Oregon Folklife Network

Michael Johnson

2012-2013 TAAP AWARDEE

Traditional skill/art/craft: Umatilla Cornhusk False Embroidery

Ethnic Background: Native American, Native Oregonian, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation

Apprentice: Melinda Broncheau

Contact Information

Phone: 541-566-3122 (day) 541-215-2719 (evening)

E-mail: m_ray_j@yahoo.com

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

The traditional skill is cornhusk twining, which is also known as false embroidery. We will create a cornhusk traditional hat. The hats are used in ceremony namings, food gatherings, and traditional dancing.

How and from whom was the tradition learned?

All traditions are passed down, so I have learned from various elders who all have inspired me to be the weaving teacher I am today. These include Effie Culpus (Warm Springs), Phyllis Shillal (Walla Walla), Rose Frank (Nez Perce), and Katherine Ramsey (Nez Perce).

Artist Biography

Birthplace: Pendleton, OR

Birth Date: 6/17/69

Michael Johnson was born and raised in Umatilla County. He is a weaver by trade, participating in numerous cultural exchanges, and has taught weaving classes at institutions including Blue Mountain Community College and Eastern Oregon University. His work has also been featured at the Oregon Tribal Celebration and Columbia River Tribal Fish Commission among others.

He originally learned cornhusk twining when attending culture camp on the Warm Springs Reservation. Encouraged to continue weaving by his aunt, he was later sent to Idaho to study with several master weavers. He also assisted his grandmother in teaching weaving classes. Very few today still practice the technique of false embroidery twining. Like his grandmother, Michael actively works to pass this rich tradition to those willing to learn.


2004 Folklife Apprenticeship with Jess Nowland

Speaker for Bighole Battlefield Culture Presentation in Wisdom, Montana

Culture Camp Counselor 2011 in Pilot Rock, OR

Culture Assistant for CTUIR Senior Center

General Council Chairman 2007-2009 for Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation