In a story set before the coming of the Euro-Americans in the 1700's, Sulsuliya, a Coast Salish teenager, uses her spindle whorl to prepare yarn for her uncle’s wedding gift, a new robe in tribe’s traditional style. She shows her younger sister the skills she was taught by their grandmother, and in so doing, begins to come of age, taking an adult role within her culture.
Following the story is a teaching guide that also includes background information on the craft of spinning wool, map, and bibliography. Activity pages for children follow the story and include design templates for creating a whorl, suggestions for designing one’s own, questions on artistic concepts like positive and negative space, and creating animal impressions using printmaking techniques.
All titles in the Native American Art Activity Book series include an original story, a craft activity (with templates and instructions), a teaching guide, and bibliography. Tribal members have reviewed these volumes for cultural accuracy, and noted Northwest Native artists have created original works for the series.
The Spindle Whorl focuses on the art represented by the carvings on the whorl of a spindle - a tool used in spinning wool. The carved whorl was used specifically by the Central Coast Salish peoples - other tribes did not carve the whorls.