WHAT: Native American CULTURAL REVITALIZATION in San Diego County: Our exhibition focuses on the revitalization of Native American cultural traditions through the sustainable use of local native plants, storytelling, and basket weaving.
WHERE: Escondido Municipal Art Gallery, 262 East Grand Avenue; Escondido, CA
WHEN: Opening: October 12; 5:30-8:00 pm
COLLABORATORS: Lydia Vassar, Cathleen Chilcote Wallace, Deborah Small, Bryan Endress
We hope to see you there!
The photos below are part of the exhibition. I shot them in October 2012 at the Yawáywish Girls Conference hosted by the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians, where young women from regional tribes learned to make open-weave juncus baskets with Luiseño basket weaver Lydia Vassar and Cahuilla basket weaver Tangie Bogner. Cathleen Chilcote Wallace was the Luiseño story teller for the conference. Please click on any of the images below to enlarge them.
Basket weavers work extensively with plants, because in southern California, it is plants that make the culture possible—as food, fiber, cordage, clothing, tools, shelter, fuel, weapons, musical instruments, medicine, and ceremony. It is through storytelling that these cultural traditions are preserved and passed to future generations.
Recognized as the most important tool in the technological repertoire of California Indians, baskets shaped every aspect of native culture and were critical for survival. Women wove the seed beaters, harvesting baskets, winnowing trays, burden baskets, cooking baskets, storage baskets, granaries, cradle-board baskets, as well as intricately woven gift and ceremonial baskets. Some of their houses and ramadas, essentially large woven baskets, were woven by the men in the village along with the fish traps and fishing nets.
In the photos above, the young women are weaving with Juncus textilis, one of the four most important southern California basketry plants. Two hundred twenty-five species of juncus are found worldwide, but the Juncus textilis the weavers are using is endemic to California.
Other parts of our exhibition focus on storytelling, and on edible and medicinal native plants in our region.