Navajo Counselor Focuses on Traditional Methods

A Navajo counselor used traditional methods to get through to Native American students at Shiprock Associated Schools Inc.

With an inspiring view of Shiprock from his modular classroom behind Northwest High School on the Navajo Nation, in Shiprock, New Mexico, Wilson De Vore employs traditional Navajo methods to help Native American students overcome their “monsters.”

De Vore is the first traditional counselor hired by Shiprock Associated Schools Inc. (SASI), reported The Daily Times. SASI is a Bureau of Indian Affairs funded program that serves 565 students and includes Northwest High School and Atsá Biyáázh Community School.

SASI Executive Director Leo Johnson said adding a traditional counselor was part of an effort to have a more mainstream image.

“Students here, it seemed like some of them had discipline issues,” Johnson told The Daily Times. “They were highly mobile, moving from school to school, and they came here because we were alternative.”

When students visit De Vore he wants them to be themselves and be able to talk about challenges openly.

“I feel students have monsters today, life struggles that cause imbalance,” he said. “I tell the students that in each of them lies the Hero Twins. You have a choice,” he told The Daily Times. “You can go about using aggression or you can go about creating balance and harmony.”

He explained that one twin, Monster Slayer, confronts negativity while the other generates resolution.

Aside from counseling, De Vore teaches Diné culture which includes lessons in language, puberty rites, the Hogan, beliefs, ceremonies and identity.

“My challenge is taking Diné traditions and instilling them into the kids,” he told The Daily Times. “My hope for them is personal growth, to grow and grow and grow and not stop.”

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