Ndahoo'ah Stories : Stella
STELLA CLY: PERSONAL HISTORY OF A RUG WEAVER
It is good that you asked me to speak to you about weaving. My
grandfather was Hastiin litsooi yellowman. He was of the
Hanaaghaa nii One-who-walks-around-you clan. Which makes me of
the Taachii nii Red-running-into-water clan.
When we were very young, my mother died. I never got to see my
mother. So that left only my father to take care of us. When I turned
14 years old, my father told me that I must learn how to card and
spindle wool. We had many sheep, horses and cattle &emdash; so
besides taking care of the animals we learned how to weave. It was my
father who taught me the importance of weaving rugs. He would say,
"it is food. It will be your livelihood." It is called naalyehe.
You must even learn for the animals because someday you will make
saddle blankets to make a horse look good.
At that age, I did not understand the full meaning of naalyehe.
But today, I know what it means. It is work and it is progress.
It is because of weaving that I have clothing, jewelry and my
Although my mother died when I was young, I learned all of these
things from the encouragement of my father. My father gave me away at
a young age. It was not long after I had learned how to weave. He
gave me away to a man of the Bitahnii- with his/her cover
clan. He told me that this was the man that I would share my life
with. This man knew how to spin wool very well and he would help me.
He was a good man and I must admit that I did learn how to spin wool
even better from him. He helped me learn how to set looms and we
worked well together. I even bought a car with the money I made from
selling my rugs.
To me, weaving is not a hobby, it is my occupation. I am very happy
that I was asked to be a part of this weaving project. Let me teach
you the parts of the loom and what they are called:
Now with the comb, you are not only batting a design together, you
are also chasing the evil spirits of poverty away. When you are
talking, or asking about weaving you are also talking about the
beauty way. For instance, you must never hit a child or a person with
the spindle, wool card or batting comb because it is not wise It is
not the beauty way. These things are taught to us by our elders. They
were taught to me by my father and to him by his father. They taught
us to respect all things. Your sheep, horses and cattle; you use them
for work and to progress in life. This is what I say is called
They tell me I am 62 years old, but by my count I am 63. I am old now
and have had many children. I have taught them and have told them the
tradtions of the Navajo. I used to keep these things to myself. I no
longer do that because weaving is shi naalye -to be shared. I
do this today so that the young people can see and learn. I have
shared all of these things with you because it makes me happy. I am
thankful for this and I hope that I am remembered in this