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Esther Belin

Mountain in Me: Recovery

Navajo Nation


LIN W 747

This series, called “grief re-ordered,” uses Navajo philosophy of beautyway to re-order chaos and create balance; as counternarratives in response to colonial/genocidal history, they celebrate Indigenous teachings to heal from intergenerational trauma. Technique: cut strips of old canvas paintings; re-ordering the narrative with machine sewing, using different colored thread, layered within plastic casing are seeds, pebbles, tumbled glass, shell; other items are leather and smudged red clay; the process of re-ordering was inspired by Navajo rug making – storying new tapestry-influenced narratives. The violent act of cutting simulates the emotional, spiritual and physical tactics used to assimilate Indigenous people (they were cut from their land, speaking their language, singing their songs, practicing their religion/philosophies). The jagged edges reflect the state of chaos and continued colonial initiatives inherent in systemic oppression; healing occurs without borders. My jewelry and techniques weave together natural implements as shells, felted wool, and seeds with trade items like glass and brass beads. I prefer to use traditional fastening techniques - using sinew and deer hide. I do my best to honor the elements I use by keeping them in their natural state as much as possible. Many of the elements I use are found objects or acquired through trade. I work hard to accentuate the natural colors and shapes into adornment reflective of our ancestors.