Thursday, February 7, 2013 4:00 pm free
Diné Weavers Today
Join us for an informal discussion with the weavers who took part in the Woven Stories Exhibition at the Maxwell Museum. Come see the weavers’ own handwoven textiles and listen to their stories.
Thursday, February 7, 2013 7:30 pm free
Woven Stories Lecture
"Navajo Weavers and Woolgrowers: Historicizing Environmental, Gendered and Globalized Injustice" Kathy M’Closkey, Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology at the University of Windsor, Ontario.
In 1890, Navajo blanket sales were 10% of wool sales; by 1930, Navajo textiles were valued at $1 million, three times wool sales, and provided one-third of reservation residents’ income. Archival evidence reveals that blankets were transformed into rugs when tariff removal (1894-98), triggered imports of one billion pounds of duty-free wool, especially from China. Thus Navajos underwent a unique kind of “structural adjustment” not experienced by other American growers subject to tariff protection for clothing wools after 1898. Government attempts to “breed-up” Navajo flocks compromised wool quality for hand weavers and textile manufacturers, resulting in a failed development policy. Bureaucrats’ insistence on Navajo self-sufficiency triggered over-grazing, culminating in the infamous 1930s stock reduction which targeted churros, the coarse-wool sheep preferred by weavers. For eighty years, weavers’ productivity provided a secure means of diversification for reservation traders faced with volatile fluctuations in international wool markets. Evidence of the consequences of free trade is contained in correspondence among eastern wool brokers, southwestern wholesalers and reservation traders. This research highlights remarkable parallels between the ‘hidden’ history of weavers and woolgrowers, and dilemmas confronting Indigenous producers worldwide, coping with globalization. Because many Navajos endure third world living conditions, my presentation challenges anthropologists’ support for the unauthorized re-production of Navajo designs by other Indigenous weavers. The US was the last country to sign the 2007 UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The appropriation of Navajo designs clearly violates Articles 11, 20 and 31, which support weavers’ rights to protection. Hibben 105