More than 200 Navajo Rugs will be available at Moab’s Second Annual Rug Auction. Canyonlands Natural History Association (CNHA) is again partnering with auctioneers R B. Burnham & Company to present this auction.
The Burnham family has been trading with the native people of the Four Corners area for five generations. They are known for their encouragement of innovation and quality in Navajo textiles. The auction is a great way to learn about Navajo rugs as the Burnham crew is happy to answer questions about auction items, and share their vast knowledge about the history of Navajo weaving, rug styles, materials and techniques.
CNHA presents this auction to promote cultural awareness and appreciation of Native American arts. Eighty percent of the auction proceeds go directly to the Navajo weavers. CNHA will dedicate its portion of the proceeds to scientific research on public lands of the Colorado Plateau.
Auction day begins with rug appraisals. Appraisals are $10 per rug. From 10 a.m. on the public can preview rugs that are offered. The auction starts at 1 p.m.
“Part of CNHA’s contract with our public land partners is to help with cultural history. That’s why the Navajo rug auction seemed like a good fit,” said Cindy Hardgrave, director of CNHA. “Native American cultures are the keepers of the stories of this land. Supporting Navajo weavers helps ensure that this art form and the culture tied to it is not forgotten”.
Watching the weavers in action is one of the highlights of this event.
Master weaver Anita Hathale will be at the Arches National Park Visitor Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 7 and again from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Sept. 8.
Hathale’s mastery of weaving techniques comes from lifetime spent learning and practicing the art of weaving handed down through the maternal side of her family, then from mother to daughter.
Growing up on a remote part of the Utah Navajo reservation, Hathale found beauty in the barren expanses of windswept sandstone and desert brush of her homeland.
As a child she helped tend sheep; as a young girl she learned to shear the sheep, wash the wool, dye it with natural plant dyes, and card and spin it into yarn.
Hathale now weaves up to 12 hours a day, and loves her work. Her art has evolved from creating traditional patterns to designing her own original motifs.
As proficient as she is, it still takes Hathale up to a full day to weave a mere two inches on a four foot wide rug, and up to a month to make a rug four by five feet in size.
Navajo weavers Nathan Harry and Ahanabah Finley will be at their looms 10 a.m. to noon at the rug auction.
“Weaving is something that I do from deep down in my soul. I’m a Navajo and Navajos are known for weaving, so it’s something that I can be proud of,” Harry said. “Some think that because I am young, I am just playing around with it. But I know that deep down in my heart I do this for me and for my people and to keep our traditions going and heritage alive.”
Harry learned to weave from his grandmother. She had woven all her life and he believes that she wanted to continue the family tradition through him.
Finley exemplifies the future of Navajo weaving. Although she is just fifteen years old, her skill as a weaver has won Grand Champion awards at every county and state fair that she has entered.
For this year’s rug auction, Finley has created a special one-of-a-kind pictorial rug. Her stylized rendition of Delicate Arch shows her skill at creating art with a loom.
With the help and urging of her mother and grandmother, Finley started weaving when she was eight years old. She appreciated their helping her to keep the art of weaving going. To her, weaving is therapy and a stress reliever. She said that her mom told her that not many Navajo girls know how to weave and that she should keep weaving.