Artist weaves tradition and baskets together
The room was full of upbeat conversation and the smell of cedar at the cultural workshop Nov. 30. Linfield students and staff gathered in Withnell Commons for guest Stephanie Wood’s presentation about Native American basket-weaving techniques with a hands-on activity.
Wood passed around examples of baskets that she had made, and she identified the materials that she used while talking about the traditions of basket weaving. She also showed examples of the grasses and sedges she used.
She showed the workshop participants how to crack a strip of cedar bark and peel the outer bark away from the inner bark. Next, she demonstrated how to fold and twist the strips into the shape of roses.
“My favorite part was when my rose turned out pretty,” German teaching assistant Manuela Faschang said. “I was proud when I saw I could do it.”
Wood also showed the participants how to twist thin strands of Alaskan yellow cedar into rope.
“The workshop was really new and interesting,” French teaching assistant Esse Dabla said. “I really did not know what this would be about, so I was curious. I want to take chances and use opportunities. The whole thing was authentic and simple.”
Wood said that she comes from a family of basket weavers, but today, only she and one of her cousins continue to weave.
“I enjoy passing on and continuing traditions,” she said.
Throughout the workshop, Wood seemed to enjoy showing the workshop participants how to make the folds that would twist the cedar strips into roses.
“You can tell it’s really important to her life,” Faschang said. “Sometimes when you see things like this, it’s because people want to make money. [Wood] tries to keep it alive. It’s not just to make money.”
Wood is a member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. She is an alumna of the University of Oregon, where she completed her degree in cultural anthropology with an emphasis on Northwest Native American Cultures.
She has worked with several museum collections of Native American baskets to help identify the baskets’ origins and their creators.
Sharon Gollery/Culture editor
Sharon Gollery can be reached at email@example.com.