JoAnn Smokey Martinez

JoAnn Smokey Martinez and her sister Theresa Jackson were among the last members of the Washoe Tribe to be raised in their traditional Native American culture. They spoke only Washoe until they started school, and as children both helped their mother and grandmother gather willows for baskets.

Martinez did not start weaving baskets until her children were grown. She devoted the rest of her life to perfecting and passing on that art. She also helped organize the Washoe Tribe's annual cultural dinner, and she always said that pine nuts roasted the traditional way, with hot coals in a basket, tasted better than those cooked in an oven.

Martinez taught in the Nevada Arts Council's Traditional Arts Apprenticeship program, and she and her sister participated in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. In 1993, she was commissioned to make willow baskets as the awards given to that year's Governor's Arts Awards recipients. Two years later, Martinez and Jackson received the Governor's Arts Award for Excellence in Folk Arts.

JoAnn Martinez passed away in 2006 at the age of eighty-five, after a long and full life lived the Washoe way.

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