Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Textiles and Clothing

First Advisor

Mary A. Littrell


Factors that contribute to artisan sustainability are of critical importance to the world's artisans who depend on hand-produced textiles for income and livelihood, and for whom textile production is closely intertwined with cultural identity. Navajo weavers have processed and woven the wool of Navajo-Churro sheep into textiles for more than 350 years. Navajo-Churro sheep, destroyed to reduce over grazing and crossbred to near extinction, are being restored to the Navajo Nation. The purpose of this study is to document and interpret ways that the community-based Navajo organization Dine be' iina (The Navajo Lifeway, or DBI) influences the restoration of Navajo-Churro sheep as a traditional fiber resource used for Navajo textiles. The relationship of Navajo-Churro sheep and wool to Navajo history and textiles provides context for this interpretive study. Models for community-based development provide the conceptual framework. Change in textile handraft traditions grounds the theoretical base. Data emerge from participant-observation, in-depth interviews conducted on or near the Navajo Nation, and related contemporary and historic sources. Results define relationships among Navajo-Churro sheep and wool, Navajo cultural identity, unique cultural products, and the educational channels used to promote knowledge of Navajo-Churro sheep. Results identify factors that contribute to sustaining DBI as a community-based organization. An inductively-derived model proposed for sustaining Navajo-Churro sheep and wool as a traditional fiber resource furthers the understanding of community-based strategies that contribute to artisan sustainability.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Susan Marie Strawn



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

236 pages