Thursday, April 14, 2016

Duckwater Personalities: Sophie Allison and Irene Mike

When I was in Duckwater, Sophie Allison and Irene Mike were already part of the Senior Center program.  However they were both still very active.  They were sisters.  They were some of the few who actually attended the Lund Ward on a regular basis.  And when we started a branch in Duckwater, they were very active.
One of the most impressive things about Sophie Allison was her weaving.  I feel, in her own right, she was keeping a vanishing tradition, with lots of history in Nevada, alive.  I visited her one afternoon while she was preparing willows for weaving.  She gathered the willows from along creeks.  The Currant Creek had a large patch of willows and this was a favorite spot for gathering.  She would keep the willows in water until she was ready for them.  She would take a willow form the water, and then hold it in her mouth.  With her fingers she would peel the bark away.  In this manner she prepared the willows for weaving.  Sophie was adept at making cradle boards.  They had a different design on the hood for boys and girls.
girl

boy
 She also made baskets.  Mostly she would make baskets to assist in the gathering of pine nuts.  I remember she would make cone shaped baskets for this.
This is a skill that was important to the original Shoshone.  I don't know who is carrying on this tradition now that Sophie is gone.
Sophie in the middle and Irene on the right
Many of the children from the reservation looked to these two women as Grandmother.

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