Pictorial Churro Sheep : Historic Navajo Weaving: PC 65
According to Roy Kady in a NPR 2010 interview, "The eradication of this particular sheep breed — because we are connected to it with songs and prayers and ceremonies — when it was taken from us, that part of our life was also destroyed.,"
The weaver of this handsome piece is probably paying tribute to the loss of so many flocks and to the resilience of this majestic and beloved breed.
Using a beautiful positive and negative pictorial abstract, the artist utilized all natural, hand-carded, and hand-spun Churro wool. If you would like to see Steve's video description of this piece, please click here. This artwork is featured in our Navajo Textiles as Woven Art exhibit.
The Importance of Churro Sheep
The Churro Sheep were introduced to the Native Americans by the Spanish in the late 1500's as colonization slowly expanded.
The Navajo began a relationship with the sheep which included using their wool for weaving, their sinew for thread, and their meat for food. The Churro was an ideal breed for the Southwest as it was hardy, disease resistant, and thrived in poor environments.
When the Navajo resisted the encroaching settlers, the US government ordered Kit Carson to destroy the Navajo's abundant orchards and flocks. In 1865 approximately 9,000 Navajo were forced on the "Long Walk" to an internment camp 300 miles away. Along the way and during their capture many Navajo died from the terrible conditions. Some Navajo escaped and hid sheep in remote canyons. After 3 years the Navajo were allowed to return to their homeland. This was the first time the Churro breed teetered on the edge of extinction.
The Navajo are great herdsmen and as a result in just 60 years, the number of Churro sheep went from 15,000 to over 500,000. The US government felt there were too many and that the land was being overgrazed during the severe drought of the 1930s and thereby conducted a "stock reduction". Some were purchased, but approximately 30% of each household's goats, horses, and sheep were slaughtered. This terrifying event is still vivid in Navajo memory and is often referred to as the Second Long Walk because it was so destructive.
|Size||3'3" x 3'8"|
|Item #||PC 65|
|Learn more about Pictorial weavings|
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A unique blend of history, Native American culture and storytelling make these weavings an art like no other.
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