Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Rug Of The Week

by John Aldrich

This week we are featuring a very special rug woven by Nellie Curley which she calls The Holy Ones, and in which she depicts the Navajo creation story.

Here is the rug:

And here is the story (as presented by Nellie and her husband and edited by Rodger Williams):

The Navajos regard their homeland to be sacred because the Holy Ones led them here. They called it Diné Bikéyah (the land of The People).

The Diyin Diné’é (Holy Ones) created the Navajo people and brought them to this spot. Some believe the Holy Ones came from the underworlds and others say the Holy Ones were already here, inhabiting the land. They also created the Four Sacred Mountains in the four cardinal directions of Diné Bikéyah. Changing Woman, Asdzaan Naadléé, also known as White Shell Woman, is one of those gods called Holy Ones.

The Four Sacred Mountains are: to the East, Sisnajini (Blanca Peak); to the South, Tsoodził (Mount Taylor); to the West, Dook’óosłiid (San Francisco Peak); and to the North, Dibe Nitsah (Mount Hesperus). Within the Diné Bikéyah are two other sacred mountains; Dził na’oodiłii (Huerfano Mountain) and Ch’ooli’ii (Gobernador Knob).

On the rug you will see the Four Sacred Mountains, Diné Bikéyah and the middle mountain represents the Blessing Way ceremony. The medicinemen pictured within the sacred mountains are known as Hatałi (singers) of the Blessing Way (Hozhoji – blessed way or good way). The Hatałi or medicinemen are some of the most respected individuals. People often come to them for advice or guidance because they know the stories and the knowledge about the good life.

The corn represents the planting, the growth, and the harvest seasons. The Holy Ones use it to perform powerful ceremonies (prayers and songs). In the background is the “storm pattern” rug design representing Father Sky and the prayers that bring the rain to Mother Earth. You can see the Holy Ones among the sacred mountains.

The sash belt down the middle of the rug represents the time when a girl becomes a woman. With her are her siblings and her mother and grandmother. You can see that they are all dressed in traditional Navajo clothing.

Changing Woman stands with the people. She is the one who introduced the Navajo Clan System to help keep order and harmony among all the living, including people. The Navajo strive to live in Hozhó or harmony and to respect all life forms.

After the Creation was finished, the Holy Ones saw that all was beautiful and they blessed it all. Then they initiated the Blessing Way ceremony.

Nellie's rugs are always beautifully woven, and this one is no exception. It measures 58" x 40" and has wonderful detail and color. The price is $3000, and the catalog listing is #7893 This would be a truly unique rug to own, especially since it is accompanied with such a detailed description.

See this 2010 post for more information about the rug catalog.

Notes: Every effort has been made to photograph and present the rugs with as accurate rendition of color as possible. It's not possible, however, to be certain that your computer won't show some variance. Where two prices are listed in the catalog, the higher represents what the weaver hopes to receive and the lower, the minimum she will accept. As has always been the case at ANE all the proceeds of every rug sale go entirely to the weaver. Prices are set by the weaver, and since there is no "middleman" they are typically very reasonable.


And to see more of what's happening at ANE visit us on Facebook.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Honoring Our Weavers - Rug Show Theme for 2014

by Linda Myers

This year will be the 25th anniversary of the Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program's annual rug show. We are very proud to have held this event successfully over this period of time. Some of our Elders have been attending the show every year since it first began. Because of the ages of many of our weavers we decided that this year's show should be a special celebration honoring our weavers, especially since we felt some wouldn't be with us for the 30th year. As a part of this honoring we created a photo of all the weavers who come and participate each year at the show.

Each year we choose a special theme for the weavers to do a special rug for the following year's rug show. I thought it would be nice if each of the weavers could weave a self-portrait of themselves at the loom. For inspiration we showed them pictures as well as beaded necklaces of weavers sitting at their looms. For weavers that have passed, we asked their families to bring their mother's last rug to display this year. Ten weavers who have attended the show have passed on now.

As we began to receive the theme rugs in early January, I was deeply touched by how each Elder perceived themselves. We sent a form asking them questions about what the rug show means to them and what activities they enjoy. It was good to hear their responses. Sometimes it's just a small thing we do that will help a weaver sell her rug. The rug show sponsors over 70 traditional Navajo weavers and gives them all proceeds from the sale of their rugs.

 
We are proud of carrying on the traditions of weaving. And we also celebrate all the support we have received from our volunteers as well as the weavers and their families and the many wonderful people who attend the show each year and buy the rugs.

It is a great honor to help them sell their rugs.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Packing Rainbow Food Boxes - March 2014

by John Aldrich

Yesterday we began the process of packing the Rainbow Food Boxes for the spring food runs. This will continue next Saturday as well ( - - - hint) and will have us ready with most of what we need to begin the spring food runs later this month.

It was a beautiful March day which allowed us to step outside to have an opening circle and Navajo prayer. C.J. Robb had done his usual outstanding job of seeing that everything we needed for the day was in place - - - the food was there, the boxes were made, and other extraneous things cleared out of the warehouse.

The box packing procedure followed the long-standing tradition of circling the warehouse with shopping carts and filling the boxes with the prescribed items that were lined up along the periphery.

New volunteers teamed up with veterans to learn the process.

Packing the boxes can be a challenge because everything must fit so that the box lid will close flat for final taping. There was a genial air of competitiveness among some of the teams to see who could create the most perfect packing job.

Tony and Kathie were quite certain that they had come up with a winner.

After the boxes were filled, each set received a set of labels designating the ultimate recipient. Alaine Merz fulfilled her traditional role of seeing that the labels were distributed properly.

And finally each box was taped shut and the label affixed to the outside.

As the store of food items is depleted, the cartons and boxes in which they came had to be broken down for recycling. Ellsworth Corum seems to be having a challenging time with this carton but ultimately won out.

ANE has always provided donuts to help fuel the volunteers efforts on food packing days. This year Ellsworth generously spent the early morning hours making individual small quiches for the volunteers. Cheryl enjoys one of his delicious creations.

To help preserve a record of the event Juanita shot some video footage with her tablet computer.

Even though the overall process described thus far is fairly consistent from one food packing day to the next, each of these events is also unique. The makeup of volunteers is what contributes to a special atmosphere for each of these days, and yesterday was no exception. Shortly after we began loading boxes, a large group of new volunteers started to file into the warehouse. It became quickly obvious that there was a unique degree of diversity among these people.

I spoke a little later with Fernando who was responsible for organizing this group. Fernando is associated with a school known as the Wizard Language School that specializes in English as a second language. People come from all over the world to learn English through an immersion program that can last for 2 or 3 years. Some then return home while others remain here and pursue higher education or careers.

The group that Fernando brought was delightfully diverse and mostly in family groups. They were positioned around the periphery of the warehouse and handed out the needed amount of food items for each box as it went by. Thus the volunteers managing the carts got to meet these international visitors with each circling of the warehouse.

The most striking group was a Muslim family.

The youngest, Aseel, made sure that boxes of tea were properly distributed.

A family from South Korea was in charge of passing out cereal boxes, oats and corn flakes.

From Bolivia, Indira and her two girls handed out vegetable soup.

There were many other new volunteers in addition to the group from the Wizard School. Kate Maxwell-Stephens typically is responsible for a number of students from Salt Lake Community College who need to fulfill a certain number of volunteer hours for her classes there. Katie and Dallas were two such people.

Although not new to the Program, Linda took her turn circling the warehouse and here receives cans of fruit cocktail from the Muslim girls.

Packing Rainbow Boxes can be quite a job, but all went smoothly yesterday. And just as important, everyone seemed to be having fun. As we make the rounds of food run sites this spring, the Elders will appreciate the love and warm feelings that went into each box along with the food.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Rug Of The Week

by John Aldrich

This week we are featuring another rug from the loom of Rena Robertson, a master weaver from Hardrock. In fact Rena's entire family including her husband and all of her children are excellent weavers. This family lives a traditional Navajo life, at least in so far as they derive their income from their talents at the loom. This can be a precarious method of managing a family's finances since a steady and predictable stream of income can't be counted on. But Rena, in addition to having a wonderful creative talent, also is a prolific weaver. At ANE we have done our best to try to provide a market for her rugs.

This week's rug displays a winter scene on the reservation with the San Francisco peaks, holy to the Navajo, in the background. It is a peaceful, calming scene that would grace any wall.

The rug measures 21" x 25" and is attractively priced at $375. You can view the listing in our catalog here.

At our recent rug show, Rena was working on a similar rug during the weaving demonstrations. Here she is at her double loom in front of a rapt group of school children. Her son Israel sits opposite.

See this 2010 post for more information about the rug catalog.

Notes: Every effort has been made to photograph and present the rugs with as accurate rendition of color as possible. It's not possible, however, to be certain that your computer won't show some variance. Where two prices are listed in the catalog, the higher represents what the weaver hopes to receive and the lower, the minimum she will accept. As has always been the case at ANE all the proceeds of every rug sale go entirely to the weaver. Prices are set by the weaver, and since there is no "middleman" they are typically very reasonable.


And to see more of what's happening at ANE visit us on Facebook.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Fabric For The Elders - 2014

by John Aldrich

At the warehouse, the first few months of the year are devoted to preparing the giveaways that Elders will receive on the food runs as well as the gift boxes that sponsors can order. One of the biggest jobs for our warehouse volunteers is the preparation of the fabric that will be used for both giveaways and gift boxes. Two years ago we began to order and cut the fabric ourselves which has saved us considerable money but is labor intensive. This blog, written in 2012, describes the process that we devised to accomplish the task.

We are now in the midst of working on the fabric for the 2014 food runs, and the warehouse once again looks like the back room at Hancock's (except at Hancock's you probably wouldn't find guys doing this work).

Please refer back to the link above to see in greater detail how the cutting process works at our "shop".

We make an effort at the warehouse to make each giveaway something special for the Elder who will receive it. In the case of the fabric, this involves rolling it and tying it up with a ribbon. Robin Field-Williams is one of the volunteers working on this final touch.

This is the second week of our textile operation, so quite a bit of inventory has already been accumulated. It takes 12 to 15 volunteers to keep this assembly line running and 6 volunteer days or 3 weeks to finish the fabric project.

Here is some of the green panne fabric that will either end up as giveaways at the food runs or be put into Grandma boxes that can be ordered by sponsors.

Waiting for their turn at the cutting tables are these bolts of calico.

Here are some interesting facts and figures supplied by C.J. Robb who manages our warehouse operations:

We order a total of 6300 yards of fabric from a wholesaler. This costs around $20,000. Although this is a large sum, it represents a saving of about $9000 over what we paid prior to 2012 to order the fabric locally and have it cut for us.

The fabric order includes 2700 yards of heavy panne which is cut into 3 yard pieces, and 3600 yards of lighter calico which is cut into 4 yard pieces. These bundles will be split between giveaways and Grandma boxes. Grandma boxes contain, among other things, a bundle of panne and a bundle of calico, enough for an Elder to make a whole outfit - skirt and top. We will assemble 400 of these boxes which will be split between the spring and fall food runs.

500 bundles of panne and calico will be split between the spring and fall food runs and used as giveaways. These are among the most popular of the gifts that Elders receive and among the most mentioned when Linda receives thank-you letters.

It's clear that a lot of effort takes place behind the scenes to make these beautiful gifts for the Elders possible. We owe a huge amount of thanks to our warehouse volunteers, the unsung heroes of ANE.

What happens when all this material gets to the reservation?

Here is Mary Begay explaining to the Grandmas at Navajo Mountain that each will receive a Grandma box as a gift provided by a grant from American Express and that each box will contain a bundle of panne and one of calico.

Rena Greyeyes holds the contents of her Grandma box including the fabric.

Here Linda helps an Elder at Leupp pick out a color.

And at Navajo Mountain, an Elder considers the choices among the bundles of calico.

The final outcome of all this effort from warehouse-to-foodrun-to-hogan is a completed outfit that might be worn at the next food run. Bessie Paul of Dilkon proudly wears hers.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Winter Stories - 2014

by John Aldrich

Last Sunday, January 26th, was the night for our annual Winter Stories event. Organized by Rodger Williams, we were treated again to an evening of cultural immersion.

Once more Rodger invited us to imagine ourselves in a hogan listening to the stories that might have been told by our grandparents if we were young Navajo children. This event has become increasingly popular with our local Navajo population, and whole families came to enjoy the evening. My guess was that there were more Navajos than Bilagaanas in the audience this year.

As in past there was plenty of tasty food items to eat since most people brought one of their favorite dishes to share.

When Rodger announced that the program would begin with a prayer song, I wasn't prepared for the singer to be Sally White. It turns out that she has a beautiful voice, and, as best as I could tell, she rendered the song in a very convincing Navajo manner.

The drum group Southern War Pony returned again. Their singing, along with the stirring drumming, is a favorite with the audience.

The lead singer has an extraordinary voice.

Before any of the speakers made their presentations, our new princess, Tiffany Grace Singer, introduced herself.

The first speaker was Steve Todechine who spoke about a variety of cultural topics and described the shoe game in detail. This is an all-night entertainment on the reservation and quite popular in the winter time.

The audience listened raptly to Steve.

Other speakers/singers included Harry James who performed a Yei Bei Chei song.

Eileen Quintana, who always brings us words of great wisdom, spoke about a variety of cultural topics and reminded us, especially, that we are all five-fingered people - in other words, brothers and sisters.

Rose Jakub spoke and sang in her usual fine style.

Interspersed throughout were additional stories and songs from Rodger as well as additional performances by the drum group.

It was a wonderful evening. If you couldn't make it this year, make plans for the last Sunday of January in 2015.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Rug(s) Of The Week

by John Aldrich

The popular Tree Of Life design provides a cheerful note at this time of year when we are all wondering if spring will ever come. These rugs depict colorful birds flying into and out of a corn plant which arises from a ceremonial basket. Several interpretations are associated with this, but the end result is always a feeling of hope and optimism.

We recently added three fine examples of this weaving style to our rug catalog. They are all relatively small, reasonably priced, and well-woven.

The first two are from the loom of Verna Benally:


Both of these rugs measure about 18" x 20" and are priced at $400. In the catalog, the first is #7938, and the second is #7939.

The third rug is by Eleanore Towne:

It is priced at $375 and measures 19" x 28". It is #7966 in our rug catalog.

Eleanore was featured in a previous Rug Of The Week post which you can see here.

For a happy note in anticipation of spring, consider adding one of these to your home.

See this 2010 post for more information about the rug catalog.

Notes: Every effort has been made to photograph and present the rugs with as accurate rendition of color as possible. It's not possible, however, to be certain that your computer won't show some variance. Where two prices are listed in the catalog, the higher represents what the weaver hopes to receive and the lower, the minimum she will accept. As has always been the case at ANE all the proceeds of every rug sale go entirely to the weaver. Prices are set by the weaver, and since there is no "middleman" they are typically very reasonable.


And to see more of what's happening at ANE visit us on Facebook.