Spider Woman - A Story of Navajo Weavers and Chanters
SPIDER WOMAN - A Story of Navajo Weavers and Chanters
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A STORY OF NAVAJO WEAVERS AND CHANTERS
"Spider Woman instructed the Navajo women how to weave on a loom which Spider Man told them how to make. The crosspoles were made of sky and earth cords, the warp sticks of sun rays, the healds of rock crystal and sheet lightning. The batten was a sun halo, white shell made the comb. There were four spindles; one a stick of zigzag lightning with a whorl of cannel coal; one a stick of flash lightning with a whorl of turquoise; a third had a stick of sheet lightning with a whorl of abalone; a rain streamer formed the stick of the fourth, and its whorl was white shell."
THE Story of Navajo Weavers and Chanters is self-explanatory as to characters and circumstances. The only distortion of which I am conscious is a slight one of time and sequence. There is no twisting of facts; if there is of interpretation it is because of lack of understanding rather than of the will to understand.
My acknowledgments must be necessarily feeble in proportion to the harvest I have reaped of good will and kindness. The first are due to the Southwest Society, which had enough faith in a dubious undertaking to start me on my way. I thank next the Council for Research in the Social Sciences of Columbia University, which kept me going once I had started.
When I consider the service, spiritual and physical, rendered by the members of the J. L. Hubbell Trading Post, Ganado, Arizona, I am overwhelmed with the inadequacy of my vocabulary. Mr. Roman Hubbell, Old-Mexican's-Son, understood in a flash my somewhat difficult problems, and when he suggested Red-Point's family as the one with which to work he put the stamp of success on my project. He himself is a constant source of stimulation and inspiration as he follows my progress with ever-eager interest and coöperation. The sentiment applies equally to Mr. Lorenzo Hubbell of Oraibi.
I cannot sign my name to this and leave out the word "hospitality." I find the Southwest ever hospitable and, in emphasizing my feeling of well-being there, must refer back to the residents of the Southwest previously mentioned as largely responsible for it. This includes all their families and many others which the exigencies of space forbid me naming individually.
Gladys A. Reichard
Excerpt from SPIDER WOMAN
II - ESTABLISHED
..I convince them that I really want to learn, and, satisfied that the house suits me and assured that I want to start weaving, the sooner the better, Tom starts off to make the loom-frame. The south side of the house is an ideal place for the simple structure. He has only to measure the space with his eye, get his ax from his own house, and he is off to hew the necessary parts from trees on the place. During the time he is gone we women settle for a talk to get acquainted. While we talk, Marie's mother, Maria Antonia, comes in. She could not come while Tom, her son-in-law, was there, for Navajo women never "see" their sons-in-law. One of the children, with a word and a gesture, has informed her that he is gone for a goodly period of time and she may now come in to satisfy her curiosity.
The women visiting me at this time are my three teachers, Maria Antonia, the old woman who made her daughters famous; Atlnaba, who now with the energy of youth surpasses her mother; and Marie, a self-taught expert and my interpreter. Maria Antonia's smile is not less sweet because toothless. Marie is not less energetic or enduring because comfortably plump. With these exceptions every member of the family, male and female alike, gives a first impression of wiry leanness and of perfect teeth. Herding sheep and riding horseback keep down superfluous fat, constant chewing of freshly killed mutton makes teeth strong and white.
Marie, as interpreter, enumerates the members of the family and tells me their names, those given them by whites and their real Navajo names. She tells me also how old each person is. I, in turn, tell them how old I am, how many older brothers and sisters I have, how many younger, how I teach girls in winter, visit and learn from Indians in summer, and why I want to learn to weave.
Now a child, playing outside, gives a warning, and Maria Antonia disappears. Within a few minutes Tom comes in again with three freshly cut poles, perhaps four inches in diameter, on his shoulder. He has hacked off the bark but has taken no pains to smooth the surface. On the contrary, he has purposely avoided the smoothness of which his ax is capable, for the rough protuberances will prove useful to us. He brings also a smooth four-by-four stringer about seven feet long. He lays these materials on the floor along the side where the loom is to be. Accepting a proffered cigarette, he squats near the doorway, his weight on his right foot and on the toes of his left, for a short rest.
Red-Point, the patriarch, comes as head of the household to perform his duties of welcome. He admires the coolness and comfort of my house. It is cooler than his and the others because it is underground. For his benefit and Tom's I repeat details of my age, my interests, and my family relationships. Red-Point approves of Tom's choice of posts for the loom, and makes several suggestions about setting them up. He stays only a cigarette interval, saying he must find his horse to go to Ganado. The time is long enough, however, to make me feel thoroughly at home, to convey verbally the feeling which the women only smile, that they are glad to have me here. They are glad I want to learn to weave; they hope they will teach me to weave well.
Table of Contents for SPIDER WOMAN
|VI MARIE LEARNS TO WEAVE|
|VIII AT THE WELL|
|IX TAKING COUNSEL|
|XVI SHEEP DIPPING|
|XVII HOUSE GUARDIAN|
|XIX SHOOTING CHANT|
|XX COMMUNION OF SUFFERING|
|XXI THE GODS INVITED|
|XXII THE HOLY TWINS|
|XXIII SUN'S HOUSE|
|XXIV THE GODS ACCEPT|
|XXVI THE KINNI'S-SONS|
|XXVIII WHITE-SANDS DESOLATED|
|XXIX WAR DANCE|
|XXX KILLING THE GHOST|
|XXXI MARIE'S LITTLE LAMB|
|XXXIV COLLECTING PLANTS|
|XXXV FATHER'S SISTER|
|XXXVI DEGREE IN WEAVING|
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