Native American Elder, Zuni and Dine
Shirley Tso is a Zuni and Dine woman, the wife of Tom Tso.
She tells about her life: “I am Shirley J Tso born in 1938 in a small mission hospital near Gallup, NM. I’m Zuni Red Streak in water, born from Mexican clan – my maternal grandfather “Salt Clan” and may paternal grandfather “near the water”. I went to school at Gallup and graduated from Cathedral High School. My first husband moved back to Navajo Reservation, we have four children all raised on the Navajo Reservation. In 2007 my children’s father died in a car accident. I met my present husband Tom at coal mine where I worked at the warehouse as a parts man (woman). Tom would come and order parts for the machine he was working on, so we started talking from then on. In 1994 we got married and I retired in 1996 for the coal mine. I enjoyed going to Gourd Dance and Pow Wow, we travel the Pow Wow Circuit for a while. Early 1990 Tom invited me to a Sundance at Big Mountain. I didn’t know anything about it so I was unprepared for the ceremony. So after the ceremony I went home but the spirit of the ceremony stayed with me. The smell of the sage, drumming and singing, people dancing four days. Now I anxiously wait for the Sundance Ceremony. As a small child I would go to Native American Church service with my father. Now I attend the prayer service with my husband Tom. Tom conducts different kinds of ceremony, where I usually assist him. I’ve met many wonderful people some of them only once and other times we meet the people again. I’m very thankful for different ways of Prayer (ceremony). As I mentioned before, I have four children, two adopted grandsons, eight grandchildren and my most five precious great grandchildren. I’ve been blessed that way. When the whole family come here the house is usually filled with laughter loud noises, it feels wonderful to have the family here. I’m a Dine woman living between our four sacred mountains in Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico, Utah.”
Three Native American Elders will be present at the conference and share the spiritual ways of their ancestors. They will guide Sunrise ceremonies in the early mornings and Sweat Lodge ceremonies in the afternoons. During the days, Tipi at Lilleoru’s Flower of Life park will be their home.
Welcome to greet the Sun and give the day a blessed start with Morning Prayer! This is a beautiful early morning ceremony guided by Native American spiritual leaders Rupert Encinas, Tom Tso and Shirley Tso from Arizona.
“We believe that the Sun God is all powerful, for every spring he makes the trees to bud and the grass to grow. We see these things with our own eyes, and therefore know that all life comes from him.” – anonymous, Blackfoot
“In the morning as I wake up, I say, “Aho! Father, thank you for letting me sleep through the night and see another day. This is a start of another day. Today, whatever we do, be with us and guide us, watch us and protect us. Let us live through this day, helping each other.” – Thomas Yellowtail, Crow
Sweat Lodge Ceremony
The Sweat Lodge symbolizes a mother’s womb, or the Universe and is a place for cleansing, clearing the mind and healing for Native Americans. It is a sacred and safe space to look inside, to be close to Mother Earth and pray together. Sweat lodges have been there for First Nations throughout North America since time immemorial. It is shared with us by Rupert Encinas, Tom Tso and Shirley Tso from Arizona. We will hold it every evening.
“The Earth is our Mother. Our skin is the same as the soil from the Mother Earth, our blood flows as the rivers that flow from the mountains, and our voices are like thunder, The Great Spirit is inside each of us. We are all part of Creation.” Peterson Zah, former chairman and president of Navajo (Diné) Nation
“The tobacco was given to humans for prayer, nothing more”
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