This work explores Navajo textiles using an inter-disciplinary approach combining different lenses and methods, including environmental history, a discussion of frontier commerce, museum studies, and immersion in culture through weaving samples and traveling to a weaving community in New Mexico. The combination of these approaches provided a better understanding of Navajo weaving rather than simply focusing on a single aspect.
In my thesis, I use methods of material culture and symbolic anthropology to investigate the use of turquoise in the squash blossom necklace. My work focuses on a collection of squash blossom necklaces collected from donors between 1935 and 1985, and housed at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, to examine design elements and themes amongst the necklaces. Investigating the issues of using culture as commodity, I analyze these objects as reflective of the culture from which they originate.