Diné Skirt Making Workshops

Funded by First Nations development INstitute - Native Youth and Culture Grant

Helping Us Inspire a New Generation of Cultural Knowledge Holders

The Diné Studies Conference, Inc. offered two skirt making workshops to support the growth and self esteem of our Navajo youth. These workshops are intended to challenge the mind and thinking of our Diné youth. Using the framework of the Navajo Philosophy of Learning, we organized our workshops around this paradigm to shape the intellectual growth of our Diné youth. These workshops also provide the historical roots of tłʼaakał (Navajo skirt).

Our goal is to build the critical consciousness of our students and to consider ideas (mind) that connects us to our physical and spiritual relationship to our production. By teaching youth to take the ownership of their creation, they appreciate and honor their relationship to their clothing, history, and themselves. We plan to continue providing these workshops in future.


In the workshops, the youth learned the basic skills of making tłʼaakał (Navajo skirt). They were provided the materials and tools to make the skirt. They learned to measure your body, cut the material, sew, and learn the history of the Navajo skirt. At the conclusion of the workshop, we encouraged participants to be interviewed to discuss the meaning of Navajo skirts in their lives and their commitment to teaching someone their new skill.


Adults and students that participated in these workshops because they have expressed an interest in expanding their knowledge of and experience with making a Navajo Woman’s skirt. This course is designed to recognize, utilize, and strengthen the inherent skills and gifts of every individual participant. As students experience the skills of learning to use their mind and body differently, we asked that each of them imagine who they would teach.

Telling their own storIES

Youth and the Instructor, Ruby Lee, discussed their experience and understanding of the Navajo skirt. Youth are from different communities. We asked students to describe the toughest and easiest part of making the skirt, and who they imagined teaching.

Watch them tell their stories.


We included two articles to provide students a deeper engagement with the history behind the Navajo skirt.

  • Margaret Wood (1997). “Introduction”, “Navajo Clothing Styles” in Native American Fashion Modern Adaptations of Traditional Designs.

  • Linda R. Martin (2000). “Navajo Style: Fashion for All Seasons” in Native Peoples Magazine.