First American Art Magazine No. 21, Winter 2018/19 - Page 35

warp, causing discomfort. Considering the obstacles encountered in weaving, it is not difficult to understand why there are sacred prayers, songs, and protocols reserved for this activity. Coming from generations of talented weavers, Elouise proves to be the right instructor to teach the youth from the Bááháálí community. Her teaching methods are primarily kinesthetic. After students are supplied with a loom, baton, comb, heddle, rods, and wool, they begin by carefully warping the loom. Elouise demonstrates this process, with each string being equidistant and the tension not too tight or loose. Students at first are frustrated as they try to disentangle their mistakes and end up worsening them. Despite their disappointment, Elouise encourages them to learn from their mistakes. She reminds students that weaving is about being patient and persistent when pursuing beauty and harmony. Elouise is skeptical about learning how to weave via a video tutorial or a manual. Only by experiencing firsthand the struggles, mistakes, and corrections one must consistently go through can one learn. Above all, Elouise encour- ages students to learn to weave through hands-on experience, helping them develop positive qualities like hand-eye coordination, correct sitting posture, and mental focus. Gloria is hopeful that when students learn and practice weaving, they are at the same time developing valuable life skills applicable in the professional workspace. In 2017 the weaving program began a partnership with the Gallup Indian Medical Center’s Methamphetamine and Suicide Prevention Initiative (MSPI). Savannah Six and Adeline June, both representing MSPI at the time, took interest in the weaving program to help Navajo communities build resiliency through cultural practices. This part- nership has enhanced the quality and experience for the students by way of invited cultural educators, presenters, and engaging activities. This past summer MSPI sponsored Lois Becenti, a cultural educator and textile artist, to give a presentation on the origins of Navajo weaving according above, top Youth weavers set up their looms. All images courtesy of the author. above, bottom Lois A. Becenti, lifelong weaver and cultural educator. opposite Sign for the Bááháálí Chapter House, formerly Bread Springs, Vanderwagen, New Mexico. WINTER 2018/19 | 33