Ndahoo'ah Stories : Lorita Adakai - Rug Weaver


ART: Lorita Adakai's Group Rug 1994

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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 to weave.

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 talents.

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 weaving.

Copyright 1995.