The weaving of ceremonial baskets is a timeless tradition in Navajo culture. Each element of a basket—including its color, stitching, and design—reflects something in the artist’s world. Just as the legends and origins of the Diné (Navajo people) are intricately woven into their stories and thoughts, they are also woven into their baskets.

The Navajo Nation is located in the Four Corners region of the American Southwest, renowned for its spectacular, iconic landscapes. The area also offers a fascinating glimpse into ancient Native American culture through remarkable architecture and artifacts left behind by the ancestral Puebloans, who lived in the area before migrating seven centuries ago.

We have designed an immersive cultural experience, in which we’ll delve into contemporary Navajo culture and craft, with a focus on basketmaking. With our teachers, master-weavers Evelyn Cly and her sister, Peggy Black, we’ll learn how to make a simple basket while gaining insight into their lives and craft. Additionally, we have planned several special excursions exploring the remarkable history, culture, and landscape of the region.


Introduction to Contemporary Navajo Basketmaking & Workshop

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Peggy Black (above) & work by evelyn cly (below)

Peggy Black (above) & work by evelyn cly (below)

In partnership with Crow Canyon Archeology Center and Twin Rocks Trading Post, experts in contemporary Navajo basketry, we have arranged a basketmaking workshop with Evelyn Cly and Peggy Black, two accomplished basket weavers from Douglas Mesa, near Monument Valley. While learning how to make a traditional Navajo wedding basket, we will explore the symbolism and sacred properties of a basket’s form, color, and design.

The owners of Twin Rocks will introduce us to traditional Navajo basketry and guide us through innovations in the craft over the last thirty years, during which time several distinctive artists have emerged. Each of these artists draws on tradition while pushing cultural and artistic boundaries. We will also learn about the role that trading posts have played in promoting Native arts since the 19th century through today.

Our workshop will take place in Bluff, Utah, a small town nestled between red sandstone bluffs along the San Juan River. Bluff is an ideal base for exploring the Four Corners area, giving us a better understanding of the deep history and diverse cultures of the American Southwest.


Exploring the Four Corners Area

monument valley

monument valley

We have planned several special excursions, which offer a fascinating look at the deep history and diverse cultures of the American Southwest.

Our tour starts in Durango, Colorado, where we’ll enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at the basket and textile collection at the Center for Southwest Studies. From Durango, it’s a beautiful drive westward towards Bluff, Utah, leaving the San Juan Mountains behind before entering a more rugged, arid landscape. En route, we’ll visit Ute Mountain Tribal Park for a guided tour exploring ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings that date to the 13th century.

Edge of the Cedars State Park museum

Edge of the Cedars State Park museum

We will take breaks between workshop sessions to explore the area. We’ll see petroglyphs along the San Juan River with a local archeologist and we’ll hike to ancient stone dwellings nestled along Comb Ridge in Bears Ears National Monument. We’ll experience magnificent Monument Valley with a Navajo guide, and we’ll discover remarkable 13th-century towers at Hovenweep National Park.

The ancestral Puebloans left behind a rich material legacy, of which we’ll see examples at Edge of the Cedars State Park. On a private, curator-led tour of the museum’s collection, we’ll see its extensive pottery collection and learn about connections between Navajo and Pueblo pottery and basketry.

DATE: 

April 20 - 28, 2020


COST & DETAILS:

$2,995 per person based on double occupancy / $3,700 per person based on single occupancy

Limited to 11 participants (Min of 8 required to run tour)

$1,500 deposit due upon registration / Final payment due January 1, 2020

Tour begins and ends in Durango, Colorado, USA


This price includes:

  • A local guide plus a tour host

  • Accommodation

  • Artist, guide and scholar fees

  • Workshop materials

  • Most meals, including tips

  • Local transport in private van

  • All entry fees, tours and permits on public, private and tribal lands

  • A copy of “Weaving a Revolution” exhibition catalog sent to participants in advance of tour

Does not include:

  • Airfare to and from Durango, Colorado

  • Transfers to and from airport

  • Travel insurance that includes trip cancellation

  • Personal shopping

  • Alcoholic drinks (please be aware that alcohol is prohibited within the Navajo Nation)

  • Two dinners (as detailed on daily itinerary)

  • Gratuities for guide, hotel staff and driver (Not required, according to your discretion)


Weaving a Revolution

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The Natural History Museum of Utah presented “Weaving a Revolution,” an exhibition featuring 250 baskets donated to the museum by Twin Rocks Trading Post. Each participant will receive a complimentary copy of the beautiful exhibition catalog, which features the work of many accomplished artists.

What began as a renaissance, a rebirth of traditional basket making, soon became a revolution of design, storytelling, and distinctive art.
— Becky Menlove quoted in "Weaving a Revolution"