Personal History


Some of my teachers:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARalph Bennett, Haida, my husband of seven years, and many more as friend and confidante, gifted me with an incredible amount of knowledge and experience which simply goes beyond words. I apprenticed with him as a carver, and spent untold hours ‘talking’ with him which he loved to do with me every morning over coffee. He was raised by his grandparents in Hydaburg, Prince of Wales Island, his grandfather was Chief Johnny Bennett, still highly regarded when I visited a few years back. He only spoke Haida until he moved to Ballard with his father, Kwan Kilt Kwan at the age of 8. Through him I learned to understand the many, many nuances of traditional knowledge and native culture and he coached me as I tried to grasp, and then appropriately share what I was learning with others, eventually leading to my book ‘The People of Cascadia’, which he fully supported and counseled me on (and sometimes modeled for!) as I illustrated and wrote that book.  We loved our outdoor explorations together as I began to focus on the plants, which he embraced with me. In this photo he is showing me a mollusk he used to harvest at this very place as a child with his parents, after church, on Sundays. I am forever grateful for this incredible experience in my life.

Lisa TelfordLisa Telford, Haida, my former sister-in-law, who learned under her and my husbands, ‘Auntie’ Delores Churchill, and is now herself an internationally known Haida basketmaker with work in the Smithsonian, Heard, Burke and numerous other museums. She took me under her wing when I was first learning baskets, and showed me Haida-style cedar bark twined baskets, with the introduction of dyed twined patterns, as well as cedar bark hats, cross-warp twined cedar baskets and more, this photo is taken from that time. It is from her that I also learned traditional harvesting, processing and selection techniques for cedar bark.

Suquamish Ed Carrier Ed Carriere, Suquamish, is a master weaver, highly regarded for his work in reconstructing old styles of traditional baskets, in particular the clam baskets made from cedar boughs and roots. I’ve had the privilege to pull with him on canoe journey down the Columbia River with him as skipper, once going to shore to harvest horsetail root, which he used in this basket shown in the photo, a coil cedar root basket which tells his life story. He has shared his love of plants with me during my journey medicine workshops. I’ve spent time with him in his studio, working with nettle fiber, exploring techniques for tumplines made from plant fiber and wool. I hope for more time in this quest of knowledge with him.


Pat Courtney Gold
Pat Courtney Gold, Warm Springs/Wasco, specializes in twined Columbia River baskets, and is regionally and nationally recognized for her work in revitalizing Wasco/Wishram and other Columbia style baskets. I worked with her making cattail twined, open weave baskets and twined cylindrical baskets.




Nettie Jackson
Nettie Jackson, Colville, (now passed on) renowned for her preservation of the techniques and creation of coiled and imbricated cedar root baskets housed in museums throughout the region. I had the rare opportunity to work with her for four days learning these techniques from her to make my first cedar root coil and imbricated basket. It is from her that I primarily learned about proper harvest and processing of cedar root.



Eva BoyddEva Boyd, Flathead Salish, specializes in the full-turn twined sally baskets. Originally made from dogbane hemp, I was able to work with her sharing what I’ve learned about making dogbane hemp cordage while she showed me the techniques to start, twine and finish these strong, flexible baskets. I also understood from her the adaptability of traditional basket-makers as new materials are incorporated into traditional baskets, maintaining the traditional techniques.




Cheryl Samuel, master weaver- ‘internationally acclaimed weaver, researcher, author and teacher, who will forever be associated with the revival of Ravenstail weaving on the Pacific Northwest Coast’ and teacher of Chilkat Robes. I hosted her to teach my classes in the 90’s and spent many hours learning from her as she stayed  as a guest in my home, and in return visits to this area.



Basketry Joe hogan with big round basket goodJoe Hogan- Irish, living in the remote valley of Lough Nafooey, Connemara, a Gaeltacht region still speaking the native language. I’ve had the unique opportunity to spend two weeklong workshops with him, staying in stone cottages as I learned to make the traditional creels and criobs using techniques unique to the region, my ancestral lands. Like indigenous basketmakers everywhere he threads the teachings of basketry with cultural philosophy expressed in this art form.



Crios Mairead and Heidi

Mairead Sharry- Weaver from the Aran Islands, Innisheer, Ireland. She is one of the few people still making and teaching about weaving the Crios (kris) sashes, and I felt extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from her, who I now consider as a friend. I have been seeking knowledge about the weaving of straps, bands and tumplines in cultures around the world, and she gifted me with new knowledge in this quest.



Other teachers include  Rodney Cawston- Colville- twined cylindrical baskets; Rodrick Owen- Peruvian headbands; Laverne Waddington- Bolivian backstrap weaving