Leah Brady and sister Lois Whitney, Shoshone Indians living in Elko, are integral partners of the California Trail Interpretive Center.
Leah and Lois’ Mother Elizabeth Brady (…White-Knife band), and father Webb (Pine-eater band) taught the girls Shoshone arts and survival. Mary Hall (Ft. Hall, Idaho?) the girls’ grandmother and her daughter Eva Piffero and other relatives were willow and buckskin workers, making raw hide braids, ropes, hackamores, and reins, buckskin gloves and Elizabeth made cradle boards.
In this video Leah demonstrates Shoshone style weaving of tule and willow baskets. She made items that dress the Indian doll in the case, and sister Lois crafted the cradle board.
In front of the case are two small tule baskets for carrying small items. The large burden basket was made by Leah to collect pine cones. Pine nuts are winnowed (separated from the chaff) using the flatter willow basket and then cooked using hot rocks in that same basket. At the end of the table is a willow basket incorporating Oregon willow and cherry bark. The red basket is from Nevada Red Twig Dogwood, a hardwood which is more difficult to weave.
Leah teaches basket-making classes at the Trail Center, and sister Lois during “Trail Days” prepares pine nut gravy and chokecherry pudding, which were real treats in the old days. When you taste, it’s not hard to see why they were special treats–delicious! I remember the year Lois cooked a prairie dog (ground hog) in the ground, skinned it and let visitors taste the dark meat. She cooks outside the Indian section of the Trail Center. Both girls helped supervise and construct the Gani, temporary Shoshone shelters behind the Center. The Trail Center is fortunate to have authentic American Indian cooperation and culture so accurately and willingly represented.