Mountain Maidu basketry
My name is William Harrison, I am Mountain Maidu and an apprentice under master Mountain Maidu basket weaver Ennis Peck. We are both very excited to be participating in the apprenticeship program. I am new to the art of basketry and over the next year I am learning to weave willow baskets. We started our work together this past January 2011. My first task was to learn how, where, and what to gather. We chose a location and I was instructed to gather as much as possible as Ennis would be arriving an hour or two after me. I had collected maple and willow for other traditional projects, but never willow for baskets which made me a little nervous. I tried my best and picked what I thought would work, but as it turned out my harvest was better suited to make handgame sticks.I set it aside and Ennis showed me a few examples of what to look for. I collected enough to begin and start a basket. I watched Ennis begin a basket and then tried myself, it was not easy as Ennis made it look. For around an hour I struggled to thoroughly understand and start the basket myself. I begin to worry to myself that I was not going to be successful. At last something clicked and I got it! I then practiced over and over as Ennis instructed me to start over each time I finished. I had a great feeling of accomplishment and relief that I had taken my first step! This week I have ventured out to collect more willow on my own and will be traveling to Greenville to spend the weekend with Ennis to learn the next step of “adding sticks.” I look forward to sharing my future adventures and learning with you through the ACTA blog. And for those of you who were concerned with my picture…don’t worry I was not weaving and driving!