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Renowned Navajo artist devastated by loss of partner and home to fire

Posted at 10:06 PM, Dec 02, 2021

Fans of Native American Art know Sally Black as one of the greatest living Navajo basket weavers. Her work is displayed in museums and galleries around the southwest.

But she's not weaving today. She's grieving a sudden and devastating loss.

Her home in Monument Valley caught fire when she was 100 miles away, delivering a basket to a client in Farmington, New Mexico. It was just after lunch she got a phone call with devastating news.

Her mobile home was on fire.

"I said 'what' and 'oh my gosh'", Sally said in an interview with FOX 13, then she asked about her boyfriend, "'He was the one that was home. Is he outside?' and they said 'Nobody's outside.'"

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Her boyfriend, Ryan Thompson had been in the trailer she learned from Ryan's mother at the scene.

"He died in the fire and I said, oh my gosh."

Sally Black's loss included all the materials she uses to weave baskets that are sought after by collectors and curators internationally.

"Everything that I have I lost and I just wipe my tears and look at the trailer and I take a deep breath and I said, well, what can i do?," Sally said.

Black uses sumac she and some helpers harvest in the wild near Hanksville and Green River, Utah. The process of gathering, splitting, drying and dyeing the materials takes most of the year with the winter months spent weaving. The fire happened when all the materials were stockpiled in the trailer and ready to become masterpieces used in sacred ceremonies and hanging on the walls of museums and galleries.

If you'd like to help, Sally Black's sister Agnes has set up a gofundme page to help her get back on her feet.