This article underscores the romanticization of basket weaving in coastal Southern California in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the survival of weaving knowledge. The deconstruction of outdated terminology, mainly the misnomer “Mission Indian”, highlights the interest in California’s Spanish colonial past that spurred consumer interest in Southern California basketry and the misrepresentation of diverse Indigenous communities. In response to this interest weavers seized opportunities to not only earn a living at a time of significant social change but also to pass on their practice when Native American communities were assimilating into mainstream society. By providing alternative labelling approaches, this article calls for museums to update their collection records and to work in collaboration with Southern California’s Native American communities to respectfully represent their weaving customs.
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