10.0911 basket-weaving

Willard McCarty (willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Thu, 1 May 1997 20:43:14 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 10, No. 911.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

Date: Thu, 01 May 1997 09:36:45 -0400
From: Pamela Cohen <pac@rci.rutgers.edu>
Subject: Re: 10.0908 announcements diverse & interesting

I was glad to read something positive regarding the NEA & NEH. David
Green's post prompted me to forward the following, excerpted from Artswire
Current. A chilling example of the ignorance of our elected officials. It
would appear that Congressman Herger has never _seen_ a handwoven basket,
and equates their crafting with the old college gut course joke.


On April 9, Congressman Wally Herger (R-CA) circulated a letter to his
NEA," according to an alert from the California Indian Basketweavers
Association. (CIBA)

Herger reproduced an NEA notice of a $60,500 grant to CIBA in support of
the 1997 and 1998 basketweavers gatherings, and a western regional
gathering, and noted "This grant announcement for basketweavers is a
prime example of why the NEA should be eliminated."

"Basketweaving is one of the oldest living traditional art forms in North
America," CIBA executive director Sara Greensfelder said in an email
response. "In California, basketry was taken to artistic heights and
baskets from California tribes can be found in museums and art centers
throughout the world," she added. THE FINE ART OF CALIFORNIA INDIAN
BASKETRY, which opened at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento in
August, 1996, is currently on view at the Autry Museum of Western
Heritage in Los Angeles.

Greensfelder emphasized that CIBA has succeeded in strengthening
California Indian basketry traditions that until only recently were in
danger of dying out. "NEA funding of our annual California gatherings has
been the single most significant source of support for CIBA, and the
basis for receiving matching grants from many private foundations and the
California Arts Council," she stated.

As the NEA budget has been severely cut back, the granting process has
become even more competitive. The Folk and Traditional Arts program of
NEA has been dissolved and absorbed into a larger component, and
traditional folk arts has received significantly less funding. "Therefore
it is a high honor to be the recipient of this grant. I believe that
Congressman Herger owes CIBA, the NEA and all Native American
basketweavers an apology," Greensfelder said, noting that Congressman
Herger had made no attempt to contact CIBA, whose Nevada City office lies
within Herger's Congressional district, before sending the letter.

"We've worked so hard so that people can understand that we're trying to
hang onto our Native culture. Basketweavers carry so much knowledge, not
only of the art but of how to care for the plants and the environment,"
said Karuk/Yurok/Hoopa basketweaver and CIBA founding board member Kathy

In an email situation update that Arts Wire received on April 26, CIBA
notes that out of 5 California newspapers that ran editorials about the
story, four were favorable to the CIBA grant.

" ...Rather than being an example of wasting money, we see the support
for traditional art as the best thing the NEA does," the REDDING RECORD
SEARCHLIGHT wrote on April 16. "The agency's support for such folk art
helps keep a part of our history alive. Whether it is mountain music,
blacksmithing or basket making, a traditional art form tells us who we
are by showing us how we used to live and what we used to do before the
invention of television. It offers a glimpse of a self-reliant culture in
which people made what they needed instead of buying it at the mall. It
provides a model for a world in which function and beauty are not
separate values but are woven together."

CIBA reports that at the April 24 Senate Appropriations Interior
Subcommittee meeting, Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO), the only
Native American in Congress, spoke at some length about the importance of
supporting the arts and the NEA, and about Native American basketweaving
traditions, their significance and worthiness of NEA support. There were
five California Indian baskets on display (including a Pomo feathered
basket) plus enlargements of photos of Native American baskets.

Contact Sara Greensfelder, California Indian Basketweavers Association,
16894 China Flats Road, Nevada City, CA 95959 (916) 292-0141

Details available on Arts Wire (AWNEWS Item 176)

Pamela Cohen
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities
169 College Avenue, New Brunswick NJ 08903
phone: (908) 932-1384 / fax: (908) 932-1386