OMAK—The Sinkietqu Okanogan Basketweavers Association held the Basket Weaving Conference Friday and Saturday at the 12 Tribes Casino and Resort in Omak.
“This is the first ever basket weaving conference for the Colville tribe,” said Pat Breiler, secretary and treasure for the Sinkietqu Okanogan Basketweavers Association.
The conference brought in tribal members and basket weavers from all over the Northwest, people as far north as Vernon, British Columbia to Chehalis gathered and attended the two-day conference.
“I love this,” said Trudy Marcellay, a master weaver instructor at the first ever conference. “This is so special, its something we’ve wanted to do here for a long time.”
Those that took part in the conference had the opportunity to make new friends and learn how to make a variety of different styles of baskets.
“I learned with my grandma, I’ve probably been weaving for over 50 years,” said Marcellay, who taught people how to make cedar, cat-tail coil and sweet grass baskets at the conference.
Counting Marcellay, there were eight other master weaver instructors all who taught a different style of weaving.
Tribal member Tillie Gorr of Omak taught how to weave a cornhusk basket.
Ruby Alexis traveled all the way from Vernon, BC taught twining weaving and intro to using hemp. Her sister, April Alexis also taught the same.
Yvonne Peterson who traveled all the way out to Omak from Chehalis with her sister Marcelley instructed those how to make cedar, cat-tail coil and sweet grass baskets.
Tribal member Vera Best taught how to make cedar root berry baskets. Wilma Cullooyah instructed on how to make Tule mats.
Tribal member Brandon Finley instructed how to make pine needle baskets and Valerie Calac taught yarn twining.
Tribal member Bernadine Phillips of Omak has been weaving for years and for her, it was special to see everybody that attended the conference.
“This is our first one. We didn’t know how it would go,” said Phillips. “Just seeing everybody come out to the event is special. To see them come from Canada, Chehalis, Yakima, is pretty cool.”
Briana Avila, Omak, from the Red Road association at Wenatchee Valley College, enjoyed every minute she was at the conference.
“This is my first attempt. I’ve never done anything like this,” said Avila. “This is very cultural, fun and artistic.”
At the time she was making a fish basket, because she thought it looked pretty as she laughs.
“I love it, I’ve never done this before, I cant believe I haven’t tried to do something like this sooner,” expressed Avila. “I look forward to doing it again.”