“Return of the Churros”

20H x 32W oil on linen

Churro Sheep were brought to the Southwest by Spanish explorers n the sixteenth century and became assimilated into the Navajo culture. Churros are well suited for desert life and their wool was easy to spin and weave into distinctive Navajo textiles. However, in the 1860’s, thousands of Churros were slaughtered in a campaign to subdue the Navajos. Just as the American Bison was driven to near extinction for a similar purpose, the Churro Sheep were reduced to less than 500 animals. And – as with Bison – a new generation of Americans took action before the Navajo-Churro was extinct.The Navajo Sheep Project was founded in the 1980’s at Utah State University to develop a breeding flock and return this sacred breed of sheep to Navajo Weavers.
“Return the Churros” is symbolic, rather than factual. Chuck Wales, who is leading the burro, raises sheep as part of The Navajo Sheep Project. Burros are also part of Navajo culture, and while I could not find documentation of lambs being given a lift, it is entirely probable. Irregardless, the painting is intended to represent the good intentions of enlightened people.

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