Aretta Begay is Diné (Navajo), of the Manygoats Clan, born for the Salt People Clan. She currently resides in Teec Nos Pos, AZ, where she also raises the Navajo-Churro Sheep. Currently, she works as Co-Coordinator of the Navajo-Churro Lamb Presidium and Director of Diné Be’Iiná (Navajo Lifeway). Diné Be’Iiná is a former Colorado Plateau Foundation grantee. Diné be’ iiná, Inc. is a grassroots, nonprofit organization founded in 1991. Diné be’ iiná, means the way that we, the people live. They promote a sustainable livelihood through the Navajo Way of Life. Traditionally, this has been sheep, wool, and weaving and whatever comes from that.
She has an academic background in Environmental Studies and Policy and is a professional Navajo translator. She is a sustainability educator and writer; understands traditional lifeways. She is passionate about traditional foods and cuisine, shepherding, fiber art and land stewardship.
In Aretta’s words, “As a member of the Navajo-Churro Lamb Presidium, I enjoy being a part of the greater Slow Food network and the great work we do with Indigenous communities on the Navajo Nation. As a presidium we collaborate with other local traditional Navajo elders, we ask their skills in butchering, plant and ceremonial methods of humanely slaughtering animals to consuming and preparing the foods. Our meat is sold to local restaurants/ chefs and caterers, who continue to be impressed by the quality of our meat, which is flavored by the desert medical herbs Navajo use, such as sage and tobacco plants. This greatly enhances the meat and well-being of the person consuming the meat; we believe they are also being blessed by the earth.”