Date of this Version
Published in The Social Fabric: Deep Local to Pan Global; Proceedings of the Textile Society of America 16th Biennial Symposium. Presented at Vancouver, BC, Canada; September 19 – 23, 2018. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/tsaconf/
Basketry is the highest art form of Native Americans in California. I will focus on Yosemite Valley starting in the 1850s when Native Americans adapted progressively to contact with miners, settlers, and tourists. As a Research Associate at the Peabody Museum, Andover, Massachusetts, I inventoried the Native American Basket Collection. The unpublished Hutchings Mills Collection, acquired by Gertrude ‘Cosie’ Hutchings in Yosemite prior to 1900, caught my attention. In 1986, the Department of the Interior requested the collection be loaned, exchanged, or purchased as “the single most important assemblage from that period.” The collection did not leave Andover; however, one basket by Dulce, an activist whose signature appears on the Indian Petition of 1891, was published by the Yosemite Museum in 1991. James Mason Hutchings (1824-1902) was among the first settlers to remote Yosemite Valley and opened a hotel. His daughter, Gertrude ‘Cosie’ Hutchings (1867-1956) was born in the Yosemite Village and collected baskets. The Gertrude Hutchings Mills Collection of 53 baskets is significant because she acquired them from “friends and faithful allies of her family. Those from the Mono and Owens River country were packed mule-back across the Sierras to Yosemite by myself.” Some basket makers are identified by name and location; such record keeping was very rare. My timeline for Yosemite will include the following events: Proclamation as a state park, 1864; eviction of the Hutchings family, 1874; designation as a National Park, 1890; and the Indian Petition, 1891. In the 20th century, the National Park promoted non-traditional Indian events and featured demonstrations by basket makers until the Native American were gradually expelled. My presentation will contrast basket makers in contact with Hutchings and the National Park Service.