For many years, regional weavings have continued to change and evolve, but still within the recognized regional guidelines. In the late 1970's, a group of five sisters from the Burnham area on the Navajo Nation began a new journey in the history of Navajo weaving. They began to combine patterns and designs from all of the weaving areas, along with pictorial elements and patterns of their own.
Because they had a limited number of sheep, they obtained sheared fleeces from Utah State University, where a program is in the process of rebuilding herds of the original Navajo sheep, the Churro. This breed can live easily in the desert southwest and provides wonderful strong, long wool which can be finely spun.
Today many people copy their work and many do it well. But unlike traditional patterned weavings, their designs are constantly changing and evolving. The Burnham weavers have carried Navajo weaving to a unique level of fine art.
Anna Mae Barber's house, where it all began!
Seven of the Burnham weavers, from the left: Theresa, Helen, Marie, Lorraine, Anna Mae, Alice, and Sandy