Ndahoo'ah Stories : Irene Atene - Basket Weaver
IRENE ATENE: PERSONAL HISTORY OF A BASKET WEAVER
ART: A Wedding Basket design created
by Brandon Nez, Elder Irene Atene and Rob Rickenbrode.
I am of the Tachii nii -Red running into the water clan and Todich
ii nii -Bitter water clan. This is how I was made to be a woman.
Basket weaving is hard work. Like all things you have to work hard to be
good at what you do. I learned to weave baskets from my mother. I wanted
to learn and I asked to learn. Your parents know a lot of good traditional
things. You need to ask them of these things so that they won't be lost
My mother taught me that basket weaving is sacred- especially to the medicine
man. They use them for healing ceremonies, for their washing of the sick
and also for wedding ceremonies. Even in the very beginning of making a
basket, it must be handled with respect. For instance, you never hold the
basket between your forefinger and middle fingers. And you never spin the
basket as you weave. When you start to weave a basket you must finish each
framework before the sun sets. Don't leave it undone overnight or else the
design to the basket will not fall into place the right way.
I was told that basket weaving is like your mind. Your life-ii nah.
It is like the symbol of a hogan.
The very center of the basket is the fireplace or the mind. The designs
near the center of the basket are the foundation poles of the hogan or the
strength of the mind. The opening of the basket is the doorway, the one
that leads out. You must always have an opening so that your thoughts may
flow in harmony. If you stitch a basket closed then you may trap the thoughts
in your mind. The red center of the design represents the rainbow- peace
of mind or spiritual thoughts. Finally, the black design represents na
ha tah -the reasoning of the mind and the future of life.
There are many teachings of the basket weaving. They are sacred to me and
they should be sacred to all those that want to learn about them. I respect
the basket weaving and I keep in harmony with these teachings.