By preparing and weaving plant fibers using techniques handed down by their ancestors, Indians throughout California became world renowned for creating beautiful, intricately crafted baskets in all shapes and sizes. To help preserve and highlight these rich traditions, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians is proud to host the California Indian Basketweavers Association’s Annual Gathering, which is open to the public, on Saturday, June 23 at the Santa Ynez Reservation.

The CIBA Gathering, an annual three-day event that runs June 22-24, will feature basketry classes led by master weavers, demonstrations of plant preparation techniques, a wide variety of weaving styles and a special exhibit.

The public is welcome to participate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 23 at the Tribal Hall, 100 Via Juana Lane. Overflow parking will be available at Santa Ynez High School, with a shuttle service running every 15 minutes. Admission is free.

“Our tribe is honored to be hosting this prestigious event on our reservation,” said Willie Wyatt, tribal administrator for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. “We look forward to working with — and learning from — other tribal communities whose basket artistry is such a vital part of their respective lives and cultures.”

Historical accounts show that the Chumash were highly skilled weavers, creating different types of baskets for gathering, storing, preparing and serving food. Covering the inside of baskets with tar from local beaches became an efficient and inventive way of holding water without leaks. Today, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, along with other tribes, continue their heritage of weaving by participating in workshops and classes with help from CIBA to preserve and hone the skills that once flourished among their ancestors.

“To us, basketweaving is more than an art form; it’s who we are,” CIBA Chairman Clint McKay said. “It’s central to our culture, so when we see the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, with their rich history in basketry, approach it with such honor and respect, it gives us great hope for the future of our traditions.”

The CIBA Gathering originated in 1990 with a handful of weavers who feared that California Indian basketry traditions and practices were near extinction. Several were the sole remaining weavers from their tribal region. Today, the CIBA has 900 members who are studying and teaching traditional basketry techniques while promoting environmental awareness and reintroduction of traditional land management practices.

A featured element of the annual Gathering is the Basketweavers Showcase, an exhibit that features work completed by weavers over the previous year.

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians owns and operates the Chumash Casino Resort, located on the Santa Ynez Reservation. The tribe also owns Hotel Corque, and Root 246 in Solvang.

— Mike Traphagen is a public relations specialist for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.