The Pueblo Men’s Weaving Group, now in its third year, with help and instruction from Louie Garcia (Piro/Tiwa), has fulfilled a feat that may not have been accomplished since the turn of the century in the Eight Northern Pueblos: We have learned the ancient techniques and woven, from scratch, a traditional Pueblo men’s kilt that will last, possibly, 10 lifetimes.
There are master weavers at Hopi who produce traditional men’s kilts, and there have been weavers in a couple of the southern Pueblos who have woven kilts from scratch in recent times; however, we do not know of any weavers in the northern Pueblos who have accomplished this feat in the last five decades.
Some may disagree and say that they have made a kilt; but doing this the traditional way involves using techniques such as carding, spinning the cotton into string, and working the warp and the weave on a stationary standing loom or a suspended loom. Our class used a stationary standing loom. Some individuals do the embroidery on monk’s cloth, but that is not really making a kilt; that is just embroidery and hemming. The major difference is the time, prayer, singing and meditation it takes to weave a kilt and then embroider the design. In addition, there still is one more step to bring it to completion.
The members of the class are: Porter Swentzell (Santa Clara), Karl Duncan (Apache), Cris Velarde (Santa Clara/Jicarilla), Joe Montoya (Cochiti/Jemez), Jose Aguilar (San Ildefonso) and myself, Jon Naranjo (Santa Clara/Hopi). I am also the agriculturist in the group. We are planning additional projects to produce other traditional garments and reestablish forgotten craftsmanship and responsibility for our men, and instill this centuries-old custom in Pueblo youth.
The Pueblo men’s weaving class is currently sponsored by Flowering Tree Permaculture Institute. We are seeking additional funding to support the teaching of this lost art. If you are willing to help, please contact Louie Garcia: firstname.lastname@example.org or Roxanne Swentzell: email@example.com
A culture is not created overnight, nor can it be adopted as one’s own without living it. Ideas are only ideas if not put into practice. The Pueblo Men’s Weaving Group understands this. It is not enough to read about or to have been told about one’s cultural history. It is another thing to bring it to life by living it. I have been watching these Native men gather for over two years to bring back their cultural knowledge by literally weaving it back into existence… one step at a time, filling in the strains, creating the designs filled with stories, laughter and knowledge of who we were and who we still are. These few dedicated men are doing us a great favor in keeping these cultural seeds alive. I thank them from all of my heart, for there is much beauty here.
Flowering Tree Permaculture Institute