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About Us

Rainbow Fiber Co-Op is a Diné-led agricultural co-operative established to improve the financial sustainability and equitable market outcomes for the remaining flocks of Dibé dits’ozí (Navajo-Churro sheep) on the Navajo Nation. Our mission is to close the gap between rural Diné shepherds and an e-commerce marketplace for their wool. We are excited to announce that we recently updated our online fiber shop!

Thanks to many generous donors we executed our first wool buy on the Navajo Nation in July 2021. We purchased approximately 3,200 pounds of Navajo-Churro wool from 9 shepherds across 9 communities. Co-Op members with the largest flocks received assistance with their sheep shearing. All producers received a fair price for their wool by the pound. After skirting and sorting by color we transported the wool to the mill to produce an assortment of Navajo-style weaving yarns. In November of 2021 we began offering Diné-grown Navajo-Churro weaving yarns for sale online. Sales dollars went right back into the Co-Op to fund the wool buy again the next year.

In response to the needs of the Diné sheepherding community, the Co-Op expanded its reach in 2022. We supported 32 ancestral flocks with the purchase of nearly 7,000 pounds of Navajo-Churo wool. Mobile shearing was provided for the largest flocks, and all producers received a fair price for their wool by the pound. And now we wait—as it takes several months up to a year (or more) to get processed fiber products back from the mill. Until we have received and sold enough roving and yarn to cover the Co-Op’s expenses, we are dependent on grants and private donations to continue our critical work.

Historically Diné shepherds have been told their Navajo-Churro wool is “worthless” or offered as little as a penny per pound at mass wool buy events. The Co-Op's founders felt there was unrealized opportunity to fulfill online consumer demand for Navajo-Churro wool products sourced ethically and directly from Diné producers. The foundation of our business model is paying the producers a fair price up front and treating their wool with the respect it deserves.

Who Are We?

Rainbow Fiber Co-Op is a registered agricultural co-operative with a 100% Diné Board of Directors led by Executive Director Nikyle Begay. 

Board of Directors
Nikyle Begay (they/them) is a Diné shepherd, fiber artist, teacher, storyteller, and photographer based in Ganado, Arizona on the Navajo Nation. Nikyle is the Executive Director of Rainbow Fiber Co-Op and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the project. Nikyle has experience working in technology and the nonprofit sector, as well as an extensive background in sheep flock management, sheep color genetics, wool production, traditional to modern wool processing, and the weaving arts. Instagram @navajoshepherd.
Zefren Anderson (he/they) is a Diné artist, educator, student, and caregiver based in Shiprock, New Mexico on the Navajo Nation. Zefren is an accomplished weaver with a multi-disciplinary approach incorporating oral history, archaeological research, and experiments to explore Navajo material art for its practical knowledge as well as its aesthetic beauty, form, and visual narrative. He contributes his technical skills and creative vision to the Co-Op, in addition to his experience working in the nonprofit sector. Instagram @zefren_m.
Jay Begay (he/him) originates from the community of Rocky Ridge in Northeastern Arizona on the Navajo Nation. Jay's childhood was spent with his late paternal grandmother tending to the family’s flock of sheep and goats. It was from his grandma that he learned the skills required to continue the pastoral ways of the Diné. Today, he raises Navajo-Churro sheep and Angora goats on his family's ancestral land. Jay enjoys working with fiber and sharing his knowledge with others. He also brings his leadership skills and background in community organizing to our project. Instagram @jaybegay.

Ilene Naegle (she/her) is a master weaver and teacher of her craft at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona on the Navajo Nation. Ilene was born and raised in Ganado, Arizona where she learned to weave from her mother. Ilene’s mother taught weaving in Sedona along with Mary Pendleton, who wrote the acclaimed Navajo and Hopi Weaving Techniques. Ilene still lives in Ganado where she keeps a flock of Navajo-Churro sheep, shears, spins, dyes, weaves, and hosts workshops. She continues to teach weaving because she believes that weaving is a therapeutic practice and a way of discipline and self-control to strengthen the mind.

Tressa Weidenaar (she/her) is a Diné knitwear designer, weaver, and middle school teacher based in Gallup, New Mexico. She spent her childhood moving around the country, but always remembered the spinning and carding she saw her great grandmother—a weaver—doing. After spending a long time working with yarn knitting and crocheting, she began her own weaving career. Weaving has brought her into contact with many shepherds and fiber artists. As a 6th grade teacher, she tries to inspire her students about sheep and weaving as much as she can. Instagram @tsinbikeeknits.


Kelli Dunaj (she/her) is a California-based Navajo-Churro shepherd and Fibershed producer located in Marshall, about 2 hours north of San Francisco. Kelli is the Bookkeeper and Coordinator for the Co-Op and brings her experience in retail operations at Williams-Sonoma, Inc. to the table in addition to her love and respect for Navajo-Churro sheep and Diné sheep culture. Kelli runs a successful direct-to-customer lamb business, and markets sheepskins, wool, and other farm products online. Instagram @springcoyoteranch.


Fibershed is a nonprofit organization that develops regional and regenerative fiber systems on behalf of independent working producers across the United States. They have been instrumental in getting our project off the ground and are currently acting as our fiscal sponsor.  

First Nations Development Institute
First Nations Development Institute improves economic conditions for Native Americans through direct financial grants, technical assistance & training, and advocacy & policy work. FNDI has generously provided our first partial grant under their Native Arts Initiative.

NDN Collective 
NDN Collective is an Indigenous-led organization dedicated to building Indigenous power. Through organizing, activism, philanthropy, grantmaking, capacity-building and narrative change, they are creating sustainable solutions on Indigenous terms. 

One Earth Foundation
One Earth provides direct grants to nonprofit organizations supporting on-the-ground projects led by grassroots organizations, local communities, and NGOs working directly in the field to implement solutions to the climate crisis—from renewable energy access, to nature conservation, to regenerative agriculture.