Ndahoo'ah Stories : Lorita Adakai - Rug Weaver
LORITA ADAKAI: PERSONAL HISTORY OF A RUG WEAVER
Tachii nii -Red running into water, and Todich ii
nii- Bitter water are my clans. I am 66 years old. My children
are of Bit ah nii - the cornered ones clan. I have eight
children, four women and four men. This is how I am a woman. Today I
am a grandmother of ten grandchildren. For that I am grateful. I am
also thankful for this opportunity to teach young people. This is the
first time that I have done this. It is good that they want to learn
When I was very young I used to watch my mother weave. I paid close
attention. So when it came time for me to do rug weaving I would not
have to be shown how to place my yarns. I wanted to weave on my own.
I didn't want anyone to show me step by step.
I learned to card and spindle wool just by watching too. I herded and
had my own sheep. I was the only one that had sheep with fine wool,
which is good for weaving rugs. So before anyone would shear the
sheep, I would get up early in the morning while everyone else was
still asleep. I would shear my own sheep by myself. It was very hard
even to shear just one but this was the way I learned. To shear wool
also bought us food, clothing and shoes. That is why I was told to
take care of the sheep and crops&emdash;especially the lambs because
they would be my livelihood. This is how I grew up as a child.
Today young people say there is no work around here. But I say that
there is work, even in your own home. Learn to card wool, weave or
learn beadwork. You can make money on these talents. Long ago when
there was no sheep or wool I was told that people used cotton to
weave. So these talents are of long ago. Every yarn you place one
after another is a good talent and it should be taught from
generation to generation. Also you can make a living off of your
We are taught to develop our talents. At first you may not be good at
weaving or other talents. But if you work hard at it, it will come to
you and that will be good. I have raised my children with the talent
I have of rug weaving. My mother died when I was 16 years old. And
the man who I made my life with, sometimes could not work because of
health problems. It was through the rug weaving and herding of our
sheep that helped us make it through the hard times.
Today it makes me happy to be teaching rug weaving to these young
people. They already know how to place their yarns. They want to
learn and they will get better because they are interested. When you
are interested in something good you do it for yourself.
I have taught my children that they should work hard and get their
education. It is not for me that they should learn these things. I
say this to my children: don't go in different directions, or just
with anybody&emdash; not knowing where you are going. These things
are not good. Rather, know what you want out of life. And today, some
of my children have college degrees and they thank me for the ways
that I have spoken and the things that I have taught them.
My father was a medicine man, he knew the feather way. None of us
learned but we listened to the way he spoke and taught. "Learn all
that is good," he would say. "Don't gamble, don't drink, or you will
be spoken of badly." This is why when I was very young I paid close
attention when it came time to learning something that was good.
Young people, listen and learn from your elders. I want to thank you
for listening and allowing me to help you learn about rug