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Navajo Weavers Present Blanket for Display at Statue of Liberty

June 26, 1986

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Five Navajo weavers today presented a chiefs blanket to the federal government for display at the Statue of Liberty, asking Americans to remember ″that first welcome to our ancestral home.″

The weavers said in a statement read by an interpreter during ceremonies at the Interior Department that when they started their work they ″didn’t know who or what liberty was″ in part because the Navajo have no single word for liberty.

″We came to understand she represents freedom and opportunity to people who came to this country,″ said the statement read by May Lee.

They said they learned the statue was ″originally conceived as an Indian woman.″

The blanket, they said, represents ″a true and original gift of the native peoples....Our initial gift was one of life and hospitality″ to the first European settlers in the new world.

″The history of partial payment for these gifts given so freely is a sad one,″ they said.

The 5-by-6-foot wool blanket includes traditional Indian designs and six white and five black stripes divided by a large blue band containing six white stars. On the top and bottom borders are small flags of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories.

The flag also contains the words ″Liberty 1986.″

The organizer of the project by the Ramah Navajo Weavers’ Association of Pine Hill, N.M., was Nancy Kozikowski, an Albuquerque weaver who originally conceived of the blanket as being 60 by 100 feet, made of nylon, and draped around the statue itself.

Mrs. Kozikowski said she learned that federal law forbids putting anything on the statue, ″but everyone encouraged me″ to pursue a smaller blanket.

The blanket will hang in the Statue of Liberty Museum in the base of the statue.

Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., noted that the blanket incorporated both traditional Navajo and Hopi symbols and said he hoped that meant leaders of the two tribes would settle a longstanding land dispute ″in a similar way, weaving it together in a way satisfactory to everyone.″

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