Hweeldi: The Woven Tribute
The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture (MIAC) is commemorating the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Bosque Redondo, signed June 1, 1868, by displaying an extraordinary wool rug woven in tribute to the Long Walk. Created in the early 1900s, the rug is an impressive 9 ft. by 15 ft., last displayed at MIAC in 1996.
While the identity of the weavers of the piece remains unknown, Navajo oral history – and likely some first-hand accounts – informed the weavers along the way with their design.
In 1868, the Long Walk was initiated by the United States military as part of Manifest Destiny, the concept that expansion of the United States in the 1800s was both justified and inevitable. Only the 1868 treaty allowed the Navajo to return to their Diné Bikéyah (Navajo sacred lands) in northwestern New Mexico, where they rebuilt as a nation of herders, farmers, and weavers.
“The Long Walk is the most tragic historical event among the Navajo people,” said Joyce Begay-Foss, curator and director of education. “Among most tribal members it is not spoken about due to the sensitive nature of the historical trauma.”
“Other tribal members feel though that we must never forget what the people who came before us suffered and endured,” Begay-Foss added.