California Indian Baskets – part 1

September 2, 2014

I grew up in the San Francisco North Bay and an area considered to be historic tribal lands for the Coast Miwok. We had a friend of the family that had California Indian baskets in his home that were functional. Betty Goerke in her book Chief Marin: Leader, Rebel, and Legend, A History of Marin County’s Namesake and his People (Berkeley: Heyday Books, 2007) includes photographs of elaborate baskets residing in European and Russian museums made by Coast Miwok women. California Indian baskets cannot be found in California museums. I have thought about these baskets over time, and what it must mean to a group when their artifacts cannot be found in public collections where they can see them and study them. It is one thing to have these creations safely secured in tribal hands, or returned to the spirit world as they were intended; it is another to thing that perhaps their cultural value has been buried by the thoughtlessness of aggressors. The language of historic California Indian baskets is like a tossed pebble creating ripples throughout a calm lake; like an earthquake sending shock-waves over the earth; as the ocean tide after a storm reveals an ephemeral shoreline that shifts with each new wave – it is to the modern world an echo of primordial wisdom that speaks to the collective human consciousness.

Seedbeaters are loosely woven baskets used to gather edible seeds, immature seeds were returned to the earth for another season

Seedbeaters are loosely woven baskets used to gather edible seeds, immature seeds were returned to the earth for another season

 

 

 

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