Native American Studies Student Learns Weaving Arts in Her Arizona Homeland

Woman Learns Methods of Diné Creative Arts

By Haley Morris, UC Davis Media Relations Intern


Shawna Yazzie, a UC Davis doctoral student in Native American studies, photographed at a ceremony in Arizona where she learned Native weaving.

In a Western world that suppresses Indigenous culture, members of the Navajo Nation actively engage in artistic cultural revival as a means to keep their history alive and to create vibrant futures. During a fellowship, Shawna Yazzie, a P.h.D. student in Native American studies at the University of California, Davis, has been looking at and learning the ongoing rug weaving practices at a Body of Water in a Sunken Area, also known as Piñon, Arizona, her family’s homeland.

She writes of her family, below, in Diné and English:

Ya’atééh shik’éi dóó shi’Diné’é. Totsohníí nishtłı̨́. Tłaaschíí’í bashishchíín. Kinyáá’aanii ei dashicheíí. Tanéézahnı̨́ı̨́ei dashínalí. Ákót’éego Diné asdzáá nishłı̨́. Beʼekʼid Baa Ahoodzánídéé naashá. Shí ei Shawna Yazzie yíníshye. Shimá éi Bernita Edgewater wolyé áádóó shizhé’é éi Michael B. Yazzie Sr. wolyé. Shimá éi Jádítódí naaghá áádóó shizhé’é ei Beʼekʼid Baa Ahoodzánídi naaghá. Shimá sání éi Lena James wolyé ntéé áádóó shicheii éi Howard James wolyé ntéé. Jádítódiéé naa’ash ntéé. Shinálí asdzą́ą́ éi Helen Mae Yazzie wolyé áádóó shinálí hastiin éi Kee Bahe Yazzie Sr. wolyé ntéé. Beʼekʼid Baa Ahoodzánídéé naa’ash. 

Hello to my family, friends, and people. I am of the Big Water. I am born for the Red Bottom People. My maternal grandfathers are the Towering House. My paternal grandfathers are the Tangle Peoples.

I am a Diné woman. I am from A Body of Water in a Sunken Area. My name is Shawna Rae Yazzie. My mother is Bernita Edgewater and my father is Michael B. Yazzie Sr. My mother is from Jeddito, Arizona. My father is from Piñon, Arizona. My maternal grandmother was Lena James and maternal grandfather was Howard James, who were from Jeddito, Arizona. My paternal grandma is Helen Mae Yazzie and my paternal grandfather was Kee Bahe Yazzie Sr., who are from Piñon, Arizona.

Yazzie is spending time in her native homeland of Piñon after being selected for a 2022 Cobell Graduate Summer Research Fellowship. She is one of five fellows from a highly competitive pool of over 100 graduate applicants who were selected for the Sixth Summer Research Fellowship cohort, each receiving $5,000.

Her research project titled, “Tł’ááschí’í Da’atłʼóh: Diné Weaving Stories of Survivance through the Warp of a Fingers of Red Bottom Girl,” amplifies Diné ways of illustrating history — privileging Diné knowledges and practices — as a means to Indigenize academic theories, methods and practices. Her project shares how Diné women in Piñon, Arizona, build a long-lasting connection to rug weaving. 


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