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October 4, 2012
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Navajo weavers, Palisade quilters help cancer patients

Palisade quilters and weavers from the Navajo Nation will sell their baby quilts and Navajo rugs at a silent auction in Palisade Saturday, Oct. 13, to benefit both communities.The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Palisade Nazarene Church, 3595 Front St. in Palisade.Three years ago, the Nazarene Sisters Quilters held its first quilt show and Navajo rug sale to benefit Navajo cancer patients who travel to cities several hours away from their remote homes on the Navajo reservation. A portion of the proceeds from baby quilt sales will also go to fund the Pregnancy Center, a Grand Junction nonprofit that offers counseling, support and other services for pregnant women.For the auction, the quilters have made more than 60 baby quilts. Quilts that do not sell will be given to the Pregnancy Center for layettes to give out to clients. "These are just beautiful quilts, and we're going to give them away," quilter Lola Castle said. "They'll all be wrapped up in love."The quilt and rug sale event is also to raise money for cancer patients and their families who live in the Cornfields community, a remote area of about 12,000 people located 200 miles east of Flagstaff.The Palisade Nazarene Church is a sister church of the Nazlinin Church of the Nazarene, of which Navajo Elizabeth Johnson belongs. Johnson is a community services coordinator of the impoverished Cornfields community. She said she plans to bring to the Grand Valley, about 20 Navajo handwoven rugs, with traditional designs including "Ganado Red," "Eye Dazzler Design," and "Chief Blanket Design."Unemployment is high in the village of Cornfields, where 60 percent of the population do not have electricity, and 50 percent do not have running water.One of the community needs identified by Johnson, is money for expenses when patients and their families travel off reservation for medical appointments. Patients often must stay away from home for a week or two at a time, while they undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Most medical visits take place in Phoenix, about a four- or five-hour drive from Cornfields. While the Indian Health Services pays for the treatment, the cost of gasoline, lodging and food is a hardship for most people, Johnson said. "Almost every family has someone with cancer," Johnson said. "My son had his thyroid removed. Several of his classmates as well (were diagnosed with cancer). One of my nieces died of stomach cancer. I don't know any family without someone with cancer."There are hundreds of abandoned uranium mines and uranium mill tailings piles on the Navajo reservation, and many believe it is the reason for high cancer rates on the reservation, Johnson said.

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The Post Independent Updated Oct 4, 2012 05:04PM Published Oct 4, 2012 04:57PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.