Amber is a 5 pound Chihuahua that has the honor of being the mascot for the Navajo Code Talkers. While setting up the shoot for the Navajo Code Talkers, I asked Vicky Jarveson, her owner to go get her. “She’s right here Debbie,” as she unzipped a small black bag that she had set on the table. Amber emerged slowly from the bag, stretched, and then looked at me, as if saying, “All right Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”
Amber’s uniform is similar to the military ceremony dress worn by the men. Her little shirt was tailored by Jeannette Peaches wife of Code Talker Albert Peaches using the same fabric as her husband’s shirt. Her wardrobe also includes a tiny collar pin, a Navajo turquoise bracelet the width of a dime, and the official Navajo Code Talker Association pin.
The photo shoot went fairly well with the normal wiggles and squirms. Then Albert Smith arrives for his scheduled portrait shoot, solemnly dressed in his Navajo Code Talker uniform—Amber goes wild. Here was her purpose in life, hanging out with her guys. She didn’t bark, after all she is a lady. But she wiggled and wiggled begging to be held by Mr. Smith. At first he pretended not to notice, but then he gently picked her up and with a twinkle in his eye he whispered, “hey, little Cookie Monster.”
Amber is the granddaughter of a Chihuahua owned by the Code Talker Jack Jones. Many Code Talkers own Chihuahuas. A Code Talker, long since gone, often shared with the group the belief that one of their main deities, Asta Naadlee, had a pet Chihuahua and that owning a Chihuahua is thought to bring abundance—not necessarily monetary abundance, but abundance of crops, children, health, or happiness. I don’t know which of these Amber has gifted Vicki’s life, but she certainly brought laughter and joy to that photo shoot.
In honor of Veteran’s day, this picture and story were published in the November/January 2010 issue of The Bark Magazine.
It is now a year later since that shoot, and I now proudly serve as volunteer, secretary, photographer and multimedia designer for the newly formed, Dine Code Talkers, a non profit organization that focuses on educational and PR activities of the Code Talkers here in New Mexico. The website: www.dinecodetalkers.com should be up and running early summer.