Bessie Smith was forced to give up her name, her language, and everything about her culture at 11-years-old.
DENVER — At a kitchen table in Denver, pride replaces fear as Bessie Smith and her daughter, Tina, make traditional Navajo jewelry.
It’s the kind of jewelry Smith grew up wearing until she was 11-years-old, when she had to strip herself of the jewelry and everything she’d ever known growing up on the Navajo reservation in Arizona.
“My identity was Dzabahe,” Smith said of her Dine name. “Then when I got to boarding school I couldn’t use that name anymore because that represented my identity as this Navajo child.”
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