Darla Garey-Sage

Washoe Tribe of California and Nevada

The people known as the Washoe have long lived on the eastern face of the Sierra Nevada mountains of Northern California and Nevada and at the far edge of the western Great Basin. From the high mountain lakes and meadows to the valleys below, the Washoe people created a way of life that sustained their needs for many generations. Their language, Washoe, is unique to the area, showing no relationship to surrounding languages; this suggests a long tenure for the Washoe people.

Washoe Basket Weavers

The people of the Washoe tribe of Nevada and California have long practiced the art of weaving. Both men and women created the tools and products necessary to make a living in a land that required seasonal movements. Heavy pottery or bulky wooden items were not suited to this environment nor to the mobile lifestyle of the indigenous people.

Contemporary Great Basin Basketmakers

For the native people of the Great Basin, weaving carries both historical and contemporary significance. In their past, the Shoshone, Paiute, and Washoe people practiced a way of life based in part on the seasonal harvest of wild plant resources, and weaving provided most of their tools used to harvest, prepare, and store these foods. As Euro-American people moved west into the lands of the Great Basin Indian people, ways of life were forced to change. Although native people adopted many Euro-American goods, weaving baskets endured as a symbol of native identity and artistic expression.

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