Inaugural Indigenous Men's Conference held in Montezuma Creek
The Inaugural Indigenous Men’s Conference took place in Montezuma Creek on June 30, with fifty people in attendance and thousands tuned in to listen.
The event sponsored by Utah Navajo Health System (UNHS) brought Indigenous men to speak at a first-of-its-kind gathering for Indigenous men.
In an interview with Redrock Radio, event organizer Pete Sands explains he was inspired to organize the event after sharing his own perspective at conferences on issues that Indigenous communities face.
“A lot of conferences I went to they talked about issues that affected Indian Reservations, and the Native American population but a lot of it was aimed towards addressing women’s issues.
“When I was at these conferences I’d give a male’s perspective on certain issues like alcoholism or sexual abuse or different types of things that plague Indian reservations.”
“A lot of that came from my perspective and people were really intrigued by that, saying we never heard this from a male’s point of view. The more and more conferences I went to I was more inclined to why don’t we have conferences for Indigenous men.”
Sands says the event was intended to provide a space for men to communicate and further a healing process.
“As a society, we don’t encourage men to be emotional, be vulnerable, or talk about their feelings. Getting back to the core traditional beliefs of the Navajo people and when it comes to Navajo masculine identity there’s a lot there that’s overlooked.
“I thought it’s important for men to have a safe place for them to speak as well and to have their voices heard and talk about the things they went through.”
The event keynote speaker was actor and activist Eugene Brave Rock. He is known for his work on Wonder Woman, AMC’s That Dirty Black Bag, and the new Navajo TV drama Dark Winds. Fellow Dark Winds actor Zahn McClarnon also attended the conference.
Ernest Harry Begay spoke on the Navajo Sweatlodge Story at the conference. Clayton Long spoke about Hozho leads the way. Dr. Buu Nygren spoke on the power of a healthy mind and body.
Justin Jones spoke about traditional Navajo male values, and Steven A. Darden spoke about the Navajo coming-of-age ceremony.
A musical performance was given by Joe Tohonnie Jr. The entire event can be viewed on the UNHS Facebook page.
Sands said organizers didn’t know what the turnout would be for the first-of-its-kind conference but they were overwhelmed by interest from people.
While in-person attendance was limited to 50 people, the online video of the event had about 2,000 live views with over 4,000 views since the event. Sands says it will only get bigger, as they plan to host the event at a larger venue next year.
“Hopefully this brings those issues to the forefront and really starts balancing things, getting back to that plane of communication. That’s a huge thing. Got to get people to communicate and talk to each other.”