Second Weaver

Alta Kahn

The Worth papers contain little information about Kahn, and no journal. She was a renowned weaver, and she raised eight children, including Susie Benally. Her youngest son, Alfred Kahn Sr., appeared in Benally’s film. Kahn spoke only Navajo and lived with her husband, Jack, in a traditional hogan with no electricity or running water.

Second Weaver (8:53)

Originally untitled; title added later by Sol Worth. Descriptions excerpted from Through Navajo Eyes (272-3).

Susie Benally teaching Alta Kahn to use the camera. Shot by one of the research team.

Susie Benally at the loom. Screen shot from “Second Weaver.”

Susie Benally weaving a belt. Screen shot from “Second Weaver.”

? Screen shot from “Second Weaver.”

Twin sons of the Griswolds, owners of the Pine Springs trading post. Screen shot from “Second Weaver.”

Alta Kahn holds the camera. Shot by one of the research team.

Alta Kahn edits her film, while Susie Benally watches. Shot by one of the research team.

“Susie Benally undertook to teach her mother to make a movie. Susie taught her to load and use the camera and exposure meter in one day. The completed film was made in one week.”

“Alta Kahn starts by showing Susie picking herbs for dyes. She then has her daughter dying the wool and spinning it. She spends a great deal of time on the spinning of the wool…After Susie spins the wool she sets up her belt loom and weaves a belt.”

“Susie walks outside holding the belt up for the camera to look at, and the camera pans up and down…”


Kahn’s film was shown alongside her daughter’s at the Flaherty Seminar in August of 1966, at Swarthmore College in October of 1966, and at the Festival Dei Popoli in Florence, Italy and in Washington, DC in 1967. There is no documentation to suggest that Kahn was informed about these showings.

The film was also shown in 1980 at a panel discussion at the University of New Mexico  [Elizabeth Weatherford National Museum of the American Indian].

In 2011, the films were shown at Navajo Nation Museum at a community screening. Susie Benally,  her brother Alfred Kahn Sr., Eunice Kahn (Archivist of the Navajo National Museum and a granddaughter of Alta’s), attended this screening, along with many other relatives.