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Slow and Indigenous Approaches to Textiles Arts

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People throughout the world have worked with textiles and yarns for as long as humans have needed protection against the elements, and gear and utensils to catch food, carry firewood and capture the wind. Thus, we consider the social and cultural importance of textile art and craft production, along with the knowledge sharing related to these practices. Such practices have elements of historic tradition along with contemporary practices. Making with one’s hands is an inherently slow practice at a lived pace. Crafting can also aid in our disconnection from linear time and reconnect us with our past, present and future, whether in the form of hand-spinning, weaving, knitting or other techniques. These vary with location, culture and over time, as textiles are also created out of necessity concerning living and natural conditions; but there is a persistence in the desire to make-by-hand. Currently, there is a growing interest in crafting, and the volume of online stores, and classes that focus on ‘hand-made’, attest to a renewed focus on origin and how things are made. But in addition to learning how, we must also consider why, what and where we make and gather our materials. Why do we make the things we do, why did our ancestors, what does it mean to us now? Here, we have chosen to describe the importance of textiles in Indigenous cultures.


  • Indigenous ways
  • Teaching
  • Learning
  • Textile practices
  • Sustainability
  • Material world
  • Slow pedagogy
  • Wool

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Fig. 4.1

(Courtesy of Angela George 2020. Photo credit Angela George) Lorrie Miller

Fig. 4.2

(Photo credit Rebecca Burgess)

Fig. 4.3

(Photo credit Tone Skårdal Tobiasson)

Fig. 4.4

(Photo credit Torun Olsen Wernberg. Davvi álbmogiid guovddáš—Senter for nordlige folk)

Fig. 4.5
Fig. 4.6

(Photo credit Ingun Grimstad Klepp)

Fig. 4.7

(Photo credit Torun Olsen Wernberg. Davvi álbmogiid guovddáš—Senter for nordlige folk)


  1. 1.

    Norwegianisation was a deliberate policy of assimilation from about 1850 to 1980. Henry Minde (2005) tells us: ‘The policy conducted in respect of the Sami minority in Norway was for a long time synonymous with a policy of assimilation or fornorsking, which literally means “norwegianisation’ (p. 6).

  2. 2.

    (term of ‘kept separated’ wouldn’t apply to Spanish colonisation where they forced breeding (rape) to create a hybrid population aligned with Catholicism. Later influence from central and northern Europe decimated native populations via militarism and the most pronounced land theft via the reservation and boarding school system).

  3. 3.

    Nålbinding and wadmal: Nålbinding is a technique where loops are sewn together with different stitches to make garments; whereas wadmal (vadmal) is a dense and finely woven wool (often tabby or twill) that is then pounded and felted into a durable cloth that is both wind and water resistant.

  4. 4.

    Navajo-Churro is the first domesticated breed of sheep in the Americas, having been introduced in the early 1500s. This breed evolved and adapted to the dry desert area of American Southwest, but was subject to deliberate extinction by the USA army, under Kit Carson, who ordered to relocate the Navajo and destroy their flocks. Today, however, the Churro are being nurtured back as a breed.

  5. 5.

    A pulk is a Sámi sled to be pulled behind (

  6. 6.

    Doudji: is Sami for ‘handicraft’ where items are made with both aesthetics and functionality in mind.

  7. 7.

    Rokk has a double meaning here—rock'n'roll and spinning wheel—as both have the same pronunciation in Norwegian. Spinnvill likewise connotates ‘Crazy for spinning’ and just plain crazy.


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Correspondence to Lorrie Miller .

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Miller, L., Isaksen, K., Burgess, R., Klepp, I.G., Tobiasson, T.S. (2022). Slow and Indigenous Approaches to Textiles Arts. In: Klepp, I.G., Tobiasson, T.S. (eds) Local, Slow and Sustainable Fashion . Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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