MEET OUR WEAVERS

 

Cancha Cancha

Alejandra Mamani Ccarhuani

Alejandra Mamani Ccarhuani is a member of Cancha Cancha’s weaving association. She was born in 1993, is married, and has two children. She went to primary school, but didn’t finish it. She speaks Quechua. Her main activity is weaving, while her husband is a subsistence farmer. Her family does not sell animals. Every three-four months, they go to Calca and Huaran to work in the fields or to sell herbs. They often don’t have enough food to feed everyone each day; sometimes they have enough to send children to school, but not always – her two daughters didn’t finish primary school. She and her husband decide together how the profit from her Q’ente textiles will be spent. She wants to be able to give her children education and everything else they need. She says her husband has more respect for her now that she is part of the project; if she wasn't making money, he would not have respect for her. She likes being part of the weaving association, because the women talk and work together.

Dorotea Quispe Hancco

Dorotea Quispe Hancco is Vice-President of Cancha Cancha’s weaving association. She was born in 1979, is married, and has four children. She has never gone to school. She speaks Quechua and understands a bit of Spanish. Her main activities are weaving and agriculture. Her husband works in agriculture and as a porter on the Inca Trail. Her family earns approximately 100-200 soles ($40-80 CAD) per month, though it varies from month to month. She spends the money that she makes from the Q’ente Textile Program on her children – on food, education, and medicine for them. She and her husband decide together how the money will be spent. The family always prioritizes their children’s education, even though they sometimes don't have enough to eat. They don't have electricity in their house. Her wishes for the future of her children are to help them buy land for a house, to help them study, and to help them with costs in general. She likes being part of the weaving association because everyone works together and talks to each other more often because of this. She feels better about life because she is part of the weaving association, since she now can support her family better. She also feels like she has more respect from others since she joined it.

Elena Mamani Ccarhuani

Elena Mamani Ccarhuani is a member of Cancha Cancha’s weaving association. She was born in 1995 and is single. She doesn’t have any children. She went to primary school, but didn’t finish it. She only speaks Quechua. Her main activities are weaving and subsistence farming. She still gets some help from her family, but often can't afford food. Sometimes she goes to work in the fields in Huaran and Calca, but only on rare occasions. She is happy to be part of the weaving association, because she is making her own money. She feels men respect women more when they are making money.

Juana Ccarhuani Ccorcca

Juana Ccarhuani Ccorcca is Treasurer of Cancha Cancha’s weaving association. She was born in 1973 and is married. She has eight children. Juana went to primary school, but didn’t finish it. She only speaks Quechua. Recently the Evangelical church in the community has been teaching them how to read some of the Bible, so she is learning how to read this way. Her day consists of weaving, subsistence farming, and raising animals. She also goes to work in the fields in Calca when her family doesn’t have enough food; she makes 20 soles ($8 CAD) per day working in those fields. She would like to be a full-time weaver in the future. Her husband is sick and cannot work. The family prioritizes their children’s education, even though they sometimes don't have enough to eat. Income from the Q’ente Textile Program represents almost half of the family’s income. With the money from it, she sometimes buys candles to light her house at night. They also now have a bit more access to the city because of profit from the Q’ente Textile Program. She decides how the money will be spent by herself, without her husband’s input. The busiest time of the year for her is during the potato harvest. She enjoys being part of the weaving association because they help each other, and talk to each other more. She says the future looks a bit better than it did before.

Lucia Sicos Mamani

Lucia Sicos Mamani is a member of Cancha Cancha’s weaving association. She was born in 1984, and is married with three children. She has completed some grades in primary school. She only speaks Quechua. Recently the Evangelical church has been teaching her community how to read the Bible and how to write. Her main activities are weaving and agriculture, though she would like to be a full-time weaver someday. The busiest time of year for her is the potato harvest. When the family doesn’t have enough food, her husband goes to work in the fields in Calca where he makes 25 soles ($10) per day. The majority of the money made from her Q’ente textiles goes towards her children's education. Sometimes her family does not have enough for food, but they always find money for education. She would like to be able to give her children the opportunity of a higher education, if possible. She feels better about herself since she started working with Mosqoy because she feels she is contributing to her family and children. She likes being part of the weaving association because all of the weavers are socializing and because she can help her family.

Lucia Ccarhuani Huaman

Lucia Ccarhuani Huaman is a member of Cancha Cancha’s weaving association. She was born in 1953 and is married. She has five children. Two of her daughters (Alejandra and Elena) are also part of the weaving association. She speaks Quechua, and never went to school. Her main activity is weaving, while her husband is a subsistence farmer. Every three-four months, her family goes to Calca and Huaran to work in the fields or to sell herbs. They don’t often have enough food to feed everyone. Sometimes they have enough to send their children to school, but not always. Two of her daughters didn’t finish primary school. She and her husband decide together how the money from her Q’ente textiles will be used. She says she likes weaving “because it's what I do, it's my life.” She likes being part of the weaving association because, as she says, she is not just waiting for the man to bring money home. She notices that men now have more respect for her.

Vicentina Quispe Ccorcca

Vicentina Quispe Ccorcca is President of Illariy Ch’aska, Cancha Cancha’s weaving association. She was born in 1972 and is married with six children. She never went to school. She speaks Quechua and understands a bit of Spanish. Her main activity is weaving. Her husband works in agriculture and as a porter on the Inca Trail. Her family makes approximately 120 soles (approximately $47 CAD) per month. Vicentina explains that, to cover all the basic expenses of the family, they would need double this income (approximately 300 soles per month). The profit she makes from her textiles is spent on food, education, electricity, transport, and medicine. She and her husband decide together how the money will be spent. The one thing she would like to give to her children that she currently cannot provide to them is the gift of education. She says that she feels more self-confident, calm, and happy since she started working with the Q’ente Textile Program.

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Huaran

Andrés Sallo

Andres Sallo is the president of Munay Urpi, Huaran’s weaving association. He was born in 1973 and has three daughters, who all study in Huaran or Cusco. Andres learned to weave when he was 12 years old; his mother taught him because he loved the art so much. His wife and daughters all weave as well. He was born in the campesino community of Quncani, near Lares, but moved to Huaran in 2000 so that his daughters could continue studying. (Quncani only has an elementary school.) Andres speaks both Quechua and Spanish, and attended elementary school in Quncani until the fourth grade. He works as a porter on the Inca Trail and as a weaver; he also often meets retailers in Cusco on behalf of the Munay Urpi association. His favourite time of year is the corn season because “it is very beautiful.” He is impressed with how much his weaving cooperative has improved since they began in 2004; when they started, they never cleaned or washed their products, but now – primarily due to a capacitation workshop offered by Casa Bartolomé de Las Casas – they have improved their product standards considerably. Andres loves weaving pasadizos, and especially loves weaving the lelli pallay (the large diamonds in the center) because they are some of the most ancient designs that the great-grandparents have passed down. Andres explains that their ancestors would weave these designs in order to bring the harvest and pray for seed.

Bonifacia Condori Quispe

Bonifacia Condori Quispe is the vice-president of Munay Urpi, Huaran’s weaving association. She was born in 1973, and is married with three children. She was born in Huaran, and attended primary school but did not finish it. She speaks Quechua and a bit of Spanish. Her main activity is weaving, while her husband is a subsistence farmer. She makes approximately 250 soles ($96 CAD) per month, and doesn't know how much her husband makes. One of her children studies at Khipu Institute, a post-secondary institute that is very expensive, so she says it is a struggle to support him. They often do not have enough to eat, but she wants to be able to give her children an education. She appreciates that, since the formation of Munay Urpi, there is more unity. Before, she says that there was a lot of envy and the weavers were not helping each other – now they are. They realized that if we are united, they can get further towards their dreams together. She also notes that, before the association, she didn't have as much respect from her husband; now she feels she has more respect.

Concepción Hancco Sicos

Concepción Hancco Sicos is Treasurer of Munay Urpi, Huaran’s weaving cooperative. She was born in 1992; she has one child, and has a partner who she lives with. She graduated from secondary school, and is fluent in both Quechua and Spanish. Her main activity is weaving, as her family does not own a farm. She notes that her family was able to afford electricity after she started working with Mosqoy, but they still need more money to be able to plan for the future. For now, she feels that her child has what he needs. Concepción and her partner decide together how to spend the money that she earns from her Q’ente textile profit. She likes being part of Munay Urpi because “in union, there is strength.” She also likes that the weavers help each other finish their products, and that they always do everything in their power to finish all of the orders they receive from clients. She also appreciates that she does not have to travel to the city to sell her products, and leave her child alone.

Eufemia Landa

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Francisca Alagon Puma

Francisca Alagon Puma is member of Huaran’s weaving association. She was born in 1962, and is married with three children. She is from Accha Alta in the Lares district. She has never attended school and only speaks Quechua. She cannot read or write, but can sign her name. Her main activity is weaving. Her husband drives a mototaxi (a tuk-tuk or motorcycle taxi), works as a porter on the Inca Trail, and works on their farm. The family earns approximately 700-800 soles ($270-$310 CAD) per month. Her children are currently studying and working in Cusco city. Her wish is to be able to afford to go to the doctor when she needs to, and to have a full medical check-up so that she can figure out what is wrong with her body. She dreams big and believes this trait is why her children are reaching high for their futures (one is studying psychology at the national university, while another is studying accounting at a trade institute). She knows she is a good thinker and is always trying to help her children. She has to travel several hours to get to Huaran for the Munay Urpi meetings, but she feels that being part of this weaving association will give her new opportunities. In the past, she was selling by herself to tourists her were going to Lares. She now feels more secure because she has more guaranteed sales, which makes it easier to know how to plan and spend her funds.

Gregoria Mamani

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Hermenia Sallo Huaman

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Hilda Ttito Ocon

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Juana Paula Sicos

Juana Paula Sicos is the president of Munay Urpi. She is originally from the community of Quishuarani, but moved to Huaran in 2004, so that her children could go to school. She still returns to Quishuarani a lot to visit her family. Juana Paula has been weaving since she was five years old. Her mother died when she was very young, so she taught herself to weave by watching the other weavers in her community. She says it was hard to learn the ways of her community without a mother, and with a father who was absent a lot, but she and her six older siblings took care of each other and “more or less raised ourselves.” Juana Paula predicts that she knows 280 patterns. When asked if she know many ancient Inca designs, she said, “one adapts and changes the patterns according to personal taste.” Before working with Mosqoy, she worked with a wholesaler who ordered hundreds of weavings from her, but she saw very little profit from this work. With Mosqoy, she is able to spend more time with her family while still making a decent income. With her textile profit, she has built her house, fed and clothed her family, and given her children an education. Juana Paula says that her role as president has taught her how to lead and organize, and how to encourage others to work harder. She says that the weavers of Munay Urpi teach each other; while she has shared her knowledge, the other weavers have also been her teachers. There is a strong relationship of reciprocity between the weavers, she says.

Nelly Hancco Sicos

Nelly Hancco Sicos is a member of Huaran’s weaving association. She was born in 1994, and has one child. She graduated from secondary school, and is fluent in both Quechua and Spanish. Her main activity is weaving; her partner is a construction worker in Cusco city. She likes that Munay Urpi is well-organized: for example, they have a multa (fine) for those who do not attend the meetings, which works well. They also have a list that Mosqoy helped them create, which has allowed them to equitably distribute textile orders among their members. She says that this prevents fighting, and that they talk about problems and solve them together. Being part of the association gives Nelly a lot more motivation to work hard. She is excited that the municipality saw they can work well, and that – because of this – it helped them establish a connection with Marriot Hotel in Cusco, which is a new retailer of their products.

Rosa Hancco Sicos

Rosa Hancco Sicos is a member of Munay Urpi. She was born in 1982, and is married with two children. She finished primary school and some secondary school, but did not graduate. She speaks Quechua and a bit of Spanish. Her main activity is weaving. Her husband is a security guard at a school, and also works as a farmer. With the profits she receives from her textiles, she purchases wool to make more textiles. Because they don’t own their own animals nor have access to dye plants, they need to purchase their weaving materials; wool costs approximately 50 soles ($20 CAD) per cone. After purchasing these materials, there is not much money leftover. They don't always have enough to eat, nor to send their children to school. She would like to provide her family with more security and education. Rosa says that she would still like to learn more about artesania; for example, how to use a sewing machine. She likes that there is unity and confidence in Munay Urpi, and that the association is growing. “We used to be only three, now we are many,” she says.

Sabina Ccana Tacuri

Sabina Ccana Tacuri is a member of Munay Urpi, Huaran’s weaving association. She was born in 1965 and has five children – three boys and two girls. All of her children are now adults with their own families. Sabina was born in Amaru, but moved to Huaran with her husband because her community had no high school for their children. She speaks Quechua and a bit of Spanish, and never went to school. She spends most of her days weaving and taking care of her farm animals. She likes Huaran because it is warm and accessible, unlike her home community of Amaru, which she says is cold and remote. Sabina’s mother taught her to weave when she was 10 years old, mainly so that she could make her own clothing. Sabina likes to weave the small things the most –wallets, changepurses, bracelets. Her favourite symbol is the condor, and her favourite natural-dye colours are red, green, and mustard yellow. She uses the profit from her textiles to support her children to pay for their weddings. Sabina wishes that she had the funds to be able to cure her eyesight, because she now can no longer see very well.

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Amaru

Angela Ccana Zamata

Angela Ccana Zamata is a member of the Asociación de Tejedores Tradicionales Laraypas Indígenas de Amaru. She was born in Amaru in 1974. Angela has three children – one son and two daughters. All of her children are studying. Angela's Husband, Gregorio Sotalero Tacuri, is the president of Amaru's weaving association. Angela attended Amaru’s only primary school until the 2nd grade, and only speaks Quechua. Her favourite designs to weave are symbols that depict different elements of the earth, like the river and the sun. She also loves the symbol, Chilis Laraypa, which is a calendar depicting the entire year, with each of the 12 months represented cyclically; lakes and trails are embedded within the calendar design. The Chilis Laraypa is a very complex design; to make one figure, 32 white threads and 32 red threads must be used, vertically and horizontally.

Gregoria Chipa Ccana

Gregoria Chipa Ccana is a member of the Asociación de Tejedores Tradicionales Laraypas Indígenas de Amaru. She was born in Amaru in 1959. Gregoria has four sons. Her husband works as a farmer. Gregoria attended primary school until the 3rd grade, and speaks Quechua. An average day for Gregoria consists mainly of weaving. Gergoria’s favourite dye colour is blue, because it’s the most authentic representation of her community of Amaru. In the past 50 years, Gregoria has noticed a change in climatic phenomena – she says there are now abnormalities in the seasons, and crops now grow at different times. She has also noticed a change in the diet compared to when she was a child. Gregoria mentions that she never ate noodles as a child but now she does on a regular basis. “We only ate what was natural,” she says. “Bread was only for Christmas, but now it’s normal to find it in stores all the time.” Gregoria also notes that the children in Amaru do not dedicate time to weaving as much as they used to, due to a shift towards formal education, spending full days in school instead of with their families.

Gregorio Sotalero Tacuri

Gregorio Sotalero Tacuri is the president of the Asociación de Tejedores Tradicionales Laraypas Indígenas de Amaru. Gregorio is also the father of three children and is married to weaving association member, Angela Ccana Zamata. As President, Gregorio constantly communicates with non-governmental organizations that work in the region, with the hope of bringing improvements to his village. His greatest accomplishments have been establishing a library and obtaining free medications for the local health clinic. The connections that he has built with other communities, tour agencies, and NGOs have allowed his weaving association to grow from a small cooperative to one that is highly sought after by retailers, with many sales opportunities in Cusco. Gregorio was also a signer in the Parque de la Papa agreements, as a representative for his community – a regional community-led campaign to ban GMOs and multinational organizations from working in their region. Gregorio learned his knowledge of agriculture, weaving, Inca culture, and indigenous medicine from his grandfather. Gregorio estimates that he knows about 70 or 80 traditional Incan weaving patterns, and he cares deeply about preserving the tradition of weaving.

Hermetania Huanca Ccana

Hermetania Huanca Ccana is a member of the Asociación de Tejedores Tradicionales Laraypas Indígenas de Amaru. She was born in Amaru in 1970. Hermetania has five children, three girls and two boys. Her husband is an agricultural worker. Hermetania attended school until the 2nd grade. She speaks Quechua. An average day for Hermetania includes working on the farm and taking care of her animals. Hermetania learned to weave when she was eight years old because all of the other girls in her community were learning to weave. She first began learning to weave by making the senkapa (a traditional thin wrap, used to adorn hats and skirts). Hermetania says that children now do not learn to weave until they are around 12 or 13, since most children attend school and do not have time when they are younger. She loves to weave bracelets and scarves the most. Her favourite dye colour is purple because it allows symbols to stand out.

Paulina Ccana Condori

Paulina Ccana Condori is a member of the Asociación de Tejedores Tradicionales Laraypas Indígenas de Amaru. She was born in Amaru in 1985. Paulina has three children, two boys and one girl. She attended school until the 6th grade, but had to stop since Amaru only has an elementary school and she completed the highest grade it had to offer. She speaks Quechua. An average day for Paulina depends on the season, but she is often found cooking or tending to her fields. Paulina has many animals, especially sheep. She mainly raises these animals so that she can use their wool as weaving material. Paulina weaves because she needs the money for her family, and to pay for medicine and her children’s education. She says that she enjoys being a part of the weaving association because it gives her more strength to continue weaving, especially when they have sales. Her favourite textiles to weave are scarves, and her favourite symbol to create is the snake because “Amaru” means “snake” in Quechua; it is therefore very symbolic for her community.

Rudecinda Huanca Ccana

Rudecinda Huanca Ccana is a member of the Asociación de Tejedores Tradicionales Laraypas Indígenas de Amaru. She was born in Amaru in 1957. Rudecinda has four children, one daughter and three sons. All of her children are adults, and now have their own families. Her husband works as a farmer. Rudecinda attended primary school until the 3rd grade. She speaks Quechua. Rudecinda learned to weave when she was eight years old because all of the other girls in her community were learning to weaving; they did so together in a very systematic way. She and her community peers began learning by making senkapas (traditional long strands, used as wristwraps nowadays, but more traditional used to adorn hats and hair). The senkapa is still Rudecinda favourite textile to weave. Her favourite dye colours are burgundy and charcoal; she tries to put these two colours in all of her textiles.

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Pitukiska

Alberto Quispe Quispe

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Alfonsa Mamani Huahuasoncco

Alfonsa Mamani Huahuasoncco is a member of Mayu Ch’aska, Pitukiska’s weaving association. She was born in 1991 and has four children. Alfonsa attended school until the 4th grade. She speaks Quechua, and can read a bit, but cannot write. Her grandmother taught her how to weave when she was 12 years old. Her favourite dye colour is light blue and her favourite textile symbol is the pika. Her favourite thing about being part of the weaving association is that she gets to weave with others and share knowledge. Alfonsa weaves in order to sell her textiles and to help her children. She buys yarn and pays for her children’s education with her textile profit. Her husband works in agriculture and as a porter on the Inca Trail. Her dream is to improve her family’s house.

Bonifacia Quispe Mendoza

Bonifacia Quispe Mendoza is a member of Pitukiska’s weaving association. She has six children and a husband who works cultivating potatoes and cutting wood for her household. When Bonifacia was six years old, she developed an interest in weaving as she observed all of her community elders practicing the art. She especially likes to weave chullos (toques), and her favourite symbols to weave are animals and hearts. She was born in Pitukiska and has lived in this community all her life. Bonifacia attended school for one year and only speaks Quechua. Her favourite thing about her weaving association is that she can be with her fellow weavers and that she always learns something new in each meeting.

Florencia Quispe Huahuasoncco

Florencia Quispe Huahuasoncco is a member of Pitukiska’s weaving association, Mayu Ch’aska. She was born in 1963 and has four adult children. One of her children works in the Mapacho River Valley, another lives in the city of Arequipa, the third lives in Amparaes, and one still lives in Pitukiska. Florencia does not think that the three children who left the community will return to Pitukiska, other than for short visits. Florencia and her husband were both born in Pitukiska. She never attended school but enjoys sharing the traditional knowledge she holds with other weavers in the association. She does not like the city; instead, she enjoys walking in nature and spinning yarn in her community. The main development that she has noticed in her community since she was young is the addition of a road. Florencia wishes to see the weaving association grow in the future.

Florencio Tapara Illa

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Francisca Tapara Quispe

Francisca Tapara Quispe is a member of Pitukiska’s weaving association. She was born in 1967 and has nine children, five boys and four girls. Francisca taught all of her children to weave, and they are all currently attending school. Francisca’s husband is a farmer who cultivates potatoes. Francisca learned to weave as a young girl because she was interested in the art. Her favourite things about the weaving association are their gatherings; she loves being able to weave with her colleagues, and appreciates the textile orders that they receive. Her favourite products to weave are chalinas (scarves) and pasadizos (tablerunners). Francisca’s favourite textile symbols are the kajas and mayu (river). Francisca likes that her community is free and rural, and that it is surrounded by mountains.

Gabina Ttupa Arriaga

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Geronima Huahuasoncco Mamani

Geronima Huahuasoncco Mamani is a member of Mayu Ch’aska, Pitukiska’s weaving association. She was born in 1973 and has four daughters. Her youngest and oldest daughters were born only five years apart. Geronima was born in Pitukiska, but attended school in the nearby town of Bombom until the third grade (approximately three-hour hike one-way). Her favourite parts about the weaving association are the meetings with Ashli, Mosqoy, and her colleagues. She is also grateful for having the opportunity to weave. Geronima says that she weaves because “here in the community, it’s the only thing we are taught to do.” Geronima was taught by her mother to weave when she was 15 years old. The first thing she learned to weave was the pattern at the bottom of her skirt. Now, Geronima’s favourite product to weave is the chalina (scarf) and the chuspa (traditional bag). Her favourite symbol to weave is the s’akas corazón, or heart symbol. Geronima likes that, in her community, she is “able to live free,” out in the open and away from pollution.

Guadalupe Layme Tapara

Guadalupe Layme Tapara is a member of Mayu Ch’aska, Pitukiska’s weaving association. She was born in Pitukiska in 1991. Guadalupe has two sons. Guadalupe speaks Quechua, and attended primary school until the sixth grade. An average day for Guadalupe includes making textiles and taking care of her children. Her grandmother taught her to weave when she was 16 years old because it was the tradition of her ancestors. She continues to weave “because it is tradition.” Her favourite textile to create is the pasadizo and she loves to weave animal designs. Her favourite dyes are yanali (which makes mustard yellow) and cochineal (which makes red). Guadalupe uses the profits from her textiles to feed her family and keep her children healthy. Her favourite thing about being part of Mayu Ch’aska is that she can be with her fellow weavers. Guadalupe has noticed a reduction in Pitukiska’s residents over her lifetime. She likes living there because it is free, but she does not like that there very little work to be found other than artisanal work. Gualdalupe wishes for a future where she can have her own store to sell her artisanal work, and hopes to see her children become professionals. Guadalupe wants the world to know that Pitukiska community members want to have a lot of visitors, and love getting to know different people and traditions.

Jacinta Quispe Mendoza

Jacinta Quispe Mendoza is a member of Pitukiska’s weaving association. She was born in Pitukiska in 1947. Jacinta has six children – two daughters and four sons. All of her children now have their own families. Jacinta does not have a husband. She speaks Quechua and never attended school. An average day for Jacinta includes making textiles and taking care of her family. Jacinta’s mother and grandmother taught her to weave when she was 15 years old because it was their tradition to pass onto her. Jacinta continues to weave because she enjoys it. Jacinta like being part of Mayu Ch’aska because she likes to be with her friends. Her favourite textiles to weave are the hat and scarf, and her favourite design is the mayu q’enqo (zig-zag river). She uses the profits from her textiles for food and medical needs. Jacinta remembers that, when she was young, there were only three houses that were built with rock and thatched roofs in Pitukiska. Now there are several, and some have tin roofs.

Juana Quispe Mendoza

Juana Quispe Mendoza is a member of Pitukiska’s weaving association. She was born in 1957 and has six children. Her oldest child was born when Juana was 10 years old. Now that her children are grown up, she now lives alone with her husband who is a potato farmer in the hills. Although born in Pitukiska, Juana attended s