Learning about Dr. Alvord’s Heritage

Navajo blanket
Navajo blanket designs incorporate many patterns and have become increasingly vibrant as newer, cheaper dyes have been developed. Making a three by five foot rug—shearing the sheep, spinning the wool, dying the yarn, weaving the textile—takes at least three hundred hours to complete. These blankets are sold around the world as valuable works of art.

Corn pollen pouch
In Navajo tradition, corn pollen is collected by dusting it off the corn tassel for use in prayers and healing. In Dr. Alvord’s description of the ninth and final evening of the Night Chant healing ceremony, a young patient sprinkles corn pollen on groups of dancers.

Navajo sandpainting
Navajo sandpaintings are used in healing or blessing ceremonies. They can be made with crushed stone, crushed flowers, gypsum, pollen, sand, and dyes. After the experience, the paintings are respectfully destroyed. Permanent sandpaintings are an art form, and do not feature the sacred imagery used in ceremonially.

Bear pendant
The Organization of Student Representatives, a student branch of the Association of American Medical Colleges, presented this pendant to Dr. Alvord as a gift after she delivered a lecture.