Event 1&2: Basket Weaving Sept 21st

23 09 2010

I attended the basket weaving seminar on Tuesday Sept 21st and 12 and was surprised that I had a really great time. I learned so much about the art of basket weaving and how important it is culturally for the people who practice it. The seminar was led by two women, Lydia Vassar and Rose Ramirez. It was incredible to see these women making such intricate baskets right before our eyes. The process of making a basket from start to finish is extremely tedious and takes loads of hard work. First the women pick two different types of Jungus from the earth one is the stronger and used almost as a base and the other is more flexible and used to wrap around to make the basket. The women spoke about all of the incredible mathematics that go into making these beautiful creations and how you must see the picture of the completed basket in your head at all times as the basket is constantly growing. They spoke about how in ancient times this tradition was looked at by the settlers as so hard to understand. They couldn’t wrap their minds around how such beautiful and complex baskets could be made by such savage creatures. This is important to remember because it sets the tone for how the natives were treated later by these settlers. It was if because these people were somewhat different then they people they had encountered before that this somehow could mean that their intellect and skill level was not as advanced as them. This is such a very biased way of looking at people who are different and it is even somewhat ironic that these “savages” were the ones finding the medicinal plants and living off the land in a sustainable way for centuries. Obviously they must know something and are doing something right in order to have thousands of years of ancestry in this country. I really enjoyed the presentation that touched on the different medicinal and edible plants that grow native to this region. The one that really sparked my interest and made me even want to try this food was the Chia. The women explained that the same Chia that is sold with a Chia pet is actually a super food that the natives have used for centuries. This chia was a primary food that has incredible nutrition and could really sustain you well for very intense labor. Since Chia regulates your water intake and keeps you hydrated for a longer period of time you do not need to drink water as often and it can be used in hiking or other extreme labor intensive activities. It also can help with sugar intake levels and therefore would beneficial for people with diabetes. The women explained the difficulty in finding this Chia natively in California. It grows in abundance but can be hard to gather. The women said it took 12 people working all day in order to only gain 1 pound of Chia. Overall I really enjoyed learning about native culture at this event and was pleased at all the knowledge I gained!!