Friday, December 5, 2014

Honoring Our Weavers - Rug Show 2014

by John Aldrich

The 2014 Rug Show of the Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program represented the 25th anniversary of this event that began so humbly as a very small affair at the Kimball Art Center in 1990. This year's show honored those weavers who have been coming to the show for years as well as those who have passed on since the inception of the event.

It was gratifying that the show this year spurred record sales and attendance.

In recent years our weavers have been given a theme around which they create special rugs for the show. This year the challenge was to weave a self-portrait of themselves at the loom. This wall contained those rugs.

 The show began with special programs for school children on Thursday and Friday.

Some of the classes sponsor Elders through our classroom Amasani program. Katie Furcap received a quilt from her class.

The purpose of these programs is to give the children a glimpse of Navajo culture. They have an opportunity to see a variety of skills and activities that are important in the daily life of Navajo people. Weaving is, of course, the most important of these.

And the girls who had longer hair also had an opportunity to have it fixed in a traditional hair bun.

The students attending the show must have marveled that Israel Whitehair was able to weave such a beautiful rug at age twelve.

A special dinner was held Thursday evening to honor Elders and volunteers. A special thanks must go to the rug show chairpeople who devoted countless hours throughout the year to make the event happen. Each received a specially woven rug by Gloria Hardy.

The show opened to the public with a gala event on Friday evening. The first sight inside the door was the popular fine jewelry table.

Nearby was the table featuring rugs woven from handspun wool.

The Christmas Ornament Program provides an opportunity for people to purchase a beautiful hand-crafted ornament. Each has a photo of an Elder and a choice of things such as firewood and food certificates to help that Elder through the winter.

Throughout the show, Gary Hansen provided beautiful flute music.

The Walk In Beauty program benefits children on the reservation who often have very worn or ill-fitting shoes. Melyssa Holbrook, director of WIB had a dramatic display of shoes - old and new- along with thank you notes from the children.

Coordinating  the 200 or so volunteers who help at the show is a huge job. It was ably done by Elinda McKenna assisted by Mary Owen.

Linda and her assistants worked hard throughout the five day period of the show.

The Friday night auction is the only event during the show that directly benefits ANE. Samantha Pyne and her team did a great job this year with the bidding bringing in a record amount.

Photo albums of pictures from food runs of years past were available for Elders to view. These Teesto Elders enjoyed reminiscing.

On Saturday morning the Shi Yazhi Pageant gave young Navajo girls a chance to display what that had learned about their culture. Our new princess, Delaina Becenti, has great poise and will serve well as a representative of ANE.

During the weaving demonstration on Saturday and Sunday, show visitors were able to watch weavers at work and hear stories about their rugs.

Marty Whitehair, one of a generation of younger weavers, holds one of her beautiful rugs.

The Navajo Grandma Idol contest on Saturday afternoon is a popular. Singers were divided into age groups and had to make up a song about a subject they had only a few minutes to think about. Here are the three winners from the different age categories.

The Veterans Ceremony on Sunday morning is another very popular event. Speakers this year included 2 representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs of the Navajo Nation.
The third speaker was the son of our own Howard and Beverly Benally. Ben Benally is a veteran of the Afghanistan war and recipient of the purple heart.

At lunch of Sunday Santa made an appearance in the form of Bruce Burnham and presented each Elder with a stocking.

The show ended Sunday afternoon with the popular Pow Wow conducted by Harry James. There was lots of color along with thrilling drumming and singing.

The Friendship Circle completed the Pow Wow and provided a fitting end to the show.

These photos only touch the surface of activities during the event. Additional pictures can be seen here. If you were lucky enough to be a part of this year's show you know what a wonderful event it was. If not, we hope to see you at next year's show.

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