LOCAL NEWS

Native American artists hope to pass their tradition on to future generations

Dec 24, 2023, 10:29 PM | Updated: Dec 26, 2023, 6:15 am

CAMERON, Ariz. – Near the southern end of the Grand Canyon is a trading post where you can find the work of Native American artisans, and if you’re lucky, you might catch the artist working there, too.

Vivian Descheny is one of those artisans, and amidst the tourists and traders you can hear a sound that’s been heard for generations – rug weaving.

Vivian Descheny has been a rug weaver for 34 years, a tradition she hopes to pass along to her children and grandchildren. (Erin Cox, KSL TV)

“My grandkids really love the thump of this pattern,” Descheny said as she worked on a rug that would take her a week or so to complete.

Descheny grew up listening to the sound of rug weaving, something her grandmother passed on to her when she was 14 years old.

“She told me you don’t need a university degree, all you need is your hands, your weaving, your thoughts and your prayer,” Descheny said.

Born in Salt Lake City, Descheny later moved to Arizona and is the only remaining Navajo rug weaver at the Cameron Trading Post.

“They’re all deceased, and they didn’t really teach their children or grandchildren,” Descheny said.  

Using 40 separate colors, Descheny weaves five patterns into one rug. Her pattern, known as the Burntwater weave, is one of a kind.

“All my rugs, they have a part of me,” Descheny said.

Jimmy Jensen makes handmade jewelry, anywhere from silver hummingbirds, dragonflies, and friendship hands, to deer. Erin Cox, KSL TV) Vivian Descheny working on a small rug involving five separate patterns and 40 colors. (Erin Cox, KSL TV)

Known as the “Spiderwoman,” Descheny worries that the rug weaving tradition will not continue on with the next generations.

“These days, children are not really interested in learning the culture of weaving,” she said.

Others share same opinion

A sentiment shared by Jimmy Jensen, a Navajo silversmith at the trading post.

When he was 8 years old, Jensen discovered he could make jewelry.

“Anything that I can draw on a piece of paper without picking it up, I can make,” Jensen said. ”It’s just my hand and my trusty pliers.”

Jensen makes silver deer charms that tell the story of a 4,000-year-old talisman found in a cave near the Grand Canyon, it was originally created to help bring good luck and help his ancestors find food.

The tradition of making a silver deer was passed down by his grandfather and is one he hopes to continue.

Jimmy Jensen makes handmade jewelry, anywhere from silver hummingbirds, dragonflies, and friendship hands, to deer. (Erin Cox, KSL TV)

“That’s why I share with my kids,” Jensen said. “My kids all make the same type of jewelry.”

It’s not just about creating a livelihood from their craft or even displaying their art, but for Jensen and Descheny, it’s about preserving these traditions.

“This is what we do,” Descheny said. “You got to pass it down. Our little family has to continue.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Police say a man was injured after he illegally crossed a Salt Lake City road Thursday night. (KSL ...

Josh Ellis

Man seriously injured after crossing SLC street, police say

A man was hospitalized with serious but not life-threatening injuries after he was hit by a truck Thursday night.

3 hours ago

Homeowner Mark Shea tells KSL’s Matt Gephardt he paid someone to build a deck who abandoned the j...

Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt: Homeowners ask why authorities can’t shut down an unlicensed contractor

Two Salt Lake County homeowners hired and paid someone to build decks for their homes but say he left the jobs unfinished. Turns out, he’s been cited by the state for not having a contractor’s license before.

12 hours ago

Tony Arriaga, owner of Beehive Gloves, creating and relacing baseball gloves at his work desk....

Brianna Chavez

West Valley City business asking for used gloves to repurpose and donate

A West Valley City business is hoping to give back to the community by giving new life to old baseball and softball gloves.

13 hours ago

Jodi Hildebrandt and Ruby Franke on an advertisement for the ConneXions program....

Shelby Lofton

Life coaching regulations under consideration following Hildebrandt case

A bill regulating life coaching programs in Utah is on hold to give the Utah Division of Professional Licensing more time to study the profession.

14 hours ago

CORRECTS SENTENCE TO UP TO 30 YEARS, NOT 60 YEARS - Defendant Ruby Franke looks on during court Tue...

Emily Ashcraft, KSL.com

Ruby Franke’s parents, brother say Franke was brainwashed

Ruby Franke's parents asked a judge to show "as much mercy" as possible ahead of her sentencing this week for child abuse, saying their daughter had been brainwashed.

14 hours ago

Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, and Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, react to a reporter’s qu...

Daniella Rivera and Annie Knox, KSL TV

‘More secrecy’: Utah lawmakers advance bills targeting government transparency

Several bills would chip away at government transparency in Utah, including one proposal that’s a direct response to KSL’s fight for public records. A First Amendment attorney says he’s alarmed.

15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Native American artists hope to pass their tradition on to future generations