Mildred Quaempts

Address: 47340 McKay Creek Rd, Pilot Rock, OR 97868
County: Umatilla
Phone: 541-310-1914
Birthplace: Pendleton, OR

Birth Date: 4/10/53
Religion: Seven Drum
Ethnic Background: Yakama/Cayuse

Describe your traditional skill/craft/art, when and why it is done, and your history with it:

Piecework with denatallium shell which can elaborately decorate a dress, hair pieces, earrings, hats. I usually make hairpieces and wedding veils for brides. I enjoy making the veils because they each are not made the same. I do stay as traditional as possible when I make the veils. I don’t give the veils to the bride until one day before she marries or the same day.

How and from whom was the tradition learned?

I first observed and helped using denalliums with my grandma, Annie Joe, better known as “Tquannanmy” when she was applying them on medallions or on dresses. I was 9 year old. I used to travel with her to Indian wedding trades and saw other young girls wearing hairpieces made from dentallium. I love looking at old photos of individuals using dentallium.

How, when, why did you come to Oregon:

I was born and raised on the Umatilla Indian Reservation and have lived in Oregon all my 59 years.

Any other biographical information (awards, honors, presentation, etc.):

My honor is making items using dentallium in memory of my grandma Annie Joe who not only taught me this special work but [also from whom] I learned to speak our Indian Language. It’s always rewarding to see my work and never had an opportunity to do presentations. I did mentor on woman who was making a veil for her daughter’s wedding.

I sing at Pendleton Round Up Saturday Arena and participated in the night show Happy Canyon singing [and] welcome dance.

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