Native rugs reflect ancient designs
November 8, 2016
Native American people have a deep respect for their ancestors and the sacred designs that come from Mother Earth.
With that in mind, Linda A. Myers, executive director of Adopt-a-Native Elder, picked the "Weaving Ancient Designs." theme for its 27th annual Navajo Rug Show and Sale, which will be held this weekend at Deer Valley's Snow Park Lodge.
Adopt-a-Native-Elder is a Park City nonprofit that provides food and other essentials to the Navajo Reservation. And the rug show is one of its biggest fundraisers.
"The theme is inspired by Pueblo pottery," Myers said during an interview with The Park Record. "The Pueblo people often painted symbols that represented their clans on the pottery. And the weavers infused the patterns of the paintings on the pottery and wove them into their rugs."
Clans, which are depicted by holy beings — birds, reptiles, mammals and plants — define how everyone is related to Mother Earth, Myers explained.
"Clans are family names and tells who your people are," she said. "Different clans have different spiritual responsibilities in the world and the circle of life."
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Although Navajo pottery is plain with no designs, the Navajo people regard Pueblo pottery as something sacred.
"In fact, they would never pick up a chard of pottery from an area because they didn't want to disturb the beauty of the area," Myers said. "They feel that disturbing the beauty is disrespectful."
Just as the potters did in their pottery, the Navajo weavers use dyes from sands and plants in their rugs.
"They say that puts the spirit of the Earth into their [works]," Myers said.
Seventy weavers created the 40 themed rugs that will be part of the more than 300 rugs in the show.
"One of the things that came out of the theme was that the weavers started telling stories in the depictions," Myers said. "These stories are about their lands. They also started weaving the patterns of pottery chards into the rugs borders."
In addition to the rugs, local artists donate their pottery and other wares for the show.
"We have quite a bit of pottery this year," Myers said.
One hundred percent of the money made from the rug and pottery sales will go directly to the weavers and their families, said assistant director C.J. Robb.
"The Adopt-a-Native Elder nonprofit only makes money and pays for overhead through an auction Friday night of a specially woven rug," he said. "The auction also allows us to send food certificates to the elders throughout the winter."
This year, there are two rugs that will be up for auction, Myers said.
"A weaver named Gloria Hardy called me one night and said she wove a rug for the auction," she said. "We had another rug woven by Wanda Tracy that was going to be auctioned off. So, we have two rugs for the auctions."
Friday night's opening gala will start at 6 p.m., when all the themed rugs go on sale.
Friday admission is $30, a price that includes a 10 percent discount on the rugs and hors d'oeuvres, prepared by Deer Valley.
Rob said Saturday and Sunday are great days for families, because of the cultural activities.
Tickets are $5 or a canned food donation. The foods will go home with the elders and their families.
"We'll have a dance group of Native children called Wasatch Eagle Dance who are coming from the Mt. Nebo school district," he said. "They will perform traditional Native dances that they have learned."
The day will also feature a Shiyazhi Ambassador pageant, which is a Princess pageant.
"That came about to give local Native youth who live in an urban environment [a chance] to interact in the Native community," Robb said.
Contestants, ages 6 to 9, perform various Navajo skills, including introducing themselves in their native language.
The winner will represent their community at regional powwows.
"Our winner last year [Athen Small Canyon] was asked to attend the Navajo Nations fair, the biggest in the Southwest," Myers said.
There will also be a singing contest on Saturday.
"We call it Grandma and Grandpa Native Idol," Robb said. "Linda gives them a subject and they will have a minute or two to come up with a song in their Native tongue and then stand up and sing it."
Sunday's event will start with a veterans' ceremony that will feature the Native American Color Guard.
"This is something the elders put on every year because Native Americans have a long history of service in the armed forces," Robb said.
This year Carol Glayre, a quilter from Alabama, wove quilts for all the veterans that served in Vietnam who will be at the event.
"Also, one of our volunteers, Jennie Patton, wove squares for all the veterans who will attend the ceremony," Robb said.
Sunday will feature another weaving demonstration and will close with a powwow lead by Harry James.
"He brings in dancers and drum groups from tribes all around the country to perform," Robb said. "It's a fantastic way to close the event. The Snow Park Lodge has so much rock and vaulted ceilings, so you can hear the music reverberate throughout the building."
Myers hopes the members of the public who attend the rug show and sale will appreciate the beauty and work that is put into the rugs.
"Many of the weavers are now in their 90s," she said. "Their rugs reflect the beauty of their hands. Their rugs are woven with heart."
Adopt-a-Native Elder will host its 27th Navajo Rug Show and Sale From Friday to Sunday, Nov. 11-13, at Deer Valley's Snow Park Lodge. Fridays hours run from 6-10 p.m. Saturday's events run from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Sunday's hours are also from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Tickets for Friday are $30. Admission to Saturday and Sunday is $5 or a canned food donation. For more information, visit http://www.anelder.org.