A Man Who is an Unusual Weaver, Allison Billy

Georgiana Kennedy Simpson from Twin Rocks Trading Post interviews Navajo Rug Weaver Allison Billy.

Allison is one of the few men in Utah, or in any part of the Navajo Nation, who is a weaver.  Traditionally a woman’s art, Allison talks about how he learned (from his grandmother), and when he learned –when he was nine years old.

Allison is a terrific storyteller, and listening to a rare person is always, well, a rare treat.

Advertisements

The Navajo Ways Protection

Navajos still make baskets with protective powers that attract protective gods and keep away the evil gods.

A Navajo Basket with Rams Offering Protection

Navajos have many forms of protection from people, events, and spooky beings. So, we at Twin Rocks, thought we’d start sharing a few tips with you, and show you art that’s been created to boost the protective energy.

The word “ambush” has a pretty interesting beginning.  The word itself is an old word that means a shelter that’s formed by two trees or shrubs whose branches intermingle. Thus, it’s a good place to lay in ambush for someone, or to keep from being ambushed.

This leafy ambush is a setting that occurs repeatedly in myth. And, from the ambush, people have learned or invented protective rituals including herbal magic, frames, hoops, pokers, prayersticks, and pieces of carved wood.

A hero, hoping to shoot a ram or other animal that he did not recognize as a god, lay behind the ‘ambush trees.’ When the animal appeared, the hero was numb until it had passed. If the animal turned out to be a god, it would reveal himself as a deity to the hero. Then, the god would begin to teach the hero ceremonial lore and wisdom. In the once-were-coyote episodes, the intertwined trees become a shelter for the hapless hero who was bewitched into becoming a coyote.

The ceremony, or chant, to cure this is called Hoops of the Night Chant. The hoops are made of the ambush woods, which appear again in the pit-baking, and they’re associated with the wood samples of a healing herb.

In this remarkable basket woven by Jonathan Black,  the rams offer protection from deities who might be waiting to ambush an unsuspecting person.  Thank you, beautiful rams!

The Heart of the Southwest

Twin Rocks in the the center of all there is to see in the heart of the Southwestern US

All roads lead to Twin Rocks, in amazing Bluff, UT

Why come and visit us at Twin RocksEasy.  You’ll have a great time that is completely unique.

The Twin Rocks Trading Post sits just beneath the Navajo Twins geologic formation in the historic pioneer town of Bluff, Utah. Barry and Steve Simpson, local boys, share their passion for cultural tradition and artistic innovation with both artists and visiting collectors.

Open minds and imagination have resulted in a Navajo basketry renaissance. You’ll also discover one of the finest contemporary Native American turquoise jewelry collections in the world. (No kidding!) And, the Twin Rocks Modern Navajo rug is the first Navajo weaving design innovation in decades.

Pop in.  There’s always a lively conversation going on about the west of old, contemporary Indian art, and travel exploits.  (Tell us yours!)

This is our home. If you have any questions about the Four Corners regional culture and landscape, feel free to ask us.  If we don’t know, we’ll point you in the right direction. When you visit us in Bluff, we promise you a top-notch experience in Native American art and hospitality.

Our friendly team is happy to give you an authentic experience that is comfortable, informative and fun. Like many people we have met over the years, we hope you come through our front door as customers and leave as life-long friends. And, you can always give us a buzz at 1-800-526-3448.

Welcome to our part of the planet, friends. Life will never look quite the same way again.

When Bluff Became a Town

Utah town, Bluff, was founded in 650 A.d.

Welcome to Bluff, UT, founded 650 A.D.

Founded in 650 A.D.?

The first people who lived in Bluff, UT were the Anasazi who left lifetimes of belongings and rock art behind.

The Navajo name for Bluff is “Tselgaii Deez a, or something like “White Rock Point.”  If you still have a regular map, pull it out.  Bluff is in the far S.E. corner of Utah right on the San Juan River.

Prehistoric roads, those that are different and earlier than the Chacoan road system, are in our areaVery cool, indeed.

A rock formation called The Navajo Twins, which is sacred to the Navajo people, stands above nearby Cow Canyon.  It’s also where we got our name, Twin Rocks.

The first white person to explore this area, that we know of, was a zealous Mormon missionary named Jacob Hamblin.  He found Bluff on his way to the Hopi Mesas, hoping to talk the Hopis into moving their pueblo farther north.  (Seriously.)  At any rate, the community was officially founded in 1880.  Bluff is an area that was used as a semi-refuge by Navajos during the time when most were shipped off to the Bosque Redondo.

Then, in 1887, just outside Bluff, trouble reared its head.  A trader, Amassa Barton, was killed by Navajos.  One week later Navajos threatened the Mormon families who had moved to Bluff.  They kept their cool when told that the cavalry would show up.

Bluff has had a colorful past.  Its present is pretty colorful, too.  Anglos and Navajos live, work and trade together.  But as far as the magic the rings the hills and makes a whirring sound?  Only the Navajos can decipher that.  At least that’s what they tell us…

Things to do on Your Way to Twin Rocks

Visiting The Grand Cyn

Things to do on Your Way to Twin Rocks

1) See the Grand Canyon in Arizona

2) Head to Mesa Verde in Colorado

Now, for a tighter view, we give you things to do while in Utah, and every one is just a whisk away from Twin Rocks Trading Post!

1) Hovenweep National Monument:  (970) 749-0510    Isolated, spectacular ruins of square, oval, circular and D-shaped towers.  Primitive camping, no potable water.  Amazing!

2) Wild Rivers — Right here in Bluff! (800) 422-7654    Boat trips down the ancient San Juan River where you’ll visit petroglyphs and plenty of amazing wildlife and sites with no access except the river.

3) Edge of the Cedars State ParkBlanding, UT.  (801) 678-2238    Rare basket collection.  One of the finest displays of ancient pottery in the Southwest.  A restored Pueblo ruin.

4) Goosenecks State Park:  8 miles north of Mexican Hat.    The San Juan River looks like a green snake as it curves back on itself at the bottom of a 1,100 foot canyon.  Camping.

5) Monument Valley Tribal Park:  (801) 727-3287    Fantastic orange-red-neon rock formations that have been made famous by countless of western movies.  It’s also the place Forrest Gump stopped running!

6) Arches National Park:  (801) 259-8161    This has the greatest density of rock arches in the world — 1,500 have been catalogued.  This is truly one of the hearts of red rock country.

7) Canyonlands National Park:  (801) 259-7164    Canyons, mesas, buttes, fins, arches and spires.  The area is primitive and wild and mind-blowing.

8) Capitol Reef National Park:  (801)  425-3791    Contains the unique Waterpocket Fold and the Fremont River. Go wild with the sheer number of petroglyphs, fossils and eerie rock formations.

9) Natural Bridges National Monument:  (801) 259-5174    Natural bridges, hanging gardens, ancient ruins, hiking, primitive camping and a scenic drive.  Terrific.

Anywhere you go for a trek through the Authentic Southwest, you are just a buzz away from Twin Rocks.  A cool porch will welcome you.

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!)