This page is inspired by my great friends, Red Ant (Betty LaFontaine) and her wonderful Chippewa husband Mike LaFontaine (Painted Pony).
Betty “Red Ant” LaFontaine
Native American “Navajo” Educator and Teacher
Betty “Red Ant” LaFontaine is a full blooded Diné (Navajo) born of the Red Clay Bottom Clan, for the Salt Clan. Raised on the Navajo Reservation, she lived most of her youth in New Mexico in the traditional ways of the Diné. Betty is the middle child of eleven children, most of whom continue to live on the Reservation. Her father is Charlie (Man in the White Meadow) White, and her mother is Helen Yazzie White. Her ties to her family and homeland remain strong. Her family was taught by missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and in about 1967 her mother was baptized by LeGrande Richards. Her mother later took out her endowments in the Mesa Arizona Temple. Helen served as a Relief Society President in her hometown of Crownpoint, New Mexico, and has always been very sensitive to the Spirit, despite her lack of a formal education. Betty did the Temple work for her father Charlie, after he passed away.
At age five, Betty began her formal education. While attending school she was taught English as a second language. She was not permitted to speak her native tongue during the school day. Betty’s mother Helen chose to have Betty attend the LDS Indian Student Placement Program, giving her access to a better education and an introduction to the modern world. During her seven years in the program, Betty met her husband of 38 years, Mike LaFontaine originally from California, and is of Chippewa heritage. Mike’s parents are Melvin J. and Dellene M. Peterson LaFontaine. Mike and Betty were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple in 1982 and they currently live in Orange Park, Florida where they have been for 25 years, spending time with their beautiful 5 children and 18 grandchildren.
As a modern urban Indian, Betty’s passion is to educate others about the realities of reservation life, and the history and culture of her people. Betty loves helping others become outstanding members of their communities, and especially loves strengthening her brothers and sisters in the LDS Church. As an Indian educator, Betty makes presentations about her native culture, life-ways, heritage to school assemblies, clubs, groups, organizations, and business employees. Betty has served in Relief Society, Young Women, and as a teacher in Sunday School, and Primary. She is from the tribe of Manasseh. Her testimony of the veracity of the Book of Mormon has engendered in her an interest in recent archaeological and DNA evidences and the ties she has to her heritage and native culture. Her Native American brothers and sisters are a chosen yet scattered people and her passion is to bring them home to the Savior where they may lead in building the New Jerusalem.
From Red Ant’s Hogan
“I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy.”
~Black Elk’s Vision~ Oglala Sioux
Navajo Indian Website Yá’át’ééh!
In 2008, on a dig in the First Nation’s Menominee Reservation in Wisconsin, archaeologists made a small but stunning discovery: a tiny clay pot. HERE
Original Navajo/Chippewa Drums by Mike and Betty
Bruce Starlight – Dynamics and Prevalence
Thank you Betty for my Navajo names.
Hasteen Diyan bah Haske’ “Gods Warrior”
Diyin’ Naabaahii’ “Creators Warrior”
In Diné (Navajo), the word for warrior is naabaahii. The naabaahii were ….. offerings to the Diyin Dine’é (Holy People) primarily via corn pollen (tádídíín). Food.
In Navajo, a warrior means someone who can get through the snowstorm when no
one else can. In Navajo, a warrior is the one that doesn’t get the flu when
everyone else does—the only one walking around, making a fire for the sick,
giving them medicine, feeding them food, making them strong to fight the flu. In
Navajo, a warrior is the one who can use words so everyone knows they are part
of the same family. In Navajo, a warrior says what is in the people’s hearts.
Talks about what the land means to them. Bring them together to fight for it.1
In Diné (Navajo), the word for warrior is naabaahii. The naabaahii were men and
women who fought an enemy and/or an illness/disease. These individuals worked
bravely and tirelessly to protect their families and communities. When in battle, they
used their mind, body, and spirit. Unfortunately, most of their knowledge have been lost,
but some stories remain to draw upon.
The naabaahii were men and women who fought to protect the peoples, the land,
and way of life. They worked bravely and without reservation to sustain their families
and communities; their tools, ways, and knowledge helped them to survive and win
battles. The lessons learned from the naabaahii and the twin warriors are needed.
By reviewing Diné history and cultural knowledge especially the creation
narratives and how warriors prepared and fought for the peoples is useful in developing
and implementing strategies. The naabaahii used their mind, body, and spirit to fight and
defeat their enemies and illnesses/diseases; their strategies and intelligence helped them
to be successful. Numerous young Diné are graduating from colleges and professional
schools where their intelligence and contemporary knowledge is needed.
Naayéé’ Neezghání and Tó Bájísh Chíní fought and defeated most of the monsters
roaming the Earth in their time; their stories are fundamental to Diné peoples. The
lessons of service, teamwork, using appropriate tools, setting goals, compassion,
preparation, adaptability, discipline, belief, consistency, organization, and following a
spiritual approach provide strategies to use and expand on.
Decolonization and rebuilding the Navajo Nation is attainable and starts with the
individual. He or she can look at past warriors who sacrificed, protected, and worked for
Diné peoples. He or she can use tools such as the Fundamental Laws, the concept of
h0zh=, communication, and a critical mind. Diné peoples are resilient and they have
stories to rely on. Now is the time to get to work!