The spring semester is over at CSUSM, so I have time to work on page layouts for a photo-heavy book I hope to finish in a couple of months tentatively titled Gathering Native Plants: Southern California Indian Basketweavers and Ethnobotany, featuring many of the people featured in these blog posts, such as Marian Walkingstick, Acjachemen elder and basketweaver. She’s wearing one of the rattlesnake vertebrae necklaces made by the Seri women from Desemboque, Sonora, Mexico.
Above and below, Marian whittles and sands an elderberry branch to prepare it before woodburning the designs in her elderberry clapper sticks that she uses to accompany her when she sings.
For Marian, the elderberry tree is not only a generous provider but a sentient being who communicates with her: “As a singer, I have to make my own clapper sticks, so I go to the elderberry tree and ask the tree for a young straight shoot to make my musical instruments. It’s a very giving tree.”
Here’s a VIDEO LINK to Marian, Fran Yorba, and Kathy Sandoval, members of Tushmalum Heleckum, the Hummingbird Singers, from the San Juan Capistrano area, singing a traditional Acjachemen Planting Song using their elderberry clapper sticks. This video is one of four posted at the site to document the gathering of traditional southern California plants used in Native American basketry.