Getting to know the NBO

During a recent research trip to the USA, I was lucky to be able to include attendance at the National Basketry Organisation (NBO) held at Lake Tahoe in Northern California.

This is a young organization some six years old that 'aims to promote the art, skill, heritage, and education of traditional and contemporary basketmaking'. With the US having many local guilds, a vast array of plantfibres and a vigorous contemporary basket movement the NBO seems to aim at being a national mouthpiece, forum and lobbyist for everything 'baskety' in the States.

I had joined in 2003 just missing their last bi-ennial meeting in New Mexico, a place I have always wished to go. In the last 2 years the NBO has gone through some rapid developments and learnt many lessons. Offering 19 courses at this the next convention seemed a confident move. With a membership of only 800, though it was a tad over confident and the high price of the Tahoe (a 'Ski Resort') hotel deterred many and some 9 classes were therefore cancelled. Having said that those that came had a fabulous time.

I had luckily obtained a lift from Sacramento from prominent members of Californian Indian Basketmakers Association (CIBA) : Jacquelyn Ross and Kathy Wallace who intended to gatecrash the opening evenings keynote address given by their friend Sue Coleman from the Washoe tribe in the Reno area. On arrival, they were, however. treated as dignitaries and invited to dinner and stay the night! So, the good craic continued until the thin mountain air and good food forced us to an early bed. I did need to be up early for a breakfast at 7.0am followed by a seminar at 8am and my first session with Kari Lonning at 9am!

So it continued: 3 meals, 3 one-hour talks/presentations and 3 lessons daily for 3 days! In fact the cream of US basketmakers were there: teaching, giving advice and presentations and generally being available to hang loose with.

The final day allowed time to visit the local gallery of to see the 'All things considered' an exhibition curated by the NBO (which despite its name was not open to 'foreigners'). In addition a nearby local museum featured the work of Dat-so-la-lee's work as well as the Marion Steinbeck Collection of S 800 baskets (!) from 85 tribes from W & N. America - see the North Tahoe museum website for more about this collection.

The celebration dinner/disco and auction ended events at the convention and was my last event of my 3 weeks stay see my website for further adventures> and during the auction it was great to see Nancy Moore Bess stalking those present to sell the 'Kishiemaking' *DVD to generate bursary funds.