Land Acknowledgement 2020
I acknowledge that I reside on the traditional territory of the Suquamish Peoples, People of the Clear Salt Water, whose ancestors have lived here from time immemorial, preserving the land and waters that five generations of my own family have benefitted from. I express my deepest respect and gratitude for all indigenous friends and neighbors living today, particularly for the Suquamish Tribe and the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways, and for healing and preserving this place for future generations.
Melinda West – Northwest Plant-Fiber Artist
I’ve been fortunate to live with my family in the Pacific Northwest, where the natural beauty and wild places are close at hand. My work has sprouted from an interest in learning the traditional fiber technologies practiced by the First Peoples of this place. So I’ve been incredibly fortunate to study with many native and non-native weavers and artists over the past thirty years, the foremost being neighbor and friend, Ed Carriere, of the Suquamish Tribe.
Some of my basketry and art pieces are created as a way to explore, experiment, and acknowledge the beauty of the native plants I love to grow and gather. My more traditional work is made from the desire to understand and preserve ecological and cultural knowledge and techniques that recognize the contributions of local First Peoples communities, who have developed this art form I practice, and many other traditional art forms derived from the landscape. My Harvest baskets, fences and trellises are made for utility and function in the garden. And some of my work is created with whimsy, in an effort to invent interesting ways for recyclIng man-made, and/or, weedy invasive plants, keeping them out of the burn pile, or waste stream.
For me, the art of plant fiber weaving has become a doorway into the cultural and ecological knowledge of the place I live. It brings me joy to be part of the continuum of practicing this traditional art form. When I am invited to teach at environmental learning centers, or in traditional classrooms, I am always the student. I am listening, and I cherish the perspectives of each person I meet. The ancient and universal qualities of this art form; the wild places I experience as I gather the materials; and the inventive aspects of weaving; help me process life, to find meaning as I work with the generous plant-gifts of the Pacific Northwest landscape.
A Gatherers Creed
Gather with respect.
Take only what you can use.
Prune to encourage growth.
Read More: Suquamish Basket Marsh