As Grandmother Taught:
Women, Tradition and Plateau Art

August, 2018 - December, 2019

The art of the indigenous cultures of the Columbia River Plateau region reflects traditional lifeways
borne of an ancient and interdependent relationship with the natural world. Women of the Plateau tribes
are keepers of culture, creating traditional art forms using time-perfected techniques passed on over
generations. The exhibition celebrates the work of three Plateau women alongside historic material from
the museum’s permanent collection, associating the makers and their work with traditional forms and
linking the past to the present.

Visitors will see coiled and twined basketry and beaded hats, pouches, bags, dolls, horse regalia,
baby boards, and dresses alongside vintage photos of Plateau women wearing or alongside their
traditional, handmade clothing and objects.
 

Featured artists

 


Leanne Campbell   

Leanne Campbell is an enrolled member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe or Schitsu’umsh – meaning “Those who were found here” or “The Discovered People”. Her lineage also includes the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation located in central Washington and the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho.

Leanne strongly embraces her history, culture, language, and traditions and is a speaker of the ancient language of the Schitsu’umsh. She is a skilled specialist, most renowned for her unique skills in traditional and cultural arts - beadwork and basketry in particular. Her beadwork is a mix of pictorial, geometric, and old style floral designs of the northwest Columbia Plateau. She is considered a master weaver and works in various mediums including hemp, cedar and tule. The old style arts she produces are widely sought after in Indian Country, and well beyond, and her work is collected by and featured in museums.

Campbell earned her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Museum Studies with a minor in Studio Arts at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she served as an Artist in Residence. She continues her push of revitalization by teaching traditional arts in her community and for neighboring tribes. She also serves as the Historic Preservation Program Manager/Curator for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe.

 


HollyAnna CougarTracks DeCoteau Littlebull

Yakama (Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation), NiMíiPuu (Nez Perce Tribe), Cayuse (Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation)

HollyAnna is a stone carver, beader, basket maker, seamstress and saddle maker but her interests and work also include sculpture, Shuptuki (Parfleche) or 3-dimensional works, traditional horse regalia, and baby boards. She also prepares some of the materials used in the construction of her pieces. This background has given some unique inspiration to her contemporary works but she is also heavily influenced by traditional design and symbolism.

She explains that there’s a culture of making things in her family. She learned by watching her mother, aunts, uncles and grandparents and was inspired to become a maker herself. However, nobody showed her how to carve wood or stone – she figured that out on her own by observing the different characteristics of the natural materials and how other artists were making things.

One might call HollyAnna a renaissance woman since she has many other creative pursuits – illustration, animation, music, storytelling and writing. She also has done restoration work on museum artifacts, taught the Sahaptin (Nez Perce) language, and practiced art therapy.

Bigphoot Innovations, her business, promotes reducing plastic waste by turning it into artistic creations and practical construction materials. HollyAnna has also been an instructor at Heritage University, a demonstrating artist at numerous museums and school districts, and a guest speaker on TedX and elsewhere.

 


Bernadine Phillips

Bernadine Phillips is a Master Basketweaver from Omak WA, a member of the Colville Confederated Tribes (Wenatchi/Okanogan Bands). Both her mother and father encouraged and supported her interest in her culture and traditional arts such as beading and basketweaving. 

She learned how to make coiled cedar root baskets from Master Basketweaver Elaine Timentwa Emerson who told her, “You just have to keep at it. Making one basket does not make you a basketweaver. “  Not only  has  she  continued  weaving and teaching basket classes along with her sister Vera Best,  she also began teaching her basketry students what materials, when and where  to gather materials, and to gather so no harm comes to the trees or plants. 

Bernadine’s family members are all skilled artists. Her husband, Brian is a carver and flute maker, her son Craig is a master weaver at twined sally bags, and daughter Bridgit, who prefers beadwork, can also do coiled baskets and twining. 

Phillips was the Executive Director of The Northwest Native American Basket Weavers Association from 2002-2007 where she coordinated events for Basketweavers Gatherings held in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.  She has also been recognized by the Smithsonian Institution as a Folklife Festival Presenter in the Carriers of Culture: Living Native Basket Traditions in Washington DC.  She is currently the Wenatchee Band Facilitator for The Colville Confederated Tribes of Washington state.


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