Ndahoo'ah Stories : Lena Atene - Rug Weaver
LENA ATENE: PERSONAL HISTORY OF A RUG WEAVER
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
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
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.