Emerald | A Navajo Maternity Session


When Emerald said that she would like to do an outfit change and had a traditional Navajo gown, I did not know what to expect. When I saw all that she was wearing and what she was carrying, I said, “Whoa, what’s the story with all of this!?” She explained it to me and I was just in awe. I had her write it all out for all of you and it is worth the read:

She writes:

“The Navajo culture is a matriarchal society. Through the mother, kinship or as it is known in the Navajo community as clanship is passed down to her children. Clanship identifies you to other Navajo individuals as relatives be it an aunt, grandma, cousin or sister. My clan is Bit'ahnii (Folded Arms Clan) which I inherited from my mother who inherited from her mother, who was originally from Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. The teachings I received and continue to receive on becoming a mother stem from my female lineage. In 2012, my husband Shiloh and I were married in three different ceremonies- each honoring our heritage and beliefs. An Apache wedding, a Navajo wedding, and a Christian church wedding. 

In the Navajo wedding, we utilized a Navajo wedding basket. The basket has a beautiful story that tells of the story of the Navajo creation story. Looking forward, when a baby laughs, a party is thrown to celebrate a new step in life. Salt, symbolizing kind words to come from the mouth of the baby in the future,  is served to guests and served from the wedding basket; the meaning holds a symbolic understanding that our family is united. The tools within the basket- greasewood stirring sticks, straw brush, a weaving comb, and a red sash belt - symbolize a Navajo women's tools for her home. The stirring sticks are used at a woman's coming of age ceremony in preparation of making her traditional cake and the ones pictured are from my coming of age ceremony. The straw bundle is also used in the coming of age ceremony in which a young woman's hair is tied up similar to how my hair is tied with the white yarn. A woman's hair is symbolic for her thoughts and prayers and should always be kept together. The weaving comb is one part of many weaving tools that Navajo women use to make Navajo rugs. In this case, I chose to incorporate the weaving comb in honor of my late grandmother, who was a weaver, and she provided for her family through weaving. Lastly, the red sash belt is a woven piece that young women are gifted at her coming of age ceremony. The one pictured was gifted at my ceremony. It symbolizes her ability to bear children as it is used during the laboring process. Teachings and stories on traditional tools vary region to region across the vast Navajo Nation, but ultimately, a mother's love to provide, protect, and teach are the forefront for her children.

I am looking forward to one day passing these stories down to our Bit'ahnii baby."

What a special time I was able to photograph for these parents about to welcome their baby.

For the second part of the session she chose a dress from the Blooming Images wardrobe and it was stunning on her as well. <3