Jenny Begay Navajo Basket Weaver
Growing up close to the Navajo Reservation you always hear stories of the long hairs from the Navajo Mountain area. The Navajo men from this area keep their hair long, which is a traditional style. When the Navajos were being rounded up and taken on the Long Walk many fled north and hid from the soldiers. Since then we think of the people isolated in the North as holding on to more traditions. Basket weavers come from this area, and so does Jenny Begay Navajo basket weaver.
Perry Null Trading Who taught you how to make baskets?
Jenny Begay My grandma, a long time ago.
Perry Null Trading Did your family make them to sell?
Jenny Begay No, we were taught to make them for ceremonies.
Perry Null Trading What do you call this type of basket?
Jenny Begay It is a pitch pot used to carry water or store food.
Perry Null Trading Do you still use them for that?
Jenny Begay Yes, because we still will use them in ceremonies. We also make them to sell. People will use them for decoration in their homes.
Perry Null Trading Do you make other baskets?
Jenny Begay Yes, I make traditional wedding baskets and decorative baskets.
Perry Null Trading Did you teach your daughter Hermaline Begay to basket weave?
Jenny Begay Yes, she can make the pitch pots. She will eventually try to make a traditional baskets, but those are the hardest to make.
Perry Null Trading What do you make the pitch pot with?
Jenny Begay You use willows to form the basket and weave sumac strips around them. We collect pine tree sap to coat them with and this can take all day. Once we have a full bucket we clean it and then cook it until it is a very hot and boiling. That is when we pour it onto the basket.
Perry Null Trading We buy baskets from Kee Bitsinnie from your area, do you know him?
Jenny Begay He is my brother.
Perry Null Trading Thank you.