North Bend, April 4, 2017: The Coquille Indian Tribe’s collection of cultural treasures have assimilated the Five expertly woven baskets, passed down through generations of local families.
Three of the preserved baskets are said to be more than a century old.
Coquille tribal elder Toni Ann Brend showcased a not so anticipated presentation during a recent tribal council meeting — to the delight of tribal chairwoman, Brenda Meade.
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“This gift to our future generations is going to touch them forever,” Meade said.
Former North Bend resident Darrell Rasmussen, who died in February, his family passed down two of the baskets. The Rasmussen family believes the two baskets were crafted either by his grandmother, Mary Wasson Tanner Miller Graves, or by Mary Wasson’s mother, Susan Adulsa Wasson.
One of the Coquille Tribe’s 19th-century matriarchs was Susan Adulsa. Many of today’s Coquilles, including Brend, trace their lineage to her.
In presenting Rasmussen’s baskets, Brend added two others made by Susan Adulsa and a third that is believed to be her work. The three baskets had belonged to Brend’s parents, Joyce and Howard “Tony” Tanner, and Brend’s uncle, Albert Allard.
Coquille weavers traditionally were famous for baskets that had a unique combination of artistry and utility. Susan Adulsa, who died in 1917, was one of the renowned Coquille practitioners of the craft.
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After the Coquilles were eradicated in the 19th century, many traditional basket weavers died without passing down their skills, Brend said. Basketry classes are part of the tribe’s present-day cultural restoration efforts.
“Basketry has been a lost art, and we’re trying to bring it back,” she said.
Though Brend was proud to present five classic examples of Coquille dexterity, she was wistful about parting with the baskets.
The tribe will add the five baskets to a display in the lobby of its North Bend offices, situated across U.S. Highway 101 from The Mill Casino-Hotel. Coquille baskets also can be seen at the Coos History Museum.
– prepared by Sabhyata Badhwar. Twitter: @SabbyDarkhorse