Image by Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie (Seminole/Muskogee/Dine)

I have always believed that in order to have self-esteem, my people must relearn the arts, language, and culture of our ancestors.
— Elaine Emerson

elaine timentwa emerson

 

TRIBE: Colville Confederated Tribes  

MEDIUM: Basketry

LOCATION: Omak, Washington

 

2000 COMMUNITY SPIRIT AWARD HONOREE

2004 CULTURAL CAPITAL FELLOW

 

“I have always believed that in order to have self-esteem, my people must relearn the arts, language, and culture of our ancestors. The reason I committed myself to teach basketry was to prove that as a people we are still here and basket making was not a dead art - a victim of forced assimilation. This strengthens groups on my reservation in that it connects weavers with their ancestral ties, which is an important factor in who we really are and where we come from. There is family history with each basket weaver. A connection takes place with Mother Earth in seeing ancestral gathering sites, and following religious practices involved in collecting materials. A basket maker must be a botanist, environmentalist, ecologist, and marketer, all of these things combined. I have seen family and community groups strengthened when the older and younger tribal members come together and foster the ancient art of making baskets. The older and younger baskets makers experience a bonding as the older ones pass on histories, stories and other important information.” – Elaine Emerson

“Her generosity and hard work brought the struggling art form of coiled cedar root basketry back from the archives and into the life of tribal peoples of the Northern Plateau. Beyond teaching basketry skills, she teaches language classes for the Colville Confederated tribes - Elaine is passing on the way of life.” – Joe Feddersen, nominator