Mabel McKay

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Mabel McKay
Born(1907-01-12)January 12, 1907
DiedMay 31, 1993(1993-05-31) (aged 86)
EducationSpiritual training, self-taught
Known forBasket weaving

Mabel McKay (1907–1993) was a member of the Long Valley Cache Creek Pomo Indians and was of Patwin descent. She was the last Dreamer of the Pomo people and a basket making prodigy.

Greg Sarris published a biography of Mabel, called Weaving the Dream (University of California Press, 1997).

Life as doctor and weaver[edit]

Mabel McKay was born on 12 January 1907 in Nice in Lake County, California. Her father was Yanta Boone (Potter Valley Pomo) and her mother was Daisy Hansen (Lolsel Cache Creek Pomo).[1]


Mabel used prayer as a way of communicating to Spirit, and in return Spirit showed Mabel what to make for each person.

Mabel was a well-respected scholar. She spoke at universities and served as a cultural consultant for anthropologists. She spoke at the New School in New York with Essie Parrish on March 14, 1972.[2] As a weaver her skill and attention to detail brought worldwide recognition to her basketry. Her baskets are shown in many museum collections in the U.S. and abroad. Weaving for Mabel was a spiritual path, not a craft. She was never 'taught' to weave a basket. Instead she was strictly instructed by Spirit as a Dreamer.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Luthin, 324
  2. ^ Rothenburg, Jerome. "Outsider Poems, a Mini-Anthology in Progress (52): Essie Parish in New York". Jerome Rothenburg Poems and Poetics. Retrieved 2013-04-08.


  • Ludwig, David. 1994. Pomo Basketweavers: A Tribute To Three Elders. Creative Light Production. Video.
  • Luthin, Herbert W. Surviving through the Days: Translations of Native California Stories and Songs. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-22270-0.
  • Farris, Phoebe (1999). Women artists of color : a bio-critical sourcebook to 20th century artists in the Americas. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. p. 62. ISBN 0-313-30374-6. OCLC 40193578.
  • Matuz, R. (1998). St. James guide to native North American artists. Detroit: St. James Press. pp. 369–370. ISBN 978-1-558-62221-0.
  • Sarris, Greg. 1993. Keeping slug woman alive: A holistic approach to American Indian texts. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-08007-2.
  • Sarris, Greg. 1994. Mabel McKay: Weaving the Dream. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-20968-8.