PAINTINGS: “From Her Heart Thru Her Hands…“ SERIES

"Mabel McKay, Pomo Basket Maker"

Mabel McKay, (1907 – 1993), was the last living member of the Long Valley Cache Creek Pomo Tribe. She was the last Dreamer and sucking doctor among the Pomo peoples.

She began weaving baskets when she around six years old.  When asked about her mastery of weaving baskets Mabel said, “The Spirit trained me….. I follow my dream.” 

By the age of eighteen or nineteen her baskets were already drawing national attention. Early in her growing career she was asked to exhibit her baskets and given a buckskin dress to wear as well as feathers in her hair as she sat  behind the counter.  “Do you feel more like an Indian now?" she was asked.  “No,  I have never seen a Pomo woman wear a skirt as short as this” she responded.

The Spirit gave her animal friends to help her.  One trip to gather sedge roots for her baskets at a site along Dry Creek she was greeted by hundreds of rattlesnakes.  They watched her.  Finally there were so many rattlesnakes around her, in her bath tub, in her shoes, in her home that she asked The Spirit to remove some of the protection because she was worried that the white people might kill her snake friends.

My MCC painting, “From Her Heart Thru Her Hands … Mabel McKay, Pomo Basket Maker” portrays her as she always appeared in public with an inner focus on the Dream.  (Her rattlesnake friend is in one of her baskets.)

*Greg Sarris tells, “In my tribe, many of the medicine people, or Indian doctors as we call them, have been women.  Strong women, women for whom the dark clouds of an oftentimes horrendous history of oppression and loss have neither eclipsed nor mitigated the light and strength of their vision.  Their's is a vision that has sustained us always as a people.” 

Mabel McKay was also given healing Songs in her Dream by The Spirit. 

**Greg Sarris continues (in his introduction to “She Had Some Horses”) “Mabel McKay, holding a cocoon rattle as she sits, bent over a patient,  explaining the nature and history of the person’s illness.  “I have songs,” Mabel told me, “songs that speak to the disease.  It is living, the disease; so I have to know it, work with it, before I cast it out.  I have songs for all that.”

Please search Google for Mabel McKay.  You will find abundant references to her masterly baskets and her life within her Pomo people.

**Greg Sarris “Mabel McKay: Weaving the Dream " Univ. of Calif Press, 1994 
**Greg Sarris Introduction, “She Had Some Horses” Joy Harjo, author Thunder Mouth Press, NY, 1983

“Mabel McKay, Pomo Basket Maker"

24"H x 20" W

Mixed Medium: acrylic paints, inks & craypas pastels on Bristol Board

Photo by SkyLark Images

Professional Prints are now available. Please contact M.C.CAROLYN for prices and sizes.