Indigenous Connections: Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Stefanie BerganiniIndigenous Connections

In academic circles, the knowledge, skills, and forms of technology that indigenous people have evolved in relationship to their environments are often known as “traditional ecological knowledge,” or TEK. These systems of knowledge are deeply related to place, and often involve a holistic understanding of people as part of, or interdependent with, the natural world, rather than having dominion over it. Though practices vary from place to place and people to people, traditional ecological knowledge is central to the lives and cultures of indigenous peoples and is often handed down over generations through everyday practices, as well as stories, folklore, songs, and other traditions. In the United States, especially if you live in the increasingly fire-ravaged western part of the … Read More

2021 Bid for the Future Funds to Help Andean Weavers Get COVID Vaccinations

Anita OsterhaugATA Programs

Thanks to everyone who participated in our 2021 fundraising auction, A Bid for the Future. Thanks to all of you, we raised more than $26,000 to benefit the weavers of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC). Together, you donated 387 phone cards to help the children of the ten CTTC communities continue to attend school remotely, and 55 kilos of cochineal to help the weavers afford to dye yarn in all the beautiful reds and purples they and we love. (Special thanks to the Natural Dye Study Group of the Eugene Weavers Guild, who got together to purchase cochineal for their fellow artisans in Peru.) The rest of the auction proceeds, including over $1,500 in direct donations, will … Read More

The Fibershed Movement: Looking Back To Move Forward

Cindy WeinsteinBehind the Scenes

Editors Note: If you’re hearing the term “fibershed” in textile conversations, you’re not alone. A growing number of farmers, fashion activists, and textile makers are talking about and joining the call to build a new, more environmentally friendly textile economy through what they call “fibersheds.” In this blog, Cindy Weinstein, ATA community member and owner of Wild Moon Fiber Arts Center, shares her thoughts on this relatively recent textile movement. Sometimes moving forward can look a lot like moving backwards. We do it all the time in small ways that we don’t even notice: swatches, dye sampling, weaving drafts, twist samples, and so on. Each time we work towards our vision and realize that we haven’t reached our goal, we … Read More

Book Review: Death in the Andes

Bob MillerBook Reviews

Death in the Andes, written by celebrated Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa, is on its surface a “whodunit,” set in the dark period when the Shining Path revolutionary terrorists (Sendero Luminoso terrucos) were conducting their campaign of terror in the remote mountain communities of the Peruvian highlands. One more horror in a place rife with rumors of flesh-harvesting pishtacos (evil monster-like men) and with hardship, suspicion, and mistrust—where even the landscape itself is out to destroy those who dare to trespass. Corporal Litumo and his adjunct Tomás Carreño are assigned to the dusty mining and road-building camp of Naccos, charged with discovering the common fate of three missing men. Little ties these three victims together: one was a nearby town … Read More

ATA 2020 Annual Report Now Available

Andean Textile ArtsATA Programs

The year 2020 was like no other, for the ATA community and the world at large. It tested our resilience, our kindness, and our creativity. In our 2020 ATA Annual Report, just released, we reflect on the challenges we faced during the past year, including the need to sustain the Andean weavers we support as they struggled through the pandemic. Thanks to your generous donations, we were able to take on those challenges head on: Our annual donations increased 23.5%, despite the cancellation of our textile tours to Peru and Bolivia—typically our largest source of donations.  We funded 15 grants benefitting 378 adult weavers and 272 young weavers. We kept Andean textile revitalization programs running, while also preserving income for … Read More

Peruvian Doubleweave: Past, Present, and Future

Anita OsterhaugUncategorized

Renowned weaver and ATA board member Jennifer Moore fell in love with doubleweave soon after her first weaving class in college. She was intrigued by being able to weave two separate layers of cloth at the same time, and most especially the possibility of creating design by interchanging the layers, a technique called doubleweave pick-up. As she explored this versatile weave structure over many years, she encountered the doublewoven designs of the pre-Columbian cultures of the Andes. Duality and complementarity (the balanced interchange of dual elements) are core concepts in the indigenous Andean worldview. From pre-Columbian and Inca cultures to today’s indigenous communities, interdependent and reciprocal relationships have always been central to Andean life. For example, since the COVID outbreak … Read More

Young Weavers Honor Past While Working Toward a Better Future

Deb Carpenter-BeckBehind the Scenes

In January, we introduced you to Lourdes Sullca Gutieerez and Nery Condori Layme, two young weavers from the Peruvian highland village of Accha Alta. In this post, these two amazing women tell us more about what weaving means to them, including the difficulties they face and the future they envision. For young weavers Lourdes Sullca Gutieerez and Nery Condori Layme weaving is a natural part of their lives. It is a way to honor and pass on the wisdom of their grandparents and the ancestors before them. “I feel proud,” says Nery about her weaving. “I want to learn more to pass on to other generations.” Lourdes agrees. She enjoys weaving and her passion is apparent as she points out … Read More

Potatoes and Costales

Betty DoerrBehind the Scenes

Looking back, would it have been possible to survive in the Andes without textiles, for warmth, for ritual, for celebration? Hard to imagine. It’s also difficult to imagine the Andes without the potato. In the Andean Quechua village of  Accha Alta alone there are 130 varieties, out of a total of 4,600 types of potatoes in Peru: Saqmari, in the shape of a fist. Pusi Q’achun Waq’achi, tough skinned. If you can peel it, you’ll make a good daughter-in-law. The name literally means “make your daughter-in-law cry.” Muru Q’ewillo, crooked like the horns of the cow. Muru Wayru, use it the wrong way and you can be cursed. Puma Runtu soqu, like the testicles of the puma. Ch’eque Pour Soqo, … Read More

Cultural Appropriation vs Appreciation

Stefanie BerganiniIndigenous Connections

Cultural appropriation has been a particularly contentious topic in recent years, and a debate that tends to be very polarizing. Some see it as a much needed call to higher standards of representation and transparency, others as needless identity politics. As I talked about in my last blog post, culture is dynamic, and constantly evolving, changing, and mixing. Particular foods, or styles of clothing, or visual motifs (among many many other things) make their way around the world, resulting in new or hybrid cultural expressions. So where is the line between appreciating and appropriating? I won’t claim to have a 100% foolproof way to judge whether or not something is cultural appropriation. The Cambridge Dictionary defines the term as “the … Read More

Andean Textile Talks Bring the Andes to You

Andean Textile ArtsATA Programs

We can’t always visit the Andes, especially now with COVID restrictions limiting international travel. But that doesn’t mean we can’t experience the people, traditions, and textiles of the Andes virtually. And that’s exactly what our new Andean Textile Talks series offers you—a chance to immerse yourself in the history, beauty, and techniques of one of the world’s oldest textile cultures, all from the comfort of your home. Many of you joined us on February 9 for our first Andean Textile Talk, featuring award-winning video maker Kathy Brew and her film Following the Thread. In fact, you could say, we had a virtual packed house. Her beautifully crafted film took us to several villages in the Peruvian highlands to learn about … Read More