Chela Lujan grew up in Ganado, AZ, in the sage and red dirt of the Diné (Navajo) Nation. Her mother Charlotte fell in love with the intricacies and traditions of indigenous beadwork and was passed down knowledge by Diné artist Henry Warren. Charlotte passed on her love for the craft to her daughter when she was just 6 years old.
Picking beadworking back up when she turned twenty-three, Chela practices such indigenous techniques as loom work, Cheyenne/Comanche brick-stitch, peyote and gourd stitch, bead applique, and working with porcupine quills.
Her biggest inspiration is her Mother Charlotte Trujillo. She spent hours beading barrettes, belt buckles and medicine bags and later gifted her the loom. Though she regrettably never let her but barettes in her little girl hair, she kept a picture of her mother's work in her supply box and she continues to inspire and support her everyday.
Susan Cotcher was a pioneer woman who built a small business in the Huerfano valley making beaded hatbands, her work continues to be sold in boutiques all over the country. The first time Chela encountered her hatbands she was in awe and felt that fire relit within. Though she has passed on to the next plane, she has had the pleasure of learning from the women she taught, and the legacy of Susan's work continues in their hands.
Chapita Eagle - another pioneer woman who spent 15 years on horse back and living in a tipi in Southern Colorado. She taught Susan Cotcher, and Chela has the honor of calling her my friend. Her beading business in Walsenburg once employed over 30 people. Now, a much smaller operation, Chapita Eagle's beadwork is still highly valued and she runs her business like a well oiled machine.
She is inspired every day by our indigenous sisters and brothers who speak their culture and traditions through thread and beads and other works of art, often not being heard as loudly as they should.