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Opitsat, British Columbia, ?
, ?
Biography synopsis
Ellen Curley was a First Nations west coast basketmaker born in Opitsat (also spelled Opitsaht), British Columbia in the late 19th century. She was a member of the Nuu-chah-nulth people, who specialized in the weaving of Maquinna hats, traditional cedar or grass hats worn by high ranking members of the community. These hats were often decorated with images of hunting, whales, and other sea activities. Curley's weaving talents were showcased at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, where she held public basket making sessions. Although little is known about her life, Curley received commissions for her baskets and hats from numerous museums and collectors, including collector Charles F. Newcombe.
Media used
Basket making
File & Archive locations
National Gallery of Canada, ON - Library and Archives
British Columbia Archives
Canadian Women Artists History Initiative Documentation Centre, QC

Writings about
"Whaler's Hat." [Reproduction] Maryhill Museum of Art 2010
"Woven Bottle Cover." [Reproduction] Alcheringa Gallery Collection 2010
Black, Martha; Royal British Columbia Museum. HuupuKwanum Tupaat: Out of the Mist: Treasures of the Nuu-chah-nulth Chiefs. Royal British Columbia Museum, 1999.
Brotherton, Barbara. S'abadeb, The Gifts: Pacific Coast Salish Art and Artists. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2008.
Cole, Douglas. Captured Heritage: The Scramble for Northwest Coast Artifacts. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1995.
Hoover, Alan L.; Royal British Columbia Museum. Nuu-chah-nulth Voices, Histories, Objects & Journeys. Royal British Columbia Museum, 2000.
Jonaitis, Aldona. Art of the Northwest Coast. Seattle: University of Washington, 2006.
Macnair, Peter L. and Hoover, Alan L. and Neary, Kevin. The Legacy: Continuing Traditions of Canadian Northwest Coast Indian Art. Victoria, British Columbia: The British Columbia Provincial Museum, 1980.
Parezo, Nancy J. & Fowler, Don D. Anthropology Goes to the Fair: The 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska, 2007.
Racette, Sherry Farrell. Looking for Stories and Unbroken Threads: Museum Artifacts as Women's History and Cultural Legacy. Restoring the Balance: First Nations Women, Community, and Culture Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2009.

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