After a yearlong run at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian in Santa Fe, NM, these significant textiles return to the Center as the hallmark exhibition honoring the Center’s fiftieth anniversary year. The majority of these Navajo and Puebloan textiles were made between 1860 and 1880, during a time that the American Southwest experienced significant change including the coming of the railroad, and the more readily available exchange of commerce, culture and ideas.
Indigenous peoples of the Southwest have practiced weaving for approximately 2,500 years. But it was the cultivation of cotton that figures prominently in the production of early southwestern textiles. By 1100, people living in what is now the Four Corners area were weaving on upright looms, producing large, rectangular textiles which could be used as blankets or garments. The Spanish introduced sheep in 1598, and Native weavers quickly adapted to the use of wool.