Basket weaver represents Washoe tribe at Smithsonian Folklife Festival

A basket weaver from Indian Hills recently attended the 40th annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Sue Coleman, daughter of famous Washoe basket weaver Theresa Smokey Jackson who died about seven years ago, was the only weaver from Carson Valley to attend the event titled "Carriers of Culture: Living Native Basket Traditions."

Coleman went as a representative of the Washoe tribe. Other attendees included native basket weavers from all around the nation.

"Each one brings a unique understanding and mastery of their craft," said program co-curator Marjorie Hunt, of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is the largest annual cultural event in the United States capitol and attracts more than one million visitors every year. The festival lasted 10 days, June 30 to July 4 and July 7-11, and was held outdoors at the National Mall. Fifteen tents offered live demonstrations, dance performances, discussion sessions and hands-on projects. There was also a discussion stage called "Weaver's Talking Circle." On two days when the festival did not take place, tours and activities were arranged for interested participants.

Basketry is kept active by the hundreds of native people who continue to be engaged in the craft. Natives across North America and throughout the Hawaiian Islands work to keep the tradition alive. Although dwindling natural resources and the loss of knowledgeable elders proves to be two obstacles to tradition, the native communities work hard to preserve it.

For Coleman, weaving has always run in the family.

"She was a basket weaver and my teacher," Coleman said of her mother. "My daughter, Cynthia Kannan, and granddaughter, Tera Kannan, are also weaving."

For more information on the festival, go to


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