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Elsie Shay
Elsie Shay

Yá’át’ééh. I continue to live where I was born in 1944, in Big Mountain, Arizona on the Navajo Reservation. My late mother was Sadie Robertson and my late father was Lee Bahe Robertson.

Growing up, I did not attend school. I stayed home to learn the traditional ways of my people.

I was taught to prepare the loom and weave rugs by my mother and grandmother. I use both store bought yarn and my own wool. To dye the wool, onions, tea, white clay, and blue plant are gathered in the spring and fall. You can find these plants after it has rained. My favorite colores are dark grey, black, red, white, blue, green, beige, and grey. My family taught me several weaving traditions. There are songs that I sing as I set up my loom and prepare to weave. The songs help me to weave faster. I also learned how to set up a loom on a tree, how to start the rug and how to weave line by line.

I believe it is important to weave for as long as I can, following the traditions I was taught. This is how the weaving traditions can be kept alive and passed down from generation to generation.