The California Indian Basketweavers Association (CIBA) is a non-profit organization that works toward preserving native plants and their habitats. One of our missions is the conservation of plants used for basketweaving, medicinal, and subsistence purposes. We also focus on various issues facing the people who use these plants.
CIBA’s Northwestern Field Office in Willow Creek serves over 250 basketweavers from Humboldt, Del Norte, Trinity, and Siskiyou Counties. This region encompasses the aboriginal territories of 12 California Indian tribes and has the highest density of traditional basketweavers of any region in the state. CIBA, a non-profit organization based in Nevada City, has worked to preserve, promote, and perpetuate California Indian basketweaving traditions since 1991.
CIBA’s activities include development of cooperative agreements with land managers to promote traditional management practices; holding gatherings to encourage experienced weavers to pass on their knowledge, ensuring access to basket materials; and documentation of herbicide use, which we also work to reduce. Future plans include a native plant garden showcasing the plants used for basket materials, as well as plants used traditionally for food and medicine.
Important basketweaving plants in our region include willow, hazel, spruce, chain fern, five-finger fern, and beargrass. Many of these plants have become less available to basketweavers due to lack of access to traditional collecting sites, herbicide contamination, and fire suppression. Frequent, low-intensity fires encourage plants like hazel to produce the long, unbranched, even shoots required for making the beautiful baskets for which weavers of our region are famous. Regular burning of beargrass produces the soft, flexible leaves preferred by weavers. The fire suppression policies of the last 150 years have led to a decrease in these materials as well as the dangerously high forest fuel loads that the U.S. Forest Service is now trying to reverse. Herbicide contamination threatens the health of basketweavers and their children and elders who often accompany them on collecting trips. Studies have shown that residues from such herbicides as 2,4-D, glyphosphate, and triclopyr (Garlon) remain in plant materials for 1 year or more. Forestry herbicides, used after clearcutting to eliminate tan-oak, alder, and other "non-crop" species, threaten the health of many residents of our communities through contamination of drinking water. Aerial spraying on private timberlands continues to be permitted in areas adjacent to residents of the Yurok Reservation and many other rural people, many of whom use wells, springs, or creeks for drinking water. Even the community water districts that provide drinking water to Arcata and Eureka are in watersheds that are subject to these toxic chemicals. Over 40,000 acres were sprayed in Humboldt County from 1998-2000. CIBA’s Northwestern Field Office is currently working on a Pesticide Issues Study for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
If you would like to help promote CIBA’s goals and receive monthly newsletters, please visit CIBA’s website at http://www.ciba.org or call the Northwestern Field Office at (530) 629-4567.Some Culturally Important Local Native Plants
Corylus cornuta var. californica hazel Xerophyllum tenax beargrass Salix spp. willows Adiantum aleuticum five-finger fern Woodwardia fimbriata chain fern Carex spp. sedges Sequoia sempervirens coast redwood Picea sitchensis Sitka spruceMedicinal Uses
Ledum glandulosum Labrador tea Angelica spp. Indian root Arbutus menziesii madrone Rhamnus purshianus cascara Asarum caudatum wild gingerSubsistence
Lithocarpus densiflora tanoak Vaccinium ovatum evergreen huckleberry Pinus sabiniana gray pine Allium spp. wild onion Ribes spp. gooseberries and currantsMany other plants are used for ceremonial and utilitarian purposes.
|North Coast Chapter of the California Native Plant Society 3-19-2001 HOME|