Inland Northwest History Moment: Traditional Weaver Joey Lavador


Joey Lavadour was 15 years old when he learned from tribal elder, Carrie Sampson, how to weave in the traditional style of the Plateau people — a tradition that goes back more than 10,000 years. "I was so fortunate that she took the time to work with me,” he says. “The art of weaving had never been lost to Carrie and her ancestors. A continuum of knowledge flowed directly down to her and then passed on to me. I feel a great pride and obligation in being entrusted with that knowledge.”
“Carrie always said that instead of weaving designs in what I thought were traditional colors, I weave together the colors that I see in my dreams.”  Lavadour worked at the Pendleton mill when he was young and the rooms filled with thousands of spools of yarn created, in his words, “a vibrant backdrop to mindless work.” He describes Pendleton wool yarn, a weaving material of great quality, as being “of the same place I am, not just by virtue of manufacturing process, but the memories of Pendleton blankets being used by my family and my community.”
Lavadour shares the weaving legacy by teaching his family and other tribal members, helping to revive the tradition on the Umatilla Reservation.
One of Lavadour’s contemporary gathering bags – selected to represent traditional continuity -now shines brightly among hundreds of traditional baskets in the MAC’s collection.
The Inland Northwest History Moment is a collaboration of Spokane Public Radio and the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture (MAC), in celebration of 100 Stories, the museum’s centennial exhibition.
More Resources:
Joey Lavadour:
The Chap C. Dunning Collection: Material Culture of the Plateau Indiansby Larry Schoonover and Richard Conn, Eastern Washington State Historical Society, 1985
Image captions:
“Coyote’s Tricks” Gathering Bag, 1998 by Joey Lavadour, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. Museum Collection 3878.1
Flat-twined bags, popularly known as “cornhusk bags,” are a distinctive product of the Plateau Indian culture - as are cylindrical twined "sally" bags of the southern Plateau. Women gathered and stored camas, bitterroot, and other staples for the family’s food supply in these soft, flexible bags.
Nez Perce Cornhusk Bag, 1875-1900, Museum Collection 130.50.
Plateau Cylinder Bag, undated, Museum Collection VANDERHORN.1981.4
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