Navajo Wind Energy Basket and Healing

Navajo Wind Energy Basket Relates to Holy Wind, our Breath, and Kinship

Navajo Wind Energy Basket Relates to Holy Wind, our Breath, and Kinship

Just like the Western notion of the soul, Holy Wind exists everywhere. Every living thing is part of it.

The basket pictured is made by Navajo artist Chris Johnson.  As a member of the Betty Rock Johnson family, Chris has been schooled by the finest. Using richly traditional colors of red and black and a wind energy theme, Chris had made an interesting crossover piece. Chris’ weavings do not last long so don’t hesitate.

Holy Wind is the underlying element that unifies all beings. People, deer, buffalo, spiders, stars, clouds, goatheads, fish and pinon trees — everything — are all united by breath and wind. The singe soul sings within it, and us, all.

Because we have kinship with all living beings, we also have the responsibilities that come along with those connections. This means that the earth, animals and plants that live on it (as well as the sky with its entities and phenomena) are related and will take care of us. And, they will provide for us as long as we recognize that we’re responsible for being part of the earth and the sky, too. It’s a two-way street.

Breath and speech are intimately related to the concept of Holy Wind, or nilch’i. There is a holy quality to breath that we don’t often recognize in our culture. Traditional Navajos think of breathing as a sacred act that unite all living beings.

It is possible for a patient in a healing ceremony to breathe in the life-giving power of the sun outside of the hogan, because the chanter’s breath rolls inside the hogan. The intimate relationship between speech and breath is a life principle that makes the very act of speech act sacred.

Words have a sacred, creative power. In Navajo creation stories, the Holy People spoke, sang, and prayed the world into existence. The uniting power of Holy Wind is the same force that fills the Holy People themselves with life, movement, speech, and behavior.

We have direct access to the thought and speech of the Holy Ones through breath and words. That Holy Wind, or soul, is our inner form, and so it is with all living beings. Beautiful.

The basket above is made by Navajo artist Chris Johnson.  As a member of the Betty Rock Johnson family, Chris has been schooled by the finest. Using richly traditional colors of red and black and a wind energy theme, Chris had made an interesting crossover piece. Chris’ weavings do not last long so don’t hesitate.

“Young Buck Prancing” Southwest Necklace Made from Deer Antler

James Olson uses natural materials and combines them with the finest in silversmithing to create unique Southwest jewelry for Twin Rocks Trading Post

James Olson uses natural materials and combines them with the finest in silversmithing to create unique Southwest jewelry.

From the fertile imagination of Jamie Olson comes a pin/pendent crafted of naturally shed deer antler with Utah jet and sterling silver.

Jamie has titled this piece, as much art as jewelry, “Young Buck Prancing”. When it comes to his jewelry designs and the material he uses to produce them, this gifted artist is cleverly creative. Wearing Jamie’s jewelry tells everyone you have impeccable taste. That’s fine and dandy. Most of all, it makes you feel as if you have a magic talisman.

James A. Olson, says of himself, the artist:

“About my work, or lack of, it chose me as much as I chose it. Asked where I get my ideas, I can’t really say for sure. I’m thankful I get them once in awhile, and have the basic skills to carry them through to a satisfactory condition, at that point and time. I’m blessed, I love what I do, it’s a passion. When that love and passion is not there, I’ll do something else.”

Jamie’s work is finally getting the notice and recognition it deserves. Galleries in Denver, and Big Parts Elsewhere, are discovering him. He may live in a little studio just across from Twin Rocks Gallery and Cafe in Bluff, but as often happens, the world comes to Bluff. What the world discovers is art from the heart. Art from the soul.

If you’re tempted to get one of Jamie’s pieces of jewelry, each one unique, now is the time. We in Bluff, UT are at the edge of the epicenter of nowhere, and thankfully so, but there is only so much Jamie to go around!

Kokopelli… The Shocking Truth!

Kokopelli, the fertility god of the southwest and also an ancient trickster

Kokopelli, Wooing Women of the Southwest

Kokopelli was a frisky and fruitful guy.  As a matter of fact, you could say that he was the Johnny Appleseed of the Southwest.

His trade route was large.  He played his music and spread his seed from Southern Utah to Mexico. To the Navajo, Kokopelli is called “Water Sprinkler”, and he is a symbol of fertility in both the natural and human sense.

To the Hopi he is the symbol of the Flute clan, and he adorns pottery, baskets, and Katsinas. And, he is always surrounded by humor. This funny-looking being, with his back hunched, carrying seeds, was somehow able to enchant women into loving him and mesmerize men out of their most prized possessions.

Many women considered it to be an honor to be chosen as his “dreamtime companion” when he stayed in a village until he moved on. If you’d had trouble having a baby, Kokopelli would take care of that. He fathered children left and right.

The Hopi people believe Kokopelli gets his energy and heat from the very center of the earth. And, coming from the center of the earth, he brings love and fertility to all plants and animals.

Kokopelli has the spirit of the Trickster. This hunchbacked flute player is sometimes called the Casanova of the Cliff Dwellers.

His image was cleaned up hundreds of years ago by Catholic priests as they arrived in the Southwest. But, he is still here, etched in petroglyphs, playing his flute for everyone to enjoy.

We believe that Kokopelli is with us still, just beyond our reach but inside our dreams, and that he will continue his journey and trade route into the future.

Oh, magical southwest… We love you.

When Navajo Holy People Made Horse

The Navajo Creation Story of Horse

Here we’d like to share with you a wonderful story, for stories jumped to life at the same time as paintings. This is the Navajo story of First Horse.

“When the Holy People first made the horse, it was a complete thing, but it would not come to life.  They tried to get it to rise up on its strong legs, but it would not rise. Caterpillar was asked to help. ‘How can I help?’ he asked.

“’You know,’ one of the Holy People said, ‘where the sacred flints are kept.’”

“’Yes, this is true. But I am pretty slow getting around.’”

“Then the Holy People prayed over Caterpillar and he became Butterfly. Swiftly he flew to the Mountain Where Flint Is Kept. After gathering four flints, he returned to the Holy People and put the flints into the hooves of the horse.

The great horse stirred, quivered, and came to life. Then it surged, leaped fully into life, struck the air with its hooves, and galloped off into the clouds.

“’Look,” a Holy Person said. ‘The horse makes the marks of Butterfly when it dances on its hooves!’ And it has been that way ever since.”

Navajo people believe that there are Five Horses of the Sun Father. And, they believe that they are a way of telling time, Navajo-style. White shell and pearl horses represent dawn, turquoise is noon, red shell is sunset, and jet or coal is night.

(Twin Rocks Trading Post would like to acknowledge the book: An Ethnologic Dictionary of the Navajo Language, 1929; The Franciscan Fathers.)

Stop in at Twin Rocks Café. (You might be able to pick up a copy of the Father’s book.) After you’ve enjoyed your Navajo Taco, stroll out the door and down the path to the Twin Rocks Trading Post. We’d be happy to share paintings by L. Holiday with you – they’re a favorite at our southwest gallery.

Enjoy this day of horses and all things mystical and beautiful!

Beautiful Native Art is Happy

Craig.Watson.and.Friends                 PLAY ME!

What could be happier than beauty?  Nothing we can think of.  (Except love) Click the video above and…


Mary Holiday Black, Legendary Basket Weaver, visits Twin Rocks

VIDEO: Legendary Mary Holiday Black shares meaning of water vessel with Twin Rocks Trading Post

Mary Holiday Black, Legendary Master Basket Weaver visits Twin Rocks Trading Post, Bluff, UT

Mary Holiday Black, Legendary Master Basket Weaver

Above, watch the video of Mary Holiday Black, legendary Navajo Basket Weaver, speaking with our queen of Twin Rocks, Priscilla.  She’s talking with Priscilla about the ceremonial meaning of the vessel and the weaving of it .  Big stuff and the conversation of two delightful women.

Okay, the video is longer than the media gurus say it should be, but you are watching an artist here, a Navajo icon, a glory and a wonder.

“One of the reasons we want to keep basket-making going among our people,” Mary says, “is because baskets are important when a person gets healed, to bring rain, for weddings, the Fire Dance, the Seven-Day Ceremony.”

Mary Black is largely responsible for the preservation and renaissance of the art of Navajo basketry. She  truly is a legend in her own time.

Mary received the Utah Governor’s 1995 Folk Art Award and, in September of 1996, she received a $10,000 National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts.  It was presented to her in Washington D.C. by First Lady Hillary Clinton.

The matriarch of a large and talented family of basket weavers, Mary Holiday Black has preserved the tradition of Navajo basketry.  And, she has revolutionized it with her daring creativity. Recognized by experts as the nation’s preeminent Navajo basket weaver, Mary’s pieces are highly valued collector’s items.

Her story is worth telling.  In 1960 there were only about a dozen active basket makers on the Navajo reservation.  Most women had turned to the more profitable art of rug weaving.  One of those basket weavers was Mary Black. Taught to weave by an elderly relative when she was 11, Mary has spent over half of a century creating baskets for sacred ceremonial purposes as well as the art world.

She shares her knowledge with anyone willing to learn. Nine of Mary’s eleven children have followed in her footsteps, becoming world-class weavers in their own right. Each ceremonial basket has a story. ‘There are many basket stories,” Mary says. “If we stop making the baskets, we lose the stories.”

And, each ceremonial basket has a song that accompanies it. Mary knows the songs and other tribal lore because her parents, Teddy and Betty Holiday, were medicine people. Strict tribal taboos dictating how and when ceremonial baskets can be woven contribute to their scarcity. Mary has successfully challenged some of the taboos, arguing in favor of preserving cultural history through basketry. (Here we cheer for Mary!)

Mary was one of the first people to consider weaving baskets with imaginative designs targeted toward the Indian art collector’s market. Many of her baskets depict traditional beliefs, stories or legends.  Some are inspired by Navajo sandpaintings.

Working daily, a basket may take up to four months to complete. (Unimaginable and inspiring in our hurry-hurry world.) Mary’s hands often ache from the strain of weaving because she keeps constant pressure on a basket’s sides so they will curve upward when it’s finished. ‘These days my hands get tired, and I have to light a fire and pray for energy,” she has said. ‘They are not as quick as when I was a child!”

Mary Holiday Black is indeed a treasure, and we are honored to count her as a friend.  We at Twin Rocks are honored to offer her baskets and help keep the fusion of Navajo tradition and cutting edge art alive.

The Southwest Recipe for Navajo Frybread. Enjoy!

A recipe for Indian Frybread

Treat your Friends with this Recipe for Navajo Frybread.

When you tour the Southwest, you must include the four corners area. And, that visit should include Navajo Frybread. (We may be prejudiced, but we believe the frybread at the Twin Rocks Café, Bluff, UT,  is some of the best you’ll find.)

Whether you are a foodie from New York City or Los Angeles, or a Midwesterner taking a leisurely Southwest tour in your RV, you will fall in love with Navajo Frybread.  That’s a promise.

What do you do when you get back home and can’t find Indian Frybread at your corner deli?   Here we present you with a recipe for frybread.  Hooray!

  • Ingredients: 3 cups all-purpose flour 2 tsp. baking powder ½ tsp. salt 1 cup warm water 2 quarts vegetable oil for frying
  • Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together.  Pour in the warm water and mix.
  • Knead the dough until it is soft (but not sticky), and add a little more flour or water as needed. Put the dough in a bowl, cover it, and let it sit for about 15 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into 12 balls, and roll each one until it is about 5 inches across.  (This is totally up to you – you may want to go for a piece of frybread that is twice that size.  Make yourself happy!)  Whatever size you make the circles, the dough should be about ¼ of an inch thick.  Now, poke a small hole in the center.
  • Heat your oil in a deep and, preferably, heavy pan.  A large cast iron skillet works well.  The temperature of the oil should be about 375 degrees.  Drop the bread, just one at a time, into the hot oil and turn when the frybread is gold.   Serve with butter or, our personal favorite, a good, local honey.  Or use the frybread as a base to make a Navajo taco.

Warning:  Indian Frybread is addictive.  Enjoy, and treat your friends to the food you discovered while traveling through the Southwest!

The Origin of Navajo Ceremonial Baskets

Sacred Navajo ceremonial baskets tell the beginning of the world and other Navajo stories from the Southwest United States

Navajo Medicine Man, John Holiday

Navajo Jewel Baskets contain all the elements of a ceremonial basket and you can find them at Twin Rocks Trading Post

Navajo Jewel Baskets have all elements of a ceremonial basket

This is how the Navajo World begins, not with a bang but with the patient working of two hands to create sacred art in the form of baskets.

According to Navajo Medicine man, John Holiday, ceremonial baskets tell the story of the Southwest and when the world was created. From John Holiday, Monument Valley, Utah, April 16, 2001:

“Before the earth was created as we know it now, there were the jewel baskets–one of white shell, one of turquoise, one of jet, one of abalone, and two others.  When First Man and First Woman were created, then the regular ceremonial basket came after these baskets.  This ceremonial basket is all of the jewel baskets combined into one.”

It’s true.  The original of the ceremonial basket reaches back into the deepest parts of Navajo history.  The basket’s place is firmly embedded in the first stories of the people and their gods.

In order to understand the basket’s importance in ceremonial and everyday life, we turn to these stories to learn about its role in providing a sacred, protected space.  It also gives visual instruction about a person’s own life, and the history of the Navajo people.

Here we see jewel baskets, the foundation of all ceremonial baskets throughout Navajo history.  And, to understand the origin of these baskets, we must journey back to the origins of the Navajo people, back to their First World.

But… That story is for another time.  For now, enjoy John Holiday’s words, his beautiful spirit, and his infectious joy of life.

(We would like to thank Georgiana Simpson, author of Navajo Ceremonial Baskets, Sacred Symbols, Sacred Space for the astonishing amount of work she has put into capturing the old stories and art in books for all time!)

Weaving the Revolution in Southwest Arts

Navajo Baskets as new art

Basket weaver, Elsie, and her granddaughter with revolutionary basket


Collectors who discover and tour art galleries and trading posts in the Southwest, for Indian rugs and baskets, are reveling in the new fusion of art and tradition.

There was a while, not very long ago, when it seemed that the art of making intricate baskets and rugs might die off with the passing of generations.  As Native Americans left the harsh beauty that is the sacred land of the Navajos, Utes and Pueblo Indians for jobs in big cities, who would carry on the traditional arts?

Not to worry.  A rebirth, a transformation of traditional arts, is happening and it is glorious.  It came about because of a collaboration between artists and traders.   Two very different groups of people overcame cultural barriers to understand and communicate with each other.  A win-win mindset sparked an extraordinary art movement.  It sparked a revolution.

And, as a result, while new baskets and weavings were being made, older Navajo people felt more comfortable sharing their stories and beliefs with their children and grandchildren.  The pride in their heritage was woven into the new baskets and rugs.

What an extraordinary way to remember who you are, and what a grand way to pass your traditions on.  As the new basket makers and those who hum with their looms have woven their lives and history into their art, and it is this that will preserve their history for generations to come.

We’re very excited to have seen the changes, and we know you’ll enjoy that amazing mix of tradition and new art!