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Julia and Lucy Parker, basket weavers
Behind the Yosemite Museum in the summer of 1960, Julia Parker began demonstrating the art of basket weaving to her daughter, Lucy. On June 2, the duo will demonstrate for the public as part of "Family Day" at the UC Berkeley Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology.

Mother-daughter interpreters demonstrate California Indian culture at Hearst Museum's "Family Day"
28 May 2002

By Kathleen Maclay, Media Relations

Berkeley - Years ago, Julia Parker taught her daughter, Lucy, about the art of Native American basket weaving and other cultural practices. Today, the two are teaching the ways of their ancestors to Lucy's own daughter, and introducing them, in turn, to Lucy's six-year-old granddaughter.

Sharing Indian culture and history with the next generation is a labor of love for Julia and Lucy Parker. So, they're happy to participate on Sunday, June 2, in "Family Day" at the University of California, Berkeley's Hearst Museum of Anthropology.

During the program, the pair will tell Indian stories and play primarily Miwok games while airing "gaming" recordings foraged from the museum's sound recording archives. The Parkers also will demonstrate the art of basket weaving and display handmade, miniature dolls and toys.

Julia Parker basket
Julia Parker also made this 10-by-5-inch burden basket that is worn at the waist and used for collecting willow or redbud twigs. Its foundation is willow and has a background of sedge roots, all coated with soaproot juice for protection. Photo courtesy of CaliforniaBaskets.com
 

Julia Parker, a noted basket weaver and, for about 40 years, a nationally-known cultural interpreter with the Indian Cultural Program at Yosemite National Park, will be joined by her daughter, Lucy, a traditional artist known for crafting baskets, jewelry and games.

Julia Parker is a Kashaya Pomo who primarily practices her husband's family traditions - Yosemite Miwok, Miwok and Pauite - and weaves Pomo style. She also teaches honoring songs that celebrate people and nature. Lucy Parker, a descendant of the Yosemite Indians, is Miwok, Paiute and Pomo and practices those traditions. She was brought up as a youngster in Yosemite in a traditional cradle basket.

Mother and daughter are devoted to preserving their culture and are especially devoted to teaching children. "They're the future teachers of Indian basket weaving," said Julia Parker.

The 1:30-3:30 p.m. "Family Day" event is part of the Hearst Museum's "Regenerations" program, established seven years ago to provide a stronger public presence for contemporary California Indian artists. That is accomplished through a fellowship or residency at the museum, exhibition of the artists' work or co-curation of museum collections, a lecture, demonstration or performance, as well as through the purchase by the museum of representative works of the artists. A City of Berkeley Civic Arts grant helps fund the program.

Collection of 9,000 California Indian baskets

The first entry in the catalogue of the Hearst Museum's California collections is a cradle basket acquired in 1901 under the auspices of Phoebe Apperson Hearst, the museum's founder. Between 1901 and 1996, the museum gathered a research collection of approximately 9,000 California Indian baskets, with specimens from every tribe in California, and examples representing every technique used in basket weaving.

Scholars who collected for the museum, studied the collections and published their findings in the first half of this century include Alfred L. Kroeber, Samuel A. Barrett and other noted anthropologists. Barrett focused on the Pomo, and as he collected baskets and other artifacts, he carefully documented maker names, locations, materials and techniques. Barrett also collected raw materials from which baskets were made, along with information concerning where and when, or from whom, the maker collected those materials. His sound recordings and films of the Pomo also are part of the museum collection.

Julia Parker basket
Julia Parker made this Pomo-tradition gift basket with a flame pattern woven with dark red twigs that have been stripped in the winter to achieve the darkest of reds. Redbud twigs were used to color the entire basket, measuring five inches in diameter and standing 3.75 inches high. Photo courtesy of CaliforniaBaskets.com
 

Julia Parker said the museum collection is an invaluable tool for telling the story of Indian history and culture in California. "We're very grateful for the early collectors," she said.

"The traditions of our people will go on as long as people are aware of them," said Lucy Parker. "It is so important for my mom and I to share the traditions and, fortunately, our people left a lot for us to follow. The value of the Hearst collection is so wonderful because we can go in and study the baskets and so many other items."

In addition to their "Family Day" demonstrations, the Parkers will spend several days studying various Indian materials in the Hearst collection.

Julia Parker also will participate in the "Breath of Life" workshop on California Indian language restoration. She said she speaks Pauite, Miwok, Mono and Navajo, but not fluently. That June 3-7 program is co-hosted by the Hearst Museum, Survey of California and Other Indian Languages, and Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival.

Meanwhile, the Parkers also are consulting with the museum on a teaching kit about Indian games to be used chiefly by fourth grade teachers in state-mandated California history lessons. Some games made by Lucy Parker have been donated to the Hearst Museum and will be on display.

A kit recently developed by the museum that features California Indian food will be available at the museum for viewing and will be online in the fall. Another kit is planned that will focus on Ishi, a famous California Indian whose native crafts are in the museum's collections.

An exhibit in the museum's new Native California Cultures Gallery includes displays of Indian games from the Hearst collections, as well as food-related objects from California's many tribes.

"Family Day" is free with admission to the museum, which is $2 for adults, $1 for seniors and 50 cents for youths 16 and younger. Museum members and UC faculty, staff and students are admitted free. Admission is free to all on Thursdays.

The museum is located in Kroeber Hall near the intersection of College Avenue and Bancroft Way. The museum phone number is (510) 643-7648.

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