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San Carlos

Basket Making Class held at Apache Cultural Center


Staff Reporter

The Apache Cultural

Center recently hosted

a Basket Making Class.

The teacher, Betty Goody

said, “In old days basket makers

collected cottonwood and

willow in winter when they

had less water in them.” They

started out with clippers and a

guided tour of the willow and

cottonwood patches in the San

Carlos River bed, where they

collected a pickup full of stems,

which they left on tables in the

work room of the Center for the


After splitting into three,

most of inner white filling is

stripped away leaving only a

little bit and the brown or darker

skin. Turning it to make the

design in darker color of the


During Tuesday’s class, they

had to strip the leaves from the

stems of cottonwood which

would provide the frameworks

for the baskets and the willows

for actual weaving in and out.

Students also practiced the

fine art and hard work of splitting

the stems

into thirds. They

started the splitting

with clippers

or with their teeth

(at the risk of

breaking a tooth).

Each third of a

stem of willow

then had to be

further thinned

until it could be

as easily twisted

and turned

as cord from a

hardware store.

On the first day,

in fact, Betty Goody did split

a willow stem into string and

used it to tie a bundle of willow


At the end of the third class,

students finally started their

baskets, after an evening of

splitting. And at the end of the

last class several

baskets had been

started, an awkward


especially if you

are doing it for the

first time.

Goode agreed

to mentor the students

who had

lasted till the end

of the course as

they continued to

work on their baskets.

Marlowe Cassadore and the

class decided to meet later in

the fall so that each could start

another basket, having gotten

the preliminaries out of the way.

The stems can be kept fresh in

freezer bags in the refrigerator


Not everyone who attended

the first class lasted till the last

class. Some got a taste of all

that basket weaving involves

and decided not to continue.

This did not did not surprise

Goode. “When you first start to

weave, she said, “You think it’s

hard and

then you

just give

up, but

I really


to make


so I just

kept at

it a long


For a


of years

s h e

practiced cutting and splitting

sumac and willow stems to the

bemusement of her husband

and children. Then she tried on

her own to make baskets. Some

of her first attempts, she left in

trees for the birds to make nests


Then she started asking basket

makers such as Evelina

Henry for advice and developed

her craft to the point where she

and her friends were selling

baskets in Scottsdale, Fort Mc-

Dowell and all over the world.

When they got going, she

says she and her friend Laura

Mae Pechuli could make nine

baskets a day.

When Pechuli, passed away

she put basket weaving aside,

but now she is ready to get

started again. She is making her

great grandchild a basket for the

girl’s Sunrise Dance in spring.

8 Gateway to the Copper Corridor 2019

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