Ndahoo'ah Stories : Lena Atene - Rug Weaver


ART: Rug by Elder Lena Atene Janet Pedwaydon.

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It is good, it is nice that the young people want to relearn the arts and crafts, 'Ndahoo'aah. Even though the design process for each person may be different and we may not learn it all, it is the culture that we want to teach and I am glad to be a part of that.

When you really want to learn, you can. Some will come natural and some won't. That is when you must try harder to learn. Some have watched and some have learned to weave already. Maybe their grandmother or mother knows how to weave. That is good. But they must continue to learn and not forget.

I am of Loh kaashchiin Reed people and Deesh cii nii -Start of the red streak people clan. I have a family. Tom Atene, my husband, is of the Kin lichii nii- red house and Nooda dine e Tachii nii -Ute people running into the water clan. We have six children. Two of my daughters know how to weave. My mother and father both knew how to weave rugs. I mostly learned from my mother and grandmother how to do designs, colors, saddle blankets and about the meaning and respect that must be given to the loom.

I only went to four years of school because I had to do rug weaving at home to help make a living. Things are very different today. It was hard to make a loom in those days. Today some are already made or you can easily put one together. All the materials are easier to gather so it does not take as long to begin to learn how to weave.

To dye the wool in those days, the color black came from the black sheep, yellow came from the wild turnup root and red or reddish color came from the red clay. dleesh&emdash;white clay&emdash;was used to wash and color the wool. It also helped to keep the sand from staining the rugs. The color grey came from mixing the black and the white wool together while carding. Some of these natural dyes can only be found in certain places. They are hard to find and are also used in different ceremonies. This is why I am glad to be doing this weaving project- so the students may learn about this before it is all lost.

This is something they can be proud of. It can help them to think and they can also make money from this if they want. With the new ways of doing things in rug weaving, it should not be hard to learn. Some families here still have sheep, or you can buy wool. I know a lot of mothers and grandmothers that know how to weave. Ask them to help you to learn. They have stories and teachings about these things.

I also know how to make drums. I have taught my children to do beadwork and weaving. This helps them to make money and take pride in their work and their Navajo culture as well. I am very pleased with these young people. They are willing to learn. If they can collect it in their minds: the teachings, the meaning the respect of weaving and all crafts, they can someday teach it to their children.

Weaving is sacred and it is important to me because it was handed down to me by my parents and to them by their parents. That pleases me and I am glad to share it with you. Thank you.

Copyright 1995.