Navajo elders on the day of the Rug Show. We really look forward to this wonderful tradition and love to learn more about and be immersed in the Dine’s rich culture.