“It has been my mission to keep the art of weaving alive.”
I am Witchita, Bertha Paull from the Tseshaht Tribe of the Nuu chah nulth Nation. We as the Nuu chah nulth were whalers and the type of baskets I make were used by the whalers to carry himix. Himix was a sunscreen/windscreen, made from the fat of a deer's belly, made to protect the men from the cold of the westcoast.
When I was 18, I found a whaler's basket on the side of the road. The next week, a course was offered at the Port Alberni Friendship Center by renowned weaver, Mable Taylor. I spent a few months learning with her, I brought my work to my mother and was surprised that she knew how. From then on she took up the art of weaving again. Thus began our adventure together.
I have lived in various areas of BC for work, where the natural grasses we use were unavailable, so I wove sporadically. I have been active in my weaving for five years, as I now live on Vancouver Island and have access to gather materials. I have been sharing my traditional knowledge with people in Victoria, BC. In my sharing I also teach the traditional names of the material along with a lullaby about the weaving. I share my knowledge of picking and processing the material that we need. Sharing some of our oral history has been such a positive part of our time spent together, as many people start to remember someone who practiced the art, or stories of whaling.
It has been my mission to keep the art of weaving alive. There have been very few practicing weavers in our nation so I feel it is very important to carry on this art form as it is a part of our history.