Between two cultures


Hi, I’m Ryan Manheimer. I’m 15 years old. I live on the Navajo reservation at Navajo Mountain, Utah. Like many teenagers, I’m getting ready for high school. And like many Navajos, I dream of playing professional basketball.
All Navajo boys love basketball. I started when I was six. Now I go to youth basketball camps sponsored by universities. Some people say I’m one of the best junior basketball players in my state.
In the Navajo clan system, I belong to my mother’s clan, the Towering House clan. My father’s clan is the Reed clan. And how did we get our German name? It’s long story. My grandfather was touring Germany with a cowboys-and-Indians Western show. At the time, Navajo Indians didn’t have surnames. In Germany they told my grandfather he needed a surname. So he asked what the name of that town was. It was Mannheim. One of the “n’s” got lost somehow. Now there are many Manheimers here at Navajo Mountain.

My sisters, Kori, 24, Tiya, 20, Didi, 16, and my brother, Bobby, 22, have all moved away. I’m still living with my parents. But we’re a very close family and get together for birthdays and sports.
My Navajo tradition is very important to me. Diné religion teaches me to respect nature. For a Navajo, nature is full of gods and mythological figures like the Deer people. My grandfather, Buck Navajo, a Navajo medicine man, used to be my first teacher.
I want to take the best things from Navajo and American culture, to make a good fine for me and my people. I have to be strong in the classroom and get good grades. Then I can get into a college with a top basketball team. Later I hope to play professional basketball somewhere.

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