Weaving a Pattern of Respect

May 7, 2007

Author: Debbie Cafazzo

Source: The News Tribune


Fingers fly with mathematical precision as Sharron Nelson and Karen Reed weave strips of moistened cedar bark together.

The twin sisters work in a sunny corner of Nelson’s Browns Point kitchen, with its wide window overlooking the bay that provided sustenance for their ancestors. Nelson is making a small basket to hold her daughter’s business cards; Reed is working on hats that elders of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians will wear.

They chat as they work, weaving their personal stories, along with generations of their Puyallup and Chinook heritage, into their creations.

The sisters grew up in Seattle, keenly aware of their American Indian ancestry. They often visited the Quinalt Reservation on the Pacific coast, where their father grew up.

“My dad taught me to be proud to be Indian,” says Nelson.