Klamath Basketry Designs
(Near Weitchpec, California): [ca. 1929]. 9 by 12 inches. 35 leaves plus cover, bound with brads at the top edge. An extraordinary collection of drawings of Yurok and Hupa basket designs, made by students at the Morek School District about 1929. The current site of the Morek School is on a remote stretch of the Klamath River, north of Weitchpec, in eastern Humboldt County, California. At the time, the region was identified as "Klamath" in the US census (today, Klamath designates an unincorporated area at the mouth of the Klamath River).
This region was traditionally Yurok territory, but it is close to the Hoopa Valley and census records identify the families in the area as belonging to both tribes.
This collection of drawings was apparently a school project, with students assigned to draw formal pictures of baskets.
On the cover is a decorative drawing of a woman weaving a basket. At the top of each basked drawing is a flattened crayon diagram of the decorative pattern; below is a drawing of the basket itself. The students, aged 10 to 12 years old, drew with varying levels of skill, but that they drew baskets at all was remarkable.
At the time, the federal government and the various Indian agencies were attempting to eliminate most Indian culture and language. Here we have students interpreting their traditional art form in Western-style drawings. Several students signed their drawings, including Elgina (Elsie?) Young, Rena (Reyna) Reed, Herman Peters, and Minerva (Minirva) Billie.
Native American manuscripts from this era are very scarce. The dating is based on census documents and internal evidence. Perhaps not coincidentally, Lila O'Neale was doing the fieldwork in the area for her landmark book, "Yurok-Karok Basket Weavers", at about the same time. ISBN: 281AIB1036241.
Small repair to front cover, else nearly fine. [webonly]