BTS Research | WatchCut’s 100 Years of Beauty Dine’/ Navajo

NOV. 29, 2016

PHOENIX, AZ – WatchCut/ is the production crew behind “100 Years of Beauty,” see the series playlist here. I had the pleasure of providing research and context to each decade of Dine’ history since the 1910s. My research had to summarize in a paragraph or two how historical developments affected each decade’s style. As a bonus, I pulled together the jewelry for each look. The Heard Museum Shop, located in Phoenix, AZ, provided jewelry made by mostly Navajo artists and I provided jewelry from my family’s personal collection and my own line, NotAbove Jewelry. Lastly, Sage and her mom, Charlotte, had the perfect accents to finish some of the looks, namely the Navajo blankets and more turquoise.

The rest of this post sheds some light to my research work, shares archival photos that inspired each decade look, and gives proper credit to the jewelry shown in the video. But first, I wanted to share some quick thoughts about the hairstyles and the jewelry.

Since the release of this video, there have been comments regarding the tsiiyéél (Navajo bun). Some saw the video as suggesting the tsiiyéél (Navajo bun) was worn during the early 1900s and not today. This was not our intention to make it look this way. As most Diné know already, someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandparent, and/ or friend continues to wear a tsiiyéél today. I wear mine. With that said, I urge you to check out my best friend Jaclyn Roessel’s site, Grownup Navajo. She speaks more fully to its cultural importance here (also, she began #TsiiyéelTuesdays). In all, it brings about an incredible sense of pride to see more people my age and younger wearing their hair in a tsiyeel.

Another sense of pride is the way in which we wear our turquoise. Aside from the distinctive silver metal work of Navajo jewelry, natural turquoise means a lot to us as Diné. Turquoise is one of our four sacred stones, part of our Creation stories, and more. We were taught that when we wear dootł’izh (turquoise) the diyin dine’e’ (holy people) will know where and who we are. I grew up knowing Navajo jewelry as coming from a foundation of knowledge that does not fit a linear timeline. So, my aim with this project was to represent various styles of Navajo turquoise jewelry, in hopes that it would emphasize how it is all traditional. I know Navajo jewelers who create jewelry from a source of traditional knowledge that then becomes part of how we live as Diné. This, to me, is preservation of our ways.

So much more can be said but I won’t delve into the details of my 12+ hours of research. I do hope the rest of this post provides some light to my process. As you can see each decade since the 1910s (and before) brought enormous challenges to our existence that greatly affected how we live today. Yet, this video illustrates the resiliency and perseverance. And, with each decade, the beauty of our existence endured and we continue to grow from a point of strength and hózhó.  As Diné, we always walk in beauty.

Again, cheers to Marina and Christopher (of for coordinating this project. Erin Skipley for styling and makeup. Sage and her mom Charlotte for representing us so well on camera.

CLICK on Images for Historical Context, in caption, by Decade

Jewelry List by Decade

  • 1910s  Jewelry from Beck & Honga Personal Collections
  • 1920s  Blanket & Jewelry from Honga Personal Collection
  • 1930s  Edison Cummings Squash Silver earrings (Heard Mus Shop), Long turquoise bead necklace (Beck Personal), Juniper Bead bracelet (Honga Personal), scarf (Honga Personal).
  • 1940s  Rose Charley necklace (Heard Mus Shop), Lorraine Waatsa coral ring (Heard Mus Shop), Nickel applique barrette (Beck Personal).
  • 1950s  Randy Dalgai barrettes (Heard Mus Shop), Misc turquoise necklaces (Beck Personal), turquoise cluster earrings (Honga Personal).
  • 1960s  Debbie Silversmith necklace (Heard Mus Shop), Larry Begay turquoise earrings (Beck Personal).
  • 1970s  Mildred Parkhurst necklace, Edison Cummings ironwood earrings, Edison Cummings ring (all Heard Mus Shop).
  • 1980s  Beaded necklace, Jeff Slim pink painted wood earrings. Jewelry Not Shown: Larry Begay turquoise and sugilite bracelets (all Beck Personal).
  • 1990s  Silver Rail pendant,  Modern Turquoise earrings (both NotAbove Jewelry). Jewelry Not Shown: Cody Hunter bracelet (Heard Mus Shop).
  • 2000s  Connie Tsosie Gaussoin tufa naja pendant (Beck Personal), Moccasin earrings (Beck Personal). Jewelry not shown: Vernon Begaye ring (Heard Mus Shop).
  • 2010s  Language earrings “tó éí iiná”/ water is life, turquoise and pearl necklace, multi-stone ring (all NotAbove Jewelry).



  1. Nizhoníyée shadí! This is such a beautiful project and I am so grateful your work is front & center. Ahé’hee for your efforts and using your influence to further share our people’s culture.

  2. Hi Nanibaa!

    WOW!! What a GREAT project!!!! Congratulations – just brilliant!!!! So glad you’ve sent it & I’ll definitely forward it… can’t believe you did all that research in 12 hours. I started to jot down comments, but have a deadline tomorrow… will return to this & re-enjoy it…

    A big hug/kathy

    Kathy M’Closkey, PhD
    Adjunct Associate Professor
    Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology
    University of Windsor
    Windsor, ON N9B 3P4
    (519) 253-3000 ex. 4073
    (519) 252-8472 (home/Voice Mail)
    (519) 971-3621

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