(Eureka)— Students from Northern United – Humboldt Charter School, Court and Community School, and Alder Grove Charter School completed part one of a special career exploration, The Basket Project, based on the graphic novel The Sisters co-written by Chag Lowry and Weshoyot Alvitre.
My Sisters honors the special relationship that basket weavers have with their homeland, as told through the perspective of the baskets themselves. It represents the resurgence of indigenous traditions locally and throughout California.
Thirty-five students from 8th through 11th grades participated in The Basket Project program. The program is a part of the Education at Work Program in the Career & College Resources Department. The basket work, which includes poems and collages as it relates to a student’s experience with the basket curriculum, will be on display at the Humboldt County Office of Education during the month of April. Throughout the process, the basket is viewed as a metaphor of a student’s current state-of-mind.
“We are not literally baskets, but we sure have a lot in common with them,” said author Chad Lowry. “Just like baskets, we hold different roles in life. This role may develop and change over time. Young people are unfinished baskets. You are not done yet. But your sticks, roots, the beginnings of your design came from somewhere.”
Students learn, depending on the type, that all baskets serve a purpose. They hold hot river stones and acorn meal to cook mush. Some are decorative and generate income. They trap eels, gather sea weed and basket materials themselves. Others hold medicine and are used in ceremony.
“In my Yurok culture I was taught that the basket caps and other baskets that are used in ceremony are living members of our society. I’ve always thought about the spirit and the voice that each basket has,” Lowry said. “Baskets provide comfort. Represent discipline, give guidance, and tell our histories as indigenous people.”
Lowry will be traveling to Humboldt County later in the month to visit students who participated in the project. He will provide information and discussion on becoming a comic book author as a career choice. In addition to My Sisters, Lowry is the co-author of the graphic novel Soldiers Unknown, The Original Patriots: Northern California Indian Veterans of World War II, The Original Patriots: California Voices, and is the co-producer and director of multiple PBS documentaries about California Indigenous people and cultures.
“Student’s develop a special relationship with their basket during the self-awareness of this process, it’s really quite amazing,” said Humboldt County Office of Education’s lead career guidance technician Brenda Bishop who spearheads the project. “Career activities help students set career goals so they can take the steps to make their aspirations a reality. A basket as a metaphor is a great strategy to get students interested in learning not only about different occupations, but different cultures and values as well.”
The Basket Project is a collaborative effort between Humboldt County Office of Education Career and College Resources, the Blue Lake Rancheria Pathmakers, and Original Voices. If you have any questions or would like to bring The Basket Project to your school, group, or organization, please contact Brenda Bishop at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 707-440-9543.