Basket Classes Keep Pomo Tradition Going Strong

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					• CULTURE

Pomo Tradition of Basket Weaving Is Going Strong
A dozen members of the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians gather each week to keep alive “the legacy of the Pomo People” – the Tribe’s distinctive style of basketry. “The Pomo style is known as the finest weave,” said Christine Hamilton, who teaches the basket weaving classes. “We’re trying to save a little of the past and carry it to the future.” Intricately woven Pomo baskets, on display at numerous museums, are renown for their expert weave and design. “Pomo baskets were not only functional, but also art,” said Daniel Murley, curator at the Healdsburg Museum. “The weavers took the time to produce something so intricate and so fine. The time and artistry involved was exceptional.” The baskets can be as small as a thimble, or several feet long. At a recent baby basket class, the students were nine grandmothers and two younger women, one of them a new Pomo mother. Other classes work on coil baskets. “I like the stitch on coil baskets to be bold,” said Hamilton, learned from famed Pomo basket weaver Elsie Allen. “On baby baskets the weave is more twine-y.” Traditional Pomo baskets were woven from sedge, redbud, willow and bulrush, but gathering these materials is not necessary for the weaving classes. “It takes time to find the perfect sticks, shape them, let them dry for three or four months,” Hamilton said. “People today don’t have time to wait for things to dry. So the basket weaving classes use rattan so we can teach assembling. The construction is something people can learn right now.” What do the students learn? “Keeping their minds and hands working,” Hamilton said. “It’s concentrating on what your hands are doing – and remembering.”

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