Basketry and Campfires

December 29, 2007

Hi all, here we are in downtown Tempe counting the sleeps till we board the plane with our ton of luggage. So I’ll catch up on a few interesting trips and events that we enjoyed.

As mentioned before, I drove to Sells, (100miles west of Tuson) where I attended a basketry festive, with dancing by the children from the local mission school, native food cooking by a lady who has a national native food cookery show, corn husking, studio portraits and cultural events. There were also people willing to teach us non weavers how to do it!.

The basketry festival has been hosted by the Tohono O’dham people for the last 12 years and held in Phoenix at the Heard Museum (we will visit next week) but the TO people have just built a new museum/cultural centre where they wanted to host the event this year. This was a big gamble, as the event is so well attended in Phoenix, and having it in the middle of no where by the mountains west of Tucson was sure starting over again. Hardly sign posted, no accommodation and very little else to do…… It rained and was so cold and windy I thought I was on the corner of Saint Georges Terrace again in winter!!… After the first two days of very low attendance due to the above mentioned aspects Saturday morning showed promise with many visitors eager to buy baskets, enjoy dancing, cooking and meet with old friends, I was so lucky and felt very priveleged to be asked to attend.

A lovely lady from the Tohono O’dham tribe patiently sat with me for two days and taught me how to weave….. I stuck the awl into my finger a few times, (you then have to stop or the basket becomes pink) and got piece done about a the size of a fifty cent piece. I decided it was more opportune to enjoy the company of women from all over the nation and met another wonderful lady named Carol from New Mexico who made me a unique Red Willow basket in few hours. Another two amazing weaving ladies from the Akwesasne tribe (northern state of New York) took me under their wings and made me feel very welcome and accepted.

I stayed in Nina and her husband (contact via the university and we sat up talking with some good red wine listening to a late desert rain storm with lashing downpours and howling winds. I had a few anxious moments driving to their home in San Miguel, with water rushing down the mountains though the washways, but thankfully my time in the north west had given me a bit of experience in that area, although not in a ’93 Dodge van!!!.

Saturday afternoon I drove back to base camp Tempe and Pete and I packed for the snow trip that was written about in the last entry.

After returning from Salt Lake City, we got up at dawn (yes !! I can do it when I have too – remember the hot springs and snow flakes??!!) and drove 3 hours to Parker, where I spoke to about 100 year 5 kids about Australian Native people and animals. We met with Jay who is the local education director and he introduced us to the health coordinator, and gave us a good rundown on the four tribes that make up the CRITS (known by other tribes as CRITTERS).

About the Mohave, Chemehuevi, Hopi and Navajo Tribes

The Colorado River Indian Tribes include four distinct Tribes – the Mohave, Chemehuevi, Hopi and Navajo. There are currently about 3,500 active Tribal members.

We were invited to the river for a storytelling campfire get-together which was wonderful and I was a guest story teller along with an elder from the each of the four tribes that make up the CRITS (Colorado River Indian Tribes).

We had hot apple cider, cookies and a big fire that kept all fifty odd huddled around the flames warm as toast, that had been organised because Pete and I had first said we would camp there, but after the snow temperatures, we decided to stay at the Blue Waters casino and had a great visit with some amazing and very hospitable people. Photos coming asap.  Pete has added more snow shots, just to show you how much fun it was.

We are planning a two night get away over the weekend back to beautiful Sedonna and then for New Years eve we are hitting the casino at Fort McDowell, north of Phoenix run by Yavapai Nation.

THEN ONLY FOUR MORE SLEEPS TILL WE HIT PERTH VIA HONG KONG (17 hours first leg, 7 hours second leg – don’tjawishyoucouldjoinus?).



  1. Who would have thought that basket weaving is celebrated with large crowds? looking forward to counting how many fingers julie has left after basket weaving. Perhaps you can show me how to weave. we could use welt grass or sedges from the back yard. looking forward to hearing about the trip
    jess and pete

  2. Hello my dear ,

    good to see you again and see u went to some familiar spots , the Colorado river mob ( MY FRIEND joy Graves) did u meet her in the end ? did u catch any of those contacts I sent ? Brenda in washington and jennie in Tucson and eddie and JOY ? hmmm. anyway and Tohono mob , they are lovely hey and goo u got into the basket thing … I can’t wait to talk to u in person , so call me or something OK. I am moving into my new house on 25th In brisbane … wondering how u feel after the journey.


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