For tribal groups in Arizona, understanding the connections between physical, social, mental and spiritual identity of the people prior to birth through 102 years old is a way of life. Tribes in Arizona often illustrate their balance between patriarch and matriarch societies through symbolism. Illustrating with the Man in the maze and the Navajo basket designs, Royce Manuel, Auk-Mierl Aw-Thum and Debbie Nez-Manuel, Diné unfold the general understanding of two common designs.
Royce Manuel (Akimel O’odham) best describes his work through the “Tools of Yesterday” using plant fiber, primitive bows & arrows, knapping stone, and making agave plant cordage. As a tribal and cultural educator and member of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Royce specializes in the revival and teaching of artistic traditions and indigenous knowledge. Debbie Nez-Manuel (Diné), has a Masters in Social Work, Arizona State University and is experienced in both non-profit and tribal communities. Debbie’s traditional and bi-cultural lifestyles, provides valuable insight and practices in both urban and tribal community settings while preserving, strengthening, and renewing cultural identity.