Master basketweaver and Redwood Valley resident Corine Pearce, recently featured in the PBS special Craft in America: California & Visionaries has won two prestigious national wards. In addition to being one of five 2020 Jennifer Easton Community Spirit awardees, an honor established by the South Dakota-based First Peoples Fund, Corine has been awarded a 2020 Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship, a joint effort between the First Nations Development Institute and the Henry Luce Foundation.
The Jennifer Easton Community Spirit awards recognize Native artists who promote the creative practices and cultural values of their people. Honorees are people engaged in traditional or modern arts (or a combination of both) making a difference in their communities. A member of the Redwood Valley Rancheria Little River Band of Pomo, Corine keeps her culture alive by cultivating native basket and medicinal plants, weaving award-winning cradle, twine, and “fancy” baskets, teaching basketweaving classes at tribal offices and museums, and working with the Ukiah Unified School District to create new curriculum focusing on Native Pomo culture.
The Luce Indigenous Fellowship was created in 2019 to honor and support intellectual leaders in Native communities who are actively working to generate, perpetuate and disseminate indigenous knowledge. “We are honored to partner with the Henry Luce Foundation to support this talented cohort of fellows who are working to advance Indigenous knowledge across Native communities,” said Michael E. Roberts, President and CEO of First Nations. “Historically, Indigenous knowledge systems were dismissed, devalued and attacked. This fellowship demonstrates that Indigenous people do possess valuable knowledge that can transform communities. These talented individuals demonstrate the ingenuity and genius present in Native communities.”
Sean T. Buffington, Vice President of the Luce Foundation, praised the newly-named fellows: “These knowledge makers and knowledge keepers are exemplary leaders, serving their communities by sharing their insight and understanding. The Luce Foundation is proud to support their work and to invest in the ongoing, millennia-old project of Indigenous knowledge-making.”
For the past twenty years, through her dedicated work, Corine has inspired Pomo families in Mendocino, Lake, and Sonoma counties to restore ancestral traditions and revitalize their cultural practices by working closely with tribal councils to offer weaving classes and maintain community basketry and medicine gardens. In addition to breathing new life into a cherished intergenerational tradition with her focus on Pomo cradle baskets, Corine [re]creates cultural landscapes by tending her own gathering sites and helping people restore native plants and ecological balance to areas impacted by the wildfires. Two print runs of her book Pomo Cradle Baskets: An Introduction (Beauty & Love Publishing 2018 have sold out: a new, expanded version is planned for 2020.
To hear more about Corine’s recent work, listen to the January 16, 2020 hour-long podcast on Native America Calling where Corine joins two other Community Spirit awardees, beader Roberta Joy Kirk (Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs) and sculptor Virgil “Smoker” Marchand (Arrow Lake Band, Colville Tribes).