Born in the Ak-Chin Indian Community, Sally Antone grew up watching and learning how to make baskets from her mother and grandmothers as they used to weave baskets daily. While her mother and grandmothers encouraged her to learn the art of basket weaving to keep the tradition alive, and also to give her the opportunity to make and sell the baskets as art.
Ms. Antone began basket weaving after high school and has now been making baskets for more than 40 years. She started by using the same materials, such as the devil’s claw, bear grass, yucca branches, and wild banana yucca root, that grows in the natural desert (or can be purchased from gatherers), that her relatives did. After collecting the materials, they are soaked in water to make them pliable and easier to weave with. Antone is careful to only take what she can use for each basket without creating waste. Her mother’s baskets varied in size dependent upon the chosen design that varied in size and from her culture and experience, what it would be used for – carrying or storing corn, maize, grain or water.
The Little Miss Ak-Chin and Miss Ak-Chin pageant crowns have been weaved by Antone in the past, where she blended the Ak-Chin Indian Community seal upon the crown. She also enjoys the art of sewing and creates traditional dresses for many of the Community members, especially for special occasions. Community members either bring the material to her, or just let her create the garment with her talent, creativity and tradition.
Antone recognizes the importance of teaching the art of basket weaving to younger generations as it is a long-lived tradition in her culture, and it’s important for younger Community members to continue this craft. She taught basket weaving to her children and in the past has enjoyed teaching basketry classes to Community members through the Ak-Chin Him-Dak EcoMuseum. When the younger members of the Community would get discouraged about how long it takes to weave just one basket, she tells them “Never say I can’t, try and you can do it.” She notes that most of today’s baskets are created for art purposes instead of everyday use but some are used for traditional purposes.
Please take the opportunity to see Sally Antone’s baskets at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club in the Arroyo Grille.
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