GALLUP — For Donnaleigh Dedman, the allowance of Navajo moccasin-makers represented a acknowledgment to ability and actuality self-sustaining.
“I like this allowance of Navajo bodies authoritative moccasins,” Dedman said Nov. 8. “This is what it should be like. Not us active into boondocks to buy moccasins from the white man. Unfortunately, I accept to say that.”
There were six Navajo moccasin-makers, including Dedman, in the ample atrium of the Navajo Nation Building and Library in Window Rock, Ariz., and anniversary them had a table area they were alive on a brace of moccasins.
Their tables additionally showcased their accomplished moccasins.
The acquisition of moccasin-makers was allotment of the Navajo Nation Building Arts, Cultural, Language Immersion, Lecture & Alive Series that Clarenda Begay, the building curator, organized.
The “Moccasin Demonstration & Sales; Celebrating Native American Heritage Month” accident drew a allowance abounding of bodies of all ages, who sat agilely as anniversary moccasin-maker talked about the ability and aggregate acceptable Navajo belief about moccasins.
But as anon as the presentations were over, they confused to the tables to allocution one on one with the moccasin-makers and to buy or adjustment a brace of moccasins.
Dedman was the alone changeable moccasin-maker and the alone one who fabricated abreast moccasins, which she alleged “moccasin racers.”
The two pairs of moccasin racers that sat on her table were a costly azure color, which assorted beautifully with the advanced white shoelaces and white soles that were fabricated of cowhide.
If you saw the moccasin racers from a distance, you would aberration them for a brace of high-top or low-cut sports shoes.
Dedman said she created her moccasin racer for a teenager, who was part-Navajo and not actual traditional.
She remembered that he was cutting a brace of sports shoes that were too big for him.
“I acquainted bad for him and I said, ‘When I get acceptable at authoritative moccasins, I’m activity to accomplish that kid a pair,’ ” Dedman said.
She said she abstruse how to accomplish moccasins during the abatement aftermost year and, so it was either January or February back she acquainted she was acceptable abundant to accomplish moccasins for the adolescent man.
But again tax division formed around, and the teen’s parents had abundant money to buy him a brace of shoes that fit him.
Dedman smiled and said she connected alive on her architecture and fabricated her aboriginal brace of moccasin racers for her daughter, followed by a brace for her mom.
She said she started orders for her moccasin racers afterwards she showcased them at the anniversary Navajo Nation Fair in September.
Dedman said she makes her moccasin racers in altered colors and bodies accept been acclimation her racers in turquoise, purple, atramentous and greenish turquoise, but not the acceptable red.
She said she’d been cat-and-mouse for addition to adjustment a acceptable red, and that addition was at the museum.
Dedman said she works on her moccasin racers during the weekends because she has a full-time job, horses and family.
She’s additionally in the action of acquirements how to tan cowhide, which she will use for the soles of her racers.
A about gave Dedman a cowhide from a cow that he had butchered.
She said her uncle told her to anon cut off the fat and meat from the cowhide, alkali it and let it sit, which will actualize accustomed juices that will accomplish the beard appear off.
“So, I’m absolutely able to aloof cull that [hair] off,” Dedman said.
She said that afterwards she pulls off all the hair, she’ll wet the adumbrate down, alkali it and pale it out to dry.
Dedman said she had been arrive to advise the abutting moccasin-making chic at Hunter’s Point Boarding School, which will apparently be appointed from January to ancient in the spring.
She said she abstruse how to accomplish moccasins from a agnate branch at the academy that was organized by Alta Begay, the ancestor coordinator, and accomplished by Loretta Begay.
Dedman said the moccasin-making branch was captivated every Thursday and initially appointed for eight sessions, which were broadcast to 16 sessions because it drew a lot added bodies than expected.
She said she absitively to appear the moccasin-making workshops because she loves to sew and her mom told her that her great-grandfather, Hosteen Nez Peshlakai, was a moccasin-maker. “But no one abstruse it,” Dedman said. “It wasn’t anesthetized down. Two ancestors passed, and no one was authoritative moccasins until I said, ‘Hey, they’re accepting moccasin-making. Let’s go. My mom and my aunt went with me to the workshops. And so they abstruse and I learned.”
She said moccasin-making is a adamantine action and demands patience.
Dedman said the moccasin-making sessions lasted three hours and it would booty her that continued to sew 2 inches of a moccasin because she was learning.
“But as anon as I best it up and accepted it, from there it was easy, actual accessible to do, Dedman said. “That is how I best up moccasin-making, and I like to say I appear from a ancestors of moccasin-makers because I do accept my great-grandpa who fabricated moccasins.”
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