Shawn Begay

Shawn Begay

I first met Shawn when he was three years old, shadowing his Aunt Cecelia and mother, Colleen,  into the trading post.  Cecelia Curley, a Navajo pictorial weaver, was following her “once-a-year” program.  Annually, I pass some unwritten test which signals my readiness to purchase another family member’s weavings. 

Another month passed before Colleen brought in a small raised outline weaving.  “I thought you didn’t know how to weave this style”.  Colleen answered, “I have been watching my husband for years, so I figured it out.  I lock myself in my room so no one may see what I am doing.  This is now my own special style”.  Over the ensuing months, Colleen worked in this new manner and brought me the results. 

The now four year old Shawn decided he wanted to be the one presenting the weavings for sale.  At first, his negotiation skills were understandably wobbly.  He would slap the rug on the counter and emphatically state, “Five dollars”.  Suppressing a smile, I bent down and said, “Shawn, you may want to ask a little more for your mom’s weaving”.  “One hundred dollars!”  Colleen giggled, poked him gently in the ribs and whispered a sensible resolution.

After several more months, Cecelia, Shawn and Colleen stopped in with more small rugs.  Shawn proudly marched to the counter and said, “I’m weaving a rug”.  Colleen explained that Shawn had slipped away with one of her small looms and tried to teach himself to weave.  Upon anyone’s approach, he would hide his attempts under the bed.  Colleen finally unearthed his secret enterprise.  “Would you like me to show you how?” she queried, and the weaving apprenticeship of this four year old commenced.  

After a couple more selling visits, Shawn proudly walked in with his own creation, a small banded rug featuring his highly personalized color scheme.  “How much?” I asked.  “Five dollars!”  “Hmmmm, I think your weaving is worth more than five dollars”.  “One hundred dollars!”  We worked through the pricing ritual once again to our mutual satisfaction.  “What are you going to do with the money?”, I probed.  Shawn puffed up his small chest and exclaimed, “I’m going to buy some shoes”.

---excerpt from the story "Shawn" by Georgiana Kennedy Simpson

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This site was last updated on October 19, 2020.

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