Oregon Folklife Network

Wilverna Reece

2012-2013 TAAP AWARDEE

Traditional skill/art/craft: Karuk Basketry

Apprentice: Karen L. Young-Lenk

Contact Information

Phone: 530-493-2526

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

Basket Weaving is done year long, gathering.

How and from whom was the tradition learned?

I began taking basket class in 1987 with Grace and Madaline Davis, two elder Karuk sisters in Happy Camp. I became real good friends with Grace. She taught me gathering materials and how to take care of it. It takes a long time to gather, everything has it’s season.

Why is this cultural tradition important to your community?

I was told by my mentor, Grace Davis, that I was to pass on what she taught me, to keep our Karuk culture going. So I’ve been teaching off and on ever since I learned.

There are not many Karuk weavers left. It takes a long time to gather and process your materials before making a basket. Most people today are too busy with jobs, families, computers, text messaging etc. to make the commitment and spend the time to learn to make our baskets. It is becoming a lost skill and art. But, our baskets are a part of who we are as Karuk people.

Artist Biography

Birthplace: Yreka, CA

Birth Date: 12/3/46

I am Karuk Indian. I have been a Karuk Tribal Council Member for the past three years. I lived in Forks of the Salmon, California until school age and then moved to Arcata, California. I moved all over and came to Happy Camp, California in 1978.



Smithsonian, D.C.

Boy Scouts of America in VA

Clarke Museum in Eureka, CA

Crocks Museum in Sacremento, CA

Chico State University, CA

Featured In

Her Mind Made Up: Weaving Baskets the Indian Way by Ron Johnson, News from Native California