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Lupita McClanahan

Student Liason

Lupita McClanahan is a member of the Diné (Navajo) tribe. She was born on the Diné reservation near Canyon de Chelly and lives there now. She has fifteen living siblings. Her parents and grandparents had no experience in modern ways of life. When it came to speaking English and learning modern ways, Lupita picked this up as she traveled.

During this time, she kept the storytelling-way alive. She kept close to her grandparents and her ancestral home. For Lupita, story-telling is not about myth, rather, it helps her remember their way of life. Lupita’s mother and grandparents taught her to live the moment, in the present – not in past or future. 

There are lessons in storytelling that require attention and show by listening how to sort out what is important and what is not important. Lessons and responsibilities are learned through kinship (the way the Diné say it is “ké”) and are treated with respect, holiness and reverence.  

Lupita believes words are sacred. It is a gift used from the heart and soul to save another. Lupita says, “We must use words delicately.” 

In the Diné culture corn pollen is placed at the tip of the tongue of the new-born.  This is done to feed that child good words. This is how Lupita thinks of education. 

Achieving some modern education placed Lupita in a position where she had the privilege to reach out to Diné youth and bring forward Diné culture, language, history and art. Later, as she stayed with the land at Canyon de Chelly – she was hired by the National Park Service to do cultural presentations and interpretation.

Lupita became a liaison at Canyon de Chelly, someone who goes between different entities, communities, and non-Native people. This gave her a vision of creating a bridge. This bridge is called Footpath JourneysFootpath Journeys is a way to share and lead people to appreciate one’s home and life-way so we develop a sacred, special belonging and experience something new and beautiful.

As she kept these responsibilities, Lupita grew stronger with her husband Jon and they decided to raise two children, their grandchildren. These children were raised to adulthood in a warm and loving home. Prior to the grandchildren Lupita raised a daughter, Kris. Kris shared in the responsibilities of raising the grandchildren. 

Lupita McClanahan
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