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The Cameron Yei-Part of our Centennial Celebration







The Cameron Trading Post Yei Dancer, originally a gesture of friendship, has come to be our logo. How fitting to have a personal gift become the representation of a company who thinks of their peers and visitors over the last 100 years as family. Some time ago, Robert Yellowhair, a talented Navajo artist and friend of company president Joe Atkinson presented him with a watercolor painting and a note "The Navajo Clown, to my friend Joe". Pleased with the painting, Joe asked to use it as the company logo, and as the old adage goes, the rest is history. Yet beyond the history of the friendship that brought about this painting, there is a story behind the Yei depicted. Blue Body of the fourth world, as he is called (or Water Sprinkler) is said to bring rain and is a water carrier of the gods. The jar used to carry the water is symbolized in stories and sandpaintings, but it is not carried in masked impersonations. Blue body uses this jar to sprinkle the water in four directions. While his main job is to control the rain and waters, his duties go beyond sprinkling water. He is also able to separate and walk through deep or underground waters. He is sometimes sent to investigate things in the water, such as dams that stop a whirling log. It is his job to see who has created the dam. In addition, he also is responsible for extinguishing the fire made by Black God. However, during the Night Chant, Blue Body is depicted as a clown and it is this depiction that I believe brought Yellowhair to paint this particular Yei for his friend Joe. As seen in the painting and understood during the performance, Blue Body wears low quality clothing since he may get wet. As a clown, he dances out of step with the others and gets in their way. While they're focused on their dance, he looks around distractedly, then later focuses as the rest of the dancers leave. Once he realizes he is alone, he runs as fast as he can to catch up to them. Sometimes, as is the case of the Cameron Yei, Blue Body carries an animal skin which he drops on the ground during the dance and pretends not to notice. He then spends time hunting for the skin with great frustration as it lay there in plain sight. After foolishly searching for the skin, he finds it and pounces on it as though it is alive and needs to be killed. He then lifts it and carries it as though he's lifted all his burdens and carries it away on his back. It is said this is to symbolize his satisfaction with the ceremony.

In honor of our 100th Anniversary and our pleasure of being here for you these last hundred years, we are having 50 limited edition bronzed Cameron Yei's made which will be available for sale in the store or online. Artist and sculpture Susan Kliewer designed the bronze piece and Andrea Petersen is doing the patina. After meeting with Joe, they have brought to bronze the watercolor painting he was given many years ago. We look forward to sharing this with you as we continue to celebrate our first 100 years.