Tullahoma woman Larcinda Taliman has been sharing presentations about the Navajo Nation with local students to help them understand a piece of her heritage.
“I think they can see how similar they are, how they can probably help each other. I emphasize that it’s not just about a certain group or race of people. It’s about expanding your knowledge and wisdom about different things.”
Poverty and addiction as well as arts and crafts and the wonderful aspects of a culture are not exclusive to any one group. It’s important, Taliman urges, for people to be mindful of how similar all peoples are.
“It’s important to expand your knowledge and to have empathy and compassion for others, where they’re weak and where they’re strong,” she said. “Cherish other people and cherish mother nature. That’s our word for Earth, ‘Mother Nature.’ When you take care of her, you take care of one another.”
Taliman first started presenting when her daughter’s honors teacher asked that she come speak to the class about the Navajo people.
The class had an All About Me project. That the daughter was part Icelandic part Navajo caught the teacher’s attention. He asked Taliman if she could put together a presentation. COVID-19 and a no-guests policy meant that Taliman‘s presentations are virtual.
She is presenting to several classes in the ninth grade and hopes to expand to other schools.
“It would be really nice to spread the culture to other schools,” Taliman said.
The presentation consists of her background, a slideshow of who the Navajo.
The Navajo is a nation within a nation, there’s an elected president, a flag and seal.
“I’ll talk about our president, when the office began, what party they are,” Taliman said. “And then I tell them about my family and what I experienced growing up.”
Taliman was born in a town near Window Rock, Ariz., Fort Defiance, in the Navajo Reservation, the largest of the Native American reservations, covering parts of four states.
Taliman notes that while she has many fond memories of the good aspects of the reservation, she admits that her family’s move while she was in high school to Virginia was, in part, motivated by their wanting to offer her and her siblings a better life.
Navajo culture is part of Taliman’s life. She remembers growing up in the West, where bull riding is a huge pastime, herding sheep as a child and the superstition and lore of having two medicine men as grandparents.
“There’s a lot of supernatural activity out there. I’ve never really had a personal experience, but I’ve seen things. It’s kinda the fun part of living out there,” Taliman said.
“We believe in a lot of supernatural things. Our traditions have to do with that.”
These medicine men were a combination of healthcare providers, ceremonial officials and religious leaders.
Taliman attended a private, Christian school. She said that there are a lot of missionaries that minister to the people who live on reservations. The family met one and a Christian school opportunity arose.
Seeking further opportunities, the family relocated to Virginia where Taliman attended high school and met her husband. They moved to Tennessee to be closer to his parents.
Taliman’s sister works on the reservation for the Navajo Nation.
“The Navajo Nation is a great place, but it can kinda hold you down. It can get you involved in things that are not fruitful,” she said.