First American Art Magazine No. 21, Winter 2018/19 - Page 39

weaving has enabled them to learn more about their cultural lineage and the importance of sharing this knowledge with others. Near the end of the program, the community was invited for a public screening. The students received ener- getic applause from the crowd, especially from the elders and chapter officials. As students complete their weaving, they disassemble the loom and fold the woven product to make a purse. After carefully ironing it, they must sew the sides, insert lining material, braid a wool strap, and add a silver button on the flap of the purse. Since 2007, Bááháálí Chapter has accumulated an inventory of many handwoven purses produced by students. Shape, colors, and styles vary. Elouise herself has her own collection of Two Grey Hills–style works influenced by her late husband’s familial connection with the regional textile design. One of the many goals Gloria has in mind is to make use of the inventory by establishing a “micro-youth enterprise,” meaning that money acquired from sales will directly be transferred to the weaving program’s budget to replenish supplies. As Bááháálí Chapter manager, Gloria’s role is crucial for the weaving program. The Navajo Nation Council allocates limited funding for summer employment distributed to all chapters across the Navajo Nation; therefore, additional funding is necessary from grants and donations. Throughout the years, Gloria has sustained the program by applying for grants and seeking partnerships. Apart from the weaving program, the chapter is responsible for providing other projects for the broader interests of the Bááháálí community. The program still faces many chal- lenges such as limited funding for hiring more students, an archival system for documentation, and a one-month time restraint. However, these obstacles are offset by the weaving program. Gloria and Elouise are proud of the work they have accomplished throughout the years, particularly when students continue to weave even after they have completed the program. As the weaving program comes to an end, Gloria and Elouise reserve the last day for a potluck. Students are then publicly acknowledged by way of a certificate of completion. Gloria also invites community members who have completed their bachelor’s or master’s degree to give a presentation on their positive and negative experiences in college. After a Q&A session, the Summer Youth Weaving Program offi- cially ends. Navajo weaving is an important trait to Diné culture, not only as a form of economic self-sufficiency but also as the source of cultural richness implicit in the stories, songs, and prayers associ- ated with Navajo weaving. Trading posts, museums, antique road shows, and other areas are spaces where these textiles exist. But the status of practicing weavers across the Navajo Nation is undeter- mined—of course, with the exception of an obscure community 20 miles south of Gallup, New Mexico. The first weaver near the drainage pipe retreats until the following summer. BAAHAALI.NAVAJOCHAPTERS.ORG GALLUPARTS.ORG/BAAHAALIWEAVERS WINTER 2018/19 | 37