First American Art Magazine No. 21, Winter 2018/19 - Page 36

above Kaylene Kinsel, a youth weaving student, measuring string. opposite, top Youth weavers' purses, fronts ( left and right ) and back ( middle ). opposite Experienced weaver Elouise Washburn instructs her student Amber Kee. to Diné oral history. Commuting from Coyote Canyon, New Mexico, Lois arrived in full Navajo apparel at Bááháálí Chapter along with her unfinished rug. Students surrounded her as she demon- strated her tips on how to effectively weave. A common tendency with first weavers is rushing the process, which could consequently lead to a concave shape of a rug. Like Elouise, Lois empha- sizes the importance of being patient and having a positive mindset while weaving. Her advice is to rediscover and acknowl- edge the provenance of Navajo weaving. As a fluent Navajo speaker, Becenti retraced the narratives of Na'ashjéii Asdzáá and Na'ashjéii Hastii. This creation story focuses on the vital role of Spider Woman and Spider Man, who taught the Diné how to weave and build a loom, respectively. She described how the first loom had ethereal support poles made of sky and earth cords. Its warps were formed of sun rays, its heddles of rock crystal and sheet lightning, its batten of sun halo, and its comb of white 34 | WWW.FIRSTAMERICANARTMAGAZINE.COM shell. The students were impressed by her storytelling abilities, more so by how these ancient stories are mysteriously hidden in the fluctuating syllables, rising tonal sounds, glottal stops, and nasal vowels uniquely heard in Athabascan languages. Afterward, students received a rare gift offered by Lois in the form of a sacred song seldom sung by weavers. Throughout many generations, these sacred stories and songs have been preserved and transmitted by elders, healers, and storytellers, subse- quently inspiring many weavers who would reflect the beauty, symmetry, and austerity of their creations concerning this creation myth. From the intricate and vibrant Teec Nos Pos regional design to the simple but noble Chief ’s Blanket, these weavings have their origins in these stories. However, the familiarity with these stories among the young Diné today is diminishing due to many societal, domestic, technological, and educa- tional factors. Bááháálí is no exception