Julia F. Parker

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Julia Parker
Julia Parker.jpg
Parker in 2007
Julia Florence

February 1928 (age 95)
NationalityFederated Indians of Graton Rancheria
EducationLucy Telles, Mabel McKay, Elsie Allen
Known forbasket weaver
Movementindigenous Californian basketry
Patron(s)Queen Elizabeth II

Julia Florence Parker (born February 1928)[1] is a Coast Miwok-Kashaya Pomo basket weaver.

Parker studied with some of the leading 20th century indigenous Californian basketweavers: Lucy Telles (Yosemite Miwok-Mono Lake Paiute); Mabel McKay, (Cache Creek Pomo-Patwin) and Elsie Allen (Cloverdale Pomo). Over the last 40 years, Parker has become one of the preeminent Native American basket makers in California. She is a respected elder of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria and long-time resident of Yosemite Valley.[2]

Parker is prolific artist, teacher, and storyteller.


Julia Parker was born in February 1928 in Marin County, California.[1] Her father was Coast Miwok, and her mother was Kashaya Pomo. They both died when Parker was still young, so she and her siblings were sent to a Native American boarding school. In 1945, when Parker was 17 years old, she married Ralph Parker. Ralph, grandson of Lucy Telles, is thought to be the last fullblood Mono Lake Paiute. The couple moved to Yosemite, where Parker began her studies of basketry with Telles.[1] She continued her training with Carrie Bethel, Minnie Mike, and Elsie Allen.[1]


Since 1960, Parker has worked as a cultural specialist at the Yosemite Museum and interprets the cultural history of Yosemite Valley tribes to park visitors. She took over for Lucy Telles as the cultural demonstrator at the park.[1] She demonstrates basket weaving and acorn processing.[1] She has taught and lectured across the United States at universities, cultural centers, and schools. She has traveled to Alaska, Hawaii, and Australia to meet with indigenous artists and has been invited by numerous museums, including the National Museum of the American Indian, George Gustav Heye Center in New York City, to consult with specialists about collections stored in their facilities.

Exhibitions and awards[edit]

In 2004, Parker's work was the subject of a major retrospective exhibition, The Past in Present Tense: Four Decades of Julia Parker Baskets,[3] curated by Deborah Valoma and installed at the Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek. In the same year she was featured in a segment of KQED television's program, Spark.[4]

Parker's work is in permanent collections of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; the Yosemite Museum, Yosemite National Park; the Norwegian Ski Association headquarters, Oslo, Norway; the private collection of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom;[1] and numerous other private collections.

In 2006, California College of the Arts conferred an honorary doctorate on Parker;[5] in May 2021 she received an honorary doctorate from California State University, Fresno.

In 2007, Parker was the recipient of a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the United States' highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.[6][7]

Further reading[edit]

  • Valoma, Deborah. Scrape the Willow Until It Sings: The Words and Work of Basket Maker Julia Parker (2013)[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Julia F. Parker". California Baskets. February 15, 2002. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  2. ^ Flanagan, Kellie (August 4, 2019). "Presentation By Artist, Teacher And Storyteller Julia Parker | Sierra News Online". Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  3. ^ SFGate (October 1, 2004), Walnut Creek: Basket weaver represents best of American Indian tradition
  4. ^ "Julia Parker". KQED Arts. May 2004. Archived from the original on August 14, 2008. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  5. ^ CCA News (April 19, 2006) CCA to Confer Honorary Doctorates on Julia Florence Parker and Richard Tuttle
  6. ^ "Julia Parker: Kashia Pomo basketmaker". www.arts.gov. National Endowment for the Arts. n.d. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  7. ^ Tom Pich (2009). "Picture Perfect: Portraits of NEA National Heritage Fellows". NEA Arts Magazine. National Endowment for the Arts (Vol 3). Archived from the original on May 24, 2011.
  8. ^ Valoma, Deborah (2013). Scrape the Willow Until It Sings. Berkeley, California: Heyday Press. ISBN 9781597142267. OCLC 815383770.

External links[edit]