This October, the National Native American Hall of Fame will be hosting its Inaugural Induction Ceremony in Phoenix. This announcement has been a long time coming. From art to education to entertainment to athletics to civic advocacy, there is no shortage of worthy Native Americans who have contributed to the cultural fabric of tribal nations, the United States and the world.
While we should all be proud of the contributions from Native Americans from across the country, we are uniquely proud of the contributions made by the men and women of Pomo tribes.
Who are some of our many impressive leaders deserving of respect and recognition?
For starters, our tribe is home to some of the most renowned basketweaving artists in history. Elsie Comanche Allen (1899-1990) is one of the best-known craft makers, who fully committed herself to basket making at the age of 62. Her elegant, versatile and functional baskets were known across the world. When it was published in 1972, Allen’s book, Pomo Basketmaking: A Supreme Art for the Weaver, introduced the unique tradition of Pomo basket weaving to new audiences. A fourth generation basketweaver, Allen incorporated a deep concern for the environment into her pieces, and her legacy lives on today.
Essie Pinola Parrish, Mabel McKay and Julia Florence Parker are also well-respected Pomo basket weavers who have set a high standard for their craft. In addition to being among the most impressive basketweaving artists in the world, Parrish and McKay were also respected spiritual leaders who fused dream interpretation, healing and storytelling into their designs. Parker is still producing her fine work to this day, and her creations can be found in the permanent collections of the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution and the private collection of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, among many other esteemed exhibits.
In the realm of sports, Elmer Eugene “Pete” Busch reached a milestone for the tribes when he became a professional football player with the National Football League in 1922. And in music, there’s Chuck Billy, a recording artist who has gained widespread recognition as the lead singer for the thrash metal band Testament. Billy is proud of his Pomo heritage and has written multiple songs that serve as a tribute to his background, including “Trail of Tears” and “Native Blood.” In recent years, Billy has been recognized as the first Native American music artist whose memorabilia is permanently displayed at Albuquerque’s Hard Rock Hotel, and he’s also been featured in the “Up Where We Belong: Native Musicians in Popular Culture” exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution.
These are but a few examples of the impressive contributions Pomo women and men have made in the cultural world. Join us to celebrate our community’s past, present and future as the National Native American Hall of Fame honors many, many more.