Rose Ann Whiskers, San Juan Paiute Basket Weaver

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Award winning San Juan Paiute artist Rose Ann Whiskers usually features one of her favorite weaving coiled basket designs: the butterfly.  These are sometimes surrounded by traditional Diné basket designs.

Rose Ann was born in 1952 and has been a basket weaver since she was a young girl. She lives in the western part of the Navajo reservation. Her baskets are made in a similar manner to Diné baskets. She uses sumac as her medium and aniline dyes for color. The crisp vibrant colors and delineation of her beautiful designs testify to the artist's skillful technique.

Her popular butterfly design can be interpreted as a symbol of metamorphosis-the self-emerging into something beautiful as the result of hard work and determination. Her baskets are evidence of Rose Ann Whisker's own dedication to keeping a traditional art form alive and exciting.

MY BASKET STORY By Rose Ann Whiskers, San Juan Southern Paiute

When I was a little girl, I began my basketweaving by first learning with the "stomach" of the willow, which is the inside of the willow. I used the parts that my aunt had split to get her lace. I started practicing when I was only seven years old, then I started my first basket weaving. During this time my Grandmother taught me, when the willow was in good quality and poor quality and when it was bad to use. She also taught me that willow is good in August and in the winter months the willow is real god and she also taught me when the willow will have more natural shine and strength.

Later, my Grandmother started me off with the lace of the willow. As I began my baskets, I was getting better and better at weaving. When I saw my aunt, her name I wanted to learn how to make small baskets, too. Jane taught me the art of making miniature, small, medium baskets. After Jane passed away, I continued to make the baskets sizes that she had taught me, and I got really good at making them. Along with my Aunt Grace, I would tell her how to make the small baskets. Together my Aunt Grace and I, we make really fine weaved baskets and regular weaved design baskets. We get orders or sell these design baskets to traders and other non-Indians when see our basket at Museums or someone's basket collection at their home or business.

In 1985, I stared to do my Butterfly-Wedding Basket designs even to the smallest size. I wanted to put together what I was taught by my Aunte Jane to my craft. Now I have five very popular and different designs of Butterfly-Wedding Baskets.

I like to make the "Winter Baskets", baskets weaved in the winter. When it is cold outside, it makes me stay inside my warm home. When I make baskets, a lot of times, I stay up real late. I like to make baskets; it is good to make baskets. To this day I still make baskets, I get orders from Indians, especially my Navajo Neighbors who prefer Baskets weaved by a Paiute for different ceremonial purposes. I also get orders from non-Indian[s] from all over the world and from traders. All the baskets are special ordered, because it takes time to make and I prefer they place an order in advance. It takes time also because I don't use replacement/artificial products to make the basket I use all-natural supplies. This way I spend time on it to make it a better quality for my customer. In this way by making baskets, I carry on the teachings of my grandmother and others in the family who have passed on, who have taught me basketry, I wish to pass it on by teaching the younger generation in our family and the stories that are told while making baskets.

Relative Links: Native American BasketsPaiute Tribes