A Native American basket weaver with local tribal ancestry will talk about traditional weaving and conduct a short workshop where participants will make duck decoys.
The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 26, at the Talent Historical Society Museum, 105 N. Market St., Talent.
Stephanie Craig's great-great-great-grandmother, Martha Jane Sands, was a Takelma Indian who was forcibly marched from her homeland in Southern Oregon to northwest Oregon at the age of 14. Sands passed basket-weaving skills and tales down through her family.
Instructed by family and friends, Craig started weaving baskets as a teenager. As a child she learned stories and lore about basket weaving.
“The one I really like is about my great-grandmother Pearl,” said Craig. “My family all went up to gather sticks for their baskets.”
One day, when Pearl was a little girl, she got tired and was told to take a nap. When the others returned home, another child asked where Pearl was. The adults realized she was still on the mountain and went back to get her. The story is now shared in the classrooms as part of instruction in the Chinuk Wawa language, said Craig.
Indian tribes wove clothing and mats in addition to baskets. Women wove baskets for use around the home and in the fields, while men did weaving to produce rope, fish nets, snares and decoys.
Tribes traded weaving materials. A basket woven in the Willamette Valley might contain materials from the coast, an indication of trading, or perhaps a coastal woman who married an inland man incorporated some of her traditions into those of her new tribe, said Craig.
Audience members are encouraged to bring Indian baskets they may have for Craig to examine. She may be able to determine their origins and materials used.
Craig uses one of her baskets regularly for gathering during garden season. She works with traditional tools such as needles and mat creasers made by a carver and flint napper.
Modern-day lore includes Craig’s requests to her mother that she give a rest to a 75- to 100-year-old family basket still used for laundry.
“My mother and grandmother were raised that baskets were made to be used,” said Craig.
Tule, a rush, will be used to make the decoy ducks. There is a limit of 15 people for the decoy workshop and a charge of $15 for materials. Audience members are welcome to observe the workshop, which is expected to last about 15 minutes.
A resident of Dayton, Craig traces her ancestry to six different Native American tribes. She has a master’s degree in cultural anthropology, museum studies and folklore. She’s had internships at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian Archive Department, the University of Oregon and in tribal institutes.
Craig operates Kalapuya Weaving, which offers workshops and classes on basket weaving and restores and preserves artifacts for museums and private collectors. More information can be found on the website kalapuyaweaving.weebly.com.
Takelma elder Agnes Baker Pilgrim, 93, will introduce Craig. There will be a question-and-answer session and social time.
“One of the things we try to do at the museum is to show that there are people out there who are perpetuating traditions,” said Thomas Doty, who organized the talk. “It gives a sense of history and at the same time shows that what has been a tradition is a living art form.”
There is no charge for the talk. Individuals interested in the workshop should contact Doty at 541-482-3447.
— Tony Boom is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at email@example.com.