Portfolio > Woven: The Art of Contemporary Native Basketry

Sara Siestreem / Hanis Coos

I am a multidisciplinary artist, educator, and scholar with western training. In 2011 I began to study the traditional weaving culture of my people, a practice that has been in hibernation since the 1850’s. I joined Greg Archuleta and Greg A. Robinson’s Grand Ronde Lifeway’s group in Portland (where I live) to learn weaving techniques and gathering practices. My intention for doing this was to create a bridge of service between my work and my people, collectively the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians. In 2014 I formalized the work at the request of our cultural director, Jesse Beers (Siuslaw) with the Hanis Coos Traditional Weaving Research and Education Project.
The first step was institutional investigations of regional collections that hold our baskets to create documentation and gather their data on the pieces. I interviewed regional knowledge holders to create an archive of their thoughts. I gathered and processed a cache of weaving materials for my community workshops. This cache has many components; locating the plants, creating relationships with land owners, and the physical work of gathering and processing the materials. This work resulted in mapping data that is used politically to create protocols for natural resource and environmental protection, and in education with a gathering and processing handbook for the weavers. All of these archives are now stored in the private sector of our tribal website with the intention that they are starter documents that will be filled out communally as people remember and learn.
During the fall of 2015 the actual workshops began and our core group of weavers has
emerged. This year I am focused on unwrapping and distributing all the things I have gathered into that group and training them to do all the components of the work; teaching, institutional interface, and our own curatorial development and research. In turn, they are committed to integrating the practice into the community and tribal departments in which they work.
The 2D pieces I have contributed to this exhibition are photographs coupled with language. The photographs are in process portraits of this work and the titles are a reference to the contemporary moment. The south coast baskets in this exhibition were woven by the core group of my tribal weaving students: Ashley Russel (Miluk Coos), Amanda Craig (Hanis Coos), Morgan Gaines (Quuiich/Lower Umpqua) and Earla Kirk (Hanis Coos). They represent the awakening of our weaving culture and its movement into the future.

Sara Siestreem
Sara Siestreem