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.