On Good Friday (April 19), KOM’s youth weaving group had the chance to meet with our elders weaving group. Usually, KOM’s two weaving groups meet separately, but with no school on this day, the younger weavers were able to meet and learn from members of KOM’s elders weaving group.
The Karen weaving tradition is central to the community’s identity, and is an important link to life back in Burma and in the camps. Along with the tradition of the activity itself, weaving is how all traditional Karen clothing is produced — even in Minnesota.
Hta Thi Yu Moo, KOM’s Weaving and Civic Engagement Coordinator, was excited that the two groups were able to meet together. On the importance of the younger generation learning traditional Karen weaving: “Its important so they know where their clothes come from, how their clothes were made, and so in the future they can make traditional Karen clothes themselves, and not have to buy them. They’re expensive to buy!”
But beyond the practical purpose of making their own clothes, Hta Thi noted: “Another reason to teach youth weaving is to maintain our culture in another country, and pass it to a new generation. Otherwise, sooner or later all our elders will be gone, and we would lose that knowledge.”